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At a time when more nuanced understandings of Muslim countries and their legal and social practices are urgently needed in the West, the appearance of this collection is especially welcome. In these illuminating and accessible essays, the contributors explain how Islam sees itself in terms of social policy, how it treats women, and how it encourages charity, education, and general social welfare. The essays encompass many regional cultures and draw on court records and legal debates, field work on government ministries, and an extensive reading of Islamic law. In his overview of waqf (similar to the Western idea of a foundation, in which an endowment is set aside in perpetuity for specified purposes), Ahmad Dallal explains how charity, a central organizing principle in Islam, is itself organized and how waqf, traditionally a source of revenue for charitable purposes, can also become a source of tension and conflict. Donna Lee Bowen, in her essay on the position of women in Islamic law, points out the crucial differences between the Islamic principles of family equity and the Western notion of individual equality. In a subsequent essay, Bowen addresses the problems surrounding family planning and the dilemmas that have arisen within the Muslim world over differing ideas about birth control. The two final essays look at specific instances of how the modern state has treated Islamic social policy. Gail Richardson examines zakat, an Islamic tax used to assist the poor, and its administration in Pakistan. Carol Underwood, meanwhile, explores public health policy in Iran, both before and after the Islamic revolution that deposed the Shah. Addressing some of the most profound misunderstandings between Islamic and Western societies, ISLAM AND SOCIAL POLICY will be of vital interest not only to scholars and policymakers but to anyone concerned with Islam’s critical place in the modern world.
Abdelwahab Meddeb makes an urgent case for an Islamic reformation, located squarely in Western Europe, now home to millions of Muslims, where Christianity and Judaism have come to coexist with secular humanism and positivist law. He is not advocating "moderate" Islam, which he characterizes as thinly disguised Wahabism, but rather an Islam inspired by the great Sufi thinkers, whose practice of religion was not bound by doctrine. To accomplish this, Meddeb returns to the doctrinal question of the text as transcription of the uncreated word of God and calls upon Muslims to distinguish between Islam's spiritual message and the temporal, material, and historically grounded origins of its founding scriptures. He contrasts periods of Islamic history--when philosophers and theologians engaged in lively dialogue with other faiths and civilizations, and contributed to transmitting the Hellenistic tradition to early modern Europe--with modern Islam's collective amnesia of this past. Meddeb wages a war of interpretations in this book, in his attempt to demonstrate that Muslims cannot join the concert of nations unless they set aside outmoded notions such as jihad and realize that feuding among the monotheisms must give way to the more important issue of what it means to be a citizen in today's post-religious global setting.
A "Boston Review" Book
The events of September 11 and the subsequent war on terrorism have provoked widespread discussion about the possibility of democracy in the Islamic world. Such topics as the meaning of jihad, the role of clerics as authoritative interpreters, and the place of human rights and toleration in Islam have become subjects of urgent public debate around the world. With few exceptions, however, this debate has proceeded in isolation from the vibrant traditions of argument within Islamic theology, philosophy, and law.
Islam and the Challenge of Democracy aims to correct this deficiency. The book engages the reader in a rich discourse on the challenges of democracy in contemporary Islam. The collection begins with a lead essay by Khaled Abou El Fadl, who argues that democracy, especially a constitutional democracy that protects basic individual rights, is the form of government best suited to promoting a set of social and political values central to Islam. Because Islam is about submission to God and about each individual's responsibility to serve as His agent on Earth, Abou El Fadl argues, there is no place for the subjugation to human authority demanded by authoritarian regimes. The lead essay is followed by eleven others from internationally respected specialists in democracy and religion. They address, challenge, and engage Abou El Fadl's work. The contributors include John Esposito, Muhammad Fadel, Noah Feldman, Nader Hashemi, Bernard Haykel, Muqtedar Khan, Saba Mahmood, David Novak, William Quandt, Kevin Reinhart, and Jeremy Waldron.
This is an excellent book which will have a major impact on the current debate about the relationship between Islam and politics in Indonesia. Its greatest strength is its innovative characterization of three Indonesian Muslim models of polity, as opposed to the normal two, Islamic state and secular state. Assyaukanie brilliantly delineates a third model, which he calls the Religious Democratic State, in the process greatly clarifying our understanding of the previous models, which he now proposes to label the Islamic Democratic State and the Liberal Democratic State. Another strength of the book is methodological. Each of its arguments is solidly grounded in the thoughts and actions of particular players, Indonesian Muslim thinkers and activists.-- Professor R. William Liddle, Ohio State University, United States of America
According to the Qur’an, God created two parallel species, man and the jinn, the former from clay and the latter from fire. Beliefs regarding the jinn are deeply integrated into Muslim culture and religion, and have a constant presence in legends, myths, poetry, and literature. In Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn, Amira El-Zein explores the integral role these mythological figures play, revealing that the concept of jinn is fundamental to understanding Muslim culture and tradition.
