Journal for Islamic Studies - Volume 31, Issue 1, 2011
Volume 31, Issue 1, 2011
Author Abdulkader TayobSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 2 –3 (2011)More Less
This issue of the Journal for Islamic Studies consists of a diverse set of articles, book reviews and a report. They cover issues dealt with in previous volumes of the Journal for Islamic Studies, with an important and nuanced caveat. The articles begin with Loimeier's study of Islamic political discourse in Zanzibar, and conclude with Mraja's review of al-Amin Mazrui's popular legal text. Cobbett's essay on Islamic finance examines the workings of an increasingly popular field, while Mathee searches Timbuktu Muftis' fatwas for women's agency. The final report by Shaikh, Hoel and Kajee documents Cape Town's Muslim women's experiences of marital relations.
Author Roman LoimeierSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 4 –28 (2011)More Less
In recent decades, politics and public discourses in many North African, West Asian and sub-Saharan African Muslim societies have been informed by religious issues and Muslim religious scholars and thinkers have gained considerable acceptance as moral authorities. Authoritarian, 'secular' and 'socialist' regimes have come under attack from a 'pious opposition' and Muslim activist movements have accused such regimes of violating 'Islamic norms' or 'Islamic morality'. The state's reactions against this kind of religious critique were equally (often, not always) presented in an Islamic (theological) disguise, confirming the eminent role of religion in contemporary politics. Both the state and the pious opposition have tried to instrumentalize religion and notions of piety in order to (for instance) de-legitimize the respective 'other'. Due to these religio-political dynamics, politicians (politics) and religious scholars (religion) have sometimes become prisoners of their own moralistic discourses. Escape from this 'piety trap' is difficult as long as both the state and religious scholars accept the dialectics of a religious argumentation and the norms of Islamic morality as defined by those Muslim religious scholars, politicians and intellectuals who seek hegemony of interpretation (Deutungshoheit) in the public sphere and who have established criteria for 'proper Islamic' morals and piety. In this contribution, I would like to show how Muslim activist groups in Zanzibar have attacked the 'secular state' (and the government of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi, CCM, 'the Party of the Revolution') through issues of public morality. I will present an array of themes chosen by Muslim activist groups as a basis for their moralistic discourse. Finally, I will try to fathom the impact of Muslim activists and respond to the question as to why Muslim activists in Zanzibar have so far failed to become a successful religious (and political) mass movement that would have been able to impose its agenda of Islamic moralities on both the government of Zanzibar and its population.
Author Elizabeth CobbettSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 29 –59 (2011)More Less
Using 'Public Islam' and 'Muslim Publics' as discursive spaces that construct Islam in the public sphere, this article argues that everyday actions at the intersection of religion and the economy are culturally and historically contextual. Shar?'ah-compliant products are being developed by financial institutions entering the niche market of Islamic finance. This procedure contributes to the construction of Public Islam, the diverse invocations of Islam that actors bring to public life. Yet, this representation of Islam by banks and financial institutions is provoking debates as Muslims ask what, if anything, Islamic finance means to them in their lives. Muslim Publics are the situated, communitarian and political debates that occur in everyday life. Dynamic interactions between Public Islam and Muslims Publics highlight the situated character of financial action and underline the point that associations between being Muslim and using faith-based financial instruments are far from being automatic.
Sheikh al-Amin Mazrui (1891-1947) and the dilemma of Islamic law in the Kenyan legal system in the 21st centuryAuthor Mohamed Suleiman MrajaSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 60 –74 (2011)More Less
Sheikh al-Amin b. Ali al-Mazrui is regarded as the pioneer of reform activities within Sunn? Islam in East Africa. From the 1930s and 1940s, this scholar championed a call for Islamic reform by publicly and through numerous publications denouncing local practices prevalent among the Muslims in the region as religious innovations and the cause for their social and economic backwardness. While Sheikh al-Amin was radical in initiating educational and social transformation of the Muslim community in East Africa, his reform schemata in the realm of Islamic law was generally less impressive, but nevertheless informative, as reflected in his work, Ndowa na Talaka katika Sharia ya Ki-Islamu (Madh-habi ya Shafii) ("Marriage and Divorce under Islamic Law [Sh?fi'? School"]). It is this concise treatise on marriage and divorce rules which forms the basis of an assessment of Sheikh al-Amin and his contributions to the Islamic law discourse in Kenya's legal system in the present century.
Author Mohamed Shaid MatheeSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 75 –95 (2011)More Less
The dominant genre of Islamic legal texts is not an accurate reflection of wives' agency or of their ability to act independently within a Muslim marriage. These texts are not the best source to gauge questions of agency in the light of their specific structure as a legal genre that aims to explicate a normative legal-social-ethical order of things. Fatw?s, another genre of Islamic legal literature, show that Muslim wives clearly had their own ideas of sexual rights and obligations, divorce and husbands. Fatw?s show that women had knowledge of Islamic law and often acted independently in the light of this knowledge. This article demonstrates this agency in a number of fatw?s from Timbuktu, West Africa.
