Thursday, August 18, 2016

Nicholas Kristof: Do You Care More About a Dog Than a Syrian?

Professor [Ebrahim Moosa] launches project to advance scientific and theological literacy among madrasa graduates in India

With a $1.2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, Ebrahim Moosa, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Notre Dame, has launched a three-year project to enrich scientific and theological literacy among recent graduates of Islamic seminaries in India. 
Working with scholars and teachers at Notre Dame and in India, Moosa will develop a curriculum and online learning program that integrates modern and classical knowledge traditions for young orthodox seminarians in India. 
The teaching team will recruit and train 100 recent madrasa graduates who are eager to acquire scientific knowledge that is indigenous to the Muslim tradition and interested in exposure to comparative theologies and modern humanities and social sciences. 
“Equipped with these knowledge resources,” Moosa said, “madrasa graduates can discover new ways to transform their lives and advance human dignity and the public good.”

New book: Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World by Shadi Hamid

In Islamic Exceptionalism, Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, "exceptional" in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. Divides among citizens aren't just about power but are products of fundamental disagreements over the very nature and purpose of the modern nation state―and the vexing problem of religion’s role in public life. Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different models of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying―and alarmingly successful―example of ISIS.  
With unprecedented access to Islamist activists and leaders across the region, Hamid offers a panoramic and ambitious interpretation of the region's descent into violence. Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam's past and present, and its outsized role in modern politics. We don't have to like it, but we have to understand it―because Islam, as a religion and as an idea, will continue to be a force that shapes not just the region, but the West as well in the decades to come. 
 “Shadi Hamid provides an invaluable corrective to Western interpretations of Islam, Islamism, and the future of democracy in the Muslim world. Whatever debate remains to be had cannot take place without reference to this insightful and sympathetic document.”–Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower and Thirteen Days in September

 “A riveting account of the Arab Spring and all that followed, by one of the world’s leading scholars on political Islam. Shadi Hamid explains convincingly that Islam and the political movements it spawns are truly exceptional and likely to frustrate the ‘liberal determinists’ who believe that history inevitably gravitates to a secular future. A hugely important book.” –General David Petraeus (Ret.), former director of the CIA and commander of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

 “Islamic Exceptionalism is an honest, deeply researched, and at times anguished effort to make sense of the Middle East after the failure of the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS. Particularly rich and subtle on the crisis facing the Muslim Brotherhood, the book offers both a snapshot of a painful moment and a long-view inquiry into the meeting between Islam and democracy. Sobering, urgent reading for anyone who cares about the region, past and future.” –Noah Feldman, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School and author of Cool War, Scorpions, and The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State

 “Beyond the zero-sum proposals of Islam or liberalism, Shadi Hamid boldly wrestles with how these two can negotiate the future of Muslim polities. Along the way, he educates us, challenging entrenched stereotypes and blind presumptions, especially the notion that the Muslim world must, can, or should go the way of the West. Islam is a constant not a variable. Islamic Exceptionalism suggests that this may be the beginning of wisdom for anyone wishing to understand, let alone shape, the political future of majority Muslim states.”–Sherman A. Jackson, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture, University of Southern California

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dr. Umar: The Perceptible and the Unseen: The Qu’anic Conception of Man’s Relationship to God and Realities Beyond Human Perception

Umar F. Abd-Allah, “The Perceptible and the Unseen: The Qur’anic Conception of Man’s Relationship to God and Realities Beyond Human Perception,” in Mormons and Muslims: Spiritual Foundations and Modern Manifestations, ed. Spencer J. Palmer (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University 2002), 209–64.

via Shaykh Omar Qureshi

Video with Shadi Hamid in The Atlantic: "Will the Middle East Ever Be Secular?"

Will the Middle East Ever Be Secular? Jul 16, 2016 |  Video by The Atlantic

In this era of ISIS, many debates in the West center on how followers of Islam will eventually, through a series of steps and growing pains, arrive at liberal democracy. Shadi Hamid, the author of the new book Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World, believes that Muslims don’t want that path. In this animated interview by The Atlantic, Hamid explains how not only was the Prophet Mohammed a religious figure, he was a politician. In fact, for much of the Middle East’s existence, there hasn’t been a separation of religion and governance. "Islam has proven to be resistant to secularization," he says. “We don't have to like it or agree with it...but the goal shouldn't be to push [Islam] away or exclude people, it has to be to find ways to accommodate Islam in a legal, peaceful, democratic process.”

Authors: Shadi Hamid, Daniel Lombroso, Caitlin Cadieux