We at the Duke Islamic Studies Center are pleased to announce that the work of the Carnegie Corporation of New York-supported Transcultural Islam Project (ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN) has been highlighted in a new report by the Social Science Research Council — “Religion, Media and the Digital Turn.” The report surveyed 160 digital projects and documents the effects that digital modes of research and publication have on the study of religion.

“While our primary goal is to chronicle emerging forms of intellectual production shaping the study of religion, we hope that a greater awareness of this new work will generate more recognition of the high quality and innovative work that already exists,” report authors Chris Cantwell (University of Missouri) and Hussein Rashid (New York University) write, explaining that “the most innovative digital projects are often those that creatively combine a number of these models or genres.”

ISLAMiCommentary was mentioned at the top of several subsections, for this reason, and a lengthy case study of ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN has been included in the report (in Appendix 1) because, as the report authors told us, they find the project “exemplary.” Other projects highlighted with lengthy case studies (in Appendix 1) include the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (MAVCOR) at Yale, the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project at the University of Loyola; and Mapping Ararat — a project of York University, the University of Toronto and Emerson College.

Appendix 2 lists the 160 projects surveyed.

The report can be downloaded HERE.


Kecia Ali
Kecia Ali

Muhammad is remembered in a multitude of ways, by both Muslims and non-Muslims. And through each retelling we learn a great deal not only about Muhammad but about the social milieu of the authors. In The Lives of Muhammad (Harvard University Press, 2014), Kecia Ali, Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University, explores how several central components of the Muhammad biographical narrative are reframed by various authors within modern accounts.

Lives of MuhammadWe find that biographers’ notions of historicity changed over time, emphasis on the miraculous and supernatural events in Muhammad’s life are interpreted differently, and Muhammad’s network of relationships, including successors, companions, and family members gain wider interest during this period. We also find that from the nineteenth century onwards, Muhammad is often framed within the history of ‘great men,’ alongside figures like Jesus, Buddha, or Plato. Descriptions of Muhammad’s life cross a range of genres, such as hagiographical, polemical, political, or seeking to facilitate inter-religious dialogue. In our conversation we just begin to scratch the service of this rich book, including Ibn Ishaq, sexual ethics, revisionism, Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, and young wife, Aisha, Orientalist William Muir, polygamy, attempts to counter perceived Western misinterpretations, marital ideals, and contemporary anti-Muslim animus.

LISTEN to interview with ALI

In September 2014 the Duke Islamic Studies Center (which manages the Transcultural Islam Project of which TIRN and ISLAMiCommentary is a part), announced its official institutional affiliation with New Books in Islamic Studies — a bi-weekly audio podcast featuring hour long conversations with authors of exciting new research. For an archive see HERE.



John Renard
John Renard

Islamic theology is generally understood or approached in terms of its systematic or speculative forms. In Islamic Theological Themes: A Primary Source Reader (University of California Press, 2014), John Renard, Professor of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University, has produced a collection of primary sources that thinks through theological deliberation far beyond the narrow strictures of kalam. 51N6Tkri8UL._SL160_This inclusive model is both chronologically expansive and geographically diverse. Renard offers relevant passages from the Qur’an and hadith, the tafsir tradition, narrative histories, manuals of moral direction, texts from spiritual guidance, creedal statements, and political theology.

All of these sources are artfully introduced leading the reader through the diversity of the Islamic tradition. In our conversation we discussed human responsibility, the nature of God, the evaluation of non-Muslim beliefs, what merits community membership, the spiritual journey, functions of poems, stories, and letters, Iblis, mercy and justice, political succession, governance, and questions of leadership, and the social consequences of theological thinking. Continue reading


LUISS School of Government in Italy presents the International Conference ‘Imams in Western Europe - Authority, Training, and Institutional Challenges’

November 5, 2014 - Aula Magna, Viale Pola, 12 Rome

Welcome by LUISS School of Government: Giovanni Orsina
Welcome by the conveners:
Mohammed Hashas, LUISS Guido Carli
Niels Valdemar Vinding, University of Copenhagen
Khalid Hajji, CEOM
Jan Jaap De Ruiter, NISIS
Chair: Francesca Corrao, LUISS Guido Carli

Mohammed Hashas, one of the conveners, is with LUISS University of Rome’s Center for Ethics and Global Politics

Via SOCIOLOGY OF ISLAM LISTSERV on February 26, 2014:
1st International Conference on Men and Masculinities : “Identities, Cultures, Societies”
11–13 September 2014, Izmir Turkey
Initiative for Critical Studies of Masculinities (ICSM) cordially invites proposals for the first international conference on men and masculinities to take place in Turkey, in collaboration with Ankara University Women’s Studies Centre (KASAUM) and Izmir University Women’s Studies Centre. The conference aims to discuss theories, narratives, experiences, discourses, and activisms related to transformations of and challenges to men and masculinities with a particular focus on the Global Southern and Eastern European contexts. Continue reading