294 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Islam about their New Books

New Books in Islamic Studies New Books Network

    • Islam

Interviews with Scholars of Islam about their New Books

    Sohaira Siddiqui, "Law and Politics Under the Abbasids: An Intellectual Portrait of al-Juwayni" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    Sohaira Siddiqui, "Law and Politics Under the Abbasids: An Intellectual Portrait of al-Juwayni" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    In her intimidatingly brilliant new book Law and Politics Under the Abbasids: An Intellectual Portrait of al-Juwayni (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Sohaira Siddiqui conducts a masterful analysis of how conditions of political change and fragmentation generate intellectual debates and fermentation on the often-conflictual interaction of certainty, continuity, and community in Muslim thought and practice. Focused on the thought and career of the prominent 11th-century Muslim scholar al-Juwayni (d. 1085), Siddiqui examines the hermeneutical choices, operations, and conundrums that go into the negotiation of epistemic certainty in the realms of law and theology with the imperative of historical change and dynamism. The distinguishing hallmark of this book is the way it conducts a thoroughly interdisciplinary examination of early Muslim intellectual thought by putting Islamic law, theology, and politics into a productive and rather profound conversation. The outcome is a study that combines philological prowess, analytical sophistication, and astonishing lucidity. Sure to spark important conversations in Islamic Studies and beyond, this book deserves to be taught in wide ranging undergraduate and graduate seminars as well.
    SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at sherali.tareen@fandm.edu. Listener feedback is most welcome.
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    • 47 min
    Murad Idris, "War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Murad Idris, "War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Murad Idris, a political theorist in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores the concept of peace, the term itself and the way that it has been considered and analyzed in western and Islamic political thought. War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought (Oxford University Press, 2018) traces the concept of peace, and the way it is often insinuated with other words and concepts, over more than 2000 years of political thought. Idris begins with Plato’s Laws as one of the early sources to consider the tension that seems to be constant in terms of the pursuit of violence in order to attain peace.
    War for Peace provides some important framing in thinking about peace, in large measure because the research indicates how rare it is for peace itself to be solitary, it is almost always lassoed to other words and concepts, and functions either as a binary opposition (e.g.: war and peace) or as part of a dyad combination (e.g.: peace and justice). We are urged to think about peace and the valence that is given to the word and the ideal—since the moral and the political understandings of peace are often entangled and part of what Idris is doing in his careful and thoughtful research is to tease out the political concept, apart from the often religious and moral ideal. This rich and complex analysis integrates a broad group of theorists—Plato, al-Farabi, Aquinas, Erasmus, Gentili, Grotius, Ibn Khaldun, Hobbes, Kant, and Sayyid Qutb)—all of whom were examining the role of peace within politics and political thought. And Idris structures these thinkers into chronological and theoretical groupings, to explore the ways in which they were responding to each other, across time, but also to understand how different thinkers were connecting peace to other concepts. War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought may leave the reader anxious but also enlightened in considering this idea and its perplexing place within the history of political thought.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    Juliane Hammer, "Peaceful Families: American Muslim Efforts Against Domestic Violence" (Princeton UP, 2019)

    Juliane Hammer, "Peaceful Families: American Muslim Efforts Against Domestic Violence" (Princeton UP, 2019)

    How do Muslim Americans respond to domestic violence? What motivates Muslim individuals and organizations to work towards eradicating domestic violence in their communities? Where do Muslim providers, survivors, victims, and organizations fit into the broader, mainstream anti-domestic violence movement? How do Muslims negotiate with religious tradition in their work against domestic violence to arrive at an ethic of non-abuse?
    Juliane Hammer answers these and many other questions in her new brilliant, engaging, and clear new book Peaceful Families: American Muslim Efforts Against Domestic Violence (Princeton University Press, 2019). The book provides an excellent overview of the ways that Muslim Americans address domestic violence in their communities. Through rich, detailed ethnographic interviews with Muslim advocates, service providers, imams and other religious leaders, and organizations, Hammer explores the stories, struggles, and anxieties of Muslims as they face the intersections of a range of issues, including anti-Muslim hostility and patriarchy. Peaceful Families will be of interest to anyone interested in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Islam in America, the relationship between Islam and gender, and anyone generally interested in working against domestic violence.
    In our conversation, we discuss some of the main points of the book and the themes that shape her arguments, including the broader Muslim anti-domestic violence movement—and whether it can be identified as a movement—the relationship between gender, patriarchy, and domestic violence; the impact of Islamophobia on survivors and victims of domestic violence; the ethic of non-abuse that is central to advocates’ work against domestic violence; and the relationship between academic policing and activist scholarship.
    Shehnaz Haqqani is Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. Her primary research areas include Islam and gender, change and tradition in Islam, and religious authority. She can be contacted at haqqani_s@mercer.edu.  
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    • 50 min
    Jonathan A. C. Brown, "Slavery and Islam" (Oneworld Academic, 2019)

