Outside view of Aurangzeb's tomb: During his rule, 1658 to 1707 C.E., Aurangzeb expanded the Mughal empire through prolonged wars of conquest, mostly in the Deccan. In 1707, at the age of 88, Aurangzeb was buried in the Deccan town of Khuldabad in a simple tomb. A staunchly religious man who disavowed the more tolerant policies of his ancestors (see below), Aurangzeb enforced Sharia law for all, forbade drinking and gambling, and reinstated the hated jizya tax on all non-Muslims.(photo and description courtesy library.lakeforest.edu)
Outside view of Aurangzeb’s tomb: During his rule, 1658 to 1707 C.E., Aurangzeb expanded
the Mughal empire through
prolonged wars of conquest, mostly in the Deccan. In 1707, at the age of 88, Aurangzeb was buried in the Deccan town of Khuldabad in a simple tomb. A staunchly religious man who disavowed the more tolerant policies of his ancestors (see below), Aurangzeb enforced Sharia law for all, forbade drinking and gambling, and reinstated the hated jizya tax on all non-Muslims.(photo and description courtesy library.lakeforest.edu)

compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, TIRN, on AUGUST 19, 2014: 

Carl Ernst
Carl Ernst

UNC-Chapel Hill Islamic Studies Professor Carl Ernst was in India this summer as principal academic organizer of an international *workshop on “Practice, Performance, and Politics of Sufi Shrines in South Asia and Beyond,” held August 1-4, 2014 in Ellora-Khuldabad, Maharashtra State. Dr. Ernst has shared with TIRN the following write-up (below) on this workshop by Prof. Philip Lutgendorf  (President of the American Institute of Indian Studies), as well as details on a series of lectures Ernst delivered at Indian universities subsequent to the workshop.

AIIS (American Institute of Indian Studies) and Five Centers Join for “Sufi Shrines” Workshop by Philip Lutgendorf

On August 1-4 2014, fourteen scholars from eight countries met near Aurangabad, Maharashtra, in a workshop sponsored by six American Overseas Research Centers (AORCs), organized and hosted by AIIS. The theme of the workshop, “The Practice, Performance, and Politics of Sufi Shrines in South Asia and Beyond,” was collaboratively conceived by four South Asian AORCs (the American Institute of Bangladesh Studies, American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and American Institute of Sri Lanka Studies, together with AIIS), and its proposal was written by Carl Ernst, noted Islamic studies scholar at UNC Chapel Hill. The Centers provided modest seed money from their Council of American Overseas Research Centers programming budgets, which was then supplemented by a generous grant from the Cultural Affairs Section of the US Embassy in Delhi, whose Cultural Counselor, David Mees, took enthusiastic interest in the workshop, eventually attending it in its entirety.

Aurangzeb's tomb: (photo and description courtesy: library.lakeforest.edu)
Aurangzeb’s tomb: (photo and description courtesy: library.lakeforest.edu)

In planning the workshop and inviting presenters, Prof. Ernst was assisted by two other organizing committee members, Dennis McGilvray (University of Colorado, Boulder) and Scott Kugle (Emory University). Participants included scholars from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, as well as five South Asia specialists based in the US and Canada. A welcome comparative perspective was offered by scholars from Morocco and Senegal, whose participation was sponsored by two other AORCs, the American Institute of Maghrib Studies and the West African Research Association. Conceived as an intimate workshop for the exchange of new research, the event was held at the small Hotel Kailas, a group of cottages set in a garden and located near the entrance to the Ellora Caves, one of India’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the workshop schedule offered time for attendees to visit its extraordinary Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain rock-cut shrines created between the sixth and twelfth centuries. (As a generous gesture, the Archaeological Survey of India waived the foreigner’s admission fee for all workshop participants during the four days.)

But equally important, the ridge into which these shrines are carved is topped by hundreds of Sufi tombs, hospices, and mosques that constitute Khuldabad, also known as the “valley of the saints,” for the reputedly fourteen hundred Sufis who came here in the early fourteenth century. Their shrines represent a number of spiritual lineages, but particularly document the spread of the Chishtis, India’s most influential order, into the Deccan and South.

Ellora Caves-- UNESCO World Heritage Site  These 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff, not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from A.D. 600 to 1000, brings the civilization of ancient India to life. Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India. (photo: courtesy UNESCO)
Ellora Caves- UNESCO World Heritage Site
These 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff, not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from A.D. 600 to 1000, brings the civilization of ancient India to life. Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India. (photo: courtesy UNESCO)

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Omid Safi

by OMID SAFI for JADALIYYA on JANUARY 31, 2014: 

I have been asked to share my impressions about the state of Islamic studies in the North American academy. Given that the pioneers of this field include many of my mentors, and many of my own peers have struggled for years to help advance the field to its current state, my observations will not be dispassionate. And since I have been fortunate to have a front-row seat along the development of the field over the last twenty years, I hope I’ll be able to do justice to the current state of the field.

