Some Recent Publications on Islam-Muslims

Muslims in Eastern EuropeDownload By Egdunas Racius, 2018 Edinburg University Press

The history and contemporary situation of Muslim communities in Eastern Europe are explored here from three angles. First, survival, telling of the resilience of these Muslim communities in the face of often restrictive state policies and hostile social environments, especially during the Communist period. Next, their subsequent revival in the aftermath of the Cold War, and last, transformation, looking at the profound changes currently taking place in the demographic composition of the communities and in the forms of Islam practised by them. The reader is shown a picture of the general trends common to the Muslim communities of Eastern Europe, and the special characteristics of clusters of states, such as the Baltics, the Balkans, the Višegrad states, and the European states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Key Features

  • Places Muslim communities of Eastern Europe within their historical and pan-European context, establishing them as belonging in and to Europe
  • Provides an overview of the history and current trends in Muslim communities in 21 post-Communist Eastern European countries
  • Analyses the situation of Muslim communities in Eastern Europe on a country-cluster basis (North-Eastern Europe: Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Moldova; the successor states of Yugoslavia: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia; South-Eastern Europe: Albania, Bulgaria, Romania; Central Europe: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia)
  • Provides an overview of the emerging trends in conversion to Islam among Eastern Europeans

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British Muslims: New Directions in Islamic Thought, Creativity and Activism by Philip Lewis & Sadek Hamid, 2018. Edinburg University Press.

A new generation of Muslims – activists, academics, religious scholars and professionals – are drawing on contemporary reformist thinking emerging from outside their parents’ or grandparents’ tradition and are using this to inform their activism. This positive new thinking is traced as it impacts and shapes the burgeoning field of Muslim women’s activism, the formation of religious leaders, what is to count as ‘Muslim politics’, the dynamics of de-radicalisation and what has been dubbed the ‘New Muslim Cool’ in music, fashion and culture.

A collaboration between two academics, one Muslim and one not, the book gives a distinctive take on understanding Islam and Muslims in Britain today.

Key Features

  • Explores creative new trends in British Islamic thought, art and activism
  • Highlights the contributions of Muslim women in affecting positive social change
  • Maps changing patterns of intra-Muslim identity politics and community formation across the UK
  • Includes a short annotated bibliography and relevant websites

 

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Hezbollah: A Short History by Augustus Richard Norton, 2018                            Princeton University Press

With Hezbollah’s entry into the Lebanese government in 2009 and forceful intervention in the Syrian civil war, the potent Shi‘i political and military organization continues to play an enormous role in the Middle East. A hybrid of militia, political party, and social services and public works provider, the group is the most powerful player in Lebanon. Policymakers in the United States and Israel usually denounce Hezbollah as a dangerous terrorist organization and refuse to engage with it, yet even its adversaries need to contend with its durability and resilient popular support. Augustus Richard Norton’s incisive account stands as the most lucid, informed, and balanced analysis of Hezbollah yet written—and this expanded and fully updated third edition features a new prologue and conclusion and two new chapters largely devoted to the group’s recent activities, including its involvement in Syria. Hezbollah is a work of perennial importance and remains essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Middle East.

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Politicizing Islam: The Islamic Revival in France and India                               by Z. Fareen Parvez, 2018 Oxford University Press

Religion and Global Politics

  • Compares Islamic movements across the global North and South through in-depth ethnographic research
  • Based on the author’s work with difficult to access social groups
  • Challenges the conventional, monolithic view of Islamic revival and politicization
  • Demonstrates that democracy can flourish where least expected

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Religious Secularity: A Theological Challenge to the Islamic State                            by Naser Ghobadzadeh, 2018 Oxford University Press

Religion and Global Politics

  • Develops the new concept of “religious secularity”
  • Uses untapped Persian-language sources
  • Offers a new reading of Shiite political theology, which is much less often discussed than Sunni political theology

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A Concise History of Sunnis and Shi’is by John McHugo, 2017. Saqi Books

The 1400-year-old schism between Sunnis and Shi’is has rarely been as toxic as it is today, feeding wars and communal strife in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and many other countries, with tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalating.
In this richly layered and engrossing account, John McHugo reveals how this great divide occurred. Charting the story of Islam from the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad to the present day, he describes the conflicts that raged over the succession to the Prophet, how Sunnism and Shi’ism evolved as different sects during the Abbasid caliphate, and how the rivalry between the empires of the Sunni Ottomans and Shi’i Safavids contrived to ensure that the split would continue into modern times. Now its full, destructive force has been brought out by the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for the soul of the Muslim world.
Definitive and insightful, A Concise History of Sunnis and Shi’is shows that there was nothing inevitable about the sectarian conflicts that now disfigure Islam. It is an essential guide to understanding the genesis, development and manipulation of the great schism that has come to define Islam and the Muslim world.

