“Europe and the Islamic World” offers a crucial and poised evaluation of a momentous meeting

Europe and the Islamic World: A History is commended in a review by Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s first English-language newspaper founded in 1975:

Understanding complex ties between Muslim states, Europe

Lisa Kaaki
Wednesday 17 July 2013

This detailed history of Europe and the Islamic world is the latest of a series of attempts to understand the complex relations between Muslim countries and Europe. Co-authored by a trio of French historians, this book not only highlights the common roots between Islamic and Western cultures but it also maintains an impartial profile until the very end.

This history of Europe and the Islamic world is divided in three distinct parts. In the first five chapters, John Tolan tackles, “Saracens and Ifranj: Rivalries, Emulation, and Convergences.” In the second part, Gilles Veinstein introduces us to “The Great Turk and Europe” and Henry Laurens in the last part focuses on “Europe and the Muslim World in the Contemporary Period.”

John Esposito sets the tone of this scholarly work in his excellent foreword. Known for his objective and unbiased thinking, the American scholar presents a remarkable and clear summary of the book’s main points.

He is quick to underline the common political and religious struggle for power, waged by both, the West and Islam. The Muslims claim to have the final revelation threatened directly the role of Christianity to be: the only means to salvation. Moreover, Christendom also saw the rapid expansion of Islam as a “political and civilizational challenge to its religious and political hegemony.”

To view the rest of this article, head over to ArabNews.com:
http://www.arabnews.com/news/458230


Europe and the Islamic World: A History by John Tolan, Henry Laurens & Gilles VeinsteinEurope and the Islamic World sheds much-needed light on the shared roots of Islamic and Western cultures and on the richness of their inextricably intertwined histories, refuting once and for all the misguided notion of a “clash of civilizations” between the Muslim world and Europe. In this landmark book, three eminent historians bring to life the complex and tumultuous relations between Genoans and Tunisians, Alexandrians and the people of Constantinople, Catalans and Maghrebis–the myriad groups and individuals whose stories reflect the common cultural, intellectual, and religious heritage of Europe and Islam.

Since the seventh century, when the armies of Constantinople and Medina fought for control of Syria and Palestine, there has been ongoing contact between the Muslim world and the West. This sweeping history vividly recounts the wars and the crusades, the alliances and diplomacy, commerce and the slave trade, technology transfers, and the intellectual and artistic exchanges. Here readers are given an unparalleled introduction to key periods and events, including the Muslim conquests, the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, the commercial revolution of the medieval Mediterranean, the intellectual and cultural achievements of Muslim Spain, the crusades and Spanish reconquest, the rise of the Ottomans and their conquest of a third of Europe, European colonization and decolonization, and the challenges and promise of this entwined legacy today.

As provocative as it is groundbreaking, this book describes this shared history in all its richness and diversity, revealing how ongoing encounters between Europe and Islam have profoundly shaped both.

John Tolan is professor of history at the Université de Nantes. His books include Saracens and Saint Francis and the Sultan. Gilles Veinstein (1945-2013) was professor of history at the Collège de France. He is the author of Merchants in the Ottoman Empire. Henry Laurens is professor of history at the Collège de France. He is the author of L’empire et ses ennemis: La question impériale dans l’histoire.

Two for Tuesday – Muslim Brotherhood & Egypt after Mubarak

Announcing two timely books rich in detail and insight that you will want to read to keep up with world events. We invite you to read chapters online from each book.

j9948The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement
by Carrie Rosefsky Wickham.   
We invite you to read chapter 1 online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9948.pdf

The Muslim Brotherhood has achieved a level of influence nearly unimaginable before the Arab Spring. The Brotherhood was the resounding victor in Egypt’s 2011-2012 parliamentary elections, and six months later, a leader of the group was elected president. Yet the implications of the Brotherhood’s rising power for the future of democratic governance, peace, and stability in the region is open to dispute. Drawing on more than one hundred in-depth interviews as well as Arabic language sources not previously accessed by Western researchers, Carrie Rosefsky Wickham traces the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from its founding in 1928 to the fall of Mubarak and the watershed elections of 2011-2012.