    Jonathan A. C. Brown, "Slavery and Islam" (Oneworld Academic, 2019)

    In his majestic and encyclopedic new book Slavery and Islam (Oneworld Academic, 2019), Jonathan A. C. Brown presents a sweeping analysis of Muslim intellectual, political, and social entanglements with slavery, and some of the thorniest conceptual and ethical problems involved in defining and writing about slavery. Self-reflective and bold, Slavery and Islam also offers a remarkable combination of intellectual and social history, anchored in layers of complex yet eminently accessible textual analysis. What makes talking about slavery so difficult? What are the dominant discourses on and attitudes about slavery that have dominated Muslim history? What are some of the major points of overlap and fissure between Western and Muslim understandings of slavery? And how must one confront the ethical and interpretive challenges brought by the presence of slavery in Islam? These are among the questions Brown explores and addresses in this monumental work of scholarship that is sure to spark many conversations and debates, within and outside Islamic Studies.
    SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at sherali.tareen@fandm.edu. Listener feedback is most welcome.
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Alex Dika Seggerman, "Modernism on the Nile: Art in Egypt between the Islamic and the Contemporary" (UNC Press, 2019)

    Alex Dika Seggerman, "Modernism on the Nile: Art in Egypt between the Islamic and the Contemporary" (UNC Press, 2019)

    With scholarship in the discipline of history witnessing a shift toward global approaches to local historical processes, new questions are being raised about how to identify commensurate theoretical methods and conceptual frameworks for analysis – with art history being no less part of this scholarly shift. How do we strike a balance between acknowledging distinctly local historical transformations with related global ones? In what ways can we conceptualize intertwined global networks that gave rise to local phenomena without erasing local agency and uniqueness? Where do we account for power in our analyses of local and global historical developments?
    Modernism on the Nile: Art in Egypt between the Islamic and the Contemporary (UNC Press, 2019) by Alex Dika Seggerman deftly takes up the challenge posed by these and other questions by punctuating its mark both in the field of global modernism and in modern Arab and Islamic art history, offering the commensurate theories and frameworks necessary to help move these conversations forward. Through research conducted in Egypt, Europe, and the United States, Seggerman analyzes Egypt’s modernist art movement from the late-nineteenth century up until the 1960s, demonstrating the interconnectedness of this movement with a constellation of artistic production outside of Egypt.
    By examining the work of a range of characters like the satirical cartoonist Ya’qub Sanua, the nationalist sculptor Mahmoud Mukhtar, the enigmatic religious teacher Muhammad ‘Abduh and more, Seggerman argues that Egyptian modernism was neither “transnational” nor “global,” but manifested itself in a constellational network operating within a finite field that was wide enough to encompass an array of modernisms. Furthermore, by tracing and identifying “the Islamic” in modern Arab art, Seggerman also challenges the conventional periodization of Islamic art that heavily centers the premodern. She argues that we ought to pay more attention to the subtle inflections of Islam – not merely as a faith and doctrine but as a lived experience and cultural heritage – in the diverse work of major Egyptian artists of the time. This book is a welcome addition to the study of Middle Eastern, Muslim, and global modernisms.
    Asad Dandia is a graduate student of Islamic Studies at Columbia University.
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    • 42 min
    SpearIt, “American Prisons: A Critical Primer on Culture and Conversion to Islam” (First Edition Design, 2017)

    SpearIt, “American Prisons: A Critical Primer on Culture and Conversion to Islam” (First Edition Design, 2017)

    America has the largest incarcerated population in the world. This staggering and troubling fact has driven a great deal of scholarship. Much of this research has shown that mass incarceration in America is facilitated by systemic racial discrimination, which disproportionately affects African-American and Latinx communities. Only recently have scholars focused on the role of religion in American prisons.
    In American Prisons: A Critical Primer on Culture and Conversion to Islam (First Edition Design, 2017), SpearIt, Professor in the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, brings the subject of incarcerated Muslims into focus. The collection of essays synthesizes SpearIt’s legal and academic work on issues of conversion, radicalization, and Muslim prisoner rights. Overall, the collection demonstrates that prisons are a crucial space for understanding the history of Muslims in America. In our conversation we discussed how Muslims have shaped religious life in prisons, the everyday challenges of incarceration, prison as a center for religious conversion, reasons prisoners chose Islam while incarcerated, prison administrators’ and policy makers’ definitions of radicalization, Muslim hip hop in the age of mass incarceration, incarcerated Latinx communities, and strategies to improve the criminal justice system.
    Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. He is the author of Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph entitled The Cinematic Lives of Muslims, and is the editor of the forthcoming volumes Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology (ILEX Foundation) and New Approaches to Islam in Film (Routledge). You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at kpeterse@odu.edu.
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    • 1 hr 18 min

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