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Intertwined Worlds

Medieval Islam and Bible Criticism

Hava Lazarus-Yafeh

Exploring the lively polemics among Jews, Christians, and Muslims during the Middle Ages, Hava Lazarus-Yafeh analyzes Muslim critical attitudes toward the Bible, some of which share common features with both pre-Islamic and early modern European Bible criticism. Unlike Jews and Christians, Muslims did not accept the text of the Bible as divine word, believing that it had been tampered with or falsified. This belief, she maintains, led to a critical approach to the Bible, which scrutinized its text as well as its ways of transmission. In their approach Muslim authors drew on pre-Islamic pagan, Gnostic, and other sectarian writings as well as on Rabbinic and Christian sources. Elements of this criticism may have later influenced Western thinkers and helped shape early modern Bible scholarship. Nevertheless, Muslims also took the Bible to predict the coming of Muhammad and the rise of Islam. They seem to have used mainly oral Arabic translations of the Hebrew Bible and recorded some lost Jewish interpretations. In tracing the connections between pagan, Islamic, and modern Bible criticism, Lazarus-Yafeh demonstrates the importance of Muslim mediation between the ancient world and Europe in a hitherto unknown field.

Originally published in 1992.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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An Introduction to Islam for Jews

Authored by Reuven Firestone Ph.D.

Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States, Israel, and Europe are tenuous. Jews and Muslims struggle to understand one another and know little about each other's traditions and beliefs. Firestone explains the remarkable similarities and profound differences between Judaism and Islam, the complex history of Jihad, the legal and religious positions of Jews in the world of Islam, how various expressions of Islam (Sunni, Shi`a, Sufi, Salafi, etc.) regard Jews, the range of Muslim views about Israel, and much more. He addresses these issues and others with candor and integrity, and he writes with language, symbols, and ideas that make sense to Jews. Exploring these subjects in today's vexed political climate is a delicate undertaking. Firestone draws on the research and writings of generations of Muslim, Jewish, and other scholars, as well as his own considerable expertise in this field. The book's tone is neither disparaging, apologetic, nor triumphal. Firestone provides many original sources in translation, as well as an appendix of additional key sources in context. Most importantly, this book is readable and reasoned, presenting to readers for the first time the complexity of Islam and its relationship toward Jews and Judaism.

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The Iranian Metaphysicals

Explorations in Science, Islam, and the Uncanny

Alireza Doostdar

What do the occult sciences, séances with the souls of the dead, and appeals to saintly powers have to do with rationality? Since the late nineteenth century, modernizing intellectuals, religious leaders, and statesmen in Iran have attempted to curtail many such practices as "superstitious," instead encouraging the development of rational religious sensibilities and dispositions. However, far from diminishing the diverse methods through which Iranians engage with the immaterial realm, these rationalizing processes have multiplied the possibilities for metaphysical experimentation.

The Iranian Metaphysicals examines these experiments and their transformations over the past century. Drawing on years of ethnographic and archival research, Alireza Doostdar shows that metaphysical experimentation lies at the center of some of the most influential intellectual and religious movements in modern Iran. These forms of exploration have not only produced a plurality of rational orientations toward metaphysical phenomena but have also fundamentally shaped what is understood as orthodox Shi‘i Islam, including the forms of Islamic rationality at the heart of projects for building and sustaining an Islamic Republic.

Delving into frequently neglected aspects of Iranian spirituality, politics, and intellectual inquiry, The Iranian Metaphysicals challenges widely held assumptions about Islam, rationality, and the relationship between science and religion.

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Islam

A Guide for Jews and Christians

F. E. Peters

The Quran is a sacred book with profound, and familiar, Old and New Testament resonances. And the message it promulgated, Islam, came of age during an extraordinarily rich era of interaction among monotheists. Jews, Christians, and Muslims not only worshipped the same God, but shared aspirations, operated in the same social and economic environment, and sometimes lived side by side, indistinguishable by language, costume, or manners. Today, of course, little of this commonality is apparent, and Islam is poorly understood by most non-Muslims. Entering Islam through the same biblical door Muhammad did, this book introduces readers with Christian or Jewish backgrounds to one of the world's largest, most active, and--in the West--least understood religions.

