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Religion

New Texts Out Now: Nazan Maksudyan, Orphans and Destitute Children in the Late Ottoman Empire

[Cover of Nazan Maksudyan,

Nazan Maksudyan, Orphans and Destitute Children in the Late Ottoman Empire. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Nazan Maksudyan (NM): Though its scope has been enlarged, historical writing is still notorious for its disregard and ignorance of a wide range of social groups. Even today, children are almost invisible in historical writing, just as women, working classes, blacks, or ethnic minorities were disregarded earlier. Children's history—their presence, experiences, and testimonies—is not considered to have historical significance, so children are left out of the narrative. Their viewpoint as actors shaping ...

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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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New Texts Out Now: Abdullah Al-Arian, Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat’s Egypt

[Cover of Abdullah Al-Arian,

Abdullah Al-Arian, Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat’s Egypt. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Abdullah Al-Arian (AA): I began the intellectual journey toward this book over a decade ago. As an undergraduate student, I witnessed how the events of 11 September 2001 rapidly deteriorated the tenor of the discourse within the United States on the relationship between Islam and society in the Arab world. The alarmist trend that warned of an impending clash between “Islam” and “the West” was amplified during the War on Terror, resulting in a tendency to conflate all expressions of Islamic ...

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Algeria’s Jewish Past-Present

[Interior of Ghardaïa Synagogue, Image from Sarah Abrevaya Stein]

Given other dramatic events this summer, readers might be forgiven for failing to notice a curious announcement the Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs, Mohamed Aïssa, issued on 3 July. The statement advertised that the ministry was to reopen twenty-five of the synagogues that still remain in the country. This announcement is of far more than local concern, teaching us a great deal about the complex way in which the Middle Eastern Jewish past is put to use in the interest of contemporary politics. Aïssa’s proposal was meant to highlight Algeria’s inclusivity, and, thereby, to distinguish its path from that of nearby Tunisia and Egypt. Part of what made this ...

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New Texts Out Now: Erin Runions, The Babylon Complex: Theopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty

[Cover of Erin Runions,

Erin Runions, The Babylon Complex: Theopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Erin Runions (ER): Living in New York City in 2001 and after, I was involved in the anti-war movement that protested the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I wanted to understand what compels people in the United States to accept war, occupation, and torture. Religion is one such driving force. The Bible provides much of the religious narrative that shapes opinion and debate in the United States. People may have a vague sense that the Bible drives politics, war, homophobia, attitudes toward law and ...

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عن صعود الطائفية السياسية في العراق و تفكيكها

[

يخبرني أحد المسؤولين الأمريكيين الذين انخرطوا في الجدل الأمريكي الرسمي الذي تلا سقوط نظام صدام، أن مسألة اختيار "ممثلين" للشعب العراقي كانت إحدى نقاط الاختلاف الرئيسية، وأنه كان ضمن مجموعة رفضت التركيز حصراً على التصنيف الهوياتي في انتقاء أعضاء مجلس الحكم الانتقالي، وهو أول مؤسسة حكم عراقية تأسست بعد الاحتلال. يقر محدثي أن مجموعته خسرت النقاش ويقر بأن الطريقة التي تم تشكيل المجلس فيها أسست لما تلاها من إذكاء للنوازع الإثنية والطائفية. يقول إنه كان بالإمكان تجنب ذلك بدل الاستسلام للسردية البسيطة عن العراق التي جعلت منه بلد مكونات : شيعة وسنة وكرد. تقوم هذه السردية عن "وطن المكونات" على أساس أن المنطق الكلاسيكي الذي حكم عملية بناء الامة في العراق ...

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The Perils of American Muslim Politics

[President Barack Obama delivers remarks during an Iftar dinner. Image from U.S. Embassy, Jakarta/Flickr.]

This Ramadan, many American Muslim leaders are anxiously awaiting to hear whether they have made the cut for the annual White House Iftar. An invitation to this iftar, as with similar events the State Department and the Pentagon hold, serves to symbolize recognition in the halls of American power and a degree of success for those Muslims who have sought active engagement within the political arena. Rewarded by a chance to break their fast with President Obama, they have been formally recognized as leaders in a fraught religious community. Representing a variety of civic, political, religious, cultural, and educational institutions and initiatives, these are individuals ...

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Watching ISIS on TV

[al-Sistani spokesperson, Abdul Mehdi Karbala’i, 13 June 2014. Image from Alrasheed Television]

I spent the last few afternoons and evenings with my wife's cousins---dynamic, generous, and patient people from Baghdad who only recently---after eight years of one war, ten years of sanctions, and ten years of violent occupation---decided to permanently resettle in Amman. Besides eating and drinking tea, and talking about the beauty of Ali's sermons, for the most part, we wandered through a labyrinth of Iraqi satellite television. Like most Iraqi households these days, the television is never turned off. Not surprisingly, on these stations there is a war over what ISIS stands for and what it means for the country and their particular community. To take two ends of the ...