Between Divine Message and History
Why this book? What can it add to the many works that have already explored Islam as a history, a doctrine, a law, and a code of ethics? The bulk of Islamic thought nowadays is either a repetition of and rumination about what the ancients have already said, or the tackling of partial issues that falls short of a comprehensive view and a theoretical framework. All too often ideology replaces real knowledge. This work attempts to introduce the characteristics of the Mohammedan Mission, with the aspiration to be faithful to its essential purposes and to historical truth at the same time. The author thus illustrates the different ways in which people have understood the Mission and the reasons that led them to those various interpretations. The book presents several alternative interpretations that actually existed but did not enjoy widespread acceptance and popularity.
Tradition and Transformation
This is a remarkable piece of scholarship that illuminates general and specific tendencies in Islamic education in South Thailand. Armed with an enormous amount of rich empirical detail and an elegant writing style, the author debunks the simplistic Orientalist conceptions of Wahhabi and Salafi influences on Islamic education in South Thailand. This work will be a state-of-the-art source for understanding the role of Islam and the ongoing conflict in this troubled region of Southeast Asia. The book is significant for those scholars who are attempting to understand Muslim communities in Southeast Asia, and also for those who want deep insights into Islamic education and its influence in any area of the Islamic world.- - Raymond Scupin, Professor of Anthropology and International Studies Lindenwood University, USA
Challenges and Opportunities
Dedicated to increasing our knowledge and awareness of the ever-growing diversity and pluralism of global society, Forum A. & A. Leysen has initiated an annual debate/lecture series, beginning with a focus on Islam in today's world and in Europe in particular. Seven well-known influential authorities - each an active participant in the public debate on the global role of Islam past, present and future - recently presented papers at the first Intercultural Relations Conference sponsored by Forum A.& A. Leysen. These important contributions, on the topic Islam and Europe: Challenges and Opportunities, are reprinted in this volume. Although each contributor speaks from his own distinctive point of view, a common message emerges from all seven texts: only dialogue - on the one hand between the West (countries that manifest themselves as Western Democratic constitutional states) and Islam, and on the other hand within and among societies historically identified with Islam- will overcome entrenched confrontation and negative animosity, engender new possibilities and understandings, and, by encouraging free and critical thinking, pave the way to social equity and the scientific innovation that, potentially, can lead to more prosperity. In the course of the conference all seven talks led to fascinating debates. This book includes the most important questions asked and the speakers' responses. Although the question of how to actually construct the dialogue remains unsettled, this ground-breaking book takes a giant step toward an answer.
Crises are Challenges
Within the framework of the Forum A. & A Leysen, several experts from in and outside the Muslim world contributed to this book. In Islam and Europe: Crises Are Challenges they discuss how dialogues between Islam and the West, with a focus on Europe, can be achieved. The various authors (legal scholars, political theorists, social scientists, and psychologists) explore in these collected essays such interrelated questions as: How much diversity is permissible within a liberal pluralistic democratic society? How strong are the implications of citizenship? What are equitable accommodations of contested practices? They argue for an adequate understanding of how Western Muslim communities in Europe experience their minority position and what needs to be done to improve their participation in European society. The second part of this volume is a collection of papers written around the work of Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, who also makes his own contribution to the book. The Catholic University of Leuven awarded An-Na'im an honorary doctorate in 2009 on the theme of multiculturalism, intercultural relations and diversity. An-Na'im is recognized the world over as a leading expert in the area of religion and law, and as a human rights activist. Islam and Europe: Crises Are Challenges reinforces our sense that a better knowledge and awareness of the growing diversity of our society, and striving for harmonious relations between Islam and the West, are among the most important challenges of our time. With contributions by: Ahmed Aboutaleb, Durre S. Ahmed, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Shaheen Sardar Ali, Mohamed Benzakour, Jean-Yves Carlier, Marie-Claire Foblets, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Fouad Laroui, Bettina Leysen, Rashida Manjoo, Bhikhu Parekh, Mathias Rohe, Cedric Ryngaert, Prakash Shah. Other publication: Islam and Europe, Challenges and Opportunities
Politics and Religious Renewal in Muslim Southeast Asia
The renewal of the Muslim faith, which has occurred not only in Asia but in other parts of the world, has prompted warnings of an imminent "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West. Islam in an Era of Nation-States examines the history, politics, and meanings of this resurgence in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines and explores its implications for Southeast Asia, the larger Muslim world, and the West. This volume will be of interest to students of Islam, Southeast Asian history, and the anthropology of religion. In examining the politics and meanings of Islamic resurgence, it will also speak to political scientists, religious scholars, and others concerned with culture and politics in the late modern era.