Frank Peters, one of the world's leading authorities on the monotheistic religions, starts with the central feature of Muslim faith and life: the Quran. Across its pages move Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Solomon, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. The Quran contains remarkably familiar accounts of Genesis, the Flood, Exodus, the Virgin Birth, and other biblical events. But Peters also highlights Muhammad's very different use of Scripture and explains those elements of the Quran most alien to Western readers, from its didactic passages to its remarkable poetry.

Peters goes on to cogently explain Islam's defining features--including the significance of Mecca, the manner of Muhammad's revelations, and the creation of the unique community of Muslims, all in relation to the Judeo-Christian tradition. He compares Jesus and Muhammad, describes Islamic commandments and rituals, details the structures of Sunni and Shi'ite communities, and lays out central Islamic beliefs on war, women, mysticism, and martyrdom.

The result is a crucial and extremely accomplished book that offers Western readers a professional yet highly accessible understanding of Islam, and at a time when we need it most.

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Islam

A Mosaic, Not a Monolith

Vartan Gregorian

After World War II, leading western powers focused their attention on fighting the "Red Menace," Communism. Today, as terrorist activity is increasingly linked to militant Islamism, some politicians and scholars fear a "Green Menace," a Pan-Islamic totalitarian movement fueled by monolithic religious ideology. Such fears have no foundation in history, according to Vartan Gregorian. In this succinct, powerful survey of Islam, Gregorian focuses on Muslim diversity and division, portraying the faith and its people as a mosaic, not a monolith. The book begins with an accessible overview of Islam's tenets, institutions, evolution, and historical role. Gregorian traces its origins and fundamental principles, from Muhammad's call to faith nearly 1,400 years ago to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, and the subsequent abolition of the Caliphate. He focuses particular attention on the intense struggle between modernists and traditionalists, interaction between religion and nationalism, and key developments that have caused bitter divisions among Muslim nations and states: the partitions of Palestine, the break up and Islamization of Pakistan, the 1978 revolution in Iran, and the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Today Islamist views range across the entire spectra of religious and political thought, and Islamism is anything but a unified movement. While religious extremists have attempted to form a confederacy of like-minded radicals in many countries, much of the Muslim population lives in relatively modern, secular states. Gregorian urges Westerners to distinguish between activist Islamist parties, which promote—sometimes violently—Islam as an ideology in a theocratic state, and Islamic parties, whose traditional members want their secular political systems to co-exist with the moral principles of their religion. Gregorian emphasizes the importance of religion in today's world and urges states,societies, and intellectuals to intervene in order to prevent Islam--as well as other religions--from becoming the political tool of various parties and states. He recommends continuing dialogues between modernist and traditionalist Muslims, as well as among the educated, secular elite and their clerical counterparts. He also urges U.S.-led efforts to engage and better understand the diversity of Muslim communities in the United States and the world. Lamenting widespread U.S. ignorance of the world's fastest-growing religion, Gregorian calls on "enlightened citizens" to promote international understanding, tolerance, and peace.

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Islam

A Way of Life

Philip Hitti

Professor Hitti, the distinguished orientalist, writes vividly and on a basis of lifelong scholarship about Islam, showing that it is not only a religion but also a state and a culture and that in these overlapping and interacting aspects it is a whole way of life.Writing of Islam the religion Professor Hitti describes it as a system of beliefs and practices initially revealed by Allah to Muhammad in the seventh century, enshrined in the Arabic Koran, complemented by tradition, and modified through the ages in response to changes in time and place.Islam the state, he shows, is a political entity with an aggregate of institutions based on koranic law, founded by Muhammad in Medina, developed by his successors (caliphs) at the expense of the Persian and East Roman empires to a height unattained in either ancient or medieval times, and then fragmented into splinter states in western Asia, northern Africa, and southwestern and southeastern Europe.Islam the culture, he explains, is a compound of varied elements -- ancient Semitic, Indo-Persian, Hellenic -- synthesizes under the caliphate and expressed primarily through the medium of the Arabic tongue. Unlike the other two, Islam the culture was mainly formulated by conquered peoples rather than by Arabians. From the middle of the eighth century to the end of the twelfth century, it was unsurpassed in its literary, scientific, and philosophic output. In the final chapter, discussing the confrontation of Islamic culture with modernity, the author maintains that the world can view with gratitude Arab contributions to the past and can look with hope to their accomplishments in the future.

