Few things provoke controversy in the modern world like the religion brought by Muhammad. Modern media are replete with alarm over jihad, underage marriage and the threat of amputation or stoning under Shariah law. Sometimes rumor, sometimes based in fact and often misunderstood, the tenets of Islamic law and dogma were not set in the religion’s founding moments. They were developed over centuries by the clerical class of Muslim scholars. Misquoting Muhammad takes the reader back in time through Islamic civilization and traces how and why such controversies developed, offering an inside view into how key and controversial aspects of Islam took shape. From the protests of the Arab Spring to Istanbul at the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and from the ochre red walls of Delhi’s great mosques to the trade routes of Islam’s Indian Ocean world, Misquoting Muhammad lays out how Muslim intellectuals have sought to balance reason and revelation, weigh science and religion, and negotiate the eternal truths of scripture amid shifting values.
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Kecia Ali delves into the many ways the Prophet’s life story has been told from the earliest days of Islam to the present, by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Emphasizing the major transformations since the nineteenth century, she shows that far from being mutually opposed, these various perspectives have become increasingly interdependent.
In Islamic Exceptionalism, Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, "exceptional" in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. Divides among citizens aren't just about power but are products of fundamental disagreements over the very nature and purpose of the modern nation state—and the vexing problem of religion’s role in public life. Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different models of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying—and alarmingly successful—example of ISIS. With unprecedented access to Islamist activists and leaders across the region, Hamid offers a panoramic and ambitious interpretation of the region's descent into violence. Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam's past and present, and its outsized role in modern politics. We don't have to like it, but we have to understand it—because Islam, as a religion and as an idea, will continue to be a force that shapes not just the region, but the West as well in the decades to come.
This book analyses the formulation, interpretation and implementation of sharia in Pakistan and its relationship with the Pakistani state whilst addressing the complexity of sharia as a codified set of laws. Drawing on insights from Islamic studies, anthropology and legal studies to examine the interactions between ideas, institutions and political actors that have enabled blasphemy laws to become the site of continuous controversy, this book furthers the readers’ understanding of Pakistani politics and presents the transformation of sharia from a pluralistic religious precepts to a set of rigid laws. Using new materials, including government documents and Urdu language newspapers, the author contextualises the larger political debate within Pakistan and utilises a comparative and historical framework to weave descriptions of various events with discussions on sharia and blasphemy. A contribution to the growing body of literature, which explores the role of state in shaping the religion and religious politics in Muslim-majority countries, this book will be of interest to academics working on South Asian Politics, Political Islam, Sharia Law, and the relationship of Religion and the State.
In The Apocalypse of Empire, Stephen J. Shoemaker argues that earliest Islam was a movement driven by urgent eschatological belief that focused on the conquest, or liberation, of the biblical Holy Land and situates this belief within a broader cultural environment of apocalyptic anticipation. Shoemaker looks to the Qur'an's fervent representation of the imminent end of the world and the importance Muhammad and his earliest followers placed on imperial expansion. Offering important contemporary context for the imperial eschatology that seems to have fueled the rise of Islam, he surveys the political eschatologies of early Byzantine Christianity, Judaism, and Sasanian Zoroastrianism at the advent of Islam and argues that they often relate imperial ambition to beliefs about the end of the world. Moreover, he contends, formative Islam's embrace of this broader religious trend of Mediterranean late antiquity provides invaluable evidence for understanding the beginnings of the religion at a time when sources are generally scarce and often highly problematic. Scholarship on apocalyptic literature in early Judaism and Christianity frequently maintains that the genre is decidedly anti-imperial in its very nature. While it may be that early Jewish apocalyptic literature frequently displays this tendency, Shoemaker demonstrates that this quality is not characteristic of apocalypticism at all times and in all places. In the late antique Mediterranean as in the European Middle Ages, apocalypticism was regularly associated with ideas of imperial expansion and triumph, which expected the culmination of history to arrive through the universal dominion of a divinely chosen world empire. This imperial apocalypticism not only affords an invaluable backdrop for understanding the rise of Islam but also reveals an important transition within the history of Western doctrine during late antiquity.
What happens when authorities you venerate condone something you know is wrong? Are you right or are they, and what does this mean about what you’ve been venerating? No issue brings this question into starker contrast than slavery. Every major religion and philosophy condoned or approved of it, but in modern times there is nothing seen as more evil. Americans confront this crisis of authority when they erect statues of Founding Fathers who slept with their slaves. And Muslims faced it when ISIS revived sex-slavery, justifying it with verses from the Quran and the practice of Muhammad. This book explores the moral and ultimately theological problem of slavery, tracing how the Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions have tried to reconcile modern moral certainties with the infallibility of God’s message, in particular on the issue of sex-slavery. It investigates the challenge of defining what slavery is in the first place, showing that this remains more than ever a highly politicized question. This book lays out how Islam viewed slavery in theory, and also how slavery was practiced across the reality of Islamic civilization. Finally, it explains how Muslims have argued for the abolition of slavery in Islam, asking whether their arguments are sincere and convincing.
Elijah Muhammad is arguably the most significant figure in the history of Islam in the United States. Successor to W. D. Fard, the founder of the Nation of Islam, and a mentor to Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad led the Nation of Islam for over forty years. In Elijah Muhammad and Islam, Herbert Berg focuses on Elijah Muhammad's religiosity, which is frequently brought into question as the authenticity of the Nation of Islam as "truly Islamic" remains hotly debated. To better comprehend this powerful and controversial figure, Berg contextualizes Elijah Muhammad and his religious approach within the larger Islamic tradition, exploring his use of the Qur’an, his interpretation of Islam, and his relationships with other Muslims. Above all, Berg seeks to understand—not define or label—Muhammad as a Muslim. To do otherwise, he argues, is to misunderstand and distort the man, his teachings, his movement, and his legacy.
In a multi-faith world, Islam is widely regarded as dogmatic and exclusivist. Yet in the Qur’an we have a great and worthy example of how to live in diversity, of powerful scriptural tenets that lend themselves precisely to engagement with those of other faiths. As such Islam has much to add to the debate on Religious Pluralism. For Muslims the issue is a delicate one. Aside from being tolerant and respectful of other faiths, advocating freedom of faith, and peaceful coexistence for all humanity, Muslims have to intellectually engage on matters of religious truth whilst defending the validity of their own Islamic tenets. This study is focused on the Qur’anic text. It explores the Qur’anic conception of normative religious pluralism with a view to providing answers to questions such as whether the Qur’an itself regards normative religious pluralism as a value system or simply a method through which the Qur’anic world view can be actualized. In doing so the author corrects some highly controversial misquoted, mistranslated, and/or quoted out of context verses of the Qur’an, including the so-called verse of the sword and the perception of not taking non-Muslims as friends. In reality, the Qur’an calls for freedom of faith and peaceful coexistence, but condemns oppression, religious persecution, and those who initiate hostilities. In this way it not only invokes human dignity, but restores it when it is violated.