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In Jerusalem, “Religious War” Claims Cloak Old-Fashioned Colonialism

[Image from]

al-shabaka policy brief Overview  The escalating clashes between Israeli settlers and Jerusalemite Palestinians are the harbingers of a major eruption with incalculable consequences. Immediately billed as a “religious war” by the media and Israeli right wingers, they are in fact the outcome of longstanding Israeli plans to Judaize the city and empty it of its Palestinian inhabitants. Al-Shabaka Policy Member Nur Arafeh analyzes the major changes that Israel has illegally imposed on Jerusalem and addresses the Palestine Liberation Organization/Palestinian Authority’s effective abandonment of the population to fend for itself. She concludes with policy ...

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STATUS/الوضع: Issue 2.2 is Live!

After some months of hard work and consolidation, we are more than pleased to announce the release of Issue 2.2 of Status. This issue, like previous issues, includes a remarkable variety of interviews, programs, and reviews related to some of the more exciting and substantive issues happening in the region. From politics, to history, art, media, and panels/lectures and more, all segmented to allow maximum listening flexibility, you will be able to indulge for hours at a time! Download the podcast from iTunes and listen anywhere, or go to to listen to bits and pieces here and there, with diverse, annotated menu. The content includes a broad range of ...

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Ottomanism with a Greek Face: An Interview with Vangelis Kechriotis

[Image via Ottoman History Podcast.]

“Ottomanism with a Greek Face”: Vangelis Kechriotis coined this term in one of his recent articles to describe a particular cultural and political phenomenon of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, namely a vision of a future for Greek Orthodox Christians within the Ottoman Empire embraced by a number of Greek intellectuals and politicians. In defiance of both Greek and Turkish nationalisms, this ideology developed an alternative understanding of Greek identity, one that combined cultural Hellenism with political loyalty to the Ottoman state. Not surprisingly, among chief ideologues of this vision were Karamanlis, Christians from the region of Cappadocia who ...

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Bringing Our Lost Brethren Back Home: Messianic Zionism, Settler-Colonialism, and the Lost Jews of Kaifeng

[Picture of Earth Market Street in Kaifeng in 1910. The Synagogue was off to the right of the stores on the right side. The stele of 1489 mentions that the Kaifeng was at the intersection of Earth Market Street and Fire God temple lane. Pic from Vol. 2, p. 18 of Chinese Jews (1966) by Bishop William Charles White via Wikipedia.]

The Kaifeng Jews of China–numbering at present some five hundred to one thousand in total–are one of the latest communities to garner the interest of right-wing messianic organizations connected to the settler-colonial movement in Israel. Over the last decade, messianic groups have intensified efforts to encourage the community to immigrate (aliyah) to Israel. This endeavor is making some headway. Messianic organizations, including Amichav (My People are Returning), its semi-successor Shavei Yisrael (Returners to Israel) and, in more supportive/facilitating roles, a number of Christian Zionist groups, see the Kaifeng Jews as “Lost Jews” and as such important assets. ...

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Video: Do Black Lives Matter in Israel?

[Screenshot from video below.]

In this three-minute episode, originally aired on AJ+ Labs, host Dena Takruri explains how thousands of Ethiopian Jews are protesting police brutality and racism in Israel after a video of a police officer beating up an Israeli Ethiopian went viral online.    

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موت الله والحرب على الإرهاب

[المصدر فليكر]

ليس الإلحاد سهلاً كما يبدو عليه. ربما كان بسيطاً إلى حدٍّ واف على المستوى الفردي، لكن من الصعب، كما تبيّن، أن تُحَقِّقَ مجتمعاتٌ بأكملها هذا الوضع***. وفي الحقيقة، إن الحداثة منقّطة بحطام البدائل الفاشلة لله، من العقل والروح والفن والعلم والثقافة والإنسانية إلى الطبيعة والشعب والأمة والمجتمع والدولة ومايكل جاكسون. لا أقصد هنا الإيحاء بأن هذه الظواهر بدائل للإله فقط، لكنها أدت كلُّها هذه الوظيفة في أوقات مختلفة من عملها. وقد لعب الدين، تقليدياً، دوراً حيوياً في شَرْعَنة النُّظم السياسية بحيث أن حكامنا بالكاد يستطيعون النظر إلى اختفاء الله بأية درجة من رباطة الجأش، وهذا أحدُ أسبابٍ عدّة لحدوث محاولات متنوعة فاشلة بصورة عامة لملء فردتي حذائه. قلتُ “فاشلة بصورة عامة” لأن ...