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Islam and Mammon

The Economic Predicaments of Islamism

Timur Kuran

The doctrine of "Islamic economics" entered debates over the social role of Islam in the mid-twentieth century. Since then it has pursued the goal of restructuring economies according to perceived Islamic teachings. Beyond its most visible practical achievement--the establishment of Islamic banks meant to avoid interest--it has promoted Islamic norms of economic behavior and founded redistribution systems modeled after early Islamic fiscal practices.

In this bold and timely critique, Timur Kuran argues that the doctrine of Islamic economics is simplistic, incoherent, and largely irrelevant to present economic challenges. Observing that few Muslims take it seriously, he also finds that its practical applications have had no discernible effects on efficiency, growth, or poverty reduction. Why, then, has Islamic economics enjoyed any appeal at all? Kuran's answer is that the real purpose of Islamic economics has not been economic improvement but cultivation of a distinct Islamic identity to resist cultural globalization.

The Islamic subeconomies that have sprung up across the Islamic world are commonly viewed as manifestations of Islamic economics. In reality, Kuran demonstrates, they emerged to meet the economic aspirations of socially marginalized groups. The Islamic enterprises that form these subeconomies provide advancement opportunities to the disadvantaged. By enhancing interpersonal trust, they also facilitate intragroup transactions.

These findings raise the question of whether there exist links between Islam and economic performance. Exploring these links in relation to the long-unsettled question of why the Islamic world became underdeveloped, Kuran identifies several pertinent social mechanisms, some beneficial to economic development, others harmful.

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Islam and Open Society Fidelity and Movement in the Philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal

In the atmosphere of suspicion and anger that characterizes our time, it is a joy to hear the voice of Iqbal, both passionate and serene. It is the voice of a soul that is deeply anchored in the Quranic Revelation, and precisely for that reason, open to all the other voices, seeking in them the path of his own fidelity. It is the voice of a man who has left behind all identitarian rigidity, who has 'broken all the idols of tribe and caste' to address himself to all human beings. But an unhappy accident has meant that this voice was buried, both in the general forgetting of Islamic modernism and in the very country that he named before its existence, Pakistan, whose multiple rigidities ñ political, religious, military ñ constitute a continual refutation of the very essence of his thought. But we all need to hear him again, citizens of the West, Muslims, and those from his native India, where a form of Hindu chauvinism rages in our times, in a way that exceeds his worst fears. Souleymane Bachir Diagne has done all of us an immense favor in making this voice heard once again, clear and convincing. Charles Taylor, Professor, McGill University Quebec, Canada

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Islam and Politics in Indonesia

The Masyumi Party between Democracy and Integralism

Remy Madinier

The Masyumi Party, which was active in Indonesia from 1945 to 1960, constitutes the boldest attempt to date at reconciling Islam and democracy. Masyumi proposed a vision of society and government which was not bound by a literalist application of Islamic doctrine but rather inspired by the values of Islam. It set out moderate policies which were both favourable to the West and tolerant towards other religious communities in Indonesia. Although the party made significant strides towards the elaboration of a Muslim democracy, its achievements were nonetheless precarious: it was eventually outlawed in 1960 for having resisted Sukarno’s slide towards authoritarianism, and the refusal of Suharto’s regime to reinstate the party left its leaders disenchanted and marginalised. Many of those leaders subsequently turned to a form of Islam known as integralism, a radical doctrine echoing certain characteristics of 19th-century Catholic integralism, which contributed to the advent of Muslim neo-fundamentalism in Indonesia. This book examines the Masyumi Party from its roots in early 20th-century Muslim reformism to its contemporary legacy, and offers a perspective on political Islam which provides an alternative to the more widely-studied model of Middle-Eastern Islam. The party’s experience teaches us much about the fine line separating a moderate form of Islam open to democracy and a certain degree of secularisation from the sort of religious intransigence which can threaten the country’s denominational coexistence.

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Islam and Social Policy

Edited by Stephen P. Heyneman

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.

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