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Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid: A Profile from the Archives

[Intellectual Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid]

[”A Profile from the Archives“ is a new series published by Jadaliyya in both Arabic and English in cooperation with the Lebanese newspaper, Assafir. These profiles will feature iconic figures who left indelible marks in the politics and culture of the Middle East and North Africa.]  First Name: Nasr Last Name: Abu Zaid Date of birth: 10 July 1943 Date of death: 5 July 2010 Nationality: Egyptian Category: Intellectual and writer Profession: Researcher and intellectual Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid Born on 10 July 1943 in Tanta, Gharbia governorate. His father died when he was fourteen years old. He was preparing to be an ...

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Beyond 'Tolerance' and 'Intolerance': Deconstructing the Myth of the Islamic Golden Age

[Qutub Shahi Tombs, Ibrahim Bagh, Hyderabad, India. Image by Nagarjun Kandukuru via Flickr]

Like many other concepts that shape our understanding of medieval history, the idea of a “Muslim Golden Age” is a historiographical construct. It promotes the notion that, until at least the early thirteenth century, the Muslim world experienced an era of unprecedented stability, prosperity, and cultural production. More particularly, it emphasizes that the period between roughly the ninth century and the thirteenth century (sometimes extended to the eighteenth century in order to include the Ottomans and Mughals; the Safavids are usually ignored) can be considered to represent the pinnacle of human endeavor in the Muslim world. There are many problems with this ...

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Critical Currents in Islam Media Roundup (18 March)

[This comic book image released by Marvel Comics shows character Kamala Khan , second left, with her family Aamir, father Yusuf, mother Disha and friend Bruno, from the

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating about Islam and reflects a wide variety of opinions and approaches. It does not reflect the views of the Critical Currents in Islam page or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Saturday night of every week.] Muslim Minorities and Minority Muslims Germany Adds Lessons in Islam to Better Blend Its Melting Pot Alison Smale reports that for the first time, German public schools are offering classes in Islam to primary school students using state-trained teachers and specially written textbooks. Inclusion and Representation in ...

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Beyond Nostalgia

[Malcolm X, left, African-American black Muslim leader, is shown with King Faisal in Saudi Arabia in July 1964. Image via Associated Press]

[This article is part of a six-person roundtable entitled “African American Muslims and the Black Freedom Struggle.” Click here for the introduction by Lindsey Stephenson and links to responses by Zareena Grewal, Abbas Barzegar, Mansa Bilal Mark King, Aminah B. McCloud, and Sohail Daulatzai. The initial question posed to the roundtable participants was: African American Muslims have been involved in the black freedom struggle for over a century, however their participation is often overlooked or generalized. How have they engaged with some of the important questions of the movement such as: the extent to which the black freedom struggle was a national or an international ...

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إسماعيل أدهم ناقداً منسياً في عبقرية أمراضه

[(إسماعيل أدهم (1911-1940]

إسماعيل أدهم (1911-1940) ناقداً منسياً في عبقرية أمراضه... إذا كان النقد العربي توزع بين النظرية البلاغية من جهة والنظرية الأدبية من جهة أخرى. فإن النظرية الأولى خلقت لنا مؤرخي الأدب والحادثة التاريخية، ومفسريه وشارحيه، ومحللي الأجناس الأدبية، ومستوردي المناهج الجاهزة بينما دفعت النظرية الثانية إلى منطق اللغة والمعنى بأن النتيجة لا تسبق السبب. فاعتنوا بالعملية الإبداعية، بوصف أن معظمهم مبدعون ومبدعات، فاقترحوا اتجاهاتهم وخياراتهم بناء على وعيهم الفردي ورؤاهم وطموحاتهم. ولعل نشأة النقد الذي عاصر أدب النهضة غائمة إلا من بعض الأسماء المكرسة لأسباب أكاديمية، وهذا منها وهناك أسباب تروجها الحاجة الإعلامية في المحافل الثقافية المختلفة. غير أن ما يمكن أن يرصد لأول ناقد ...

