Michael A. Sells
This chapter, which looks at the actual or alleged cases of apocalypticism within contemporary Iranian Shi'ite, Saudi Sunni, and American Christian circles, evaluates the issue of contemporary militant apocalypticism, emphasizing the competition between its American Christian and Islamic versions. The hadith collections present contradictory reports regarding the end-time struggle between the Messiah Jesus and Dajjal. Militant near-term apocalypticism summons the power of religion, imagination, and personal conviction against any serious peace endeavor; demonizes those who work toward such endeavors; and sanctifies those who, once the tribulation or endtimes conflict is underway, kill the peacemakers. The apocalyptic messianism of American dispensationalists, and of the Salafi Sunni figures Safar al-Hawali and Ali al-Timimi, feature scenarios of Middle Eastern and global carnage ending with messianic triumph and theologically grounded rejection of Middle East peacemaking.
This chapter deals with the types of exegesis found in the earliest commentaries on the Qur’an (second/eighth and third/ninth centuries). After discussing the authenticity of these commentaries, the chapter argues that their main purpose was to explain the meaning of the Qur’an. With the help of exegetical tools such as paraphrase, contextualization, and text typology, the commentators searched for God’s intention in the revealed Book. Linguistic analysis did not play an important role, as reflected by the paucity of grammatical terminology. When grammar emerged as an independent discipline at the end of the second/eighth century, it turned into a different direction: what had begun as analysis of the text now became analysis of the structure of the language
This chapter analyses the Qur’an’s position on theology, sexuality, and gender, with the intent of challenging readings of Islam as a patriarchy. It illustrates that missing from Islam’s scripture is the imaginary of God as father/male and endorsements of father-rule (the traditional form of patriarchy), as well as any concept of sexual differentiation that privileges males (more modern forms of patriarchy). Indeed, many Qur’anic teachings can be read on behalf of the principle of sexual equality since they establish the ontological equality of women and men and emphasize the need for mutual care and guardianship between them. Both by re-reading some of the ‘anti-women’ verses and by applying a hermeneutical method to interpret the Qur’an—which is implicit in the text itself—the chapter also demonstrates that different interpretive strategies can change our understanding of textual meaning.
This chapter examines the debate on the relationship between Islam and democracy. It begins by tracing the historical roots of the debate. It then considers the so-called establishment view of the debate, which comes from Western scholars whose writings reach a large audience by virtue of their dissemination by mainstream and influential newspapers, intellectual journals, and publishing houses. This chapter then shifts to examine the reasons behind the emergence of secularism in the West but not in Muslim societies, the origins of political secularism in the Anglo-American tradition, and the modern Muslim experience with secularism.
This article examines the changing role of Jordan’s largest and most organized political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF). It begins by tracing the history and development of the IAF. It then discusses its acceptance of democratic principles such as alternation of power, popular sovereignty, separation of powers, and judicial independence, along with a reduced emphasis on Shari`ah law. It also considers the IAF’s policies on economics, education, foreign affairs, and the role of women, as well as its relations with secular and liberal parties.
Sherman A. Jackson
This article examines the issue of Islamic reform, distinguishing between the application of Islamic law in general and its application as the basis of a legally monistic, homogenizing nation-state. It first discusses a fundamental feature of the nation-state—“legal centralism” or “legal monism.” This is then compared to the basic thrust of the premodern Muslim state, highlighting the extent to which the tendency toward legal homogenization among modern Muslims is more indebted to modern than premodern history. Then, the article looks at the problems associated with legal monism in a modern majority Muslim state, namely Egypt, with specific focus on religious minorities and their status in the articulations of advocates of the so-called Islamic State. The article concludes by discussing the problem of secularism as a mode of modern Muslim reform.
Joseph E. Lowry
This chapter provides a general overview of legal concepts and positive legislation in the Qur’an. It covers the Qur’an’s presentation of legal terms, concepts, and materials and surveys the various areas of legal subject matter regulated by the Qur’an. It also considers issues of literary form and the early history of the text that bear on the Qur’an’s legal content and the interpretation of that content. In addition, it summarizes the reception and elaboration of the Qur’an in the Islamic legal tradition, examines a range of views about law and the Qur’an presented by selected modern Muslim thinkers, and briefly treats the Qur’an’s role in modern legal systems.
