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Explaining the "Conservative Turn"
"Once celebrated in the Western media as a shining example of a 'liberal' and 'tolerant' Islam, Indonesia since the end of the Soeharto regime (May 1998) has witnessed a variety of developments that bespeak a conservative turn in the country’s Muslim politics. In this timely collection of original essays, Martin van Bruinessen, our most distinguished senior Western scholar of Indonesian Islam, and four leading Indonesian Muslim scholars explore and explain these developments. Each chapter examines recent trends from a strategic institutional perch: the Council of Indonesian Muslim scholars, the reformist Muhammadiyah, South Sulawesi's Committee for the Implementation of Islamic Shari'a, and radical Islamism in Solo. With van Bruinessen's brilliantly synthetic introduction and conclusion, these essays shed a bright light on what Indonesian Muslim politics was and where it seems to be going. The analysis is complex and by no means uniformly dire. For readers interested in Indonesian Muslim politics, and for analysts interested in the dialectical interplay of progressive and conservative Islam, this book is fascinating and essential reading."—Robert Hefner, Director, Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs, Boston University
Reflections with Afghan Women Leaders
Sally L. Kitch explores the crisis in contemporary Afghan women's lives by focusing on two remarkable Afghan professional women working on behalf of their Afghan sisters. Kitch's compelling narrative follows the stories of Judge Marzia Basel and Jamila Afghani from 2005 through 2013, providing an oft-ignored perspective on the personal and professional lives of Afghanistan's women. Contending with the complex dynamics of a society both undergoing and resisting change, Basel and Afghani speak candidly--and critically--of matters like international intervention and patriarchal Afghan culture, capturing the ways in which immense possibility alternates and vies with utter hopelessness. Strongly rooted in feminist theory and interdisciplinary historical and geopolitical analysis, Contested Terrain sheds new light on the struggle against the powerful forces that affect Afghan women's education, health, political participation, livelihoods, and quality of life. The book also suggests how a new dialogue might be started--in which women from across geopolitical boundaries might find common cause for change and rewrite their collective stories.
An Architectural Reading of Mystical Ideas
This fascinating interdisciplinary study reveals connections between architecture, cosmology, and mysticism. Samer Akkach demonstrates how space ordering in premodern Islamic architecture reflects the transcendental and the sublime. The book features many new translations, a number from unpublished sources, and several illustrations. Referencing a wide range of mystical texts, and with a special focus on the works of the great Sufi master Ibn >Arabiµ, Akkach introduces a notion of spatial sensibility that is shaped by religious conceptions of time and space. Religious beliefs about the cosmos, geography, the human body, and constructed forms are all underpinned by a consistent spatial sensibility anchored in medieval geocentrism. Within this geometrically defined and ordered universe, nothing stands in isolation or ambiguity; everything is interrelated and carefully positioned in an intricate hierarchy. Through detailed mapping of this intricate order, the book shows the significance of this mode of seeing the world for those who lived in the premodern Islamic era and how cosmological ideas became manifest in the buildings and spaces of their everyday lives. This is a highly original work that provides important insights on Islamic aesthetics and culture, on the history of architecture, and on the relationship of art and religion, creativity and spirituality.
The Ritual Vow in South Asia
Drawing on original field research, Dealing with Deities explores the practice of taking ritual vows in the lives of ordinary religious practitioners in South Asia. The cornerstone of lay religious activity, vow rituals are adopted by Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs who wish to commit themselves to ritually enacted relationships with sacred figures in order to gain earthly boons and spiritual merit. The contributors to this volume offer a fascinating look at the varieties and complexities of vows and also focus on a unique characteristic of this vow-taking culture, that of resorting to deities and shrines of other religions in defiance of institutional directives and religious boundaries. Richly illustrated, the book explores the creativity of South Asian devotees and their deeply felt convictions that what they require, they can achieve faithfully—and independently—by dealing directly with deities.
