New Books in Islamic Studies podcast

Simon O'Meara, "The Ka'ba Orientations: Readings in Islam's Ancient House" (Edinburgh UP, 2020)

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The Kaʿba is the famous cuboid structure at the center of the Great Mosque in Mecca. In his book The Kaʿba Orientations: Readings in Islam's Ancient House (Edinburgh University Press, 2020), Simon O'Meara (SOAS) looks at the way Muslims from the beginnings of Islam to the 18th century engaged with the existence of such a structure, as a location, as an architectural object, as a direction, as a focus of devotion and prayer. He studies both material and visual as well as literary engagements through which Muslims pilgrims and scholars interpreted their own place in the world in relation to a location held to be the world's axis, and the consequences from a religious and psychological perspective of the often fraught and violent history of the built structure itself, its uses, and the emotional connection that millions of Muslims continue to feel towards it to this day. Miguel Monteiro is a PhD student in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale University. Twitter @anphph Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies

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    Michael Muhammad Knight, "Metaphysical Africa: Truth and Blackness in the Ansaru Allah Community" (Pennsylvania State UP, 2020)

    1:05:24

    The Ansaru Allah Community, also known as the Nubian Islamic Hebrews (AAC/NIH) and later the Nuwaubians, is a deeply significant and controversial African American Muslim movement. Founded in Brooklyn in the 1960s, it spread through the prolific production and dissemination of literature and lecture tapes and became famous for continuously reinventing its belief system. In this book, Michael Muhammad Knight studies the development of AAC/NIH discourse over a period of thirty years, tracing a surprising consistency behind a facade of serial reinvention. It is popularly believed that the AAC/NIH community abandoned Islam for Black Israelite religion, UFO religion, and Egyptosophy. However, Knight sees coherence in AAC/NIH media, explaining how, in reality, the community taught that the Prophet Muhammad was a Hebrew who adhered to Israelite law; Muhammad’s heavenly ascension took place on a spaceship; and Abraham enlisted the help of a pharaonic regime to genetically engineer pigs as food for white people. Against narratives that treat the AAC/NIH community as a postmodernist deconstruction of religious categories, Knight demonstrates that AAC/NIH discourse is most productively framed within a broader African American metaphysical history in which boundaries between traditions remain quite permeable. Unexpected and engrossing, Metaphysical Africa: Truth and Blackness in the Ansaru Allah Community (Pennsylvania State UP, 2020) brings to light points of intersection between communities and traditions often regarded as separate and distinct. In doing so, it helps move the field of religious studies beyond conventional categories of ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘heterodoxy’ challenging assumptions that inform not only the study of this particular religious community but also the field at large. Adam Bobeck is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Leipzig. His PhD is entitled “Object-Oriented Azadari: Shi’i Muslim Rituals and Ontology”. For more about his work, see www.adambobeck.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies
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    D. Fairchild Ruggles, "Tree of Pearls: The Extraordinary Architectural Patronage of the 13th-Century Egyptian Slave-Queen Shajar Al-Durr" (Oxford UP, 2020)

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    Shajar al-Durr--known as "Tree of Pearls"--began her remarkable career as a child slave, given as property to Sultan Salih of Egypt. She became his concubine, was manumitted, became his wife, served as governing regent, and ultimately rose to become the legitimately appointed sultan of Egypt in 1250 after her husband's death. Shajar al-Durr used her wealth and power to add a tomb to his urban madrasa; with this innovation, madrasas and many other charitably endowed architectural complexes became commemorative monuments, a practice that remains widespread today. A highly unusual case of a Muslim woman authorized to rule in her own name, her reign ended after only three months when she was forced to share her governance with an army general and for political expediency to marry him. Despite the fact that Shajar al-Durr's story ends tragically with her assassination and hasty burial, her deeds in her lifetime offer a stark alternative to the continued belief that women in the medieval period were unseen, anonymous, and inconsequential in a world that belonged to men. D. Fairchild Ruggles' Tree of Pearls: The Extraordinary Architectural Patronage of the 13th-Century Egyptian Slave-Queen Shajar Al-Durr (Oxford UP, 2020)--the first ever in English--places the rise and fall of the sultan-queen in the wider context of the cultural and architectural development of Cairo, the city that still holds one of the largest and most important collections of Islamic monuments in the world. Tanja Tolar is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies
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    Farha Bano Ternikar, "Intersectionality in the Muslim South Asian-American Middle Class" (Lexington Books, 2021)