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Quick Thoughts: Paul Sedra on the Pope’s Visit to the Middle East

[A welcome banner for Pope Francis with his picture hangs on a building in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on 19 May 2014. Image by Nasser Nasser via Associated Press]

  [On Saturday 24 May 2014, Pope Francis embarks on a three-day visit to Jordan, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in his first tour of the Middle East since his installation as head of the Catholic Church in 2013. Jadaliyya asked its Contributing Editor Paul Sedra to reflect on the broader issues the pope is expected to address, including the position of Christians in the Middle East.] Vatican watchers and Middle East analysts alike will examine the Pope’s movements and statements intently, much as they have already examined the planned composition of his delegation for purported indications of Francis’s political leanings. ...

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Critical Currents in Islam Media Roundup (24 April)

[Abdulnasser Gharem, a Saudi conceptual artist, poses in front of

[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 cci@jadaliyya.com by Saturday night of every week.] Art and Science Islam the opera: curtain up on Clusters of Light about life of prophet Muhammad A musical theater production on the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad has debuted in Sharjah featuring several notable Arab singers. Tours are planned for Malaysia, Turkey, and Paris. Saudi Artists Cautiously Push against ...

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

[Photo of event. Image from Daniel Woodward]

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, and to try to find new frameworks through which to understand the period. Dr. Emad Abu-Ghazi of Cairo University opened the seminar by addressing the issue of whether ...

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A Fashionable Revolution: Veiling, Morality, and Consumer Culture in Iran

[“Tehran Shopping Malls” by Saghar Daeeri 100 x 150 cm Acrylic on canvas, 2008.]

There has been a flurry of commentary recently that claims something of a “silent revolution” is underway in Iran today. It is supposedly a revolution against — or, at the very least, a flagrant disregard for — government prescriptions for public decency. It is situated on the surfaces of women’s bodies and assumes bright colors, brand names, fitted contours, and flowing hair. It is supposedly a revolution against but also of the mandatory veil, or how a new generation of women is taking liberties with it. We see beautiful young women in the streets of Tehran inviting us to reconsider stereotypical images of Iranian women that predominate in mainstream English-language ...

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ضياء الدين ساردار: مطارحة الإسلام والمستقبل

تخبرنا القراءة المتفحصة للفكر الإسلامي الحديث أنه وقع منذ عصر النهضة في نهاية القرن التاسع عشر أسيرًا لنزعتين؛ النزعة الأولى هي هيمنة مبحث السياسة والدولة على اهتماماته، والنزعة الثانية هي النزعة الماضوية التراثية، وربما ترتبط النزعتان ببعضهما البعض. لقد دار المجهود الفكري لرواد الإصلاح الأوائل حول سؤال النهضة، على خلفية التحدي الحضاري الذي مثله الغرب. لقد كان هذا السؤال أكثر فهمًا لشمولية التحدي وأكثر اتساعًا في فهمه للإسلام كرؤية كونية ذات تضمينات اجتماعية وحضارية، غير أن ظهور الإسلام السياسي وغلبته ...

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Critical Currents in Islam Media Roundup (October)

[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 cci@jadaliyya.com by Saturday night of every week.] Art and Science How LA's Islamic art shows might expand our 'Middle East' vision The Islamic art exhibits organized by the Department of Cultural Affairs ...

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حروب الردة أو اغتيال المستقبل

  ما من شك في أن المنطقة شهدت في الآونة الاخيرة تقدماً لافتاً لقوى الردّة المضادة للثورات، وهي ليست «ثورات مضادة»، حسب التعبير الدارج، لأن لا شيء فيها من التغيير أو الثورة، إنما هي ردة ضد هذا وتلك. يتمثل المشهد بإعادة انتاج عدد من الأنظمة العربية، بعد التضحية بالحاكم الفرد فيها، يقابل ذلك تعزيز طابعها الاستبدادي والتسلطي، وتمكين مرتكزاتها العسكرية والامنية، وتنمية توجهاتها النيولبرالية، وهي أحد الأسباب الرئيسة للبطالة والفساد والفروق المناطقية والطبقية. تحقق ذلك بمزيج من التدخل الإقليمي (الأنظمة ...

