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Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt: A STATUS/الوضع Conversation between Abdullah Al-Arian and Anthony Alessandrini

Abdullah Al-Arian, a founding editor of Jadaliyya's Critical Currents in Islam page, discusses his new book, Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt, and how it speaks to popular Islamic activism in Egypt today. The interview below includes three parts that you can click on separately. Abdullah Al-Arian is an assistant professor of History at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He is the author of Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt (Oxford, 2014). During the fall of 2014, when this interview was conducted, he served as a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Middle East Studies at the Josef Korbel ...

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New Texts Out Now: Joseph A. Massad, Islam in Liberalism

[Cover of Joseph A. Massad,

Joseph A. Massad, Islam in Liberalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Joseph Massad (JM): I had been thinking for a while about a different book, namely one that traces genealogically the transformation in the semantic uses of the term “Islam” since the eighteenth century in Europe and among Muslims and Arabs in Asia and Africa. The project is an intellectual and semantic history of a term and the peregrinations it has made and undergone since its insertion in a modern “European” lexicon that depicted it as the opposite of an emergent “Europe” and an emergent “liberalism,” let alone the historic enemy of ...

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New Texts Out Now: Jonathan A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy

[Cover of Jonathan A. C. Brown,

Jonathan A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy. London: Oneworld Publications, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Jonathan A.C. Brown (JB): Through my teaching and public speaking, I got the sense that there was a need for a book that brought the history, inner workings, and contributions of the Islamic tradition of scriptural interpretation to a general audience. In particular, I was constantly asked “How should we understand such and such a Quranic verse or such and such a Hadith?” Then, of course, there were the ubiquitous questions around “Islam and Violence,” “Islam and Gender,” etc. ...

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The Vagaries of Laïcité

[Detail from the cover of Naomi Davidson,

[This is the second of three responses to Muriam Haleh Davis’ review essay of books by Joan W. Scott, Naomi Davidson, and Mayanthi Fernando. For Joan W. Scott’s response, “More on Laïcité in Historical Context," click here.] A cartoon by the French cartoonist Gil from 10 January, titled “Communion nationale,” shows a white policeman frisking an ambiguously raced man standing against the wall with his hands in the air. “Je suis Charlie,” says the man, and the policeman replies, “Yeah, yeah, me too.” In the past month, many of us have seen an explosion of items in the French press about Muslims (be they radical/homegrown/foreign/prisoners/mentally ...

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Syria Media Roundup (January 26)

[Image from www.shutterstock.com]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to syria@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]  Inside Syria Syria rebels overtake strategic base in south Syrian, US-backed, rebels fighting with Nusra overtake strategic base in south near Deraa, helping 2 cut highway and more. Syria: Mortars, Rockets Rain Down on Damascus Alloush al-Islam’s Army fires 40 + rockets at Damascus center killing from 7 to 50 in revenge 4 regime killing in ...

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الإخوان من الجماعة إلى الفرقة

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ثمة ما يعوق الاشتباك النقدي مع الإخوان في هذا الظرف، فأفراد الجماعة – وبالأخص البعيدين عن القيادة، من طلبة ومهنيين ونقابيين – يتعرضون لقمع أمني مستند لخطاب إعلامي لا يكتفي بتوجيه نقد جذري مستحق لهم، وإنما يستخدم خطاباً جوهرانياً ينزع عنهم إنسانيتهم ويُشرْعن قتلهم سواء بالرصاص في الطرقات أو في قاعات المحاكم بأحكام الإعدام الجماعي، فضلاً عن شرعنة ممارسات تمييز واسع ضدهم. وتتضاءل في هذا الظرف المساحة المتاحة للنقد من غير التورط في مثل هذا الخطاب، كما تتغير أولويات النقد في ظل إحجام واسع عن تسليط الضوء على  ممارسات  تستحق النقد يتورط فيها القائمون على الحكم حالياً. غير أن الظرف ذاته يوجب الاشتباك النقدي معهم، لأن ثمن ممارساتهم لم يزل باهظاً يدفعه أنصارهم وخصومهم، ...

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The Islamic State: The Fear of Decline?

Following a series of military setbacks, Dabiq—the propaganda magazine of the Islamic State (IS)—is issuing calls for the unity of followers to compensate for the dwindling number of its fighters. Through its powerful media apparatus, IS states its ambitions. The Islamic State has shown great capabilities on the field, but also in the virtual sphere. The group has developed a high-quality media industry and mastered this tool like no jihadist group ever has. In comparison, al-Qa‘ida propaganda is a complete "has been." The Islamic State is a product of its time; it is a 2.0 jihadist group that has made use of media as a part of its arsenal. Thus the ...

