New Books In Islamic Studies

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Synopsis

Interviews with Scholars of Islam about their New Books

Episodes

  • Peter Morey, "Islamophobia and the Novel" (Columbia UP, 2018)

    11/06/2021 Duration: 01h01min

    In an era of rampant Islamophobia, literary representations of Muslims and anti Muslim bigotry tell us a lot about changing concepts of cultural difference. In Islamophobia and the Novel (Columbia University Press, 2018), Peter Morey, Professor at the University of Birmingham, analyzes how recent works of fiction have framed and responded to the rise of anti-Muslim prejudice, showing how their portrayals of Muslims both reflect and refute the ideological preoccupations of media and politicians in the post-9/11 West. Morey discusses novels embodying a range of positions—from the avowedly secular to the religious, and from texts that appear to underwrite Western assumptions of cultural superiority to those that recognize and critique neoimperial impulses. Contemporary literature’s capacity to unveil the conflicted nature of anti-Muslim bigotry expands our range of resources to combat Islamophobia. This, in turn, might contribute to Islamophobia’s eventual dismantling. In our conversation we discussed anti-Musli

  • Hugh McLeod and Todd Weir, "Defending the Faith: Global Histories of Apologetics and Politics in the Twentieth Century" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    10/06/2021 Duration: 39min

    Todd H. Weir and Hugh McLeod, two leading historians of religion, have teamed up to edit a volume in the Proceedings of the British Academy that explores how conflicts between secular worldviews and religions shaped the history of the 20th century. With contributions considering case studies relating to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, atheism and communism, and from several continents, Defending the Faith: Global Histories of Apologetics and Politics in the Twentieth Century (Oxford UP, 2020) offers to re-shape the conceptual tools by which the history of religious politics and politicised religion will be shaped. What happens to the history of the "short 20th century" when the concept of apologetics is put at its centre? We discover that politics and religion are categories that overlap, and that actors in disputes between religions, and in disputes between religions and political entities, are constantly learning from each other. Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. Learn

  • Eric Schluessel, "Land of Strangers: The Civilizing Project in Qing Central Asia" (Columbia UP, 2020)

    04/06/2021 Duration: 01h12min

    Eric Schluessel’s Land of Strangers: The Civilizing Project in Qing Central Asia (Columbia UP, 2020) looks at what happened when, at the end of the Qing, Chinese Confucian revivalists gained control of the Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang and sought to transform it. Yet this is not a book about high politics or discourse — far from it. This is a book about what this civilizing project looked like on the ground, how it played out in “everyday politics,” and how Turkic-speaking Muslims felt about and responded to attempts to transform them into Chinese-speaking Confucians. Centering on the voices and experiences of ordinary people in the oasis of Turpan, Land of Strangers is filled with stories of prostitution, human trafficking, venereal disease, families divided by war, and so much more. Reading across the Turpan archive this book combines records in both Chinese and Chaghatay, laying bare the difficulties revivalists encountered in educating children and showing how interpreters went about 'translating' or

  • Samy Ayoub, "Law, Empire, and the Sultan: Ottoman Imperial Authority and Late Hanafi Jurisprudence" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    04/06/2021 Duration: 01h04min

    In his majestic and magisterial new book Law, Empire, and the Sultan: Ottoman Imperial Authority and Late Hanafi Jurisprudence (Oxford UP, 2020), Samy Ayoub examines and demonstrates the entanglement of Islamic law and imperial political authority in the early modern period. Focused on the incorporation of Ottoman imperial authority and edicts in the late Hanafi jurisprudential tradition, this brilliant book interrupts and questions widely held assumptions about the separation between the domains of imperial politics and the Islamic legal tradition in the premodern period. The strength of this book lies in the way it provides a meticulous and dazzling intellectual history of the Hanafi legal tradition showing its internal dynamism and nuanced forms of reasoning while constantly connecting that intellectual history to broader theoretical questions about the interaction of law, juridical authority, and empire. Combining philological rigor with razor sharp conceptual dexterity, this book fundamentally reorients

