Using the Autobiography of Malcolm X, this chapter examines the concept of Muslim American indigeneity and the emerging Muslim American literature canon as responses to a history of contested belonging. I explore Malcolm X’s narrative as a critical commentary on American race relations and what it means to be a Muslim from America, paying particular attention to Malcolm X’s engagement with and ultimate upending of popular tropes of American inception and Muslim representation, namely the Plymouth Rock landing and the image of the Black Muslim. Despite his embrace of “American type thinking”—a focus on public relations in controlling image—Malcolm X’s text reinforces a binary between the diasporic and the national that helps shape our understanding of Islam in America today. Reading Malcolm X’s work as a narrative of contested belonging and as a cultural investment in American “literary Muslimness” offers new insight on current claims to indigeneity.
Abdolkarim Soroush founded one of the most important intellectual movements in Iran. This article traces the development of his thought through three distinct periods: (1) a critique of Marxism and its influence on Islamist political ideology, (2) an epistemological critique of Islamist truth claims, and (3) a hermeneutical approach to the Divine text and Prophetic tradition.
The Abrahamic religions recognize Abraham as the first to arrive at the truth of monotheism and live out the ideal relationship with God. He is the archetype of the stalwart religious individual willing to abandon everything in the journey to realize the truth of God. Yet while the Abrahamic religions all recognize his vital role, each understands his nature differently. In Judaism Abraham represents unfailing obedience to the divine command, while in Christianity he is the epitome of Christian faith. And in Islam Abraham was the first to submit fully and without reservation to the divine will. Because the religions that revere Abraham differ, so do their Abrahams. Thus, not only does Abraham serve as a symbol of common aspirations, he is also a source of disagreement and interreligious polemic, and a fulcrum for leveraging spiritual difference and claims to religious superiority.
The modern concept of the Abrahamic religions has roots in Christian theology, the academic study of the Near East, and the study of Islam. In the nineteenth century, Protestant theologians built on the idea of the ‘Abrahamic covenant’ in developing the idea of a spiritual connection among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At the same time, students of the Near East understood the three religious traditions as sharing a common genealogical bond. Such recognition was enhanced by Islam’s own sense of the religion of Abraham, which was communicated to a broader public by western Islamicists. Although the concept of the Abrahamic religions does not preclude the privileging of one religion over the others, it has provided both scholars and laypeople with a useful way of exploring the common ground of the three faiths.
Abū Hāshim al-Jubbāʾī’s (d. 321/933) Theory of ‘States’ (aḥwāl) and its Adaption by Ashʿarite Theologians
This chapter discusses the notion of ‘states’ (aḥwāl) in Muʿtazilite and Ashʿarite theology. The concept was borrowed from linguistics by the Muʿtazilite theologian Abū Hāshim al-Jubbāʾī (d. 321/933). It helped him to explain the nature of God’s attributes without asserting the existence of co-eternal beings in God. The conception of attributes as ‘states’ became a central doctrine among Abū Hāshim’s followers, the so-called Bahshamiyya school. The theory of aḥwāl was first rejected by Ashʿarite theologians. With Abū Bakr al-Bāqillānī (d. 403/1013), however, an important representative of the school eventually came to use the term within the framework of his theory of attributes. Later, Abu l-Maʿālī al-Juwaynī (d. 478/1085–6) also followed al-Bāqillānī in adopting the notion of ḥāl.
The narrative of Islam in America took a significant turn with the influx of a critical mass of Muslims migrating from the Middle East and South Asia in the twentieth century. The interaction between these immigrant Muslims and African American Muslims has shaped the current landscape for American Islam through the development of new institutions and modes of engagement. At the same time, however, the history of this interaction reveals the complexities that exist between multiethnic, multiracial and multi-ideological groups on an intrafaith level. This chapter explores the relationship between African American and immigrant Muslims over the past century. It will chart the engagement of individual immigrant Muslims, like Inayat Khan and Mohammad Sadiq, as well as groups and organizations, including the Ahmadiyya, Federation of Islamic Association, the Hanafi Madhab Center and the Muslim Students Association, with the African American Muslim community.
Edward E. Curtis IV
For nearly a century, African American Muslims have gathered for religious purposes in local voluntary religious associations that, like other American religious congregations, are a basic building block of U.S. society. Charting their long history, this article surveys the growth of Sunni, Ahmadi, Moorish, and other congregations from World War I until the present. The article argues that black-majority, black-dominant Muslim American congregations are affected by and respond to the same racial divide that shapes American religion as a whole.
Caroline Moxley Rouse
This chapter sees the embrace of Islam within the African American community as a response to white supremacy and struggles for citizenship. It is important to recognize that while the community is diverse in its beliefs and practices, African American Islam is marked by an approach to faith that speaks to the continuing struggle for equality and social justice in the United States. The violence and institutionalized racism that have marked African American history were justified by theories of black inferiority. Many African American Muslims consider their faith protective in the sense that it uses a different set of authoritative discourses and ethical standards for measuring value and meaning. In particular, Islam authorizes new understandings of gender, race, and citizenship that African American Muslims find empowering and protective against racial self-hate.
This article discusses the emergence of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi; the AK Party) as a center-right political movement with Islamic and national roots. It examines the AK Party’s political ideology of “conservative democracy” within the context of the new dynamics of twenty-first-century Turkish politics. It evaluates the AK Party’s performance in government since taking office in 2002. Finally, the AK Party’s foreign policy and its struggle to overcome oppositional identities are considered.
This article examines the development and ideology of Egypt’s largest militant groups, al-Jama`a al-Islamiya (al-Jama`a) and the Islamic Jihad Group (al-Jihad). It argues that modern Islamic movements in Egypt exhibit the recurrent pattern of extremism and offense followed by moderation and revision of both ideology and tactics. The experience of al-Jama`a and al-Jihad groups demonstrate that counterterrorism strategies may be carried out in the form of dialogue and communication that encourage terrorists to stop the use of violence and join in party politics.