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The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write by (Edited) Sabrina Mahtouz,2017,Saqi Books

From established literary heavyweights to emerging spoken word artists, the writers in this ground-breaking collection blow away the narrow image of the ‘Muslim Woman’.
Hear from users of Islamic Tinder, a disenchanted Maulana working as a TV chat show host and a plastic surgeon blackmailed by MI6. Follow the career of an actress with Middle-Eastern heritage whose dreams of playing a ghost buster spiral into repeat castings as a jihadi bride. Among stories of honour killings and ill-fated love in besieged locations, we also find heart-warming connections and powerful challenges to the status quo.
From Algiers to Brighton, these stories transcend time and place revealing just how varied the search for belonging can be.

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Longing for the Lost Caliphate: A Trans-regional History by Mona Hassan, 2017, Princeton University Press

In the United States and Europe, the word “caliphate” has conjured historically romantic and increasingly pernicious associations. Yet the caliphate’s significance in Islamic history and Muslim culture remains poorly understood. This book explores the myriad meanings of the caliphate for Muslims around the world through the analytical lens of two key moments of loss in the thirteenth and twentieth centuries. Through extensive primary-source research, Mona Hassan explores the rich constellation of interpretations created by religious scholars, historians, musicians, statesmen, poets, and intellectuals.

Hassan fills a scholarly gap regarding Muslim reactions to the destruction of the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad in 1258 and challenges the notion that the Mongol onslaught signaled an end to the critical engagement of Muslim jurists and intellectuals with the idea of an Islamic caliphate. She also situates Muslim responses to the dramatic abolition of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924 as part of a longer trajectory of trans regional cultural memory, revealing commonalities and differences in how modern Muslims have creatively interpreted and reinterpreted their heritage. Hassan examines how poignant memories of the lost caliphate have been evoked in Muslim culture, law, and politics, similar to the losses and repercussions experienced by other religious communities, including the destruction of the Second Temple for Jews and the fall of Rome for Christians.

A global history, Longing for the Lost Caliphate delves into why the caliphate has been so important to Muslims in vastly different eras and places.

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Points of Entry: Encounters at the Origin Sites of Pakistan                                            by Nadeem Farooq Paracha, 2018 Tranquebar,                                                                 an imprint of Westland Publications

Pakistan is more than the sum of its news-making parts. In these marvelous essays on history, politics and society, cultural critic Nadeem Farooq Paracha upturns various reductive readings of the country by revealing its multi-layered reality. With wit and insight, he investigates past events and their implications for modern-day society.

Thus, one piece explores how and why Mohenjo-daro has been neglected as a historical site, and another examines how Muhammad-bin-Qasim, who briefly invaded Sindh in 713 CE, has come to be lionized as the original founder of Pakistan. There is a story about a Pakistani Jimi Hendrix who plays the guitar like a dream and also one about a medieval emperor who lives on in the swear words of a Punjabi peasant. There are essays on Pakistani pop music, on Afro-Pakistanis and on how Jhuley Lal came to be more than just a folk deity for Sindhi immigrants in India.

Points of Entry examines the constant struggle between two distinct tendencies in Pakistani civic-nationalism—one modernist, the other theocratic—and the complex society it has birthed.

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The Boko Haram Reader: From Nigerian Preachers to the Islamic State by (ed) Abdul Basil Kassim & David Cook, 2018                                 Oxford University Press

Since it erupted onto the world stage in 2009, people have asked, what is Boko Haram, and what does it stand for? Is there a coherent vision or set of beliefs behind it? Despite the growing literature about the group, few if any attempts have been made to answer these questions, even though Boko Haram is but the latest in a long line of millenarian Muslim reform groups to emerge in Northern Nigeria over the last two centuries. The Boko Haram Reader offers an unprecedented collection of essential texts, documents, videos, audio, and nashids (martial hymns), translated into English from Hausa, Arabic and Kanuri, tracing the group’s origins, history, and evolution. Its editors, two Nigerian scholars, reveal how Boko Haram’s leaders manipulate Islamic theology for the legitimisation, radicalization, indoctrination and dissemination of their ideas across West Africa. Mandatory reading for anyone wishing to grasp the underpinnings of Boko Haram’s insurgency, particularly how the group strives to delegitimize its rivals and establish its beliefs as a dominant strand of Islamic thought in West Africa’s religious marketplace.

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