Dr. Arnold Leder
Political Science 4331
 Fall 2024

View Image Of: The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque)/Istanbul, Turkey @
Views of the Sulemaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey @

For a discussion of the architecture, art, elements of diverse origin, distinctiveness, and spiritual significance of Islamic mosques see: Bernard Lewis, An Islamic Mosque (Chapter 1, pp. 15-17.) in Bernard Lewis, From Babel To Dragomans: Interpreting The Middle East (Oxford University Press 2004).
Images of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey discussed in this essay by Bernard Lewis:

Department Of Political Science/Texas State University
Office: UAC/Undergraduate Academic Center 355; Telephone number:  (512) 245-2143; Fax number: (512) 245-7815
Liberal Arts Computer Lab: UAC/Undergraduate Academic Center Room 440; Website:

For the link to the posted web version of this syllabus as well as links to other posted courses taught by Dr. Leder see:

Office Hours: Office Hours for Distance Learning Format Courses: 
Flexible mutually agreed on appointment days and times with individual students using email.  Communication for appointments through email.
Dr. Leder's email address:

Class Days and Times  TBA

The online version of this syllabus can be accessed @  Scroll to the link for this syllabus labeled Political Science The Politics of Extremism.
Password protected materials for this course can be viewed @  Scroll to the section on "Terrorism".  Password and user name for access will be provided to students in the course.  For links to web syllabi for other courses taught by Dr. Leder see:

Link to: Texas State University Library

Note on Links:  For all indicated links in this syllabus to the Texas State University Library please use this link: Texas State University Library.
A number of articles in this syllabus are accessible in pdf (portable document format) to students at the CANVAS site of Texas State University.  A Texas State University User Name/ID and password are required for access. Materials in this syllabus which indicate they are accessible at TRACS have been transferred to CANVAS in the FILES section for Political Science 4331 and are no longer accessible in TRACS.  Additional materials in pdf, if added to this syllabus and so indicated,  may also be accessed at the CANVAS site for Political Science 4331.  Please check the pdf materials at the CANVAS site for this course. 
CANVAS link:

Texas State University Academic/Student Calendar @

B.A. (Political Science) & BPA (Public Administration) – PROGRAM LEARNING OUTCOMES,  CIVILITY,  ACADEMIC HONESTY - Please see end of syllabus and view statements.

Students with Disabilities:
Qualified students with disabilities are entitled to reasonable and appropriate accommodations in accordance with federal laws including Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, and the university policy UPPS 07.11.01.  Students with special needs (as documented by the Office of Disability Services) should identify themselves at the beginning of the semester.

Note On Course & Syllabus Materials: Students may find books, articles, links, websites, and other materials provided in this syllabus useful and of interest. Their listing in this syllabus, including those which are required and recommended, does not necessarily indicate endorsement of or agreement with any views or positions on any issues found in these materials, websites, or on other sites to which they may provide links.

Note On Access To Articles:  Access to articles through the Texas State University Library @Texas State University Library available to all Texas State University students, requires a valid User Name and a Password.  Most of the links in this syllabus provide direct access to the article.

Password Protected Materials: Some materials on this web syllabus are password protected and are directly accessible @ These materials are for student use. The password will be provided to students in the course.

This course is a study of the origins, development, divisions, law, and politics of Islam. Topics covered include Islamic Law and political institutions; the Arab and Persian roles in Islam; the Islamic Community as a political system; major points of the Islamic faith and their political significance; the political and historical significance of Islamic mysticism; the emergence of Islamism/radical Islam and the challenges of modernity; and the status of women in Islam.

The purpose of this course is to acquire some understanding of Islam as a religious tradition, way of life, and attendant perspectives for political thought and behavior, and Islamic responses to modernity, including the emergence of radical Islam.

Zoom class meeting times will be flexible.  Generally, Zoom meetings will occur once every week. The day and time for these meetings will be announced. 
Attendance at Zoom meetings is encouraged.  Given the difficulties faced by many students and faculty at this time attendance at Zoom meetings will not be mandatory. 

This course includes two formats.  One is lecture when appropriate and the other is discussion format when course materials make this suitable.
Determinants of Course Grade: Required short papers, likely no more than 3, on assigned readings and viewing materials.  Length and specifics of these papers TBA.  Dates for submission of each of these short papers TBA.
Oral Reports & Presentations and Zoom meetings participation when circumstances and conditions permit.

