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Md Saidul Islam

Contesting the U.S.-centric bias of modern environmentalism, this essay uncovers an “old“ paradigm of environmentalism found in the medieval Islamic tradition, the Islamic Ecological Paradigm (IEP)—which, in many respects, is tantamount to many ideologies of modern environmentalism. According to IEP, human beings are a part of, and not above, nature, and have the responsibility to preserve nature. Many paradigms of modern environmentalism have largely embraced this ideology, though they do not necessarily trace their origin to IEP. This essay also analyzes Muslim environmental activism today by focusing on how its proponents are inspired by modern environmentalism while grounding their activism in IEP. Despite substantial variance and occasional tension, the author argues that both modern environmentalism and IEP can form an ontological alliance, an alliance that is of paramount importance to addressing environmental problems that transcend physical and cultural borders.

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Islam, Rights, and Ethical Life

The Problem of Political Modernity in the Islamic World

Michael J. Thompson

This paper considers the roots of the dissonance between political modernity and Islamic societies. It argues that primacy has to be given to the analysis of different paradigms of 'ethical life' which are ways in which ethical-political categories are organized within society. A distinction is made between 'nomocentric' and 'rights-based' paradigms of ethical life, the former associated with a system of moral duties and the latter with a system of political and ethical rights accorded to the individual. I argue that the emphasis on a nomocentric paradigm of ethical life has the effect of suppressing the development of a rights-based ethical and political discourse in large enough segments of the society to limit a progressive change toward political modernity. I further analyze the ways in which forces of social and economic modernisation play a role in antagonizing the relation between modernity and the more traditional forms of ethical life which predominate in Islamic society and political/ethical thought.

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Michaelle Browers

Anne Norton, On the Muslim Question (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013), 288 pp., ISBN: 9781400846351

Alfred Stepan and Charles Taylor, eds., Boundaries of Toleration (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 328 pp., ISBN: 9780231165679

Mehrzad Boroujerdi, ed., Mirror for the Muslim Prince: Islam and the Theory of Statecraft (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2013), 448 pp., ISBN: 9780815632894

Wael B. Hallaq, The Impossible State: Islam, Politics and Modernity’s Moral Predicament (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 272 pp., ISBN: 9780231162579

Ali Mirsepassi and Tadd Graham Fernée, Islam, Democracy and Cosmopolitanism: At Home and in the World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 225 pp., ISBN: 9781107053977

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Béchir Oueslati, Marie McAndrew and Denise Helly

This article examines the evolution of the representation of Islam and Muslim cultures in textbooks in Quebec. Results indicate signicant improvements in the new secondary school history textbooks, both quantitatively (for they contain more information about pillars, key concepts, and relations with Christianity and Judaism) and qualitatively (on account of their depth of coverage, fewer negative views than in the 1980s, and fewer factual errors than in the 1990s). The positive role played by Muslim scientists in preserving old knowledge and enriching is also recognized. However, textbooks still view Islam as a religion of submission, proscriptions, and forced conversion, failing to recognize the diversity within Islam and Muslim cultures.

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Ingrid Pfluger-Schindlbeck

The contemporary preoccupation with the headscarf and the new veiling shows us the importance of symbolic messages of hair behaviour not only in Western but also in Muslim societies. This article gives a survey of different methodological approaches to hair, namely the anthropological hair debate of the 1950s, studies on new Islamic dress, regional and culture-specific anthropological research on hair symbolism and hair sacrifice. Hair is either treated in the context of religious texts (Qur’an, Hadiths), Islamic institutional concepts of the sexual body (purity rules) or in the context of sacrifice revealing religious concepts of an asexual human body. It is shown that the contradictory statements of these diverse theoretical approaches are the result of a cleavage that can be traced throughout the literature and also accounts for the polyvalent meanings of the symbol of hair. Hair can be viewed in the context of individual versus society but also in the context of individual versus God. Therefore, the analysis of hair behaviour in Islamic societies has to combine both relations to understand the seemingly exotic behaviour of ‘the other’.

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Rakhym Beknazarov

This article addresses one of many complex questions concerning the spread of Islam in the territory of Kazakhstan, in particular the northern Aral region. Based on fieldwork, the author analyses architectural monuments, such as Gappar's grave, Baspaq cemetery and Matygul's grave, which represent Islam in the allusive functions of a mosque and funeral chamber. On the basis of a comparative analysis of monuments from the Middle Ages, such as Abat-Baytak, with the monumental constructions over graves in Kazakhstan, it is concluded that the Sufism trend of Islam prevailed in this region.

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Enis Sulstarova

This article investigates the role of Islam in representations of the self and the other in the contemporary Albanian national discourse, on the basis of an analysis of history textbooks published in postcommunist Albania between 1990 and 2013, focusing specifically on texts used in pre-university education. Even after the dissolution of the Socialist Republic of Albania in 1991, Islam in Albania continued to be associated with concepts derived from the socialist era, including the primacy of the nation as well as Eurocentrism and secularism, which were seen as the pinnacle of modernity.

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Mehrunnisa Ahmad Ali, Nashwa Salem, Béchir Oueslati, Marie Andrew and Lisa Quirke

Representations of Islam in Ontario's social studies textbooks portray a dehistoricized view of a religion that is disconnected from other monotheistic religions. The varied and complex socio-political and ideological locations of Muslims in historical and current contexts are reduced to simplistic, often negative depictions, either as irrational aggressors or victims of poverty and underdevelopment. More nuanced, historically grounded, and multifaceted representations are called for, in order to promote a more inclusive society in Ontario.

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Mireille Estivalèzes

French society is pluricultural and multireligious, and Islam is its second largest religion. For this reason, schools have to promote better understanding and greater tolerance among pupils. In this context, the history curriculum and history textbooks serve to de ne knowledge and historical memory. In this article, I will analyze the treatment of Islam and the Muslim world in a sample of French textbooks, and identify some of the bias and stereotypes they still convey. I will also explain how this depiction of Islam and the Muslim world has evolved over the last ten years.

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Jeremy F. Walton and Piro Rexhepi

Over recent decades, Islamic institutions and Muslim communities in the successor nation-states of former Yugoslavia have taken shape against a variegated political and historical topography. In this article, we examine the discourses and politics surrounding Islamic institutions in four post-Yugoslav nation-states: Kosovo, Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Our analysis moves in two directions. On the one hand, we illuminate the historical legacies and institutional ties that unite Muslims across these four contexts. As we argue, this institutional history continues to mandate a singular, hegemonic model of Sunni-Hanafi Islam that pre-emptively delegitimizes Muslim communities outside of its orbit. On the other hand, we also attend to the contrasting national politics of Islam in each of our four contexts, ranging from Islamophobic anxiety and suspicion to multiculturalism, from a minority politics of differentiation to hegemonic images of ethno-national religiosity.