The End of Muhammad's Life and the Beginnings of Islam
"A work of utmost importance, and one that has profound implications for our understanding of how Islam began."--Fred Donner, University of Chicago The oldest Islamic biography of Muhammad, written in the mid-eighth century, relates that the prophet died at Medina in 632, while earlier and more numerous Jewish, Christian, Samaritan, and even Islamic sources indicate that Muhammad survived to lead the conquest of Palestine, beginning in 634-35. Although this discrepancy has been known for several decades, Stephen J. Shoemaker here writes the first systematic study of the various traditions. Using methods and perspectives borrowed from biblical studies, Shoemaker concludes that these reports of Muhammad's leadership during the Palestinian invasion likely preserve an early Islamic tradition that was later revised to meet the needs of a changing Islamic self-identity. Muhammad and his followers appear to have expected the world to end in the immediate future, perhaps even in their own lifetimes, Shoemaker contends. When the eschatological Hour failed to arrive on schedule and continued to be deferred to an ever more distant point, the meaning of Muhammad's message and the faith that he established needed to be fundamentally rethought by his early followers. The larger purpose of The Death of a Prophet exceeds the mere possibility of adjusting the date of Muhammad's death by a few years; far more important to Shoemaker are questions about the manner in which Islamic origins should be studied. The difference in the early sources affords an important opening through which to explore the nature of primitive Islam more broadly. Arguing for greater methodological unity between the study of Christian and Islamic origins, Shoemaker emphasizes the potential value of non-Islamic sources for reconstructing the history of formative Islam. Stephen J. Shoemaker is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Oregon and author of Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption.
The Development of Policy Toward Islamic Institutions in Israel
Covers Israel's policy toward Islamic institutions within its borders, 1948-2000. Using declassified documents from Israeli archives, Alisa Rubin Peled explores the development, implementation, and reform of the state’s Islamic policy from 1948 to 2000. She addresses how Muslim communal institutions developed and whether Israel formulated a distinct “Islamic policy” toward shari’a courts, waqf (charitable endowments), holy places, and religious education. Her analysis reveals the contradictions and nuances of a policy driven by a wide range of motives and implemented by a diverse group of government authorities, illustrating how Israeli policies produced a co-opted religious establishment lacking popular support and paved the way for a daring challenge by a grassroots Islamist Movement since the 1980s. As part of a wider debate on early Israeli history, she challenges the idea that Israeli policy was part of a greater monolithic policy toward the Arab minority.
Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Islamic Iberia
Al-Andalus, the Arabic name for the medieval Islamic state in Iberia, endured for over 750 years following the Arab and Berber conquest of Hispania in 711. While the popular perception of al-Andalus is that of a land of religious tolerance and cultural cooperation, the fact is that we know relatively little about how Muslims governed Christians and Jews in al-Andalus and about social relations among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. In Defining Boundaries in al-Andalus, Janina M. Safran takes a close look at the structure and practice of Muslim political and legal-religious authority and offers a rare look at intercommunal life in Iberia during the first three centuries of Islamic rule.
Safran makes creative use of a body of evidence that until now has gone largely untapped by historians-the writings and opinions of Andalusi and Maghribi jurists during the Umayyad dynasty. These sources enable her to bring to life a society undergoing dramatic transformation. Obvious differences between conquerors and conquered and Muslims and non-Muslims became blurred over time by transculturation, intermarriage, and conversion. Safran examines ample evidence of intimate contact between individuals of different religious communities and of legal-juridical accommodation to develop an argument about how legal-religious authorities interpreted the social contract between the Muslim regime and the Christian and Jewish populations. Providing a variety of examples of boundary-testing and negotiation and bringing judges, jurists, and their legal opinions and texts into the narrative of Andalusi history, Safran deepens our understanding of the politics of Umayyad rule, makes Islamic law tangibly social, and renders intercommunal relations vividly personal.
Culture, Conflict, and Creativity
Dreaming in Christianity and Islam, is the first book to explore dreaming in these religions through original essays. The editors reach a plateau by focusing on how studying dreams reveals new aspects of social and political reality. International scholars document the impact of dreams on sacred texts, mystical experiences, therapeutic practices, and doctrinal controversies.