Duke University Asian & Middle Eastern studies professor Mbayo Lo and University of Botswana theologian Muhammed Haron (a South African native) are the editors of a new book “Muslim Institutions of Higher Education in Postcolonial Africa” — published by Palgrave, Fall 2015.

The book’s authors include: Adnan A. Adikata (Islamic University in Uganda, Kampala, Uganda); Abdulmageed Ahmed (International University of Africa, Sudan); Chanfi Ahmed (Zentrum Moderner Orient, Germany); Ismail S. Gyagenda (Mercer University, Georgia); Moshood Mahmood Jimba (Kwara State University, Nigeria); Mamadou-Youry Sall  (Université Gaston Berger, Senegal); Hamza Mustafa Njozi, (Muslim University of Morogoro, Tanzania); Wardah M. Rajab-Gyagenda (Islamic University in Uganda); Ahmad K. Sengendo (Islamic University in Uganda); Adam Adebayo (Kogi State University, Nigeria); Alexander Thurston (Georgetown University); Adam Yousef Mousa (Republic of Chad); Roman Loimeier (University of Göttingen, Germany); Ousman Kobo (The Ohio State University).

The anthology, which grew out of *a workshop hosted by the Duke Islamic Studies Center in Fall 2013 on “Islamic Institutions of Higher Learning in Africa: Their History, Mission and Role in Regional Development,” examines, through case studies, the colonial discriminatory practices against Muslim education, and discusses the Islamic reform movement of the post-colonial experience.  (In the case of this book, Muslim institutions of higher learning refers to Islamic education at the university level.)

Haron wrote, in an essay published about the Duke workshop that brought together scholars and administrators: “Many Muslim institutions of higher learning have emerged on the African continent over the past few decades. These institutions have in one way or another made their contributions towards the societies and environments where they are situated. Despite the noble objectives of some that were set up, the objectives often have been unrealized as a result of a lack of financial and other resources. There have, however, been other institutions that have flourished and made invaluable inputs to their respective communities.”

In this written Q & A with ISLAMiCommentary, Professor Lo talks about the findings and conclusions of their book. Continue reading



Nazeeh Zul-Kifl Abdul-Hakeem
Nazeeh Zul-Kifl Abdul-Hakeem

In 1981, a Durham city planner, Nazeeh Zul-Kifl Abdul-Hakeem, helped found the Durham, North Carolina-based Jamaat Ibad Ar-Rahman Inc. (an Islamic center). He served as its president from 1983 until 1994 and continues to be actively involved through the present day.

This summer he self-published a book — “The Athaan in the Bull City: Building Durham’s Islamic Community” — which Duke Asian & Middle Eastern studies professor Mbaye Bashir Lo has called “a welcome entry into the local stories of Islam in America.”

“Nazeeh Abdul-Hakeem’s personal stories of transformation and ongoing struggle to establish a Muslim community in the Bull City are a must read for anyone who is interested in the local discourse on Americanizing Islam and/or Islamizing America,” wrote Lo in a review.

Nazeeh estimates that about one-quarter to one-third of the more than 5,000 Muslims living in Durham County today are black. (A documentary produced by local WRAL-TV in 2012 estimated that there were around 26,000 total Muslims in North Carolina, or less than 1% of the state’s population.)

From the 1880s to the 1940s Durham was known as the “Black Capital of the South,” and blacks in Durham have been politically active since the Civil Rights Movement. Against this backdrop, Nazeeh writes, the Nation of Islam developed “a very strong presence” in Durham. This was during the time of Elijah Muhammad (the founder of NOI) and of Malcolm X, who came to Durham in 1963 to debate “the future of the Negro” with Floyd B. McKissick Sr. For a long time the Nation of Islam was the very face of Islam in America.

One of the major objectives of the Jamaat Ibad Ar-Rahman community, however, was to provide Islamic education for black Muslims in Durham that Nazeeh and others felt was lacking.