Bruce B. Lawrence
This chapter explores the role of violence in Islam, specifically contrasting Islam in 611 with the Islam associated with terrorism on 9/11. When several tribes attempted to draw from the treaty that bound them to Muhammad, Abu Bakr opposed them in what became known as the Ridda wars. The Ottomans succeeded in invoking Islam, and also the doctrine of jihad. Islam became an explicit ideology and building block of public prestige for the newest Turkish Muslim Empire, and also became an idiom of protest against the gradual contraction of internal and external trade. The association of Osama bin Laden with al-Jazeera proves to be almost as significant as his decision to wage jihad. There are many ways to connect Bin Laden to the early generation of Islam. Bin Laden's legacy is one of deviance and damage rather than persistence and profit in the cause of Islam.
Qur’anic ethics stands at the centre of Muslim exegesis of the Qur’an both in the past and the present. The belief exists that the Qur’an recommends crucial teachings for the good life that, in turn, serve as means of salvation in the afterlife. Dīn, one of the key ideas used in the revelation vouchsafed to the Prophet Muḥammad, carries with it the resonance of righteousness. Although the word dīn is translated as ‘religion’ in modern times, to the first listeners of the revelation it had a normative resonance related to human conduct. An overlapping semiotic framework provides for a nuanced and at times detailed ethical outline of practices in the Qur’an. Some attempts were made in the past to flesh out a Qur’an-based ethics, but it did not reach fruition. All Muslim ethicists would, of course, insist that the Qur’an forms the basis of their ethical deliberations. What some mean by a Qur’anic ethics is the centrality of Qur’anic teachings to the study of ethics while all other considerations ought to be deemed secondary. This is not how ethics unfolded in Islam historically speaking, for often Greek and mystical traditions of the ethical overlapped with those teachings derived from the Qur’an. In modern times this effort to find an exclusively Qur’an-based ethics was again attempted with mixed success or perhaps should be viewed as a work-in-progress.
This article examines the reform agenda of the Modernist-Salafiya movement (or Modernist-Salafism). Among the movement’s key concerns is the need to reform Islamic thought to enable Muslims to respond to modern challenges; the need to give up blind imitation of early scholars; the flexible interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunnah; the need to reform Islamic education by introducing modern disciplines; and increasing the rights of women. The article also discusses the history and development of the Modernist-Salafiya movement; Muhammad `Abduh as the movement’s key figure; the conservative turn of Islamic reformism under Muhammad Rashid Rida; and the Modernist-Salafiya movement in other parts of the Middle East.
Khalid Abou El Fadl
This article provides an overview of Shari`ah and Islamic law. The discussions cover the difference between Shari`ah, Islamic law and Muslim law, the sources of Islamic law, the nature and purpose of Islamic law, the differences between Shari`ah and fiqh , the sacred and profane in Islamic law, the rights of God and the rights of humans, and the role of Shari`ah law in the Arab Spring.
This chapter deals with shariah in Europe from two different angles. It links the debate about the application of shariah norms on European soil with the legal aspects regarding the scope and limits of such application. Both the term and the perception of shariah in Europe are clarified. The second part of the chapter deals with the legal situation in Europe regarding the formal and informal application of shariah rules, be they religious or legal ones, in different fields of law, such as civil law, public law, penal law, and public international law. The chapter concludes by summarizing observations and remarking on research desiderata.
This article offers a new interpretation of the debate on the nature of ethical value in the developed kalām tradition. After situating the problem in the broad context of theodicy, it proposes to revise the reading, conventional since George Hourani’s studies published in the early seventies, of the ethical realism propounded in Baṣran and Baghdādī Muʿtazilism and of the rival views of classical Ashʿarism. It argues that the latter school did not subscribe to a simple divine command theory of ethics, but in fact grounded this theory in a fairly developed anti-realism, which became the basis for the more sophisticated consequentialist ethics advanced in neo-Ashʿarite sources.