56 episodes

Akbar’s Chamber offers a non-political, non-sectarian and non-partisan space for exploring the past and present of Islam. It has no political or theological bias other than a commitment to the Socratic method (which is to say that questions lead us to understanding) and the empirical record (which is to say the evidence of the world around us). By these methods, Akbar’s Chamber is devoted to enriching public awareness of Islam and Muslims both past and present.
The podcast aims to improve understanding of Islam in all its variety, in all regions of the world, by inviting experts to share their specialist knowledge in terms that we can all understand.

Akbar's Chamber - Experts Talk Islam akbarschamber

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 4 Ratings

Akbar’s Chamber offers a non-political, non-sectarian and non-partisan space for exploring the past and present of Islam. It has no political or theological bias other than a commitment to the Socratic method (which is to say that questions lead us to understanding) and the empirical record (which is to say the evidence of the world around us). By these methods, Akbar’s Chamber is devoted to enriching public awareness of Islam and Muslims both past and present.
The podcast aims to improve understanding of Islam in all its variety, in all regions of the world, by inviting experts to share their specialist knowledge in terms that we can all understand.

    Chinese Muslims and the Middle East: The Transformation of Islam in Modern China

    Chinese Muslims and the Middle East: The Transformation of Islam in Modern China

    China is not only home to around 20 million Muslims, it is also home to a variety of different Islamic traditions, and of various ethnic groups who follow those different versions of Islam. In this episode we focus on the Chinese-speaking (or ‘Sinophone’) Muslims rather than the better-known Turkic-speaking (or Uyghur) Muslims. From the medieval period onwards, these Chinese-speaking followers of Islam developed their own religious traditions by drawing on classical Sufi mystical works and Hanafi legal texts written outside of China and applying them to local conditions, which often involved translating or writing religious texts in Chinese. Yet despite occasional contacts with the wider Muslim world, it wasn’t till the late nineteenth century that these Sinophone Muslims established regular ties with their coreligionists in the Middle East. Those new contacts set in motion a century of religious change that was also shaped by political events as China was transformed from an empire to a nationalist republic, then a communist People’s Republic. This episode traces the outcomes of these twentieth-century links between Muslims in China and Middle East. Nile Green talks to Mohammed Al-Sudairi, author of “Traditions of Maturidism and Anti-Wahhabism in China: An Account of the Yihewani Hard-liners of the Northwest,” Journal of Islamic Studies 32, 3 (2021).

    • 1 hr 18 min
    Sharia and the Modern State: How the British Empire—and its Muslim Subjects—Transformed Islamic Law

    Sharia and the Modern State: How the British Empire—and its Muslim Subjects—Transformed Islamic Law

    Many people, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, might think of Sharia as ancient and unchanging. But like any form of law, it has a history. And like every aspect of religion, it was transformed in the modern era. This episode examines how Sharia changed during the two centuries when the British Empire ruled over large parts of the Muslim world. Surveying two transformational centuries—from around 1750 to around 1950—we’ll hear what happened to Sharia as British rule fanned out from India (including what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh) to Malaya (including what is today Malaysia and Singapore) then Egypt. We’ll learn how Sharia metamorphosed from a general societal discourse to a narrower notion of ‘Islamic law’ then state law in turn. The result was what this episode’s expert guest has called “the paradox of Islamic law,” by which Sharia was centralized by the state but at the same time marginalized by state institutions. Nile Green talks to Iza Hussin, author of The Politics of Islamic Law: Local Elites, Colonial Authority, and the Making of the Muslim State (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

    • 1 hr
    The Mongol Storm: How the Mongols Transformed the Middle East

    The Mongol Storm: How the Mongols Transformed the Middle East

    In 1218, the pagan armies of the Mongols appeared on the horizon of the Middle East to begin a series of campaigns unparalleled in their scale of violence. In the deceptively mellifluous phrasing of the Persian historian Juvaini, “amadand o kandand o sokhtand o koshtand o bardand o raftand.” (“They came, they uprooted, they burned, they killed, they looted, and they left.”) And then they came back again, and again. Over the course of four decades, the Mongols subjugated or destroyed the whole gamut of states that comprised the region’s medieval geopolitical jigsaw, from the Muslim-ruled states of the Khwarazmians, Saljuqs, Ayyubids, and Zangids to the different Christian polities of the Byzantines, Armenians, Georgians, and Crusaders. Three generations would pass by the time the Mongol emperor Ghazan Khan converted to Islam in 1295. By then, the Middle East had been irrevocably transformed. Exploring these decades of destruction and reconstruction, Nile Green talks to Nicholas Morton, author of The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East (Basic Books, 2022).

