by CARLA NAPPI for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on NOVEMBER 29, 2015:

41gAoQHIZML._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_Jorg Matthias Determann‘s new book looks at the history of modern biology in the Arab Gulf monarchies, focusing on the treatment of evolution and related concepts in the publications of biologists who worked in the Gulf states. Researching Biology and Evolution in the Gulf States: Networks of Science in the Middle East (I. B. Tauris, 2015) begins by describing a fatwa against Pokemon and opens out into an introduction of the sensitive nature of discussions related to evolution and creation in the Gulf. The ensuing chapters approach and answer a major question: given this sensitivity, what enabled scientists to nevertheless employ evolution in the political, religious, social, and natural environments of the Gulf? At least part of the answer lies in the importance of networks between scientists, plants, princes, local tribes, European businesses, animals, and other historical actors. The history of those networks – and the botanical, zoological, ornithological, and paleontological research they enabled – is a transnational and transregional one, and looks carefully at concerns with conservation, climate change, and economies at multiple levels. Determann’s book avoids telling this story in terms of the common tropes of decline and stagnation, and seeks instead to “go beyond the wholesale and often negative views of scientific production in the contemporary Arab world.” Enjoy!

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW WITH DETERMANN

In September 2014 the Duke Islamic Studies Center (which manages the Transcultural Islam Project of which TIRN 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.

by SHERALI TAREEN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on NOVEMBER 25, 2015: 

Hina Azam
Hina Azam

61mAKxi7HUL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_In her shining new book Sexual Violation in Islamic Law: Substance, Evidence, and Procedure (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Hina Azam, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas-Austin, explores the diversity and complexity of pre-modern Muslim legal discourses on rape and sexual violation. The reader of this book is treated to a thorough and delightful analysis of the range of attitudes, assumptions, and hermeneutical operations that mark the Muslim legal tradition on the question of sexual violation.

Indeed, the most remarkable aspect of this book is the way it showcases the staggering range and diversity of approaches to defining and adjudicating rape that populate the Muslim legal tradition. Focusing primarily on the Maliki and Hanafi schools of law, Azam convincingly demonstrates that Muslim legal discourses on rape were animated and informed by competing ways of imagining broader categories such as sovereignty, agency, property, and rights. Continue reading

Mary and Jesus in Persian miniature (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Mary and Jesus in Persian miniature (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on DECEMBER 22, 2015: 

Zeki Saritoprak
Zeki Saritoprak

41JOC1bsy7L._SL160_Islam’s Jesus (Interview with Zeki Saritoprak by Elliott Bazzano, New Books in Islamic Studies, December 17, 2015)In Islam’s Jesus (University of Florida Press, 2015), Zeki Saritoprak explores an old topic from a fresh perspective. The status of Jesus in Islam has been of interest for centuries, and relates to both Christianity and Islam, but the level of synthesis that Professor Saritoprak’s monograph offers is remarkable.

He draws on a variety of Islamic literature, including commentaries on the Qur’an, works of theology, and collections of prophetic sayings. Moreover, he surveys not only the vast Arabic sources on his topic but also Turkish sources, and his research covers multiple schools of thought and time periods. Another hallmark of the monograph is the attention it gives to Jesus’ role in Islamic eschatology. Notably, Saritoprak demonstrates how mainstream as well as lesser known Islamic discourses on eschatology encompass numerous hermeneutical strategies; some, for example, understand the descent of Jesus as a physical phenomenon while others understand it as a non-material, spiritual phenomenon. The book highlights a number of other competing discourses as well, which are likely to challenge and even surprise the reader. The author’s clear writing style, combined with meticulous attention to scholarly rigor and textual engagement, makes the text accessible to a range of readers, which should render it useful to general audiences, as well as scholars of eschatology, Christian-Muslim relations, and Qur’anic studies. LISTEN TO INTERVIEW HERE

In September 2014 the Duke Islamic Studies Center (which manages the Transcultural Islam Project, which includes TIRN and ISLAMiCommentary), 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.

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05-110Jesus in the Quran: Pious, Obedient, Favored Servant of God (Francis X. Clooney, American Magazine, December 21, 2015): EXCERPT: Then God will say, “O Jesus son of Mary! Remember My Blessing upon thee, and upon thy mother, when I strengthened thee with the Holy Spirit, that you mightest speak to people in the cradle and in maturity; and when I taught thee the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, and the Gospel;” and how thou wouldst create out of clay the shape of a bird, by My Leave; and how though wouldst breathe into it, and it would become a bird, by My Leave; and thou wouldst heal the blind and the leper, by My Leave; and thou wouldst bring forth the dead, by My Leave; and how I restrained the Children of Israel from thee, when thou didst bring the clear proofs, and those disbelieved among them said, “This is naught but manifest sorcery.” And when I inspired the apostles to believe in Me and in My messenger, they said, “We believe. Bear witness that we are submitters.” (5:110-111) KEEP READING

Francis X. Clooney, S.J., is the Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, where he has taught since 2005, after teaching for 21 years at Boston College. Since 2010 he is the Director of Harvard’s Center for the Study of World Religions. Continue reading

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on DECEMBER 17, 2015: 

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.


by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on DECEMBER 14, 2015:

Last month, the Duke Middle East Studies Center (DUMESC) had the honor of hosting Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk for a series of events at Duke University. With co-sponsorship from the Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Duke Global Education/Duke in Turkey, Franklin Humanities Institute, Arts of the Moving Image and Mellon Foundation’s Partnerships in a Global Age grant, Pamuk’s visit included a public conversation at the Nasher Museum of Art auditorium hosted by DUMESC Director Erdağ Göknar, and a faculty forum. He also sat down with Göknar for an interview at Duke Studios.

Göknar, who authored the 2013 book “Orhan Pamuk, Secularism and Blasphemy: The Politics of the Turkish Novel” (Routledge, 2013) and was the English translator for Pamuk’s Nobel Prize- winning “My Name is Red” (Knopf, 2001), said Pamuk’s work – nine novels to date — “embraces the idea of the novelist as archivist and curator.”

“Since winning the Nobel award in 2006, Pamuk’s work has continued to push the boundaries of literary form and content,” said Göknar, adding that it “brings together narrative strains such as Ottoman Turkish history, the confines of identity, double-ness, excavations of the city, conspiracy, Islamic art, Sufism, the power of the Middle Eastern nation state, the (1980) coup, obsession, mystical love, the archive, collecting, lament and the Istanbul melancholy known as khuzun.”

All of this plays out through the city of Istanbul that in Pamuk’s words, is a space that has become “the memory of his fiction.” Continue reading