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    In Intersectionality in the Muslim South Asian-American Middle Class: Lifestyle Consumption beyond Halal and Hijab (Lexington Books, 2021), wherein Ternikar theorizes the everyday consumption of South Asian Muslim American women through case studies of their food, clothing, and social media presence. Through feminist, intersectional, and sociology of consumption theories, she provides excellent insights into the nuanced ways that these women negotiate their gendered, classed, racial, and religious identities. Far from being simply a book about the clothing styles, dietary habits and preferences, and social media presence of Muslim American women of South Asian backgrounds, it is an excellent exploration of the ways that this group of American women maintain, form, and re-invent new identities through consumption while maintaining and re-negotiating inherited ethno-religious traditions. Farha Bano Ternikar is an associate professor of Sociology and director of Gender and Women’s Studies at Le Moyne College. She has an MA in Religious Studies and a PhD in Sociology. Her publications include “Feeding the Muslim South Asian Immigrant Family" in Feminist Food Studies (2019), “Constructing the Halal Kitchen in the American Diaspora” (2020), and “Hijab and the Abrahamic Traditions” in Sociology Compass (2010). Her publications “Ethical consumption and Modest fashion” is forthcoming in Fashion Studies Journal (Spring 2022), and “The Changing Face of Arranged Marriage irl and online in the Muslim Diaspora” in the Politics of Tradition, Resistance and Change (summer 2022). In our interview today, we discuss the main contributions and findings of her book Intersectionality in the Muslim South Asian-American Middle Class: Lifestyle Consumption beyond Halal and Hijab, her choice to focus on upper-middle class South Asian American women, her respondents’ complex ideas of hijab, modesty, and halal consumption of food, and their presence on and consumption of social media. Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on gender from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her dissertation research explored questions of change and tradition, specifically in the context of gender and sexuality, in Islam. She can be reached at [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies
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    Anna McSweeney, "From Granada to Berlin: The Alhambra Cupola" (Kettler Verlag, 2020)

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    Part of the series CAHIM Connecting Art Histories in the Museum, Anna McSweeney's book From Granada to Berlin: The Alhambra Cupola (Kettler Verlag, 2020) is the story of an extraordinary survivor from the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain: the Alhambra cupola, now in the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. The cupola, a ceiling crafted from carved and painted wood, was made to crown an exquisite mirador in one of the earliest palace buildings of the Alhambra. The book is the cupola's biography from its medieval construction to its imminent redisplay in Berlin. It traces the long history of the Alhambra through the prism of the cupola, from the Muslim craftsmen who built it, to its adaptation by the Christian conquerors after the fall of Granada in 1492, to its creation as a heritage site. The cupola was sketched by artists from across Europe before it was dismantled by a German financier and taken to Berlin in the 19th century. It witnessed the dramatic events of the 20th century in Germany and was eventually bought by the Museum in 1978. In recent decades, the new visibility of the cupola to the wider public has prompted questions about the object and its movement from Granada to Berlin. Its removal from the Alhambra and the complex reasons behind this loss is central to this biography. Setting the cupola within the wider context of Islamic heritage, it considers the role of collecting practices in the transformation of living monuments into heritage sites in the 20th century. This book presents a focused study of this unique object that cuts across academic disciplines and geographic boundaries to reveal a new perspective on the legacy of Islamic art in Europe and its continuing relevance today. Tanja Tolar is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies
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    Jocelyn Hendrickson, "Leaving Iberia: Islamic Law and Christian Conquest in North West Africa" (Harvard UP, 2021)

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    In her landmark new book Leaving Iberia: Islamic Law and Christian Conquest in North West Africa (Harvard UP, 2021), Jocelyn Hendrickson launches a searingly brilliant legal history centered on the question of how medieval and early modern Muslim jurists in Iberia and North Africa wrestled with various thorny questions of living under or migrating away from non-Muslim political sovereignty. This book combines meticulous social and political history with nimble and accessible readings of a vast range of sources from the Maliki School of law. What emerges from this exercise is a picture of the Maliki legal tradition in particular and Islamic law more broadly that is unavailable for predictable readings, enormously interesting, and deliciously complex. This lucid book should also be a delight to teach in various graduate and upper level under graduate courses. SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize and was selected as a finalist for the 2021 American Academy of Religion Book Award. His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at [email protected] Listener feedback is most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies
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    Hassan Abbas, "The Prophet's Heir: The Life of Ali ibn Abi Talib" (Yale UP, 2021)

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    Ali ibn Abi Talib is arguably the single most important spiritual and intellectual authority in Islam after prophet Mohammad. Through his teachings and leadership as fourth caliph, Ali nourished Islam. But Muslims are divided on whether he was supposed to be Mohammad’s political successor and he continues to be a polarizing figure in Islamic history. In The Prophet's Heir: The Life of Ali ibn Abi Talib (Yale UP, 2021), Hassan Abbas provides a nuanced, compelling portrait of this towering yet divisive figure and the origins of sectarian division within Islam. Abbas reveals how, after Mohammad, Ali assumed the spiritual mantle of Islam to spearhead the movement that the prophet had led. While Ali’s teachings about wisdom, justice, and selflessness continue to be cherished by both Shia and Sunni Muslims, his pluralist ideas have been buried under sectarian agendas and power politics. Today, Abbas argues, Ali’s legacy and message stands against that of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Taliban. Adam Bobeck is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Leipzig. His PhD is entitled “Object-Oriented Azadari: Shi’i Muslim Rituals and Ontology”. For more about his work, see www.adambobeck.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies
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    Pouya Alimagham, "Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