Source: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 96 –124 (2011)More Less
While there has been considerable debate about Muslim women in various countries, including their rights, and place in society, few empirical studies have been conducted on the lived experiences of South African Muslim women. The purpose of this study was to understand Muslim women's opinions, perspectives, and experiences of marriage, spousal relationships, and sexual and reproductive decision-making. It was envisaged that the data obtained in the study would contribute to a knowledge base about the lived realities of Muslim women. It is possible that this knowledge base may inform an alternative to the ways in which Muslim women are spoken and written about: by activists, politicians, scholars and religious leaders.
Custom in Islamic Law and Legal Theory. The Development of the Concepts of 'urf and '?dah in the Islamic Legal Tradition, Ayman Shabana : book reviewAuthor Waheeda AmienSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 125 –127 (2011)More Less
In this seminal work, Shabana embarks on a fascinating study of the role that custom has played in the development of the Islamic legal tradition. The book is divided into three parts and eight chapters. Part One considers the major debates relating to custom in the area of Islamic studies. Part Two traces the influence of custom on Shar?'ah and Islamic legal theory during the pre-5th century AH period while Part Three concentrates on the post-5th century AH period.
Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism, Carl Ernst & Richard Martin (Eds.) : book reviewAuthor Muhammed HaronSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 127 –130 (2011)More Less
Twenty five years ago, Richard Martin (Professor of Islamic Studies and History of Religions at Emory University) edited papers that formed the contents of Approaches to Islam in Religious Studies (University of Arizona Press 1985). These papers charted pathways of thinking about Islamic studies within Religious Studies. As a sequel, Carl Ernst (University of North Carolina) teamed up with Martin to edit this volume under review. Ernst and Martin contend in their 'Introduction: Towards a Post-Orientalist Approach to Islamic Religious Studies' (pp. 1-22) that historians of religion specializing in Islamic studies have applied new theories such as 'Critical Theory' and 'Cosmopolitanism' and have effectively transformed 'Orientalism,' a tradition of scholarship that was developed in Europe.
Control and Sexuality, The Revival of Zina Laws in Muslim Contexts, Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Vanja Hamzić : book reviewAuthor Nina HoelSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 130 –133 (2011)More Less
The political, cultural, and religious justifications for the revival and codification of zin? laws in contemporary Muslim contexts have been hotly debated and contested amongst diverse groups of feminists, activists and civil society actors. At the heart of this debate lies the need to challenge patriarchal understandings and interpretations of religious scriptures and concomitantly foreground the necessity for gender justice in accordance with the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Control and Sexuality, a publication resulting from an extensive research project initiated by the Violence is Not Our Culture (VNC) Campaign and the Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network, offers a critical, rich and insightful survey of the emergence of zin? laws in five country-specific case studies: Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey. By examining the historical and contemporary religio-political landscapes through a feminist lens, Control and Sexuality clearly demonstrates the intricacies and complexities that mark these areas and thus the need for a holistic engagement in order to eradicate zin? regulations.
Author Harun KarcicSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 133 –135 (2011)More Less
The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East is yet another book written by Olivier Roy, France's foremost expert on political Islam and longtime researcher at CERI (Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales). The book follows in line with Roy's major research topic, namely politics and Islam in the greater Middle East and Central Asia. Although the book was published in 2007, it should by no means be considered outdated. To the contrary, with the ongoing political upheavals initiated in Tunisia and spilling over to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Algeria, this book seems to be ever more relevant.
Islamism, Democracy and Liberalism in Turkey: The Case of the AKP, William Hale and Ergun Ozbudun : book reviewAuthor Hamza KarcicSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 135 –137 (2011)More Less
In the wake of the third consecutive victory by the Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP - Justice and Development Party) in the June 2011 parliamentary elections in Turkey, it is evident that the AKP is slated to receive more scholarly and journalistic attention. William Hale and Ergun Ozbudun's Islamism, Democracy and Liberalism in Turkey represents one of the more serious works published in the English language on the AKP's record in government until 2008.
The Biology of Religious Behaviour. The Evolution Origins of Faith and Religion, Jay R Feierman (Ed.) : book reviewAuthor Anwar Suleman MallSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 31, pp 137 –140 (2011)More Less
Do religious practices have any value from an evolutionary point of view? This book, edited by JR Feierman, a retired clinical psychiatrist, could be the answer to the question posed by neuroscientists, philosophers and evolutionary biologists as to why religious beliefs and practices have persisted through the ages into modern times (pp. 23-24). Using Darwin's ideas as a general theoretical framework for understanding aspects of religion, it observes the religious behaviour of people in their daily lives (p. xvi). Religion as such is supernatural (pp. 21-25) and outside the realm of scientific investigation whilst religious behaviour is observable and identifiable by the senses (pp. 28-29). It is puzzling that despite the emergence of so much scientific information about the origins of the universe and species, belief in a deity, a common denominator of all religions, despite its perceived illogicality (pp. 21-25), remains steadfast and with no sign of abating anytime soon. In Darwinian terms this would be considered an adaptation (p. xvii). Science, even to the extent that it has demystified the universe and offered explanations of various phenomena, has not replaced religion as a source of meaning and comfort to human beings! (pp. xii and 71).