  • Hannah Hoechner, "Quranic Schools in Northern Nigeria: Everyday Experiences of Youth, Faith, and Poverty" (U Cambridge Press, 2018)

    28/05/2021 Duration: 54min

    In a global context of widespread fears over Islamic radicalization and militancy, poor Muslim youth, especially those socialized in religious seminaries, have attracted overwhelmingly negative attention. In northern Nigeria, male Qur'anic students have garnered a reputation of resorting to violence in order to claim their share of highly unequally distributed resources. Drawing on material from long-term ethnographic and participatory fieldwork among Qur'anic students and their communities, Quranic Schools in Northern Nigeria: Everyday Experiences of Youth, Faith, and Poverty (Cambridge University Press, 2018) offers an alternative perspective on youth, faith, and poverty. Mobilizing insights from scholarship on education, poverty research and childhood and youth studies, Hannah Hoechner, lecturer at the School of International Development, University of East Anglia, describes how religious discourses can moderate feelings of inadequacy triggered by experiences of exclusion, and how Qur'anic school enrollmen

  • Karen G. Ruffle, "Everyday Shi'ism in South Asia" (John Wiley & Sons, 2021)

    26/05/2021 Duration: 52min

    Karen Ruffle's Everyday Shi'ism in South Asia (John Wiley & Sons, 2021) is an introduction to the everyday life and cultural memory of Shi’i women and men, focusing on the religious worlds of both individuals and communities at particular historical moments and places in the Indian subcontinent. Ruffle draws upon an array primary sources, images, and ethnographic data to present topical case studies offering broad snapshots Shi'i life as well as microscopic analyses of ritual practices, material objects, architectural and artistic forms, and more.  Focusing exclusively on South Asian Shi'ism, an area mostly ignored by contemporary scholars who focus on the Arab lands of Iran and Iraq, the author shifts readers' analytical focus from the center of Islam to its periphery. Ruffle provides new perspectives on the diverse ways that the Shi'a intersect with not only South Asian religious culture and history, but also the wider Islamic humanistic tradition.  Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life

  • Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, "The Translator of Desires: Poems" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    21/05/2021 Duration: 01h07min

    In this ground-breaking work, Michael Sells (the Barrows Professor Emeritus of the History and Literature of Islam and Professor emeritus of comparative literature at the University of Chicago) translates sixty-one poems that form the Tarjuman al-ashwaq or The Translator of Desires by Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi (Princeton University Press, 2021). The poems are presented here both in Arabic and English, and are accompanied by an introduction and commentary. The masterful and accessible translations are truly a thrilling literary experience. Ibn ‘Arabi’s poems evoke numerous themes, such as of flora and fauna, nature, sacred spaces, especially of the Kaaba, love, longing, and grief. For instance, the longing of a lost beloved, which Sufis would have read as the Divine, is a central thematic thread woven throughout the collection of poetry, and is gendered feminine. The collection of poems along with Sells critical introduction and notes provides stunning insights to both the tradition of Arabic love poetry and to the

  • J. Fewkes and M. Adamson Sijapati, "Muslim Communities and Cultures of the Himalayas: Conceptualizing the Global Ummah" (Routledge, 2020)

    19/05/2021 Duration: 42min

    Jacqueline Fewkes and Megan Adamson Sijapati edited volume Muslim Communities and Cultures of the Himalayas: Conceptualizing the Global Ummah (Routledge, 2020) explores individual perspectives and specific iterations of Muslim community, Muslim practice and experience of Islam in the Himalayan region as well as the concept of the general Islamic community the Ummah. A multidisciplinary analysis of Muslim communities and historical and contemporary Islamicate traditions, the book shows how Muslims understand and mobilize regional identities and religious expressions. Moreover, it assesses regional interactions, the ways in which institutions shape Muslim practices in specific areas and investigates the notion of the Himalayas as an Islamic space. The book suggests that the regional focus on the Himalayas provides a site of both geographic and cultural crossroads where Muslim community is simultaneously constituted at multiple social levels. As a result, chapters document a wide range of local, national, and gl