A. J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted
A. J. Arberry/The Koran Interpreted

Fatima Mernissi, Beyond The Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society (Indiana Univ. Press 1987)
Fatima Mernissi/Beyond The Veil:Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society (Indiana Univ. Press 1987 - first published in 1975)

Fazlur Rahman, Islam (Second Edition 2002)

Fazlur Rahman/Islam (Second Edition-Univ. Of Chicago Press 2002 - first published in 1966)
For the Introduction to this book by Fazlur Rahman see:
Follow the scroll arrows to the Introduction pp.1 through 9, immediately preceding Chapter I with the title MUHAMMAD.
Recommended Books:
Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (Yale University Press 1992)
Leila Ahmed/Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (Yale University Press 1992)

David Cook, Understanding Jihad (University of California Press 2005)
David Cook/Understanding Jihad (University of California Press 2005)

Note: The following works by Caldwell (and the reviews), Warner & Wenner, and Fetzer and Soper are listed here as different views on the issue of Muslim minorities in Western Europe.
Christopher Caldwell, Reflections On The Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, And The West (Doubleday 2009)
Christopher Caldwell/Reflections On The Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, And The West (Doubleday 2009)
See these reviews of this book:
Dwight Garner/A Turning Tide in Europe as Islam Gains Ground/NYT July 30, 2009 and Fouad Ajami/Strangers in the Land (w/photo) NYT Sunday Book Review, August 2, 2009.
For a perspective very different from that of Christopher Caldwell on Muslims in Western Europe, see:
Carolyn M. Warner, Manfred W. Wenner/Religion and the Political Organization of Muslims in Europe, Perspectives on Politics, Volume 4, Number 3 (September 2006), pp. 457-479. (pdf) Note: This is a Texas State University Library permalink.  A valid Texas State University User Name and password are required to access this article.
Joel S. Fetzer, J. Christopher Soper, Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany (Cambridge 2005)
Joel S. Fetzer, J. Christopher Soper/Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany (Cambridge 2005)

Clifford Geertz, Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia (Yale University Press 1968/Hardcover & University of Chicago Press 1971/Paper)
Clifford Geertz/Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia (Yale University Press 1968/Hardcover & University of Chicago Press 1971/Paper)

Mary Habeck, Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror (Yale Univ. Press 2006)
Mary Habeck/Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror (Yale Univ. Press 2006)

Timur Kuran, The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East (Princeton University Press 2010)
Timur Kuran/ The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East (Princeton University Press 2010)

Reuben Levy, The Social Structure of Islam: Introduction to the Sociology of Islam (Taylor & Francis 2000 - Earlier edition Cambridge University Press 1957)
Reuben Levy The Social Structure of Islam: Introduction to the Sociology of Islam (Taylor & Francis 2000 - Earlier edition Cambridge University Press 1957)

Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong? Western Impact & Middle Eastern Response (Oxford 2002)
Bernard Lewis/What Went Wrong? Western Impact & Middle Eastern Response (Oxford 2002)

E. I. J. Rosenthal, Political Thought In Medieval Islam: An Introductory Outline (Cambridge University Press 1962)
E. I. J. Rosenthal/Political Thought In Medieval Islam: An Introductory Outline (Cambridge University Press 1962)
"Islam knows no distinction between a spiritual and a temporal realm, between religious and secular activities. Both realms form a unity under the all-embracing authority of the Sharī'a. (p. 8.)
... politics, ... is the scene of religion as life on this earth as long as the law of the state is the Sharī'a."  (p. 9.
) [boldface added]

Olivier Roy, Globalized Islam: The Search For A New Ummah (Columbia University Press 2004 & 2006)
Olivier Roy, Globalized Islam: The Search For A New Ummah (Columbia University Press 2004 & 2006)

Philip Carl Salzman, Culture and Conflict in the Middle East (Humanity Books 2008)
Philip Carl Salzman/Culture and Conflict in the Middle East (Humanity Books 2008)

Joseph Schacht, An Introduction To Islamic Law (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1964 & 1983)
Joseph Schacht/An Introduction To Islamic Law (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1964 & 1983)
From the book description at Barnes & Noble:
"... a broad account of the present knowledge of the history and outlines the system of Islamic law. Showing that Islamic law is the key to understanding the essence of one of the great world religions, this book explores how it still influences the laws of contemporary Islamic states, and is in itself a remarkable manifestation of legal thought." (boldface added)

J. Spencer Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam (Oxford University Press 1998 with Forward by John O. Voll, original published in 1971)
J. Spencer Trimingham/The Sufi Orders in Islam (Oxford University Press 1998 with Forward by John O. Voll, original published in 1971)
From the Oxford University Press book description:
"Sufism, the name given to Islamic mysticism, has been the subject of many studies, but the orders through which the organizational aspect of the Sufi spirit was expressed has been neglected. The Sufi Orders in Islam is one of the earliest modern examinations of the historical development of Sufism and is considered a classic work in numerous sources of Islamic studies today. ... a clear and detailed account of the formation and development of the Sufi schools and orders (tariqahs) from the second century of Islam until modern times."