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Roundtable on The Future of Islamism: A Starting Point

[Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi on 8 November 2013 raise his poster and their hands with four raised fingers, which has become a symbol of the Raba‘a al-Adawiyya mosque—where Morsi supporters had held a sit-in for weeks that was violently dispersed in August 2013. Image by Amr Nabil via Associated Press]

Introduction (by Abdullah Al-Arian, Roundtable Organizer and Co-Editor of Critical Currents in Islam Page) The Arab uprisings that began in late 2010 had barely claimed a single authoritarian ruler when many observers began to proclaim the imminent rise of Islamist governments from Tunisia to Yemen. Less than three years later, however, those predictions appear at best to have been premature. Despite repeated electoral successes in Tunisia and Egypt, Islamist political parties have yet to supplant successfully the preexisting authoritarian political order or offer a fundamentally different socioeconomic vision from the conditions that have prevailed across the Arab ...

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The Rise and Fall of the Salafi al-Nour Party in Egypt

[Egyptian school children gather around a street vendor by electoral posters that read in Arabic,

When Mohamed Salmawi, the spokesman for the committee appointed to draft Egypt’s post-coup constitution, appeared before the press on 29 October, the message was clear. There would be no place for Article 219 in the new constitution, and there would be no further discussion. The announcement followed two months of anxious efforts by the Salafi al-Nour Party to secure the Islamic language introduced in the now voided 2012 constitution. This has been quite the battle given their single member representation of the tiny two-person Islamist contingent on the fifty-person committee. In late August, the al-Nour Party’s head, Younis Makhyoun, had proposed the party’s vision ...

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Critical Currents in Islam Media Roundup (November 12)

[Arabic caligraphy. Image by Neil Hester via Flickr]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating Islam and reflects a wide variety of opinions and approaches. It does not reflect the views of the Critical Currents in Islam Page or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Saturday night of every week.] Hegemony Do Muslim Women Need Saving? A critical look by Leila Abu-Lughod at the moral crusade that has justified all manner of intervention from the legal to the military, the humanitarian to the sartorial in Muslim societies. Why the West Fears Islam Jocelyne Cesari looks into the mechanisms of the West's ...

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Essential Readings: The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

[In this 16 January 2010 picture, Muslim Brotherhood former supreme guide Mohammed Mahdi Akef (left) and senior member Essam al-Erian (second left) gesture during a press conference in Cairo Egypt under a billboard showing the group's founder Hassan al-Banna (top right) and its supreme guides. Arabic reads “The Muslim Brotherhood.” Image by Amr Nabil via Associated Press.]

For all the press attention it has received over the last two decades and especially since the 25 January uprising that overthrew Egypt’s longstanding ruler, there has been comparatively little rigorous scholarship on the Society of the Muslim Brothers of Egypt. This is partly a consequence of the fact that the research of historians and political scientists who specialize in the Middle East has tended to be state-centric in the examination of forces that shaped modern societies in the region. Independent social actors have been given comparatively limited agency in these analyses, due in part to the fact that movements like the Muslim Brotherhood do not lend themselves ...

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الآخر في عيون الجبرتي مؤرخ الحملة الفرنسية

الملخص* عبد الرحمن الجبرتي (1) (ولد في القاهرة عام 1756 - وتوفي فيها عام 1825). وهو مؤرخ مصري عاصر الحملة الفرنسية على مصر ووصف تلك الفترة بالتفصيل في كتابه ”عجائب الآثار في التراجم والأخبار“(2) والمعروف اختصاراً بـ«تاريخ الجبرتي» والذي يُعَدُّ مرجعاً أساسياً لتلك الفترة الهامة من الحملة الفرنسية. وتتلخص هذه الورقة التي قدمت كمحاضرة في رصد انطباعاته عن الفرنسيين في مصر من خلال كتابيه عجائب الآثار ومظهر التقديس، وهي محاولة للإجابة على عدة أسئلة كيف صور مؤرخ مصري ينتمي إلى طبقة علماء الأزهر الحملة الفرنسية على مصر؟ وماهي الأسئلة التي أثارتها هذه الحملة في ذهن المؤرخ؟، وكيف استجاب للتحديات الفكرية في تلك الفترة؟ هل تقبّل الثقافة الغربية كما هي؟ هل استطاع أن ينظر ...