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New Texts Out Now: Edmund Burke III, The Ethnographic State: France and the Invention of Moroccan Islam

[Cover of Edmund Burke III,

Edmund Burke III, The Ethnographic State: France and the Invention of Moroccan Islam. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?  Edmund Burke III (EB): Ever since my first book, Prelude to Protectorate in Morocco: Pre-colonial Protest and Resistance, 1860-1912 (1976), I had wanted to write a book about the role of French ethnography in the establishment of the Moroccan protectorate. Unfortunately my career did not go as planned, and my research interests moved on to a series of other subjects. Nonetheless, I continued to write about the French sociology of Islam over the intervening years. I have ...

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Short Skirts and Niqab Bans: On Sexuality and the Secular Body

[Non A L'islamisme. Image by Tangi Bertin]

Introduced in Québec in March 2010, Bill 94 proposed requiring women to unveil their faces if they wanted to work in the public sector or access public services, including hospitals, universities, and public transportation. The bill was eventually tabled and was followed in November 2013 with Bill 60, which demanded in more generalist language the removal of conspicuous religious signs in order to dispense or use public services in the province. These Québécois bills—which have not passed—echo the logic of the April 2011 French law targeting the niqab (face veil) and banning the “dissimulation of the face” in public spaces. Both French and Québécois proponents of these ...

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How Not To Understand ISIS

[Flag of ISIS, ronniechua / Depositphotos.com]

October 2, 2014  The group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or simply the Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS, or IS) has attracted much attention in the past few months with its dramatic military gains in Syria and Iraq and with the recent U.S. decision to wage war against it. As analysts are called to explain ISIS’ ambitions, its appeal, and its brutality, they often turn to an examination of what they consider to be its religious worldview—a combination of cosmological doctrines, eschatological beliefs, and civilizational notions—usually thought to be rooted in Salafi Islam. The Salafi tradition is a modern reformist movement critical of what it ...

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Muhammad Abduh: A Profile from the Archives

[Public intellectual Muhammad Abduh]

[”A Profile from the Archives“  is a 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. This profile was originally published in Arabic and was translated by Mazen Hakeem.] Name: Muhammad Abduh son of Hussein Khair-Allah Date of Birth: 1849 Place of Birth: Born to a prominent rural family in the village of Mahellet Nasr, Beheira Governorate, in the Nile Delta region of Upper Egypt, during a time when farmers suffered from heavy taxes and unjust laws imposed upon them by ...

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داعش: انفجار السرديات

داعش: انفجار السرديات: أرض الثورة بين أبديّتين سياسية وميتافيزيقية ربما تكون الفضيلة الوحيدة لداعش أنها استقطبت المفارقات وحملت جميع المعنيين محلياً وإقليمياً ودولياً على الخوض في نشأتها وتحليل مآلاتها. فعلى رغم ولادتها الحديثة، يمكن لداعش أن تكون بؤرة مكثفة لشرح كل تعقيدات منطقتنا وتناقضاتها الفكرية المتقابلة، فهي مع عدميتها مليئة بالمعاني، ومع عبثيتها مليئة بالرموز وقابلية الإحالات. وبما أنها وُلِدَت ذات طبيعة حدية نهائية متأزمة ونشأت كذلك في سياق مماثل فإن أغلب التفسيرات التي خاضت في شأنها اتجهت تقريباً الاتجاه نفسه. مع بروزها انفجرت مجموعة من السرديات الداخلية والخارجية في مسار أشبه بغرفة مليئة بالمرايا المقعرة والمحدبة المتناظرة، فسهلت بذلك من جهة على كثير من ...

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ISIS in the News: Extensive Media Roundup (January-February 2015)

[Editorial Note: This is not a "Best of," only a roundup of significant pieces. See here for an introduction to this roundup series]    English Articles        2014: The Year ISIS Won the Propaganda Battle (31 December 2014) Markham Nolan writes about the ways in which ISIS has been documenting its progress throughout 2014 in a constant stream of propaganda.  Vanguard of Syria’s uprising, now on the run from ISIS, weighs a bleak future ...

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Slurring Sectarianism: Sunni-Shi‘i Discourse in Lebanon

Lebanon has a history of inter-sectarian strife. Due to recent regional developments, namely the war in Syria, this strife now features new anti-Shi‘i and anti-Sunni slurs. Such slurs fan the flames of the Sunni- Shi‘i conflict that has emerged in the past decade, and are particularly effective when they employ tropes from Islamic collective memory. Anti-Shi‘i Discourse Lebanese Sunni resentment against Hizballah, especially among followers of Saad Hariri’s Future Movement and among the majority of ...

