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.
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
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.
Reviving the Grammar of Islamic Humanism
This article states an intercivilisational conflict between Europe and Islam and argues that it can be resolved through cross-cultural bridging and sharing grammars of humanism in the pursuit of an international morality. The plea for a revival of the suppressed tradition of Islamic humanism, and of the rationalist thought of al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd among others, acknowledges that today there is no one uniform Islam. Today, the global competition between humanism and absolutism in Islam is also pertinent to the future of European identity, given Europe's proximity to the Islamic neighbourhood and the global migration emanating therefrom. While greater civilisational identity politics can be a source of conflict, such conflict can be overcome through a dialogue based on a common humanist heritage, and by bridging the international system of states to an international society, people of different civilisations can be brought closer to one another.
1980s, 1990s, and the Present Day
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.
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.
Localized globalization and battles over a cultural Islam
Johannes Gerrit de Kruijf
Contemporary cultural processes, comprising tendencies toward transformation and reproduction, are inevitably affected by the (re)formative force of globalization. Increased mobility and intensified interconnectedness have expanded our ability to recreate culture, enforce a redefinition of social realities, and transform power structures. Globalization has thus also had an effect on religious realms. Religious concepts, practices, and organizations everywhere are increasingly subject to transnational forces. This article looks at the intersection of these forces and the local powers that determine religious developments by analyzing contemporary Indo-Guyanese Islam as a manifestation of this connection. Rather than stressing globalization's universalizing propensities, it investigates how local conditions determine the relationship between growing interconnectedness and the development of Muslim faith, practice, and collectivity. It is argued that globalization stirs opposing processes of deculturalization and reculturalization in Guyana because of the economic, social, religious, political, and historical context in which local Muslims consume the fruits of transnationalization.
Islamic Education, Secularities, and the Portuguese Muslim
This article examines the relation between secularities, technologies of the self, and citizenship through an ethnography of Islamic education in Portugal. For the Islamic Community of Lisbon, the main institutional representative of Islam in Portugal, religious education is about the formation of religious subjects and the creation of embodied dispositions in relation to Islam. But it is also about being able to explain to others, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, what Islam is. This project for Islamic education has to be understood, I will argue, in the context of the production of a public Islam, secularized and liberal, that is tied to claims to citizenship made in Portuguese society for more than 60 years. While these discursive formations are partly a way to counteract stigma, it is also essential to understand them within the creation of a post-confessional Portuguese society. For members of the Islamic Community of Lisbon, supporting a project of secularization of the public sphere in such a historical context is a way to affirm their belonging.
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.
An Analysis of Approaches
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’.