Carrie Rosefsky Wickham is associate professor of political science at Emory University. She is the author of Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt.

j9996rNow in paperback with a new introduction by the author
Egypt after Mubarak:
Liberalism, Islam, and Democracy in the Arab World
by Bruce K. Rutherford
We invite you to read chapter 1 online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9996.pdf

Which way will Egypt go now that Husni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime has been swept from power? Will it become an Islamic theocracy similar to Iran? Will it embrace Western-style liberalism and democracy? Egypt after Mubarak reveals that Egypt’s secularists and Islamists may yet navigate a middle path that results in a uniquely Islamic form of liberalism and, perhaps, democracy. Bruce Rutherford draws on in-depth interviews with Egyptian judges, lawyers, Islamic activists, politicians, and businesspeople. He utilizes major court rulings, political documents of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the writings of Egypt’s leading contemporary Islamic thinkers. Rutherford demonstrates that, in post-Mubarak Egypt, progress toward liberalism and democracy is likely to be slow.

Bruce K. Rutherford is associate professor of political science at Colgate University.

2 PUP Titles Listed on ForeignAffairs.com’s “The Best Books of 2012 on the Middle East”

2-4 Foreign-Affairs-logoCongratulations to Taner Akçam author of  The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire and Jenny White  author of Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks for each having their respective works listed on ForeignAffairs.com’s “Best International Relations Books of 2012” in the “Best Books of 2012 on the Middle East” category- L. Carl Brown’s and John Waterbury’s picks.

“L. Carl Brown, the professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, was Middle East reviewer for Foreign Affairs for the January/February through May/June issues this year. John Waterbury, the William Stewart Tod professor of Politics and International Affairs emeritus at Princeton became Middle East reviewer with the September/October issue.”

Reviews by ForeignAffairs.com:

2-4 theyoungturk The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity
The book’s title issues a stark indictment; the text methodically and dispassionately sustains it. In February 1914, international pressure forced the Ottomans to acquiesce to eventual self-rule for the Armenians in Anatolia’s eastern provinces. The Ottomans entered World War I in order to annul this agreement, but they feared that it would come back in some other form. According to Akçam, a Turkish historian, their preemptive “solution” was to shrink the Armenian population from around 1.3 million to around 200,000 within a few years, through deportation, starvation, and other means, including the outright murder of probably around 300,000 Armenians. Akçam claims that the Special Organization of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the secular nationalist party of the Young Turks, handled the genocide and was abetted by Mehmet Talat Pasha, the minister of the interior. All instructions were coded, delivered by CUP emissaries, and destroyed after being read. Plausible deniability was built into the system; the CUP knew it had tracks to cover. For a layman, the argument is convincing but not airtight. It is possible to see how the evidence presented could also be spun to fit a scenario of unplanned mass carnage. But the fact that a Turkish historian with access to the Ottoman archives has written this book is of immeasurable significance.

2-4 muslimnationalismMuslim Nationalism and the New Turks
Even for those already familiar with contemporary Turkey, this sometimes disturbing book will be an eye opener. Drawing on four decades of direct observation of Turkish society, White explores the complexities of evolving notions of Turkish identity. She focuses mainly on the Muslim nationalists who have emerged since 1980. They are a rambunctious lot, full of seeming contradictions: for example, according to a 2009 study that White cites, 38 percent of young people who support the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party nevertheless describe themselves as “Kemalists”—that is, admirers of Kemal Atatürk, the stringently secularistic founder of the Turkish republic. White also explores the foibles of contemporary Turkish secularists: their obsession with racial purity, their fear of debasement through interaction with outsiders, and their sacralization of the republic’s borders. The new Muslim nationalists, in contrast, are more open to diversity, support Turkey’s association with the eu, and seek ways to include ethnic Kurds and minority sects in the body politic. They have also embraced neoliberal economic thought to a surprising degree. Alas, all these competing visions of modern Turkey relegate women to a subordinate status.