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الجنرال الفاشل والجماعة الفاشية... أو العكس

مقدمة إعلانية: الداخلية تعلن مقتل فرنسي داخل مقر احتجازه بأحد أقسام الشرطة التحقيق في مقتل 37 من نزلاء سجن أبو زعبل القبض على 6 نشطاء نظموا وقفة أثناء نظر قضية خالد سعيد بالإسكندرية ****  أتفق مع الجنرال السيسي في أمر واحد فقط، ذكره في حديث تم نشره على اليوتيوب، وهو أنّ الطريق الذي تسير فيه مصر منذ ثورة 2011 هو "تفكك الدولة وإعادة تركيبها"، على أنني أرى أنّ كل المحاولات التي جاءت منذ 11 فبراير 2011 لـ"إعادة تركيب" الدولة، باءت وستبوء بالفشل، مما يهدد الأمن القومي لمصر تهديداً حقيقياً غير مسبوق. لماذا هي محاولات فاشلة؟ لأن محاولات "إعادة تركيب" الدولة بالنسبة للسيسي وجنرالات الجيش لا تعني سوى إعادة "تستيب/تنزيل" نفس نسخة ...

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الإخوان المسلمون وسؤال النشأة المستأنفة

حظيت حركة الإخوان المسلمين من اسمها بنصيب وافر، خصوصا فيما يتعلق بكونها "حركة". فلم يكن هاجس المؤسس الأول حسن البنا فكرياً بقدر ما كان حركياً: الحركة من أجل حُلم عودة الخلافة الإسلامية، حركة لا تتعامل مع سؤال الحداثة، الذي فرض نفسه على الخلافة العثمانية في القرن الثامن عشر وعلى مصر مع دخول الحملة الفرنسية في 1789، ولا مع سؤال التراث، الذي ولد كمقولب لسؤال الحداثة، وكانت طريقة التعامل هي اللاتعامل وطريقة الفعل هي الامتناع عن الفعل. "دقت ساعة العمل"، كان هذا شعار النشأة الأولى للجماعة، فلا وقت للتنظير أو الأشكلة. الـ"رسائل" مجموعة خطب ومحاضرات شديدة العملية، الـ"مذكرات" هموم الذات والحركة، وحتّى "فقه السنّة" - الذي كُتب ...

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Event Report-Back -- Before the Modern, After the Medieval: Egypt and the Middle East in the Eighteenth Century

On 28 and 29 March 2014 the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations at the American University in Cairo (AUC) convened its Annual History Seminar at Oriental Hall in downtown Cairo. Titled “Before the Modern, After the Medieval: Egypt and the Middle East in the 18th Century,” the seminar brought renowned scholars from across Egypt and the world together to question the narrative of the eighteenth century as a period of stagnation or decline which still dominants Egyptian and Middle Eastern history, ...

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الصراع على المساجد في مصر: بحثاً عن كنيسة الاسلام

وسط الصراع الذي يجري الآن في مصر بين أجهزة الدولة بقيادة الحكومة المدعومة من الجيش، وبين الإخوان والتيارات الإسلامية المناصرة لهم، هناك صراع محوري جداً على المساجد ومنابرها. الخطب والدروس الدينية والأنشطة الخيرية والتنموية التي تتخذ من المساجد مركزاً لها هي إحدى ساحات نفوذ التيارات الإسلامية بتنوعاتها، وهي أيضا إحدى ساحات تأكيد شرعية النظام السياسي في مصر عبر الإدارة الحكومية المباشرة لعدد من المساجد، أو الإشراف على عدد آخر، عن طريق وزارة الأوقاف. ولطالما شهدت هذه الساحات صراعات قوى ونفوذ بين النظام ...

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Introduction: Roundtable on African American Muslims and the Black Freedom Struggle

This roundtable on "African American Muslims and the Black Freedom Struggle" convened five scholars from various disciplinary perspectives to discuss the legacy of Black Muslims in the United States and their contribution to the civil rights discussion within the country, and to human rights more generally. The respondents were asked to direct their responses to addressing some of the questions in the following prompt: African American Muslims have been involved in the black freedom struggle ...

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Reflections on the State of Islamic Studies

I have been asked to share my impressions about the state of Islamic studies in the North American academy. Given that the pioneers of this field include many of my mentors, and many of my own peers have struggled for years to help advance the field to its current state, my observations will not be dispassionate. And since I have been fortunate to have a front-row seat along the development of the field over the last twenty years, I hope I’ll be able to do justice to the current state of the field. I ...