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تأملات في الجمالية والخطاب والتفاحة

يعزو البعض تأثير البروباغندا باعتبارها تمظهرًا خطابيًا لمفهوم "الجمالية" إلى تخوم القرنين الثامن والتاسع عشر، تلك المرحلة المركبة، إذ كانت الثورة الفرنسية (1789 – 1794) هي التي شكلت ملامحها الرئيسية لما كان للطباعة من أثر رئيس في ذلك التعبير المادي عن فكرة الحرية، أما بالنسبة لإنجلترا فكان ثمة أهمية خاصة للإنقلاب الصناعي الذي أحل الآلة محل الإنسان واتجه إلى الاستغناء عن الإنسان لعدم الحاجة إليه، ولم يكن ذلك الإحساس موجودًا في فرنسا التي سعت إلى تغيير العالم وظلت على امتداد عشرين عامًا لا تفكر ...

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مدن بلا أهل: عن خراب الموصل وبغداد وحواضر أخرى

تذكرني مقولات من قبيل "إن هذه الجماعة غريبة على الموصل وستؤدي أفعالها إلى استثارة أهل الموصل ضدها"، بمقولات سبقتها زمنياً من قبيل "إن السوريين ليسوا كالعراقيين ولن يدخلوا حرباً طائفية"، وقبلها "إن المجتمع العراقي ليس كاللبناني والطائفية غريبة عليه" ، وهلم جرا... هذه المقولات تفترض أن للمجتمعات ملامح ثابتة ومحددة لا تتغير، وأن الجماعة هي " كيان" أزلي يمتلك "جوهراً" نفسياً ثابتاً، وهي تصورات بالاضافة إلى لا علميتها وتبسيطيتها، تمثل وعاء للكثير من المواقف ...

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نون"... حرف واحدة تكفي فاتحة للخراب الاكبر في العراق"

ليست "نونا" كسابقاتها، لاتشبه "نون" النسوة مثلا، ولا النون في اية كلمة عربية، "نون" اخرى مختلفة لم يفكر بها مخترع الهجاء العربي، بالضبط لم يفكر بان تكون لها وظيفة اخرى غير ما شاع منها في كلام العرب ومن نطق بلغتهم، ولا "عنترة العبسي"، الشاعر الجاهلي الاسود، فكر باخرى واخرى عندما انشد نونيته " ياطائر البان قد هيجت أشجاني"، وحتما لم تكن حاضرة في مطالع سور القران، كتاب الله الذي يحارب الجميع، الان ومن قبل، تحت رايته، ويدعون نصرته كانت له نونه الباهرة"نون ...

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Critical Currents in Islam Media Roundup (16 June)

[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 cci@jadaliyya.com by Saturday night of every week.] Art and Science Muslim group's concerns about 'Tyrant' addressed, FX and producers say A new television show is drawing concern from some American Muslims, ...

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New Texts Out Now: Ahmed El Shamsy, The Canonization of Islamic Law: A Social and Intellectual History

Ahmed El Shamsy, The Canonization of Islamic Law: A Social and Intellectual History. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Ahmed El Shamsy (AES): Legal history is often dry stuff: it is full of theories, concepts, and institutions, and heavy with jargon. When I read a work of history, I want to know what happened. I also want to understand what drove the actors involved and what was at stake. The story of the birth of Islamic law, like ...

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Sayyed Qutb: 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: Sayyed Last name: Qutb Father’s name: Qutb Ibn Ibrahim Date of birth: 1906 Date of death: 1966 Nationality: ...

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Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid: 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.]  First Name: Nasr Last Name: Abu Zaid Date of birth: 10 July 1943 Date of death: 5 July 2010 Nationality: ...

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ماذا فعلت «حماس» بالمناهج؟

بعد عقود قضوها مشتتين بين المناهج العربيِّة، كان قد أصبح للفلسطينيين في مطلع الألفيّة الجديدة منهاجهم التعليميّ الخاص والموحَّد في الضفة الغربيّة وقطاع غزّة. في حينه، لم تعجب المناهج الجديدة «أميركا» و«إسرائيل» اللتان اتهمتا السلطة الفلسطينيِّة بأنِّ تلك المناهج تحرِّض على العنف، وأنّها لا تتضمّن مبادئ السلام والمصالحة ولا تشير إلى وجود «إسرائيل» على الخريطة. كان الرئيس عبّاس قد تطرَّق إلى ذلك في خطابه في شباط/ فبراير الفائت أمام طلبة إسرائيليين في مقره في «المقاطعة»، وتعهّد بالعمل على تغيير ما لم يرق ...

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New Texts Out Now: Zayde Antrim, Routes and Realms: The Power of Place in the Early Islamic World

Zayde Antrim, Routes and Realms: The Power of Place in the Early Islamic World. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Zayde Antrim (ZA): I was originally motivated by what I saw as easy dismissals of the relationship between Palestinians and the territory that now makes up Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. When the question of their attachment to land came up, it was often in order to deem it both recent and ideologically motivated, ...

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