 

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — West, The

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Professor John R. Bowen of Washington University, visits the various views on Muslim immigration among contemporary scholars:

West, The

Although Muslims have resided in parts of Europe for centuries, and many slaves taken from Africa to North America were Muslims, the question of Islam in the West rose in importance after World War II. European countries encouraged workers from North and West Africa, South Asia, and Turkey to add their labor power to the postwar recovery, and most of those workers were Muslims. By the late 1960s, many of those workers had settled in Europe with their families. Immigration to the United States increased at about the same time, and Muslims, particularly from South Asia, were among those who settled there. Among the new arrivals were many Muslim scholars who offered opinions about how ordinary Muslims were to live religious lives in lands where they were minorities and where not all Islamic religious institutions were available. At the same time, many African American Muslims were turning from the specific teachings of the Nation of Islam toward a more broadly distributed Sunni Islam. Contemporary scholars of diverse origins increasingly provide opinions through broader networks that stretch across the Atlantic and include scholars from non- Western centers of learning. Muslims have posed questions about (1) the legitimacy of participating in Western political institutions and (2) how best to adapt their individual, everyday behavior to their new, non- Islamic environments. One major response has been the call to develop “legal theory for Muslim minorities‘ (flqh al-aqalliyyăt) or a distinct jurisprudence for Muslims living as minorities in non- Muslim societies. In Europe the idea has been most closely associated with Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a scholar born in 1926 in Egypt who was educated and taught at Azhar University before moving to Qatar, where he created a faculty of shari’a and became well- known through his books, his website, and his broadcasts on Aljazeera television. He played a major role on the popular website Islam Online and in the European Council for Fatwa and Research, an association of scholars mainly living in (although not originating from) European countries.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: West, The

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Syria

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Gerhard Böwering, Professor of Religious Studies and Islamic Studies at Yale University, details the political and social development of Syria:

Syria

Syria (Shăm, ”the left- handed region,‘ when one faces the rising sun in the Arab heartlands) falls naturally into an eastern mountain range along the Mediterranean with its major cities of Damascus and Aleppo and into a western section with a plain of steppes and deserts. Prior to the Muslim conquest, Syria had been a wealthy Roman province (64— 300), with Antioch as its capital, and had continued to ‡ourish in its golden age during the Byzantine period (300— 634). Conquered by Muslim Arab forces in 635— 36, Syria be-came the center of the Arab Empire under the Umayyad dynasty, with Damascus as its seat of government (658— 750). During the flrst phase of the Abbasid Empire (750— 945), with Baghdad as the seat of the caliph, Syria lost its central position to Iraq, became the principal Muslim province bordering on the Byzantine Empire to its north, was drawn into tribal con‡icts between southern and northern Arabs, faced attempts by Muslim rulers of Egypt to extend their hegemony over its territory, and became the theater of com-peting Sunni- Shi’i in‡uence. During the second phase of Abbasid rule (945— 1258), Syria initially experienced a period of renaissance under local dynasties, foremost among them the Shi’i dynasty of the Hamdanids ruling from Aleppo, at the same time coming under the increasing in‡uence of the Isma’ili Fatimid dynasty, which sought to extend itself from its base in Cairo, the capital of its counter-caliphate. With the Sunni revival patronized by the Turkic Seljuq sultans after their takeover of Baghdad in 1055, Syria soon came under the control of Seljuq atabegs (tutors), among them the Turkic Zengids of Aleppo and the Kurdish Ayyubids of Damascus. The Ayyubid Saladin brought Fatimid rule to an end in 1171 and de-feated the Crusaders at Hattin in 1187, thereby restoring Jerusalem to Muslim control and flrmly establishing Sunni rule over Syria.
At the time of the Mongol invasions of the Iranian lands that brought the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad to its end in 1258, the Mamluks succeeded to the rich heritage of the Ayyubids in both Egypt and Syria after having definitively arrested the Mongol advance westward in 1260 at the Battle of ’Ayn Jalut. For its part, Syria flourished under Mamluk rule as a land of prosperity and a center of learning but was dealt a harsh blow by Tamerlane’s invasion in 1401, which devastated Aleppo and Damascus. Thereafter Syria’s culture declined, and the country was conquered in 1516 by the Ottoman Turks, who had established themselves in Anatolia and the Balkans and had conquered Constantinople in 1453, renaming it Istanbul and taking it as the capital of their expanding empire. Under the Ottomans, Syria continued for three centuries as a province ruled by Turkish pashas, administrators appointed by the Ottoman sultans, while much of local urban politics was dominated by the powerful influence of prominent Arab families, such as the ’Azms.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Syria

