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Reconsidering Religion and Secularism in Women’s Islamic Movements
As the world grapples with issues of religious fanaticism, extremist politics, and rampant violence that seek justification in either “religious” or “secular” discourses, women who claim Islam as a vehicle for individual and social change are often either regarded as pious subjects who subscribe to an ideology that denies them many modern freedoms, or as feminist subjects who seek empowerment only through rejecting religion and adopting secularist discourses. Such assumptions emerge from a common trend in the literature to categorize the ‘secular’ and the ‘religious’ as polarizing categories, which in turn mitigates the identities, experiences and actions of women in Islamic societies. Yet in actuality Muslim women whose activism is grounded in Islam draw equally on principles associated with secularism.
In An Islam of Her Own, Sherine Hafez focuses on women's Islamic activism in Egypt to challenge these binary representations of religious versus secular subjectivities. Drawing on six non-consecutive years of ethnographic fieldwork within a women's Islamic movement in Cairo, Hafez analyzes the ways in which women who participate in Islamic activism narrate their selfhood, articulate their desires, and embody discourses in which the boundaries are blurred between the religious and the secular.
Muslim Societies in South and Southeast Asia
Well over half of the world’s Muslim population lives in Asia. Over the centuries a rich constellation of Muslim cultures developed there and the region is currently home to some of the most dynamic and important developments in contemporary Islam. Despite this, the internal dynamics of Muslim societies in Asia do not often receive commensurate attention in international Islamic Studies scholarship. This volume brings together the work of an interdisciplinary group of scholars discussing various aspects of the complex relationships between the Muslim communities of South and Southeast Asia. With their respective contributions covering points and patterns of interaction from the medieval to the contemporary periods, they attempt to map new trajectories for understanding the ways in which these two crucial areas have developed in relation to each other, as well as in the broader contexts of both world history and the current age of globalization.
Joshua Parens provides an introduction to the thought of Alfarabi, a tenth-century Muslim political philosopher whose writings are particularly relevant today. Parens focuses on Alfarabi’s Attainment of Happiness, in which he envisions the kind of government and religion needed to fulfill Islam’s ambition of universal acceptance. Parens argues that Alfarabi seeks to temper the hopes of Muslims and other believers that one homogeneous religion might befit the entire world and counsels acceptance of the possibility of a multiplicity of virtuous religions. Much of Alfarabi’s approach is built upon Plato’s Republic, which Parens also examines in order to provide the necessary background for a proper understanding of Alfarabi’s thought.
The Changing Discourse in Iran
While many previous books have probed the causes of Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979, few have focused on the power of religion in shaping a national identity over the decades leading up to it. Islamism and Modernism captures the metamorphosis of the Islamic movement in Iran, from encounters with Great Britain and the United States in the 1920s through twenty-first-century struggles between those seeking to reform Islam’s role and those who take a hardline defensive stance. Capturing the views of four generations of Muslim activists, Farhang Rajaee describes how the extremism of the 1960s brought more confidence to concerned Islam-minded Iranians and radicalized the Muslim world while Islamic alternatives to modernity were presented. Subsequent ideologies gave rise to the revolution, which in turn has fed a restructuring of Islam as a faith rather than as an ideology. Presenting thought-provoking discussions of religious thinkers such as Ha’eri, Burujerdi, Bazargan, and Shari‘ati, along with contemporaries such as Kadivar, Soroush, and Shabestari, the author sheds rare light on the voices fueling contemporary Islamic thinking in Iran. A comprehensive study of these interwoven aspects of politics, religion, society, and identity, Islamism and Modernism offers crucial new insight into the aftermath of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution fought one hundred years ago—and its ramifications for the newest generation to face the crossroads of modernity and Islamic discourse in modern Iran today.
Politics in the Emerging Democracy
The fall of President Soeharto in May 1998 and the introduction of multi-party democracy by President BJ Habibie have unleashed religious parties (both Islamic and Christian) in Indonesian politics. This study shows that the Islamist agenda of the Islamist parties is overshadowed by their political pragmatism. This book is a must-read account on the rise and failure of the Islamist struggle in Indonesia's emerging democracy. Platzdasch's work is without a doubt a significant and timely contribution to a better understanding of Islamic politics in contemporary Indonesia. - Professor Azyumardi Azra, Professor of History & Director, Graduate School, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Jakarta, Indonesia.
A Study in Vernacular Politics
This ethnography of contemporary Istanbul charts the success of Islamist mobilization through the eyes of ordinary people. Drawing on interviews gathered over twenty years of fieldwork, White focuses on the appeal of Islamic politics in the fabric of Turkish society and among mobilizing and mobilized elites, women, and educated populations.
The Party of Justice and Development in Morocco
Wegner traces the party’s choices through an analysis of organizational, ideological, and institutional constraints. Adopting a simple but novel perspective, Wegner distinguishes Islamist parties from other opposition parties because of their connection to a powerful social movement. The author shows how the PJD initially made major progress in electoral politics by building up a strong party organization, sustaining full support of the Islamist movement, and positioning itself as the only credible opposition party. Ultimately, the failure of the PJD to win elections was due to political concessions it made to secure its legality combined with a distancing from the Islamist movement. Based on extensive field research in Morocco in 2003 and 2007 and drawing upon personal interviews with members, candidates, and leaders of the PJD, Islamist Opposition in Authoritarian Regimes presents a meticulous and enlightening case study. Wegner enriches our understanding of electoral authoritarianism in Morocco and throughout the Arab- Islamic world.
Islamization and Activism in Malaysia examines aspects of the increasing political and social profile of Islam in Malaysia and describes how different kinds of activists in Malaysia have sought to protect fundamental liberties and to improve the state of democracy in Malaysia. In particular, focus is paid to activists who engage with electoral process, the law and the public sphere, and in particular, to movements that cut across or combine these realms of action. Spanning the period of the Prime Ministership of Abdullah Badawi, Julian C. H. Lee's grounded analysis examines the most important issues of that period including the freedom of religion case of Lina Joy, the Islamic state debate, and events surrounding the 8 March 2008 general elections.
Globalization and Identity in a Muslim Community
Led by a charismatic European-based hereditary Imam, Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, global Isma'ili organizations make available an astonishing array of services--social, economic, political, and religious--to some three to five million subjects stretching from Afghanistan to England, from Pakistan to Tanzania. Steinberg argues that this intricate and highly integrated network enables a new kind of shared identity and citizenship, one that goes well beyond the sense of community maintained by other diasporic populations. Of note in this process is the rapid assimilation in the postcolonial period of once-isolated societies into the intensively centralized Isma'ili structure. Also remarkable is the Isma'ilis' self-presentation, contrary to common characterizations of Islam in the mass media, as a Muslim society that is broadly sympathetic to capitalist systems, opposed to fundamentalism, and distinctly modern in orientation. Steinberg's unique journey into remote mountain regions highlights today's rapidly shifting meanings of citizenship, faith, and identity and reveals their global scale.
Vol. 5 (2012) through current issue
The Journal of Shiâa Islamic Studies (JSIS) is a refereed academic journal published quarterly by ICAS Press for the Islamic College in London. The journal provides an international forum for scholars through the publication of research articles in all fields of Shiâa studies, from the historical to the contemporary and from the theological to the philosophical.