  • Ayesha S. Chaudhry, "The Colour of God" (OneWorld, 2021)

    14/05/2021 Duration: 53min

    In today’s episode, we speak with Ayesha Chaudhry about her new book, The Colour of God (Oneworld Publications, 2021). The book describes Chaudhry’s personal, spiritual, and professional journey as she navigates her life as a South Asian immigrant Muslim girl raised in Canada. Rich in its analysis of its major themes – such as patriarchy, religion, colonialism, Islamophobia, the family, grief – it pushes us to think more deeply about the choices we make in response to various traumas, such as death or the violence of racism. Readers will appreciate the unapologetic rawness, its very personal but also academic nature, the ways Chaudhry weaves Islamic and Qur’anic themes and narratives into her own. Written in an accessible and engaging way, the book will interest academics and non-academics; it will make for an excellent read for both undergraduate and graduate courses in Women’s and Gender Studies, English courses, Islamic and Religious Studies courses, any courses on Migration, and Theory and Methods Courses

  • Christine M. Philliou, "Turkey: A Past Against History" (U California Press, 2021)

    12/05/2021 Duration: 01h06min

    Christine M. Philliou's Turkey: A Past Against History (University of California Press, 2021) challenges conventional understandings about the transition from the Ottoman Empire to Republic of Turkey. From its earliest days, the dominant history of the republic was told as a triumphant narrative of national self-determination and secular democratic modernization. In that officially sanctioned account, the years between the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of the Turkish state marked an absolute rupture, and the Turkish nation formed an absolute unity. In recent years, this hermetic division has begun to erode--but as the old consensus collapses, new histories and accounts of political authority have been slow to take its place. In this richly detailed alternative history of Turkey, Philliou focuses on the notion of political opposition and dissent--muhalefet--to weave together the Ottoman and Turkish periods. Taking the perennial dissident Refik Halid Karay (1888-1965) as a subject, guide, and int

  • J. Andrew Bush, "Between Muslims: Religious Difference in Iraqi Kurdistan" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    07/05/2021 Duration: 40min

    Between Muslims Religious Difference in Iraqi Kurdistan (Stanford UP, 2020) by J. Andrew Bush asks what it means to be Muslim, yet not pious, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Though Islam is often represented in terms of either daily devotion, such as prayer and fasting, or abandonment of faith, there are many who turn away from tradition without departing from Islam. J. Andrew Bush offers us a new way to understand religious difference in Islam, one that invites questions about divine texts and rejects easy answers about political or sectarian identities.  Exploring the lives of irreligious Muslims, Bush highlights the paradoxes of their ethical orientation. While profoundly averse to many aspects of Islamic traditions, irreligious Muslims nonetheless harbor attractions to other aspects--such as Sufi poetry. Exploring this complex weave of attraction and aversion, the book provides intimate portraits of irreligious Kurdish Muslims in everyday life and the historical conditions that have allowed such paradoxical religious

  • I. M. Fuerst and B. M. Wheeler, "Words of Experience: Translating Islam with Carl W. Ernst" (Equinox, 2020)

    07/05/2021 Duration: 01h50s

    For more than three decades now, Carl Ernst, through his scholarship and his public engagement on the study of Islam and Muslim societies, has modeled the finest form of intellectual inquiry and performance. The imprints of his work extend from the study of Sufism, South Asia, the Qur’an, arts and aesthetics, and more recently, Islamophobia in North America. Words of Experience: Translating Islam with Carl W. Ernst (Equinox, 2020), edited by Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst and Brannon Wheeler, honors Carl Ernst’s scholarly prowess and promise not through hagiography but by bringing together 13 essays that chart and direct a robust intellectual agenda for the future of Islamic Studies. The wide ranging essays in this volume serve as testament not only to the variety of ways in which Carl Ernst has shaped and informed the field of Islamic Studies, but also to his contribution in placing the study of Islam firmly in the broader field of Religion Studies. In this conversation, we discuss salient aspects of this book, an

