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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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Md Saidul Islam and Si Hui Lim

Home to 60 percent of the world's population, Asia accounts for 85 percent of those killed and affected globally by disaster events in 2011. Using an integrated sociological framework comprised of the pressure and release (PAR) model and the double-risk society hypothesis, and drawing on data obtained from the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), PreventionWeb, and the IPCC special report on extreme events, this article offers a sociological understanding of disaster development and recovery in Asia. The particular focus is on seven Asian countries, namely, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Rather than treating disasters entirely as “natural” events caused by “violent forces of nature”, we emphasize various ways in which social systems create disaster vulnerability. We argue that existing disaster mitigation and adaptation strategies in Asia that focus almost entirely on the natural and technological aspects of hazards have serious limitations, as they ignore the root causes of disaster vulnerabilities, such as limited access to power and resources. This article therefore recommends a holistic approach to disaster management and mitigation that takes into consideration the various larger social, political, and economic conditions and contexts.

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Amira Shamma Abdin

Muslims believe that the Qur’an, the Holy book of Islam, is literally, the word of God. Hence, the Word was made book. The Qur’an in Islamic thought is comparable to the Torah in the Jewish tradition and to Jesus in the Christian tradition, in the sense that each is perceived by its followers as the central revelation of God. The Qur’an is neither a book of legal codes, nor systematic theology, nor a book on ethical morality per se. The Qur’an is basically a book of faith from which we, as Muslims, should derive laws, ethics and the theology we need in order to define the type of human and society God wants us to be. From the Qur’an we should be able to define the ethical theology which would hopefully explain the meaning and purpose of this life. As such, the Qur’an for Muslims is the primary means of encountering God.

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Raficq Abdulla

How do people of faith reconcile their own faith path with the reality and validity of pluralism? How to be faithful to one's own tradition and also be open to the faith of the other? What are the enabling or disabling issues that make it easier or more difficult for members of different faiths to work or sometimes even to co-exist together?

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Islam and Pious Sociality

The Ethics of Hierarchy in the Tablighi Jamaat in Pakistan

Arsalan Khan

Pakistani Tablighis, practitioners of a transnational Islamic piety movement, the Tablighi Jamaat, insist that only their own form of face-to-face preaching (dawat) is capable of spreading Islamic virtue. Tablighis dismiss the efforts to spread Islam by a diverse array of Islamist actors, including political parties, corporations, NGOs, and popular televangelists. This highlights a central cleavage within the Islamic revival in Pakistan. While Islamists have adopted a modernist conception of religion associated with egalitarian individualism, Tablighis understand dawat to be a religious practice that entails an ethics of hierarchy in which one becomes virtuous by submitting to the authority of pious others. In dawat, Tablighis create a hierarchically structured world of pious sociality against the threat of egalitarian individualism in liberal and Islamist varieties.

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Counter-Violence and Islamic Terrorism

Is Liberation without Freedom Possible?

Maria Russo

One of the biggest threats in the contemporary world is the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism, which is increasingly becoming a facet of everyday life in Europe. In this article, I question whether it is possible to define Islamic terrorism as a form of counter-violence, according to how Jean-Paul Sartre presented this concept in Notebooks for an Ethics, and, as a consequence, whether it can be legitimized or justified. According to this argument, the freedoms that perceive themselves as oppressed can try to liberate themselves through violence, given certain conditions. However, with terrorism we do not simply face the paradox inherent to counter-violence. The key point, which clearly distinguishes Islamic terrorism from counter-violence, is the fact that behind this nihilistic fury there is no concept of freedom to be liberated.

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Saskia van Genugten

In 2009, the renowned Italian author Claudio Magris received the

Frankfurter Book Trade Peace Prize. As an engaged political writer,

his acceptance speech inescapably entailed a message. He called

upon Europe to be cautious. He warned against political populism. He

emphasized the existence of “invisible barriers” between immigrants

and natives in the major European cities. He called upon his country

of origin in particular, stating that, “as an Italian patriot,” he hoped

that his country would “not again be seen as a pioneer for the wrong

reasons: after all we invented fascism in Europe."

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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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Kathryn Robinson

In imagining Indonesia’s future, its character as a country with the world’s largest Islamic population emerges as a critical issue. In the post-Suharto period, some commentators have seen the emergence of Islamist politics as a threat to newly attained freedoms. No sooner had women been freed from the constraints of ‘state ibuism’, i.e., the official policy promoting the role of wife and mother (ibu) of the New Order (see Suryakusuma 1996), which endorsed patriarchal familism as a cornerstone of authoritarian politics, than they faced a new kind of patriarchal authority in the demands for the enactment of shari’a as state law. For example, during her 2005 visit to Australia, Indonesian feminist commentator Julia Suryakusuma raised the specter of Islam as the greatest current threat to gender equity and to women as social actors in civic life, whose rights in the domestic sphere are now protected by the state. The growing influence of Middle Eastern Islam in Indonesia, evidenced by funding for organizations, translations of publications, and the increase in Islamist rhetoric, has caused alarm among many observers. This apprehension draws on the stereotype of the Middle East as the source of all that is ‘bad’ about Islam, taken as an undifferentiated whole. But this view of Islam fails to acknowledge debates within Islam and diversity in Islamic practice, not the least of which are the varieties of Islam that can be found throughout the Indonesian archipelago. These diverse practices have emerged as local communities and indigenous polities responded in distinctive and often unique ways during the long period of Islamic conversion, beginning from the thirteenth century.

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L'organisation de l'islam en France

l'exemple de la Fédération protestante peut-il être utile?

Pierre Joxe

Le titre donné à mon intervention peut surprendre. Qu'est-ce que ces deux groupes ont à voir ? La Fédération protestante a été créée il y a cent ans. Le projet naît en 1905 au moment de la séparation de l'Église et de l'état, mais elle n'a vraiment fonctionné qu'en 1909 avec la première Assemblée générale du protestantisme, et les baptistes n'y sont entrés qu'en 1916. Elle regroupe aujourd'hui de nombreuses dénominations et a intégré des petites églises protestantes de différents endroits de France : elle représente donc largement les trois quarts du protestantisme français.