    • 59 min
    Saintly Infrastructures of Medieval Islam: The Shrine at Torbat-e Jam

    Saintly Infrastructures of Medieval Islam: The Shrine at Torbat-e Jam

    The importance of Christian monasteries to the socio-economic no less than the religious life of medieval Europe has long been recognized. Far less well-known is the comparable role of Muslim shrine complexes in providing a socio-economic infrastructure for their surrounding communities. This was especially the case in the eastern Islamic lands comprising what is today Iran, Afghanistan, and the other “stans” of Central Asia, as well as northwestern China. Yet whether through redistributing the wealth of rulers or managing the underground irrigation channels known as kariz or qanat, such shrines played crucial agricultural and economic no less than political and religious roles. In this episode, we trace the history of one such shrine—that of Ahmad-e Jam (1049-1141)—from the life of its founder to its patronage by such medieval conquerors as Sultan Sanjar and Tamerlane the Great to its links with the Timurid renaissance in nearby Herat. Nile Green talks to Shivan Mahendrarajah, author of The Sufi Saint of Jam: History, Religion, and Politics of a Sunni Shrine in Shi'i Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

    • 55 min
    A Muslim Book Collector in Late Ottoman Europe

    A Muslim Book Collector in Late Ottoman Europe

    Today, thousands of Islamic manuscripts survive as testimony to the seven-hundred-year Muslim presence in southeastern Europe. But collections of manuscripts that belonged to a single person are exceedingly rare. And when the books of an individual person remain together as a collection, they tell us much more than they do when dispersed. In this episode, we peruse one such private library—of the judge and mystic Mustafa Muhibbi—as a storehouse of literary, religious, and cultural life in nineteenth century Bosnia, which remained part of the Ottoman Empire till 1878. We’ll hear not only about the mixture of languages, but also the assortment of interests—law and poetry, magic and medicine, astrology and grammar—molded into coherent cultural unity by a curious individual mind. We’ll also learn how a beloved personal library formed a biographical mirror to the arduous life of a provincial official who an 1841 register described as merely a medium-sized man with a grizzled beard. Nile Green talks to Tatjana Paić-Vukić, Senior Research Fellow at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts and author of The World of Mustafa Muhibbi: A Kadi from Sarajevo (Isis Press, 2011).

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Who Decides What is Islamic? Insights from Anthropology

    Who Decides What is Islamic? Insights from Anthropology

    As any observer of the Islamic world—or regular listener to Akbar’s Chamber—will know, there are a dizzying variety of different forms of Islam. Yet every Muslim who follows one of these different versions believes it represents the true version of the faith. This begs the question of who gets to decide what is, and isn’t, Islam? In other words, who has the religious authority to define Islam? In this episode, we explore the social, historical, and doctrinal dimensions of religious authority through the lenses of anthropology.  Step by step, we unpack the key components of religious authority, from revered historic founder figures to their living representatives, along with the crucial components of respected texts and institutions that range from mosques and mystical orders to political parties and states. While looking at Islam from the analytical outside of the social sciences, we also examine how this approach relates to two foundational Islamic concepts: the Sunna (or Model of the Prophet Muhammad) and the Jama‘a (or Muslim Community). Nile Green talks to Ismail Fajrie Alatas, author of What is Religious Authority? Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia (Princeton University Press, 2021).

    • 1 hr

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
4 Ratings

4 Ratings

xainabkahn ,

muslim here

this is fantastic ! wow

Top Podcasts In Education

The Mel Robbins Podcast
Mel Robbins
The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Try This
The Washington Post
TED Talks Daily
TED
How to Be a Better Human
TED and PRX
The Jordan Harbinger Show
Jordan Harbinger

You Might Also Like

Ibn 'Arabi Society
Selected speakers
The Lede
New Lines Magazine
Empire
Goalhanger Podcasts
The Ezra Klein Show
New York Times Opinion
Dan Snow's History Hit
History Hit
The Intelligence from The Economist
The Economist