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New Books in Islamic Studies

Islamic Talk

Discussions with Scholars of Islam about their New Books.


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Discussions with Scholars of Islam about their New Books.




Kecia Ali, "The Lives of Muhammad"

Muhammad is remembered in a multitude of ways, by both Muslims and non-Muslims. And through each retelling we learn a great deal not only about Muhammad but about the social milieu of the authors. In The Lives of Muhammad (Harvard University Press, 2014), Kecia Ali, Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University, explores how several […]


James Gelvin, "The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know"

[Cross-posted with permission from Counterpoint with Jonathan Judaken] Professor James Gelvin joins host Jonathan Judaken to discuss the Arab Uprisings, democratization in the Middle-East and Northern Africa, ISIS, al-Qaeda, terrorism, and America's role imposing neo-liberal economic policies in the Middle East that have strongly shaped the political economy of the region. James Gelvin is Professor […]


Emran El-Badawi, "The Qur'an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions"

The Qur'an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions(Routledge, 2015) written by Emran El-Badawi, professor and director of the Arab Studies program at the University of Houston, is a recent addition to the field of research on the Qur'an and Aramaic and Syriac biblical texts. Professor El-Badawi asserts that the Qur'an is a product of an environment […]


Ebrahim Moosa, "What is a Madrasa?"

Recent years have witnessed a spate of journalistic and popular writings on the looming threat to civilization that lurks in traditional Islamic seminaries or madrasas that litter the physical and intellectual landscape of the Muslim world. In his riveting new book What is a Madrasa? (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of […]


James W. Laine, "Meta-Religion: Religion and Power in World History"

Most world religions textbooks follow a structure and conceptual framework that mirrors the modern discourse of world religions as distinct entities reducible to certain defining characteristics. In his provocative and brilliant new book Meta-Religion: Religion and Power in World History (University of California Press, 2015), James Laine, Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College challenges […]


Marion Holmes Katz, "Women in the Mosque: A History of Legal Thought and So

Recently, there have been various debates within the Muslim community over women's mosque attendance. While contemporary questions of modern society structure current conversations, this question, 'may a Muslim woman go to the mosque,' is not a new one. In Women in the Mosque: A History of Legal Thought and Social Practice (Columbia University Press, 2014), […]


Asaad al-Saleh, "Voices of the Arab Spring: Voices of the Arab Spring: Pers

Asaad al-Saleh is assistant professor of Arabic, comparative literature, and cultural studies in the Department of Languages and Literature and the Middle East Center at the University of Utah. His research focuses on issues related to autobiography and displacement in Arabic literature and political culture in the Arab world. His Book Voices of the Arab […]


Fatma Muge Gocek, "Denial of Violence: Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Tu

Adolf Hitler famously (and probably) said in a speech to his military leaders "Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?" This remark is generally taken to suggest that future generations won't remember current atrocities, so there's no reason not to commit them. The implication is that memory has something like an […]


Michael Birkel, "Qur’an in Conversation"

Michael Birkel's Qur'an in Conversation (Baylor University Press, 2014) challenges its readers to think deeply about the Qur'an. The book will likely leave the reader with many answers but also many questions. By drawing on academic scholars, imams, lawyers, and activists this edited volume presents a series of compelling, masterfully written, digestible, and personal accounts […]


Jamal Elias, "Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Practice, and Perception in I

In his remarkable new book Aisha's Cushion: Religious Art, Practice, and Perception in Islam (Harvard University Press, 2012), Jamal Elias, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, presents a magisterial study of Muslim attitudes towards visual culture, images, and perception. Through meticulous historical and textual analysis, Elias successfully unravels the stereotype that there […]


M. Brett Wilson, “Translating the Qur’an in an Age of Nationalism: Print Cu

Muslim debates regarding the translation of the Qur’an are very old. However, during the modern period they became heated because local communities around the globe were rethinking their relationship to scripture in new social and political settings. M. Brett Wilson, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College, provides a rich history of how this […]


Raymond Farrin, “Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation: A Study of Symmetry

Interest in the structure of the Qur’an has its beginnings in the ninthcentury CE with Muslim scholars. Since that time, Muslim and Western scholars have debated the coherence of the Qur’an’s structure. Raymond Farrin, professor of Arabic at the American University of Kuwait, opens his newest book, Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation:A Study of Symmetry and […]


Sophia Rose Arjana, “Muslims in the Western Imagination” (Oxford UP, 2015)

In Muslims in the Western Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2015), Sophia Rose Arjana explores a variety of creative productions—including art, literature, film—in order to tell a story not about how Muslims construct their own identities but rather about how Western thinkers have constructed ideas about Muslims and monsters. To what extent are these imaginary constructs […]


Cabeiri Robinson, “Body of Victim, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and th

The idea of jihad is among the most keenly discussed yet one of the least understood concepts in Islam. In her brilliant new book Body of Victim, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and the Making of Kashmiri Jihadists (University of California Press, 2013), Cabeiri Robinson, Associate Professor of International Studies and South Asian Studies at [...]


Neilesh Bose, “Recasting the Region: Language, Culture, and Islam in Coloni

[Cross-posted from New Books in South Asian Studies]In his new bookRecasting the Region: Language, Culture, and Islam in Colonial Bengal(Oxford University Press, 2014),Neilesh Boseanalyses the trajectories of Muslim Bengali politics in the first half of the twentieth century.The literary and cultural history ofthe region explored in the book reveal the pointedly Bengali ideas of Pakistan [...]


Kavita Datla, “The Language of Secular Islam: Urdu Nationalism and Colonial

In her brilliant new book, The Language of Secular Islam: Urdu Nationalism and Colonial India (University of Hawaii Press, 2013),Kavita Datla, Associate Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, explores the interaction of language, nationalism, and secularism by focusing on the religious and social imaginaries of important twentieth century Muslim scholars from the state of [...]


Michael Hawkins, “Making Moros: Imperial Historicism and American Military

For many Muslim communities particular religious identities were formulated or hardened within colonial realities. These types of cultural encounters were structural for the various Muslim tribes in the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao and Sulu during the turn of the twentieth century. In Making Moros: Imperial Historicism and American Military Rule in the Philippines’ Muslim [...]


Sahar Amer, “What is Veiling?”

There are few concepts commonly associated with Islam and Muslims today that evoke more anxiety, phobia, and paranoia than the veil, commonly translated as the hijab. Seen by many as the most quintessential symbol of the alleged Muslim oppression of women, the veil has for some time represented a subject of tremendous rage, debate, polemics, [...]


Michael Cook, “Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comp

[Cross-posted from New Books in Global Conflict]Michael Cook, a widely-respected historian and scholar of Islam begins his book with a question that everyone seems to be asking these days: is Islam uniquely violent or uniquely political? Why does Islam seem to play a larger role in contemporary politics than other religions? The answers that are [...]


Amy Evrard, “The Moroccan Women’s Rights Movement”

[Cross-posted from New Books in Gender Studies] Amy Evrard‘s first book,The Moroccan Women’s Rights Movement (Syracuse University Press, 2014), examines women’s attempts to change their patriarchal society via their movement for equality and rights. At the center of Evrard’s book is the 2004 reform of the Family Code known as the Mudawwana, in which Moroccan [...]