“Having escaped the woefully lacking Islamic understanding of the Nation of Islam and the World Community of Islam in the West, black American Muslims were faced with the onslaught of propagators of foreign Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat Islami, Jamaat Tabligh, and Sufism, along with Shee’ah Islam, which had a false standing among some black American Muslims as a result of the Iranian Revolution,” Nazeeh writes in his book. “Many of us found ourselves longing for the time when American Muslims would have their own scholars to help us follow the right way and focus on specific issues that Muslims faced in our country.” Continue reading

a Critique Based on Demonstrative Jurisprudence 

by MOHSEN KADIVAR (self-published book/on his blog), JULY 2014: 


This book, as the second volume of “Islam and Human Rights Series,”[1] undertakes to affirm certain positions and to negate others under the rubric of its major themes: apostasy, blasphemy, and religious freedom. As for the former, it attempts to establish that freedom of religion, in particular the freedom to turn away from a religion (abandoning Islam, choosing another religion, or becoming non-religious), is akin to the freedom of choice to accept or reject the fundamental principles of religion. Secondly, no temporal punishment is prescribed for one who rejects the religious doctrines of Islam and fails to conduct oneself in accordance with the religious dictates.

As for the latter, this negation applies to the lawfulness of shedding the blood of an apostate or one who insults and defames the Prophet, administering any form of worldly punishment on the one found guilty of apostasy, and carrying out capital punishment and other grave forms of punishment on the one who defames the Prophet. As for the one who is found guilty of defaming the Prophet and denigrating religious convictions, that person could be sentenced by a fair judicial system under “hate speech.”
This introduction will attempt to do the following: provide the salient points that are covered in much greater detail in the book: Ayatollah Hosein Ali Montazeri’s (d. 2009) recent opinion on apostasy; the legal opinion that negates any scope for penal provision on the matter of apostasy and blasphemy; the freedom to interrogate and be critical of religious convictions but without engaging in a hate speech; a bird’s eye view of this book; and limitations of this work with a view to charting out future areas of research on the subject matter. Continue reading


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Cat­a­loging is now avail­able online for the entire col­lec­tion of the nearly 2200  man­u­scripts com­pris­ing the New Series of Islamic Man­u­scripts in the Man­u­scripts Divi­sion, Depart­ment of Rare Books and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library. The New Series con­sti­tutes the pre­mier col­lec­tion of pre­dom­i­nantly Shi‘ite man­u­scripts in the West­ern Hemi­sphere and among the finest in the world. The online records have been cre­ated as part of the Islamic Man­u­scripts Cat­a­loging and Dig­i­ti­za­tion Project, to improve access to these rich col­lec­tions and share them world­wide through dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy. Gen­er­ous sup­port from the David A. Gard­ner ’69 Magic Project has funded this ongo­ing effort. Researchers can now locate Ara­bic, Per­sian, and Ottoman Turk­ish man­u­scripts by search­ing the Library’s online cat­a­log.


Call for Papers

Traditional Authority and Transnational Religious Networks in Contemporary Shi‘i Islam:
Results from recent empirical research

Workshop of the Princeton/Oxford collaborative project
Princeton University, October 3–5, 2013.
Conveners: Morgan Clarke (Oxford) and Mirjam Künkler (Princeton)

De-Centering Shi‘ism?

Religious authority in Usuli Twelver Shi‘i Islam is generally seen as concentrated in the hands of the “sources of emulation,” the maraji‘ (sing. marja‘) al-taqlid, and as paradigmatically based in the established centers of Shi‘i learning of Najaf (Iraq) and Qom (Iran), from where it is projected out to the “peripheries”. Shi‘i Islam thus often appears in academic discourse as relatively monolithic, whereas the diverse, disparate, even fragmented nature of Sunni Islam would seem to be more widely documented.This workshop, sponsored by the Princeton/Oxford collaborative grant “Traditional authority and transnational religious networks in contemporary Shi‘i Islam: Results from recent empirical research,” seeks to question such a monolithic account and ask whether we need to de-center our picture of Shi‘i Islam. Continue reading