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    Most observers of Iran viewed the Green Uprisings of 2009 as a 'failed revolution', with many Iranians and those in neighboring Arab countries agreeing. In Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings (Cambridge UP, 2020), however, Pouya Alimagham re-examines this evaluation, deconstructing the conventional win-lose binary interpretations in a way which underscores the subtle but important victories on the ground, and reveals how Iran's modern history imbues those triumphs with consequential meaning. Focusing on the men and women who made this dynamic history, and who exist at the centre of these contentious politics, this 'history from below' brings to the fore the post-Islamist discursive assault on the government's symbols of legitimation. From powerful symbols rooted in Shiʿite Islam, Palestinian liberation, and the Iranian Revolution, Alimagham harnesses the wider history of Iran and the Middle East to highlight how activists contested the Islamic Republic's legitimacy to its very core. Reuben Silverman is a PhD candidate at University of California, San Diego. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies
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    Nicole Nguyen, "Suspect Communities: Anti-Muslim Racism and the Domestic War on Terror" (U Minnesota Press, 2019)

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    Suspect Communities: Anti-Muslim Racism and the Domestic War on Terror (University of Minnesota Press, 2019) is a powerful reassessment of the U.S. government’s “countering violent extremism” (CVE) program that has arisen in major cities across the United States since 2011. Drawing on an interpretive qualitative study, Nicole Nguyen, Associate Professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, examines how the concept behind CVE—aimed at combating homegrown terrorism by engaging Muslim community members, teachers, and religious leaders in monitoring and reporting on young people—has been operationalized through the everyday work of CVE actors, from high-level national security workers to local community members, with significant penalties for the communities themselves. By undertaking this analysis, Nicole Nguyen offers a vital window into the inner workings of the U.S. security state and the devastating impact of the CVE program on local communities. In our conversation we discussed counterterrorism policy, radicalization theories, national security trainings and conferences, the difference between anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia, public objections to CVE, activist resistance, how and why Muslims participate in policing communities, targeting Muslim youth, and the role of schools and teachers. Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies
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    Jeffrey Guhin, "Agents of God: Boundaries and Authority in Muslim and Christian Schools" (Oxford UP, 2020)

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    Jeff Guhin joins us today to talk about his book Agents of God: Boundaries and Authority in Muslim and Christian Schools (Oxford University Press, 2020). Jeff, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UCLA, shares with us how his experiences with religious schooling shaped his interests in education, culture and religion. Agents of God is the culmination of Jeff’s dissertation work while he was a doctoral student in Sociology at Yale University, a thoughtful comparative ethnography of Muslim and Conservative Protestant high schools. In today’s conversation we explore the nuances of religious education, how people negotiate boundaries and the agentification of institutions. We also discuss the politics of national identity and the role of schools in this nationalization. Jeff also touches on his experiences with mental health and how he works to navigate those within academia and in the process of writing this book. This book provides a compelling lens for how to understand the forces of Science, Scripture and Prayer as “external authorities” that shape individual and national behavior. Nafeesa Andrabi is a 4th year Sociology PhD student at UNC-Chapel Hill, a Biosocial Fellow at Carolina Population Center and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies
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    Christopher Coker, "The Rise of the Civilizational State" (Polity Press, 2019)

    31:05

    In recent years the resurgence of great power competition has gripped the headlines, with new emerging powers (such as Russia and China) seeking to challenge the American and Western hegemony that has prevailed since the end of the Cold War. While the geopolitics of the Cold War era were based on ideology, the current geopolitics appear to be based more on cultural and civilizational identities. In his pioneering book The Rise of the Civilizational State (Polity Press, 2019), renowned political philosopher Christopher Coker examines in depth how Xi Jinping’s China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia not only seek to challenge Western powers, but also operate under very different conceptions of how the world should be structured. Instead of the standard nation-state and liberal internationalism that Western power operate under, both powers insist more on the civilizational basis of both the state and world order. Christopher Coker is Director of the London School of Economics’ foreign policy think tank LSE Ideas. He was Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics, retiring in 2019. He is a former twice serving member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, a former NATO Fellow and a regular lecturer at Defense Colleges in the United Kingdom, United States, Rome, Singapore, Tokyo, Norway and Sweden. Stephen Satkiewicz is independent scholar whose research areas are related to Civilizational Analysis, Big History, Historical Sociology, War studies, as well as Russian and East European history. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies

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