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Fertility, Foreignness, and Regeneration in Eastern Sudan
Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective
Gabriel Said Reynolds tells the story of Islam in this brief illustrated survey, beginning with Muhammad's early life and rise to power, then tracing the origins and development of the Qur’an juxtaposed with biblical literature, and concluding with an overview of modern and fundamentalist narratives of the origin of Islam. Reynolds offers a fascinating look at the structure and meaning of the Qur'an, revealing the ways in which biblical language is used to advance the Qur'an's religious meaning. Reynolds' analysis identifies the motives that shaped each narrative—Islamic, Jewish, and Christian. The book’s conclusion yields a rich understanding of diverse interpretations of Islam’s emergence, suggesting that its emergence is itself ever-developing.
Fieldwork and Cultural Understanding
Encountering Morocco introduces readers to life in this North African country through vivid accounts of fieldwork as personal experience and intellectual journey. We meet the contributors at diverse stages of their careers–from the unmarried researcher arriving for her first stint in the field to the seasoned fieldworker returning with spouse and children. They offer frank descriptions of what it means to take up residence in a place where one is regarded as an outsider, learn the language and local customs, and struggle to develop rapport. Moving reflections on friendship, kinship, and belief within the cross-cultural encounter reveal why study of Moroccan society has played such a seminal role in the development of cultural anthropology.
Barbara M. Cooper looks closely at the Sudan Interior Mission, an evangelical Christian mission that has taken a tenuous hold in a predominantly Hausa Muslim area on the southern fringe of Niger. Based on sustained fieldwork, personal interviews, and archival research, this vibrant, sensitive, compelling, and candid book gives a unique glimpse into an important dimension of religious life in Africa. Cooper's involvement in a violent religious riot provides a useful backdrop for introducing other themes and concerns such as Bible translation, medical outreach, public preaching, tensions between English-speaking and French-speaking missionaries, and the Christian mission's changing views of Islam.
Madrassahs in South Asia
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, discussions on ties between Islamic religious education institutions, namely madrassahs, and transnational terrorist groups have featured prominently in the Western media. In the frenzied coverage of events, however, vital questions have been overlooked: What do we know about the madrassahs? Should Western policy-makers be alarmed by the recent increase in the number of these institutions in Muslim countries? Is there any connection between them and the "global jihad"? Ali Riaz responds to these questions through an in-depth examination of the madrassahs in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. The first book to examine these institutions and their roles in relation to current international politics, Faithful Education will be of interest to policy-makers, researchers, political analysts, and media-pundits. It will also be important reading for undergraduate and graduate students of political science, international affairs, history, South Asian studies, religious studies, and journalism.
An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West
American and European societies, particularly in the long wake of the events of 9/11 and the bombings in Madrid and London, have struggled with the recurrent problem of Islamophobia, which continues to surface in waves of controversial legislative proposals, public anger over the construction of religious edifices, and outbreaks of violence. The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine contributes fuel to the aggressive debate in Western societies and creates the need for measured discussion about religion, fear, prejudice, otherness, and residual colonialist attitudes. The Fear of Islam speaks into this context, offering an introduction to the historical roots and contemporary forms of religious anxiety regarding Islam within the Western world. Tracing the medieval legacy of religious polemics and violence, Green weaves together a narrative that orients the reader to the complex history and issues that originate from this legacy, continuing through to the early and late modern colonial enterprises, the theories of “Orientalism,” and the production of religious discourses of alterity and the clash of civilizations that proliferated in the era of 9/11 and the war on terror. The book contains analysis of interviews from figures such as Keith Ellison, John Esposito, Ingrid Mattson, Eboo Patel, Tariq Ramadan, and others.
The Roots of Muslim Anger at America
Though it has been nearly a decade since the attacks of September 11, the threat of terrorism emanating from the Muslim world has not subsided. U.S. troops fight against radical Islamists overseas, and on a daily basis, Americans pass through body scanners as part of the effort to defend against another attack. Naturally, many Americans wonder what is occurring in Muslim society that breeds such hostility toward the United States.
Steven Kull, a political psychologist and acknowledged authority on international public opinion, has sought to understand more deeply how Muslims see America. How widespread is hostility toward the United States in the Muslim world? And what are its roots? How much support is there for radical groups that attack Americans, and why? Kull conducted focus groups with representative samples in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, Jordan, Iran, and Indonesia; conducted numerous in-depth surveys in eleven majority-Muslim nations over a period of several years; and comprehensively analyzed data from other organizations such as Gallup, World Values Survey and the Arab Barometer. He writes:
"A premise of this book is that the problem of terrorism does not simply lie in the small number of people who join terrorist organizations. Rather, the existence of terrorist organizations is a symptom of a tension in the larger society that finds a particularly virulent expression in certain individuals. The hostility toward the United States in the broader society plays a critical role in sustaining terrorist groups, even if most disapprove of those groups' tactics. The essential 'problem,' then, is one of America's relationship with the society as a whole."
Through quotes from focus groups as well as survey data, Kull digs below the surface of Muslim anger at America to reveal the underlying narrative of America as oppressing and at a deeper level, as having betrayed the Muslim people. With the subtlety of a psychologist he shows how this anger is fed by an "inner clash of civilizations," between Muslims' desire to connect with America and all that it represents, and their fear that America will overwhelm and destroy their traditional Islamic culture.
Finally, Kull maps out the implications of these findings for U.S. foreign policy, showing how many U.S. actions antagonize the larger Muslim population and help al Qaeda by improving their capacity for recruitment. He specifies steps that can mitigate Muslim hostility and draw on some of the underlying shared values that can support more respectful and, possibly, even amicable Muslim-American relations.
Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India
The female voice plays a more central role in Sufi ritual, especially in the singing of devotional poetry, than in almost any other area of Muslim culture. Female singers perform sufiana-kalam, or mystical poetry, at Sufi shrines and in concerts, folk festivals, and domestic life, while male singers assume the female voice when singing the myths of heroines in qawwali and sufiana-kalam. Yet, despite the centrality of the female voice in Sufi practice throughout South Asia and the Middle East, it has received little scholarly attention and is largely unknown in the West. This book presents the first in-depth study of the female voice in Sufi practice in the subcontinent of Pakistan and India. Shemeem Burney Abbas investigates the rituals at the Sufi shrines and looks at women’s participation in them, as well as male performers’ use of the female voice. The strengths of the book are her use of interviews with both prominent and grassroots female and male musicians and her transliteration of audio- and videotaped performances. Through them, she draws vital connections between oral culture and the written Sufi poetry that the musicians sing for their audiences. This research clarifies why the female voice is so important in Sufi practice and underscores the many contributions of women to Sufism and its rituals.