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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 any relationship between the religion and the group. Whether it be the eighteen-page open letter issued by prominent Muslim clerics globally, the statement of the twelve ...

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"شوق الدرويش" لحمّور زيادة:"احذر الإيمان يا ولدي، فمنه ما يُهلِك كالكفر"

كل شيء يفرّق بينهما: هو عبد أسود مولود في جبال السودان التحق بثورة المهدي ضد السلطة المصرية-البريطانية في نهاية القرن التاسع عشر وهي راهبة بيضاء يونانية الأصل اسكندرانية النشأة، ذهبت إلى الخرطوم في بعثة تنصيرية من أجل "خدمة الرب في بلاد البرابرة" (128)، على حد تعبيرها. كل شيء يباعد بينهما بما في ذلك أفكارهما المسبقة أحدهما على "جنس" الآخر، المطبوعة بطابع العنصرية، فثيودورا ليس لها مواقف تقدّمية سابقة لأوانها؛ هي راهبة عنصرية تمقت السود ولا تختلط بهم إلا من أجل منالة الحسنات. وبخيت منديل كان "قبل أن تغزوه" ثيودورا "يعجب كيف شوّه الله هؤلاء الناس": "أجسادهم مسلوخة تكسوها حُمرة" (203). تشكّل قصة الغرام المستحيل هذه قلب ...

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More on Laïcité in Historical Context

[Image from the cover of Joan W. Scott,

[This is the first of three responses to Muriam Haleh Davis’ review essay of books by Joan W. Scott, Naomi Davidson, and Mayanthi Fernando. For Naomi Davidson's response, "The Vagaries of Laïcité," click here.] I find Muriam Haleh Davis’ commentary on Charlie Hebdo and French secularism (by way of a review of three books, one of which is mine) to be clear and to the point. Davis insists on the importance of placing in historical context the paradoxical claim that laïcité is a universal principle peculiar to the French republic, and she does it well. In this brief contribution I want simply to add some more context to the one she has so ably set forth. My ...

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Syria Media Roundup (December 1)

[Image from Wikipedia, depicting the current territorial situation in Syria.]

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 by Monday night of every week.] Inside Syria Syria’s southern rebels draw up new game plan the Southern Front’s political plan is projected to have a large appeal to the civilians and weaken support for extremist Islam. Assad’s secular sectarianism In Syria, there has been what is known as “hidden sectarianism.” “Sectarian identities are neither discarder for a higher ...

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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 على ساحة النقاش والعمل اختزل السؤال والإجابة. وفي حين ارتكز الفكر النهضوي الأول على إعادة تفسير وتأويل التراث الديني بما يتناسب والحداثة من أجل طرح سبل لنهضة شعوب الإسلام، ...

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Critical Currents in Islam Media Roundup (October)

[Heiress Dorris Duke's home in which she collected Islamic art from around the world, now operated as the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts. Image by Erin Williamson/Flickr]

[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.] 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 in Los Angeles is showcases different views of Islam that humanize Muslims. The art is from across time and location  Take a tour of Muslim youth culture through ...

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How Should Rationalists Deal with Dogmatism? The Case of the Birmingham Quran Pages

One of the reasons I do not to write about early Islamic history is that I find it very difficult to manage the constant clash of faith claims and appeals to empirical evidence. When it comes to religion in general, Islam in particular, and the origins of Islam even more specifically, scholars find it difficult to recognize how their non-rational commitments direct their reasoning. Being able to set aside those commitments is even harder. Of course, I am talking about the dogmatic belief found ...

