Arabic and its Alternatives discusses the complicated relationships between language, religion and communal identities in the Middle East in the period following the First World War. This volume takes its starting point in the non-Arabic and non-Muslim communities, tracing their linguistic and literary practices as part of a number of interlinked processes, including that of religious modernization, of new types of communal identity politics and of socio-political engagement with the emerging nation states and their accompanying nationalisms. These twentieth-century developments are firmly rooted in literary and linguistic practices of the Ottoman period, but take new turns under influence of colonization and decolonization, showing the versatility and resilience as much as the vulnerability of these linguistic and religious minorities in the region.
Contributors are Tijmen C. Baarda, Leyla Dakhli, Sasha R. Goldstein-Sabbah, Liora R. Halperin, Robert Isaf, Michiel Leezenberg, Merav Mack, Heleen Murre-van den Berg, Konstantinos Papastathis, Franck Salameh, Cyrus Schayegh, Emmanuel Szurek, Peter Wien.
This study addresses encounters between Jews and Muslims in interwar Berlin. Living on the margins of German society, the two groups sometimes used that position to fuse visions and their personal lives. German politics set the switches for their meeting, while the urban setting of Western Berlin offered a unique contact zone. Although the meeting was largely accidental, Muslim Indian missions served as a crystallization point. Five case studies approach the protagonists and their network from a variety of perspectives. Stories surfaced testifying the multiple aid Muslims gave to Jews during Nazi persecution. Using archival materials that have not been accessed before, the study opens up a novel view on Muslims and Jews in the 20th century.
This title is available in its entirety in Open Access.
Ibn Taymiyya on Reason and Revelation, Carl Sharif El-Tobgui offers the first comprehensive study of Ibn Taymiyya’s ten-volume magnum opus,
Darʾ taʿāruḍ al-ʿaql wa-l-naql. In his colossal riposte to the Muslim philosophers and rationalist theologians, the towering Ḥanbalī polymath rejects the call to prioritize reason over revelation in cases of alleged conflict, interrogating instead the very conception of rationality that classical Muslims had inherited from the Greeks. In its place, he endeavors to articulate a reconstituted “pure reason” that is both truly universal and in full harmony with authentic revelation. Based on a line-by-line reading of the entire
Darʾ taʿāruḍ, El-Tobgui’s study carefully elucidates the “philosophy of Ibn Taymiyya” as it emerges from the multifaceted ontological, epistemological, and linguistic reforms that Ibn Taymiyya carries out in this pivotal work.
Patristic Literature in Arabic Translations explores the Arabic translations of the Greek and Syriac Church Fathers, focusing on those produced in the Palestinian monasteries and at Sinai in the 8th–10th centuries and in Antioch during Byzantine rule (969–1084). These Arabic translations preserve patristic texts lost in the original languages. They offer crucial information about the diffusion and influence of patristic heritage among Middle Eastern Christians from the 8th century to the present. A systematic examination of Arabic patristic translations sheds light on the development of Muslim and Jewish theological thought.
Contributors are Aaron Michael Butts, Joe Glynias, Habib Ibrahim, Jonas Karlsson, Sergey Kim, Joshua Mugler, Tamara Pataridze, Alexandre Roberts, Barbara Roggema, Alexander Treiger.
Reading Islam Fabio Vicini offers a journey within the intimate relations, reading practices, and forms of intellectual engagement that regulate Muslim life in two enclosed religious communities in Istanbul. Combining anthropological observation with textual and genealogical analysis, he illustrates how the modes of thought and social engagement promoted by these two communities are the outcome of complex intellectual entanglements with modern discourses about science, education, the self, and Muslims’ place and responsibility in society. In this way,
Reading Islam sheds light on the formation of new generations of faithful and socially active Muslims over the last thirty years and on their impact on the turn of Turkey from an assertive secularist Republic to an Islamic-oriented form of governance.
The Shīʿīs in Palestine Yaron Friedman offers a survey of the presence of Shīʿism in the region of Palestine (today: Israel) from early Islamic history until the contemporary period. It brings to light many pieces of information and interesting developments that are not widely known, in addition to the general point that, contrary to common belief, the Shīʿī community has played a significant role in the history of Palestine. The volume includes a study of Shīʿī shrines in Palestine, as well as showing the importance of these Muslim sites and holy towns in Palestine in the Shīʿī religion.
Walking on the Pages of the Word of God Aron Engberg explores the religious language and identities of evangelical volunteer workers in contemporary Jerusalem. The volunteers are connected to Christian organizations which consider their work a natural consequence of the biblical promises to Israel and their responsibility to “bless the Jewish people”.
Relying on ethnographic data of the discursive practices of the volunteers, the book explores a central puzzle of Zionist Christianity: the narrative production of Israel’s religious significance and its relationship to broader Christian language traditions. By focusing on the volunteers’ stories about themselves, the land and the Bible, Aron Engberg offers a convincing account about how the State of Israel is finding its way into evangelical identities.
Intolerance, Polemics, and Debate in Antiquity scholars reflect on politico-cultural, philosophical, and religious forms of critical conversation in the ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, Graeco-Roman, and early-Islamic world. They enquire into the boundaries between debate, polemics, and intolerance, and address their manifestations in both philosophy and religion. This cross-cultural and inclusive approach shows that debate and polemics are not so different as often assumed, since polemics may also indicate that ultimate values are at stake. Polemics can also have a positive effect, stimulating further cultural development. Intolerance is more straightforwardly negative. Religious intolerance is often a justification for politics, but also elite rationalism can become totalitarian. The volume also highlights the importance of the fluency of minorities in the dominant discourses and of their ability to develop contrapuntal lines of thought within a common cultural discourse.
Muḥammad ʿAbduh and his Interlocutors: Conceptualizing Religion in a Globalizing World, Ammeke Kateman offers an account of Muḥammad ʿAbduh’s Islamic Reformism in a context in which ideas increasingly crossed familiar geographical, religious and cultural frontiers. Presenting an alternative to the inadequate perspective of “Westernization”, Kateman situates the ideas of Muḥammad ʿAbduh (Egypt, 1849-1905) on Islam and religion amongst those of his interlocutors within a global intellectual field.
Ammeke Kateman’s approach documents the surprising pluralism of ʿAbduh’s interlocutors, the diversity in their shared conceptualizations of religion and the creativity of ʿAbduh’s own interpretation. In this way, the conceptualizations of ʿAbduh and his contemporaries also shed light on the diversified global genealogy of the modern concept of religion.
Heirs of the Apostles offers a panoramic survey of Arabic-speaking Christians—descendants of the Christian communities established in the Middle East by the apostles—and their history, religion, and culture in the early Islamic and medieval periods. The subjects range from Arabic translations of the Bible, to the status of Christians in the Muslim-governed lands, Muslim-Christian polemic, and Christian-Muslim and Christian-Jewish relations. The volume is offered as a Festschrift to Sidney H. Griffith, the doyen of Christian Arabic Studies in North America, on his eightieth birthday.
Contributors are: David Bertaina, Elie Dannaoui, Stephen Davis, Nathan P. Gibson, Cornelia Horn, Sandra Toenies Keating, Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala, Johannes Pahlitzsch, Andrew Platt, Thomas W. Ricks, Barbara Roggema, Harald Suermann, Mark N. Swanson, Shawqi Talia, Jack Tannous, David Thomas, Jennifer Tobkin, Alexander Treiger, Ronny Vollandt, Clare Wilde, and Jason Zaborowski.