  • Jörg Matthias Determann, "Islam, Science Fiction and Extraterrestrial Life: The Culture of Astrobiology in the Muslim World" (I. B. Tauris, 2020)

    05/05/2021 Duration: 52min

    The Muslim world is not commonly associated with science fiction. Religion and repression have often been blamed for a perceived lack of creativity, imagination and future-oriented thought. However, even the most authoritarian Muslim-majority countries have produced highly imaginative accounts on one of the frontiers of knowledge: astrobiology, or the study of life in the universe. Islam, Science Fiction and Extraterrestrial Life: The Culture of Astrobiology in the Muslim World by Jörg Matthias Determann (I.B. Tauris, 2020) argues that the Islamic tradition has been generally supportive of conceptions of extra-terrestrial life, and in this engaging account, Jörg Matthias Determann provides a survey of Arabic, Bengali, Malay, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu texts and films, to show how scientists and artists in and from Muslim-majority countries have been at the forefront of the exciting search.  Determann takes us to little-known dimensions of Muslim culture and religion, such as wildly popular adaptations of Star

  • Evren Savci, "Queer in Translation: Sexual Politics under Neoliberal Islam" (Duke UP, 2021)

    03/05/2021 Duration: 01h14min

    In Queer in Translation: Sexual Politics under Neoliberal Islam (Duke UP, 2021), Evren Savcı analyzes the travel and translation of Western LGBT political terminology to Turkey in order to illuminate how sexual politics have unfolded under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP government. Under the AKP's neoliberal Islamic regime, Savcı shows, there has been a stark shift from a politics of multicultural inclusion to one of securitized authoritarianism. Drawing from ethnographic work with queer activist groups to understand how discourses of sexuality travel and are taken up in political discourse, Savcı traces the intersection of queerness, Islam, and neoliberal governance within new and complex regimes of morality. Savcı turns to translation as a queer methodology to think Islam and neoliberalism together and to evade the limiting binaries of traditional/modern, authentic/colonial, global/local, and East/West—thereby opening up ways of understanding the social movements and political discourse that coalesce around sex

  • Ziad Elmarsafy, "Esoteric Islam in Modern French Thought: Massignon, Corbin, Jambet" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

    30/04/2021 Duration: 57min

    In his new book Esoteric Islam in Modern French Thought: Massignon, Corbin, Jambet (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2021) Ziad Elmarsafy maps the intellectual and personal genealogies of three French specialists of Islam, Louis Massignon, Henry Corbin, and Christian Jambet and the ways in which esoteric Islam, be it Sufism, Shi‘ism and/or Islamic philosophy informed their academic projects and worldviews. The first chapter situates Massignon’s travels (i.e., Iraq) and his studies of Arabic and Sufism (especially of Mansur al-Hallaj), which defined his conceptualizations and embodiments of hospitality and desire. Massignon’s student Corbin would also turn to the traditions of Sufism, Shi‘a thought, and metaphysics to grapple with notions of vision or theophany in his intellectual work. Finally, Christian Jambet, a student of Corbin, and a Maoist atheist would turn to the revolutionary history of the Alamut and Nizari Ismailis, as well as Mulla Sadra, to think through ideas of political change, eschatology, and resu

  • The Ethnography of Immigration: In Conversation with Dr. Tahseen Shams

    23/04/2021 Duration: 01h08min

    How are immigrants’ lives shaped by cultural and political dynamics in their homeland, hostland, and “elsewhere” countries whose geopolitical dynamics affect their experiences (such as South Asian Muslims who are affected by post-9/11 and more recent backlash against Middle Eastern nations)? In today’s podcast, we talk with Tahseen Shams, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto-St.George and author of Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World. Tahseen talks about how her own background as a Bangladeshi immigrant to Mississippi inspired her to become an ethnographer, and how her positionality affected her research with other South Asian Immigrants. She describes how she used content analysis of Facebook to overcome her own effect on interviewees and some of the difficulties she had in managing relationships with her participants. Also, in a fascinating discussion of how her female research participants navigated contrasting identity categories of