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Critical Currents in Islam Media Roundup (December 10)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating Islam and reflects a wide variety of opinions and approaches. It does not reflect the views of the Critical Currents in Islam page or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Saturday night of every week.] Human Rights  Angola accused of 'banning' Islam as mosques closed Human rights activists condemn crackdown though officials in largely Catholic nation ...

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Weaving Ethical Concerns and Aesthetic Aspirations: Fatwas and Nose Jobs in Iran

Iran has recently been labeled the nose job capital of the world; a fact that comes as a surprise to those who get caught up on the Islamic Republic’s strict and serious image. As opposed to what one might imagine, no sort of governmental or Islamic legal permission is required to access cosmetic surgery services throughout the country. However, that is not to say that Islamic law has nothing to say about the matter. Quite the contrary, religious leaders have found it necessary to engage with the issue ...

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New Texts Out Now: Asef Bayat, Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam

Asef Bayat, editor, Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Jadaliyya (J): What made you put together this book? Asef Bayat (AB): Well, for me the primary reason for producing this book was a realization that there was a major gap in the scholarship on Islamism. While so much has been written on political Islam—some of which remains solid scholarship—the mainstream perspectives tend to treat political Islam as if it were a ...

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New Texts Out Now: Wael Hallaq, The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament

Wael Hallaq, The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. [This is a special edition of NEWTON that coincides with the upcoming launch of Jadaliyya's Critical Currents of Islam page. CCI aims to engage with a range of topics related to Islam as it is interpreted, practiced, and contested in political, cultural, and economic arenas throughout the world. The page is a place for fresh and critical perspectives on many of the issues ...

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Morsi Trial Protest in Photos

On 4 November 2013, supporters of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi protested outside the Police Academy in Cairo as they awaited his trial. Due to chants by the defendants, including Morsi and fourteen other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the trial was adjourned until 8 January 2014. Morsi, along with the other defendants, are accused of inciting murder against opposition during his year as president.              

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نقد الخطاب الديني

[تعمل "جدلية" على نشر مقاطع من أعمال ومقالات أدباء وشخصيات نتناول سيرتها في "ملف من الأرشيف". نستعرض هذا الأسبوع سيرة المفكر المصري نصر حامد أبو زيد، والذي نادى في كافة كتاباته ونشاطاته الفكرية بتغليب العقل على استعباده في تأويل النصوص القرآنية، ورفض استحواذ جماعات دون غيرها على تفسير النص وتكفير من يجادلها في ذلك. فطاله في ذلك الأمر الكثير بحيث اتُهم بالردة وحُكم عليه بتفريقه عن زوجته، فما كان له إلا أن يغادر مصر دون أن يتوقف حتى مماته عن الحث على تحرير العقل كشرط لتحرر الشعوب كما ...

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Quebec’s Charter of Values: Citizenship, Patriarchy, and Paranoia

On 10 September 2013, the Quebec government led by the Parti Quebecois introduced its Charter of Quebec Values, that it hopes to implement in that Canadian province. If passed, the charter would, among other things, forbid government employees from wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols in the workplace and citizens from receiving government services while wearing those symbols. The charter is currently polarizing Quebec society. What follows is an attempt to historicize ...

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استقطاب الخطاب وانتصار الليبرالية في مصر

لستُ سوى مراقب عن كثب للسياسة والتاريخ المصريين. وآمل أن يسمح لي الذين يشاركونني في الحوار حول مصر بأن أقدّم بعض الملاحظات عمّا يمكن أن يصبح في نهاية المطاف مهماً لنا جميعاً، نحن الذين نحرص على المنطقة، أو ندرّسها. سأركّز ملاحظاتي على الأسباب الكامنة وراء الخطاب الاستقطابيّ حول مصر، داخل وخارح البلاد في آن واحد معاً، وأختتم بتعليق حول مجئ ليبرالية جديدة. وتستند ملاحظاتي إلى رصْدٍ دقيق استمرّ أكثر من ستة أسابيع للإعلام المصري بمختلف أنواعه، وللجزيرة، والعربية، ومجموعة من وسائل  الإعلام  ...

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