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New Texts Out Now: Beth Baron, The Orphan Scandal: Christian Missionaries and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood

Beth Baron, The Orphan Scandal: Christian Missionaries and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Beth Baron (BB): This book had a modest beginning as a history of orphans and orphan care in Egypt. Orphans have been largely ignored in historical accounts, yet having often lived on the margins, have a great deal to tell us about family and society. For a variety of reasons, Christian missionaries came to have a near ...

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Muslims in Quebec, Belonging to an Intercultural Society: An Interview with Charles Taylor

Hicham Tiflati (HT): In my research on identity formation and the sense of belonging of young Muslims in Quebec, I have been finding that most of my participants deny their Quebecness and insist on being only Canadians. However, some of them cannot be anything else but Québécois because of the visible Quebecness in their character. Moreover, most of them are caught between Quebecness and Canadianness. Whether it is true or not, they believe that multicultural English Canada is more compatible with their ...

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Beyond Blame: Troubling the Semiotic Ideology of Muslim Passion

In the months following the tragic murders at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery in Paris, reactions to the attacks predictably gravitated toward two polar positions. Pundits and politicians in Western Europe and North America—almost entirely non-Muslim—deplored not only the murders themselves, but also the ostensible incompatibility between Islam and freedom of speech and expression in general. Although this chorus of condemnation reflected recent geopolitical ...

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Breaking House Rules: Hoodies, Hijabs, and Belonging in the Netherlands

The Incident With panoramic views of both the city and its harbor, the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (OBA), proved to be an ideal place for me to take a break from working at either my home or office at Leiden University. I visited the OBA regularly since moving to the Netherlands in 2011, when I accepted a position as an assistant professor of Modern Middle East History. Its gigantic floor to ceiling windows drowned you in the sunshine, and led you to feel as if you were amongst the clouds when it was ...

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الدولة الإسلاميّة: نزهة في كهف التنين

بنفس الحدّة التي يقول فيها وائل الحلّاق "إنّ الغالبية العظمى من مسلمي العصر الحديث تتمنّى عودة الشريعة بشكل أو بآخر"، يمكن القول إنّ الغالبية العظمى من قرّاء "الدولة المستحيلة: الإسلام والسياسة ومأزق الحداثة الأخلاقي" سيرون فيه كتابًا في غاية الاستفزاز. تنبّه مترجم الكتاب عمرو عثمان لذلك فكتب في مقدمته بأنّ القارئ "قد يرفض بعض ما يطرحه المؤلّف في هذا البحث وربّما كله". ولا عجب، فكتاب الدولة المستحيلة الذي يشتمل على خلاصات أبحاث وائل الحلّاق في الدراسات الاسلاميّة هو بمثابة ...

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A New Secularism?

[This is the third 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; for Naomi Davidson’s response, “The Vagaries of Laïcité,” click here.] In bringing the work of Joan Scott and Naomi Davidson together with mine, Muriam Haleh Davis demonstrates the importance of undertaking a history of the present. This history enables us to identify some of the ...

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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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تأملات في الصوت الأول

للحياة صوت، فالحضارة صوت، والفنون صوت، والإنسان صوت، والحيوان صوت، والله صوت، والدين صوت، و الثقافة صوت، والحرب صوت، و السلم صوت، والإنتاج صوت، فالحياة كلها صوت، ولا صمت إلا الموت (والصمت تأويل للصوت). ولولا غرق الإنسان في إدراك الحياة بعينه لا بأذنه، لأمكنه أن يُغير مفهومه لوجوده كذات وموضوع معًا ويمتلك حرية أكبر فيما يتعلق بهما، بالإستناد لكل الأصوات حوله وفيه، إذ أن هوس الحضارة الإنسانية بالمراقبة والقياس والتحجيم والتشكيل، يحجب عنه –الإنسان- جوانب مختلفة من ذاته ومحيطه وعالمه. مع إنتقال ...

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

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 ...

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

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 ...

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

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 ...

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