Medieval Islamic Pragmatics: Sunni Legal Theorists’ Models of Textual Communication
Muhammad M. Yunis Ali
This book deals with two different pragmatic approaches to textual communication: (i) the mainstream approach followed by the Ash’aris, Hanafis and Mutazilis, (ii) the Salafite approach followed mainly by the Hanbalis, defended and elaborated by Ibn Taymiyyah. One of the primary aims of the book is to explore and formulate several Muslim legal theorists’ pragmatic theories, communicative principles and linguistic views, construct them in the form of models and set them within a general uniform framework. Another aim is to reveal a corpus of information and data which, though highly relevant to modern pragmatics, is still unknown. This study, which can be seen as an extensive introduction to ‘medieval Islamic pragmatics’, is the first attempt to examine the approaches followed by the Salafis or the mainstream from a pragmatic viewpoint. There has been no attempt to explain the principles and the strategies utilised by the medieval Sunni Muslim legal theorists in their account of how communication works and how successful interpretation is achieved. Of course, a lot of work has been done on different Islamic sects and their different positions over the interpretation of the Holy Quran and Sunnah, but these studies fall short of delving into the underlying communicative principles that motivate their differences over interpretation. The author’s formulation of the Muslim legal theorists’ views is enhanced by setting up a reliable theoretical foundation and by delving into their underlying philosophical principles. This involves relating the legal theorists’ insights into interpretation and communication to their relevant ontological, epistemological and theological outlooks, and comparing these insights with their modern pragmatic counterparts.
Muslim Diversity: Local Islam in Global Contexts
The term ‘local Islam’ has been coined to describe local responses to the effects of globalisation in the Islamic world. All contributions to this volume present cases of ‘local Islam’ as well as discussing the term itself. But what all of this group of anthropologists and historians convey is a feeling of dissatisfaction with the very term. Their uneasiness relates to the conceptual problems arising from seeing Islam as either local or global. Rather, the authors argue in favour of a focus not on Islam but on the lives of Muslims, putting their lives into the context of complex historical developments. Ranging across much of the vast extent of the Islamic world – from West Africa and the Near East to China and Southeast Asia – the contributions deal with the effects of migration on local Islamic traditions in Bangladesh; conflicts between Muslim sects in Pakistan; the development of jihad in West Africa; the problem of maintaining a Muslim identity in China; how Javanese Muslims combine their Islamic faith with belief in a local Javanese spirit world; the comparison between urban- and rural-based Islam in Syria; and (in two studies from western Sudan) issues of belief and broader aspects of identity management in a multi-ethnic situation.
Leif O. Manger is professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen. Manger’s early individual research was related to the Sudan. Manger has also edited books on issues such as a book on Islam, entitled Muslim Diversity. Local Islam in Global Contexts, and a book on the issue of diasporas, Diasporas Within and Without Africa: Dynamism, Heterogeneity, Variation. This work is continuing with a focus on African and Middle Eastern trade diasporas in to-day’s China, currently with on-going fieldwork on Sudanese trade communities on the Chinese coast.
Muslim Turkistan: Kazak Religion and Collective Memory
Curzon Press (2001)
The Kazak are a Muslim people in Central Asia among whom religious belief and behavior are mediated by a verbatim memory of their nomadic ancestors and the Sufi saints who nurtured them in the way of Islam. This book seeks to interpret Kazak religion based on people’s actual experiences. The focus is on spirituality and Muslim life among the Kazaks in the small city of Turkistan in Southern Kazakhstan, which has been the center of Kazak religious life (associated with the Sufi legacy) and cultural identity. Framing the discussion on anthropological theories of religion, the author concludes by identifying salient features of Kazak religious life.
Bruce Privratsky taught religious studies and ethnology at Ahmet Yesevi University in Kazakhstan and now lives in Turkey. He is the author of Muslim Turkistan: Kazak Religion and Collective Memory (Curzon Press (Routledge], 2001) and has degrees from Asbury Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and the University of Tennessee (Ph.D.). He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Tübingen and stud?ed at Harvard Divinity School.
Religious Pluralism in Christian and Islamic Philosophy: The Thought of John Hick and Seyyed Hossein Nasr
The philosophy of religion and theology are related to the culture in which they have developed. These disciplines provide a source of values and vision to the cultures of which they are part, while at the same time they are delimited and defined by their cultures.
This book compares the ideas of two contemporary philosophers, John Hick and Seyyed Hossein Nasr, on the issues of religion, religions, the concept of the ultimate reality, and the notion of sacred knowledge.
On a broader level, it compares two worldviews: the one formed by Western Christian culture, which is religious in intention but secular in essence; the other Islamic, formed through the assimilation of traditional wisdom, which is turned against the norms of secular culture and is thus religious both in intention and essence.
Adnan Aslan is a Chair of the Research Unit Islamic Religious Education at the Department of Education at the University of Vienna. He is responsible for teacher training in Islamic religious education and is chairperson of different working groups on the development of curricula in Germany, Austria and Southeast Europe. He has published intensively on Islamic religious education in Europe.
The Charitable Crescent: Politics of Aid in the Muslim World
Since 9/11, Islamic charities have been in the firing line. Some portray the entire sector as a conduit for terrorist financing. In this new updated edition of their groundbreaking work, Jérôme Bellion-Jourdan and Jonathan Benthall provide a radical new perspective on the whole issue of aid and Islamic finance. They explore the social and political history of zakat and waqf, and in so doing challenge Western assumptions about the nature of humanitarianism.
The authors outline the impact of the “War on Terror,” and argue that obstacles set up against financial transfers in conflict zones can have the unintended result of driving terrorist financing further underground, as well as depriving victims of much needed assistance.
Islamic charities will continue to play a pivotal role in world politics as they respond to crises in the Middle East, Pakistan, Indonesia and elsewhere. This thoughtful and meticulously researched book is the one indispensable guide to the issues surrounding this complicated and misunderstood phenomenon.
Jonathan Benthall is the former Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute, editor of Anthropology Today, and author of Disasters, Relief and the Media. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology, University College London, and former Chair of the International NGO Training and Research Centre, Oxford.
Jérôme Bellion-Jourdan has a doctorate in Political Science from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Paris, and has been a research fellow at the Centre for International Studies and Research, Paris, and is a lecturer at Cairo University.