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

by MARCIA Z. NELSON and JANA RIESS for PUBLISHERS WEEKLY on OCTOBER 3, 2014: 

One rarely uses the term booming in publishing these days, but it’s fair to say that academic publishing about Islam is doing just that. New books are diverse in subject matter and house of origin, as this major religion’s world-shaping influence is being more closely examined.

University of North Carolina Press has three installments in its Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks series. Sahar Amer’s What Is Veiling? (Sept.) will be joined in April 2015 by Ebrahim Moosa’s What Is Madrasa? and Bruce Lawrence’s Who Is Allah? Elaine Maisner, senior executive editor at the press, says more books are in the works to join this series. “Islamic studies is continuing to trend,” she notes. “We are interested in Islamic studies beyond the conventional link with fundamentalism, and we are finding some interesting work in the area of lived religion, and of progressive Islam.”

For publishers that can successfully hit the sweet spot in books on Islam in America—they need to be fresh enough to merit scholarly attention, but also mainstream enough for course adoption—the rewards can be great. At NYU, the 1998 title Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas has sold nearly 20,000 copies and was reissued in 2013 in a 15th-anniversary edition.

Oxford University Press has long had a deep list on the subject, and several key themes characterize its new titles in the field. Senior editor Theo Calderara says OUP’s newest releases investigate the history of Islam (In God’s Path: The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire by Robert G. Hoyland, Oct.) and consider the complex relationships of Islam and politics (What Is an American Muslim? Embracing Faith and Citizenship by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Feb.). In addition to producing its signature hefty handbooks on aspects of Islam, the press is adding to its Qur’anic studies program with such titles as Feminist Edges of the Qur’an by Aysha A. Hidayatullah (May).

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