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This vivid introduction to the heart of Islam offers a unique approach to understanding Allah, the central focus of Muslim religious expression. Drawing on history, culture, theology, politics, and the media, Bruce B. Lawrence identifies key religious practices by which Allah is revered and remembered, illuminating how the very name of Allah is interwoven into the everyday experience of millions of Muslims. For Muslims, as for adherents of other religions, intentions as well as practices are paramount in one's religious life. Lawrence elucidates how public utterances, together with private pursuits, reflect the emotive, sensory, and intellectual aspirations of the devout. Ranging from the practice of the tongue (speaking) to practices in cyberspace (online religious activities), Lawrence explores how Allah is invoked, defined, remembered, and also debated. While the practice of the heart demonstrates how Allah is remembered in Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, the practice of the mind examines how theologians and philosophers have defined Allah in numerous contexts, often with conflicting aims. The practice of the ear marks the contemporary period, in which Lawrence locates and then assesses competing calls for jihad, or religious struggle, within the cacophony of an immensely diverse umma, the worldwide Muslim community.
Avoiding the traps of sensational political exposes and specialized scholarly Orientalism, Carl Ernst introduces readers to the profound spiritual resources of Islam while clarifying diversity and debate within the tradition. Framing his argument in terms of religious studies, Ernst describes how Protestant definitions of religion and anti-Muslim prejudice have affected views of Islam in Europe and America. He also covers the contemporary importance of Islam in both its traditional settings and its new locations and provides a context for understanding extremist movements like fundamentalism. He concludes with an overview of critical debates on important contemporary issues such as gender and veiling, state politics, and science and religion.
How do people in the African diaspora practice Islam? While the term "Black Muslim" may conjure images of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, millions of African-descended Muslims around the globe have no connection to the American-based Nation of Islam. The Call of Bilal is a penetrating account of the rich diversity of Islamic religious practice among Africana Muslims worldwide. Covering North Africa and the Middle East, India and Pakistan, Europe, and the Americas, Edward E. Curtis IV reveals a fascinating range of religious activities--from the observance of the five pillars of Islam and the creation of transnational Sufi networks to the veneration of African saints and political struggles for racial justice. Weaving together ethnographic fieldwork and historical perspectives, Curtis shows how Africana Muslims interpret not only their religious identities but also their attachments to the African diaspora. For some, the dispersal of African people across time and space has been understood as a mere physical scattering or perhaps an economic opportunity. For others, it has been a metaphysical and spiritual exile of the soul from its sacred land and eternal home.
Taking us inside the world of the madrasa--the most common type of school for religious instruction in the Islamic world--Ebrahim Moosa provides an indispensable resource for anyone seeking to understand orthodox Islam in global affairs. Focusing on postsecondary-level religious institutions in the Indo-Pakistan heartlands, Moosa explains how a madrasa can simultaneously be a place of learning revered by many and an institution feared by many others, especially in a post-9/11 world. Drawing on his own years as a madrasa student in India, Moosa describes in fascinating detail the daily routine for teachers and students today. He shows how classical theological, legal, and Qur'anic texts are taught, and he illuminates the history of ideas and politics behind the madrasa system. Addressing the contemporary political scene in a clear-eyed manner, Moosa introduces us to madrasa leaders who hold diverse and conflicting perspectives on the place of religion in society. Some admit that they face intractable problems and challenges, including militancy; others, Moosa says, hide their heads in the sand and fail to address the crucial issues of the day. Offering practical suggestions to both madrasa leaders and U.S. policymakers for reform and understanding, Moosa demonstrates how madrasas today still embody the highest aspirations and deeply felt needs of traditional Muslims.
Highlighting the dynamic, pluralistic nature of Islamic civilization, Sufia M. Uddin examines the complex history of Islamic state formation in Bangladesh, formerly the eastern part of the Indian province of Bengal. Uddin focuses on significant moments in the region's history from medieval to modern times, examining the interplay of language, popular and scholarly religious literature, and the colonial experience as they contributed to the creation of a unique Bengali-Islamic identity. During the precolonial era, Bengali, the dominant regional language, infused the richly diverse traditions of the region, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and, eventually, the Islamic religion and literature brought by Urdu-speaking Muslim conquerors from North India. Islam was not simply imported into the region by the ruling elite, Uddin explains, but was incorporated into local tradition over hundreds of years of interactions between Bengalis and non-Bengali Muslims. Constantly contested and negotiated, the Bengali vision of Islamic orthodoxy and community was reflected in both language and politics, which ultimately produced a specifically Bengali-Muslim culture. Uddin argues that this process in Bangladesh is representative of what happens elsewhere in the Muslim world and is therefore an instructive example of the complex and fluid relations between local heritage and the greater Islamic global community, or umma.
Exploring the increasing impact of the Internet on Muslims around the world, this book sheds new light on the nature of contemporary Islamic discourse, identity, and community. The Internet has profoundly shaped how both Muslims and non-Muslims perceive Islam and how Islamic societies and networks are evolving and shifting in the twenty-first century, says Gary Bunt. While Islamic society has deep historical patterns of global exchange, the Internet has transformed how many Muslims practice the duties and rituals of Islam. A place of religious instruction may exist solely in the virtual world, for example, or a community may gather only online. Drawing on more than a decade of online research, Bunt shows how social-networking sites, blogs, and other "cyber-Islamic environments" have exposed Muslims to new influences outside the traditional spheres of Islamic knowledge and authority. Furthermore, the Internet has dramatically influenced forms of Islamic activism and radicalization, including jihad-oriented campaigns by networks such as al-Qaeda. By surveying the broad spectrum of approaches used to present dimensions of Islamic social, spiritual, and political life on the Internet, iMuslims encourages diverse understandings of online Islam and of Islam generally.
This expansive four-volume encyclopedia presents a broad introduction to Islam that enables learning about the fundamental role of Islam in world history and promotes greater respect for cultural diversity. • Comprises concise, jargon-free entries written by experts in their fields, providing readers with accurate viewpoints that cut through the bias and controversies regarding most Islamic concepts • Supplies an authoritative introduction of Islam to Western readers that addresses the subject from historical, geographical, conceptual, and personal perspectives • Provides students with a current bibliography • Features color inserts with 16 pages of compelling images from Islam around the world in each volume

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