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Salafis

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Bernard Haykel, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, uncovers the complex history of Salafis in the context of Islamic political thought:

Salafis

The Salafi designation is contested in the scholarly literature as well as among some Muslims, and because of this there is considerable confusion about to whom it applies and the nature of its doctrines. A historically grounded definition maintains that Salafis adhere to a literalist theology that rejects allegorical interpretation and reason- based arguments and claim to be faithful to the teachings of the theological Hanbalis or the ahl al-יּadűth. Salafis insist that their beliefs are identical to those of the first three generations of Muslims, al-salaf al-ጃăliיּ (pious ancestors), from whom they take their name. Their attention is directed at convincing other Muslims of the superiority of Salai teachings and of the need to abandon reprehensible innovations (bida’) allegedly not rooted in Islam, such as superstitious beliefs and the intercessionary practices associated with the cult of dead saints. Sufis and Shi’is in particular are the target of Salafi polemical attacks for partaking in forms of unbelief (kufr) by not being faithful to a strict conception of God’s oneness (tawיּűd). Salaflsm’s most prominent premodern authorities are Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), his student Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 1350), and a number of reformist scholars who followed in their footsteps, such as Muhammad b. ’Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792) and Muhammad al-Shawkani (d. 1834), among others. Because Salafis are concerned with theological purity, they engage in exclusionary practices that can attain the level of excommunication (takfűr) of fellow Muslims, and embedded in this is the potential for direct action against individuals or institutions.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Salafis

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Revolutions

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Melissa Finn, lecturer at Wilfrid Laurier University and expert on political science/international studies, explores revolutions and revolutionary thinking in Islamic history:

Revolutions

Revolution is a transformation of the social, political, economic, or religious structures in a society, carried out, most frequently, by re-volts of the less powerful or disenfranchised against ruling authorities. This transformation can occur in a single locale over a period of days or extend across a wide geographical region over a period of de-cades. Revolutions signal or embody a crisis of the status quo. Revolutions may involve a political crisis for existing regimes of power and authority that cannot respond effectively to challenges from ex-ternal or internal actors or coalitions of actors. Sometimes revolutions are led by intellectuals, elites, military cadres, or members of the middle class, but quite often, revolutions begin at the grassroots level through the discontent of the masses or dispossessed. Revolutions and revolutionary thinking have had a place within Islamic thought since the Prophet Muhammad first overturned the prevailing cultural, political, and religious status quo of the Arabian Peninsula by establishing new institutions of governance, law, and society in Medina in 622. The boundaries of revolution in Islam are defined, first and foremost, by Qur’anic injunctions, regardless of the ideological commitments of the various Muslim revolutionary thinkers. There is a revolutionary quality to the Qur÷an itself: beyond being the direct word of God, the Qur’an offers itself as a witness to itself, as revelation and instruction unlike any other, and as reliable guidance for the purpose of establishing a righteous social and political order under the specific theological, ethical, and human framework of belief in the one God. Muslim revolutionaries throughout history have cited various verses of Islam’s sacred text in order to justify and validate revolution as authentically Islamic and have rejected the admonitions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad regarding the fitna (trial) of rebellion against unjust rulers. According to many of these thinkers, the mission of Qur’anic revelation is to provide a revolutionary ideology, sufficient unto itself, that can transform people and free them from the shackles of unjust cultural and social practices.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Revolutions

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Muslim Brotherhood

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Malika Zeghal, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Professor in Contemporary Islamic Thought and Life at Harvard University, sheds light on one the Arab world’s most prominent and immense Islamic movements — the Society of the Muslim Brothers. Her entry on the influential Islamic group traces its history:

Muslim Brotherhood

The Society of the Muslim Brothers (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun) is a political movement whose ideology is based in Islamic principles. It was one of the most significant political opposition movements in the second part of the 20th century. Founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna (1906— 49), it produced offshoots elsewhere in the Middle East, such as in Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Sudan, and influenced the ideologies of Islamist movements in Northern Africa.
In the 1940s, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood became the first mass grassroots political organization in the modern Middle East. Under the leadership of Banna, it sought recruits from the educated middle class and from the lower classes “who thereby gained a nonelitist access to politics“ in contrast to the recruitment of politicians from higher socioeconomic backgrounds through patronage and clientele networks. This style of recruitment partially explains the extraordinary growth of the movement, in combination with Banna’s focus on moral and religious education as well as on a practical vision of Islam reflected in active preaching and in the construction of schools and mosques. This vision brought to life many of the principles underlying reformist intellectual trends such as those inspired by Muhammad ’Abduh (1849— 1905) and Rashid Rida (1865— 1935). The Muslim Brotherhood has authoritarian forms of internal governance as well as administrative structures that resemble those of a political party. Banna was not in favor of parliamentary partisan life as it played out in Egypt between the two World Wars, however, and it was not until the end of the 20th century that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and some of its offshoots located elsewhere attempted to become legal political parties.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Muslim Brotherhood

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Human Rights

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, David Mednicoff, Director of Middle Eastern Studies and Assistant Professor of Public Policy at University of Massachusetts Amherst, illustrates the present-day political human rights issues pertaining to Islam.

Human Rights

As a contemporary political issue related to Islam, human rights is often invoked as an international legal yardstick to which some states with Muslim majorities, particularly in the Middle East, are seen, particularly by Westerners, to fall short. Related to this, some Muslims and their governments argue that aspects of contemporary human rights law reflect a Western neoimperialist political slant. Tensions along these lines usually center on political liberties, religious freedom, and women’s rights. Looking mostly at real or alleged shortfalls in Middle Eastern governments’ enforcement of contemporary rights law, however, obscures both the fact that perceived violations may have little to do with Islam per se and the historical importance of Islam’s role in bringing varied issues of equality and justice to the fore of many premodern societies. Given Islam’s strong foundational and doctrinal strains of social and economic justice, religion has been and can be linked with providing greater equality or addressing severe poverty in Muslim-majority societies.
Early Muslim texts and legal scholars did not use the modern Western political term ”human rights‘ (יּuq╖q al- insăn), nor did they envision current core concepts of human rights, which generally are specific privileges that individuals enjoy in relation to nation- states in which they are citizens or residents. In classical Islam, individual rights came about as the duty of a divinely sanctioned ruler of a transnational community of Muslims, and of protected non-Muslims, to realize God’s will through justice, fairness, and enhanced economic equality.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Human Rights

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Elections

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Bruce K. Rutherford author of Egypt after Mubarak: Liberalism, Islam, and Democracy in the Arab World, explores Islamic ideas and debates about elections and popular sovereignty.

Elections

The concept that the public should participate in the selection of its political leaders and legislators became an important feature of Islamic reformist thought in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through the works of Khayr al- Din al-Tunisi (1822— 90), Muhammad ’Abduh (1849— 1905), and Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865— 1935). It was developed more fully by contemporary Islamic thinkers, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Muhammad Salim al-’Awwa, Tariq al- Bishri, and Ahmad Kamal Abu al-Majd. Their support for elections derived from the principle that political authority (ጃulᴃa) lies with the community (umma). In their view, the Qur’an, the sunna, and the historical experiences of the Rightly Guided Caliphs (632— 61) all confirm that the people are entitled to select their ruler. According to Qaradawi, this idea lies at the foundation of the faith. It is most clearly captured in the Prophet’s statement that Muslims are empowered to choose who will lead them in prayer. ’Awwa further argues that the public’s right to choose the ruler can be traced back to the selection of Abu Bakr as the first successor to Muhammad. Abu Bakr ascended to power through a process by which two prominent members of the community (’Umar and Abu ’Ubayda) showed their support for him by pledging an oath of loyalty (bay’a); the community in turn showed its support through its own bay’a. ’Awwa, who argues that the first bay’a constituted a nomination and the second a referendum, concludes, ”one of the most signifl-cant results of this event was the decision that a ruler can be chosen only through consultation with the community of Muslims.‘ This principle was upheld by the Rightly Guided Caliphs and serves as the foundation for Islamic government.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Elections