  • Caleb Iyer Elfenbein, "Fear in Our Hearts: What Islamophobia Tells Us about America" (NYU Press, 2021)

    23/04/2021 Duration: 01h03min

    In Fear In Our Hearts: What Islamophobia Tells Us about America (NYU Press, 2021), Caleb Iyer Elfenbein, Associate Professor at Grinnell College, examines Islamophobia in the United States, positing that rather than simply being an outcome of the 9/11 attacks, anti-Muslim activity grows out of a fear of difference that has always characterized US public life. Elfenbein examines the effects of this fear on American Muslims, as well as describing how it works to shape and distort American society. Drawing on over 1,800 news reports documenting anti-Muslim activity, Elfenbein pinpoints trends, draws connections to the broader histories of immigration, identity, belonging, and citizenship in the US, and examines how Muslim communities have responded. In our conversation we discuss the Mapping Islamophobia digital humanities project, the role of storytelling in synthesizing a large amounts of data, anti-Muslim political rhetoric and activity, the effects of “public hate,” Muslim participation in public life, the r

  • Thomas Robinson and Hillary Rodrigues, "World Religions Reader: Understanding Our Religious World" (ROBINEST, 2020)

    23/04/2021 Duration: 42min

    Preparing online materials since 2005 (including Hindusim the EBook, 2016), Dr. Hillary Rodrigues has been working on a fantastic resource for anyone interested in studying or teaching world religions. See www.robinest.org.  Designed as an introductory reader for a World Religions course, the eBook World Religions Reader: Understanding Our Religious World (ROBINEST, 2020) provides key texts from Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shintoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, along with a chapter on ancient religions of the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian worlds. There are 125 passages, 33 symbols, 22 photos, 10 Quick Facts pages, 7 audio clips, and links to hundreds of audio files of technical terms related to the study of religion. Each textual selection has an introduction and footnotes to help the reader understand the context of the passage. Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit m

  • David Hosaflook (trans.), "The Siege of Shkodra: Albania's Courageous Stand Against Ottoman Conquest, 1478" (2017)

    15/04/2021 Duration: 59min

    Mehmet the Conqueror shook Europe to its foundations when he captured Constantinople in 1453 and, over the next decades, the Ottoman sultan continued his westward advance through the Balkans and the Mediterranean. But one Albanian fortress became an “unexpected bone in Mehmed’s throat” (xviii). David Hosaflook’s The Siege of Shkodra is the first English rendition of Marin Barleti’s 1504 eye-witness account of that standoff that includes the Christian victory in 1474 and subsequent defeat in 1479. The year after that, the Turks were in Italy (Otranto, 1480), though they would not keep it their foothold. This volume includes Barleti’s compelling story, essays that place it in historical and cultural context, and a number of Ottoman sources that corroborate or contrast with the Christian version. Barleti is also important today as “the first Albanian author” and thus an important national figure in the last century since the end of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War. In the discussion today, Professor

  • Ayesha A. Irani, "The Muhammad Avatāra: Salvation History, Translation, and the Making of Bengali Islam" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    14/04/2021 Duration: 41min

    The Muhammad Avatāra: Salvation History, Translation, and the Making of Bengali Islam (Oxford University Press, 2021) reveals the powerful role of vernacular translation in the Islamization of Bengal.Its focus is on examines the magnificent seventeenth-century Nabīvaṃśa of SaiyadSultān, who lived in Arakanese-controlled Chittagong to affirm the power of vernacular translation in the Islamization of Bengal.  Drawing upon the Arabo-Persian Tales of the Prophets genre, the Nabīvaṃśa ("The Lineage of the Prophet") retells the life of the Prophet Muhammad for the first time to Bengalis in their mother-tongue. Saiyad Sultān lived in Arakanese-controlled Chittagong,in a period when Gauṛiya Vaiṣṇava missionary activity was at its zenith. This book delineates the challenges faced by the author in articulating the pre-eminence of Islam and its Arabian prophet in a place land where multiple religious affiliations were common, and when GauṛīyaVaiṣṇava missionary activity was at its zenith. Sultān played a pioneering role

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