I became a graduate student in the field of Islamic studies in the early 1990s. In those days, almost all of us were “converts”: no one went to undergraduate studies planning to become a professor of Islamic studies. For many, particularly Muslims of transnational background, the usual academic caste options were the familiar: doctor, lawyer, engineer, maybe the always dubious “business.” Almost all of us who entered the field did so by following the siren call of one mentor or another: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Hamid Algar, Roy Mottahedeh, Bruce Lawrence, Vincent Cornell, Carl Ernst, Michael Sells, Annemarie Schimmel, and a few others. Continue reading

by EMILIE ANNE-YVONNE LUSE for ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN on JANUARY 8, 2014: 

A 2009 poster combining the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah with the "Biggest Sushi Party in the City." Sao Paolo, Brazil
A 2009 poster combining the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah with the “Biggest Sushi Party in the City.” Sao Paolo, Brazil

The study of ethnic identity is a daunting endeavor, which, if treated too simply, fails to account for the richness and complexity of human existence.

In diasporic studies especially, the researcher faces heterogeneity and hybridity that escape tidy categorization and require constant re-assessment of the object of study itself. This was the consensus of a vivid and productive workshop “The Jewish & Muslim Diasporas in Latin America: New Comparative Perspectives,” held in early October 2013 at the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University, with the goal of providing “new approaches to the comparative study of the Jewish and Muslim communities in Argentina and Brazil.”

The workshop was part of a project on “Jews & Muslims: Histories, Diasporas, and the Meaning of the European,” launched by the Duke Center for European Studies in the spring of 2013 and supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Duke University Office of the Provost.

New Approaches to the Study of Jews and Muslims in the Americas

The workshop began with a methodological presentation, “New Approaches to the Study of Jews and Muslims in the Americas,” given jointly by Jeffrey Lesser, Professor and Chair of History at Emory University, and Raanan Rein, Professor of Latin American and Spanish History and Rector of Tel Aviv University. Building on a theoretical paper the two published together in Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, the two drew on years of experience researching Jews in Brazil and Argentina respectively to argue for a change in the way ethnic diasporas are studied.

Too often, they argued, scholars rely on sources and archives (community groups, religious organizations and umbrella groups) which privilege the ethnic or religious identity of the group without accounting for the variety of experiences, especially national experiences, within such groups. Alternately, study of the diaspora often focuses on how negative experiences, i.e. discrimination in the host country, shaped identity, and fails to account for the lived reality of diasporic subjects, who are just as likely to identify as nationals as they are to see themselves as part of their ethnic group.  Indeed, they might decide to stress certain parts of themselves in different contexts.”

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via OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2013: 

Oxford Handbook of Islam and PoliticsOverview:

The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics (Oxford University Press, 2013)

  • Provides a comprehensive analysis of what we know and where we are in the study of political Islam
  • Includes over 40 essays from leading scholars in the field

Description:

Over the past three decades, scholars, government analysts and terrorism experts have examined the relationship between Islam and politics. But specialists have tended to limit their analysis to a specific country or focus. Few works have provided a geographically comprehensive, in-depth analysis. Since 9/11, another wave of literature on political Islam and global terrorism has appeared, much of it superficial and sensationalist. This situation underscores the need for a comprehensive, analytical, and in-depth examination of Islam and politics in the post-9/11 era and in an increasingly globalizing world. The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics, with contributions from prominent scholars and specialists, provides a comprehensive analysis of what we know and where we are in the study of political Islam. It enables scholars, students, and policymakers to understand the interaction of Islam and politics and the multiple and diverse roles of Islamic movements, as well as issues of authoritarianism and democratization, religious extremism and terrorism regionally and globally. Continue reading

THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: This new book is a scholarly challenge to the ‘sweeping generalisations’ about the Islamist organisation — (Joseph Preville) 

by JOSEPH PREVILLE (INTERVIEW WITH WICKHAM) for MUSCAT DAILY on AUGUST 18, 2013: 

The Muslim Brotherhood by Carrie Rosefsky WikhamHow did the Muslim Brotherhood emerge from its modest mission- ary origins to become a powerful political force in Egyptian society? Carrie Rosefsky Wickham answers this question in her out- standing new book, The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement (Princeton University Press, 2013).

Carrie Rosefsky Wickham is associate professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Wickham was educated at Harvard College and Princeton University. She is the author of Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt (Columbia Uni-versity Press, 2002). Wickham has appeared on CNN and Al Jazeera English, and her essays have been published in Foreign AffairsThe New York Times and Middle East Policy. Continue reading