41wu8enracL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Column » ‘By the Book’ with Joseph Preville

by JOSEPH RICHARD PREVILLE and JULIE POUCHER HARBIN  for ISLAMiCommentary on FEBRUARY 8, 2016: 

Are Muslims embraced as part of the mosaic of Europe?  Or, are they considered and treated as outsiders, foreigners, and invaders?  Political Scientist Peter O’Brien deconstructs this issue in his new book, The Muslim Question in Europe: Political Controversies and Public Philosophies (Temple University Press, 2016).

“There exists,” he writes, “no great, let alone unbridgeable, gulf in outlook or lifestyle forever separating ‘Islamic’ from ‘Western’ civilization.”  He argues that there is not a “clash of civilizations,” but “clashes within Western civilization.”

O’Brien dissects the hotly-debated and contentious topics of headscarves, terrorism, and secularism (mosque-state relations) within the broad historical and political contexts of “intra-European tensions.” He argues that European Muslims should not be viewed “as a distinct group of political actors.” Rather, he states that European Muslims and non-Muslims both inhabit “a normative landscape in Europe dominated by the vying public philosophies of liberalism, nationalism, and postmodernism.”

O’Brien is Professor of Political Science at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.  He was educated at Kalamazoo College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He has served as a Social Science Research Council Fellow at the Free University in Berlin and as a Fulbright Professor at Bogazici University in Istanbul and the Humboldt University in Berlin.  O’Brien is the author of Beyond the Swastika (Routledge, 1996) and European Perceptions of Islam and America from Saladin to George W. Bush (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

Peter O’Brien discusses his new book in this interview. Continue reading

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on MARCH 20, 2015: 

MalcolmXPosterFebruary 21, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century, Malcolm X El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. His life — as a black figure, as a Muslim figure, and as an international figure — and legacy have gotten widespread media and scholarly attention.

There are many academic Malcolm X representations, readings, and interpretations, and with many great figures in human history, their legacy is more and something other than that great person’s biography.

Said Duke Islamic Studies Center Director Omid Safi: “We are living through the 50th anniversary of many of the monumental events in the history of the civil rights movement. The protests in Ferguson, New York and elsewhere tell us that issues of racism, brutality, poverty and militarism are still with us.”

A national conference on “The Legacy of Malcolm X: Afro-American Visionary, Muslim Activist” was held on 2/20/15 and 2/21/15 at Duke and UNC — co-organized by Safi, UNC-Chapel Hill Islamic Studies professor Juliane Hammer, and African & African American Studies professor and host of Left of Black Mark Anthony Neal.

“Our aim is to commemorate his life, his thought and his unique contributions to struggles for justice, recognition and change in a world he experienced as both a challenge and a promise,” said Hammer.

The conference was sponsored by the Duke Islamic Studies Center. Cosponsors included the Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Duke University), Department of Religious Studies (Duke University), African and African American Studies (Duke University), and the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations (UNC-Chapel Hill).

Conference participants included Safi; Hammer; Neal; William Chafe (Emeritus, Duke); William “Sandy” Darity (Duke); Michael Muhammad Knight (UNC Chapel Hill); Hisham Aidi (Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs), Maytha Alhassen (University of Southern California), Zaheer Ali (CUNY, Columbia University, Malcolm X Project), Abbas Barzegar (Georgia State University), Sohail Daulatzai (University of California-Irvine), William “Bill” Hart (University of North Carolina-Greensboro), and Jamillah Karim (author). Continue reading

by Sümeyye Kocaman for ISLAMiCommentary on JANUARY 7, 2015:

Sümeyye Kocaman
Sümeyye Kocaman

As we hear more and more about the Caliphate, the ummah, Islamic law and the Islamic State, I am surprised by many things: the so-called experts’ lack of information; how the facts are being politically manipulated; how people of faith are letting religion be used in this minefield; and worse, how people of faith believe that religion can be used to legitimize inhumane, political arguments.

When we hear religion as a political argument — e.g. how an ‘Islamic state’ is needed to provide freedom for Muslims who have been victimized for centuries — we must see this as merely a new wave of nationalism backed up by the power of religious discourse. Religious discourse has the highest potential to mobilize crowds. If the discourse is powerful enough some local groups or even the society at large can be mobilized into an emotional mob that cares little for reason. Their voices — pure political ideology.

In the modern world religion and politics continue to be dangerously intertwined. We can regard this crisis of religion as a chance to reverse a vicious cycle. Continue reading