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Economic Theory

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Timur Kuran of Duke University and author of The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East, explores the intellectual heritage and rise of “Islamic economics,” which entered a new phase during the Middle East’s oil boom of the mid-1970s. “The size of the global Islamic finance sector, estimated at $400 billion as of 2010, has prompted much empirical research aimed at evaluating its performance, as well as theorizing to explain its findings,” writes Kuran.

Economic Theory

Throughout its history, Islam has sought to regulate all aspects of life, including economics. Its holy book contains verses concerning such matters as credit, trade, resource allocation, taxation, redistribution, and inheritance. The Qur’an prohibits ribă, a pre- Islamic credit practice, which commonly led borrowers into enslavement (2:274— 80, 3:130, 4:160— 61). It prescribes an annual tax called zakat on certain forms of wealth and income in order to finance eight categories of public expenditure, including defense, the propagation of Islam, and poor relief (2:177, 2:215, 4:8, 9:60, 24:22). It entitles all surviving children of a deceased person to a share of his or her estate (4:11— 12, 176). It requires individuals to be honest and fair in commercial transactions (55:7— 9).

Intellectual Heritage

Over the ages, a wide variety of economic policies have been justified through these prescriptions and prohibitions, including ones that are mutually incompatible. Often the justifications in question have rested also on the sunna, the normative practice of the Prophet Muhammad. From the dawn of Islam to the present, the use of interest on loans has been treated as illegitimate through an expansive interpretation of the ban on ribā, understood as usury. The preindustrial guilds that regulated the activities of craftsmen were given monopolistic and monopolistic privileges out of a sense of fairness defined in Islamic terms. In certain times and places, agricultural taxes were collected according to rules prescribed by the Qur’an.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Economic Theory

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Ba‘th Party

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Keith David Watenpaugh (UC Davis) describes the origins and contemporary activities of the Ba’th party.

“Ba’thism is an amalgamation of leftist and ultranationalist ides from 1930s and 1940s Europe,” writes Watenpaugh. “To many mainstream Muslims, Baʽthism is inherently un-Islamic.” Yet, as the concise history in this entry makes clear, the Ba-th party has “exerted far-reaching political and cultural influence on the Arab world, particularly in Syria and Iraq.”

 

Ba‘th Party

Hizb al- Ba’th al- ’Arabi al- Ishtiraki (Party of Arab Socialist Resurrection) is a Pan- Arab nationalist party founded in the 1940s that exerted far- reaching political and cultural in‡uence on the Arab world, particularly in Syria and Iraq. Though conceived as a secular nationalist movement, its ideology considered Islam a vital part of Arab heritage but not the basis for politics. In practice, Ba’thists have been antagonistic to members of the traditional Muslim elite as well as violent opponents of Salafism and Shi’i religious movements.

Party Origins

Upon their return to Damascus, Syria, from university studies in Europe, Michel ’Aflaq and Salah al- Din al- Bitar (1912— 80) began a discussion circle among the city’s educated young men that would form the nucleus of the Ba’th Party (1942). Both ’Aflaq, a Greek Orthodox Christian, and Bitar, a Sunni Muslim, were of solid middle- class origins and brought to the party their distrust of the elite and bourgeois nationalists of a previous generation who had failed to rid Syria of colonial rule. The party’s ranks were swelled by the addition of the followers of an embittered ’Alawi refugee intellectual from the Sanjak of Alexandretta, Zaki al-Arsuzi (1901— 68), who also brought to the party an emphasis on social justice, the cult of personality, and Arab chauvinism. The party’s social-ism and secularism held little appeal for Syria’s Sunni elite or its middle class. Nevertheless, the party proved particularly attractive to non- Sunni landowners and rural smallholders, Arab Christians, and junior officers.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Ba’th Party