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Beyond Authenticity: ISIS and the Islamic Legal Tradition

The Atlantic thinks ISIS is Islamic. President Obama and countless others disagree. As the debate rages on with no shortage of interlocutors, one must stop to ask, what is the utility of making such pronouncements? Is the simple binary of whether ISIS is Islamic or not an effective way to discuss and understand the various questions at stake concerning the Islamic tradition, its authenticity, continuity and change? In response to this basic question, Muslims globally have gone on the defensive, denying ...

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Do Muslims Belong in the West? An Interview with Talal Asad

In this discussion, Talal Asad identifies the problematic ways in which the presence of Muslim communities in Western contexts has been characterized in response to outbreaks of violence such as the recent events in Paris. Asad argues that many of the critiques to which Muslims are subjected, namely their dependence on transcendent forces, also inhabit the intellectual assumptions of secular and atheist commentators.  He further expresses the need to examine Islam as a ...

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ISIS in the News: Extensive Media Roundup (November-December 2014)

[Editorial Note: This is not a "Best of," only a roundup of significant pieces. See here for an introduction to this roundup series] English Articles        ISIS threatens the Islmaili capital of Syria (30 October 2014) The fear of ISIS continues to haunt the local residents, especially in Silmiya. Citizens believe the Syrian regime will shelter them from harm Syria: ISIS Tortured Kobani Child Hostages (4 November 2014) According to Human Rights Watch, ...

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New Texts Out Now: Isabelle Werenfels, Beyond Authoritarian Upgrading: The Re-Emergence of Sufi Orders in Maghrebi Politics

Isabelle Werenfels, "Beyond Authoritarian Upgrading: The Re-Emergence of Sufi Orders in Maghrebi Politics." The Journal of North African Studies 19.3 (2014). Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this article? Isabelle Werenfels (IW): It is a mélange of reasons. First and foremost, I was struck by how little research has been done by political scientists on the contemporary relationship between Sufi orders, the state, and politics in Algeria and Tunisia. Even in Morocco, this relationship has ...

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From Raqqa to Derna: Exceptionalism in Expansionism

In early November, militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria took full control of the Libyan city of Derna, festooning government buildings with the familiar flag bearing the shahada and celebrating their victory over their opponents within the city. A coastal settlement of around 100,000, less than two hundred miles from the eastern city of Benghazi and hours from Tobruk, where the internationally-recognized House of Representative rules from, the loss of Derna aroused fears within ...

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Liberalizmin tasfiyesi ve Ortadogu'da alacakaranlik

Liberalizmin tasfiyesi ve Ortadoğu'da alacakaranlık Çok umutlar bağlandı Türkiye’ye. Doğu ile Batı arasındaki köprüydü o. 1950’lerde dahi Amerikalı sosyal bilimcilerin gözdesiydi. “Batı-dışı” toplumların (devrimci hayallere kalkışmadan) modernleşebileceğini gösteriyordu çünkü. 1990’lardan itibaren çerçeve bir parça değişti. Artık Türkiye’nin belirleyici özelliği, Müslüman kimliği ile liberalizmi uzlaştırabilmesiydi. Ak Parti iktidarı, bu beklentileri zirveye taşıdı. 2011 Arap ayaklanmalarından sonra da, ...

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O.I.L. Media Roundup (5 October)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Occupation, Intervention and Law and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the O.I.L. Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each biweekly roundup to OIL@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every other week.] Palestine-Israel Israel's Bloated War Machine, Uri Blau The heavy expansion of the defense ministry in Israel under the premiership of PM ...

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Propaganda, Politics, and Profiteering: Islamic Law in the Contemporary United States

The recent announcement of the establishment of a “caliphate” by the “Islamic State”—also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—has put Islamic law back in the headlines. In the ensuing, polarizing debates, images of violence and extremism are countered with defensive posturing about the “true” nature of Islamic law. This endless tug-of-war between delegitimizing and legitimizing “Islamic law” confuses and obfuscates, rather than educates ...

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Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani: A Profile from the Archives

[”A Profile from the Archives“  is a 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. This profile was originally published in Arabic and was translated by Mazen Hakeem.] Name: Sayyid Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani Known As: Al-Husseini – His father is Safdar Date of Birth: August 1838 Place of Birth: ...

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The Informants: Manufacturing Terror

On the surface, the scene unfolds without any hint of intrigue. A young Muslim convert named Darren Griffin meets fellow congregants at a local mosque in northwest Ohio. In addition to sharing the same faith as his new friends, they enjoy similar interests: watching sports, playing video games, working out at the local gym, and discussing international affairs. Except the scene ends tragically with a string of arrests, a national media frenzy, and self-congratulation among federal officials claiming to ...

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