Islam (The Smithsonian)
Women and Islam: Islamic Conversations/Leila Ahmed
For a preview of "Women and Islam", see: - Scroll to preview clip.
Islam: Empire of Faith (PBS)
For a critical review of this PBS film, see: Martin Kramer, Islam for Viewers Like You/The Middle East Quarterly/Winter 2002 Vol. IX:No.1 __________________________________________________________________________________

Course Title: Islam

Overview Of CourseScroll to each topic.
I. The Middle East: Culture & History
II. The Origins of Islam
III. Islam as a Way of Life
IV. The Major Divisions in Islam
V. Islamic Mysticism/Sufism
VI. Issues in Contemporary Islam: Islamism/Radical Islam; Democracy
VII. Women in Islam

I. The Middle East: Culture & History
1. An overview of Middle Eastern Culture
2. The Pre-Islamic Period/Jahiliyyah
3. The Early Islamic Period
Internet Sources On Islam/Fordham University(Comprehensive Site With Links For Many Aspects Of The Islamic Experience)
Middle East Maps UT Library Online/Perry-Castaneda Map Collection/Middle East Maps
Map Of Geographic Distribution Of Religions/MiddleEast

Fazlur Rahman, Islam, Introduction (Google Books preview, pp. 1-9.  p. 10 is not included in this preview.)
Scroll to the Introduction to Fazlur Rahman's book, Islam.

For an analysis of the influence of Arab culture, the principle of "balanced opposition", and tribal organization on the rise of Islam, see: Philip Carl Salzman/The Middle East's Tribal DNA/Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2008, pp. 23-33.  This article is drawn from his book Culture and Conflict in the Middle East (Humanity Books 2008).
For a description of Arab poetry and traditions in the pre-Islamic period, see the classic study Reynold A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs (First Edition T. Fisher Unwin 1907; Taylor & Francis 2000; Digital Edition January, 2007).  Read: Chapter III Pre-Islamic Poetry, Manners, and Religion, pp. 71-140 and see page 77 on The Qasida or Ode and page 131 on Oral Tradition.

For a discussion of the influence of poetry in contemporary radical Islam, see: Robyn Creswell and Bernard Haykel, "Why Jihadists Write Poetry", The New Yorker, June 8, 2015 @

Reuben Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, Chapter I (pp. 53 through 90) - The Grades Of Society In Islam

Note: While understanding Arab culture in the pre-Islamic period and its influence in the development of Islam are essential to the study of Islam, later developments and the important influence of other cultures and traditions in the larger Islamic world, as far removed geographically as Indonesia and other areas, should not be overlooked.  To do so is to ignore important dimensions of the Islamic experience.
Clifford Geertz/Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia (Yale University Press 1968/Hardcover & University of Chicago Press 1971/Paper)
For online access and a limited preview of Clifford Geertz, Islam Observed, see:
Note: Access using this link requires a late or recent version of most browsers.  Older versions of browsers may not work with this link.

Publisher's Comment on Clifford Geertz, Islam Observed (University of Chicago Press):
"Mr. Geertz begins his argument by outlining the problem conceptually and providing an overview of the two countries. He then traces the evolution of their classical religious styles which, with disparate settings and unique histories, produced strikingly different spiritual climates. So in Morocco, the Islamic conception of life came to mean activism, moralism, and intense individuality, while in Indonesia the same concept emphasized aestheticism, inwardness, and the radical dissolution of personality." (boldface added)
Clifford Geertz:
"I have attempted both to lay out a general framework for the comparative analysis of religion and to apply it to a study of the development of a supposedly single creed, Islam, in two quite contrasting civilizations, the Indonesian and the Moroccan." (page ix of the author's Preface)

"Religious faith, even when it is fed from a common source, is as much a particularizing force as a generalizing one, and indeed whatever universality a given religious tradition manages to attain arises from its ability to engage a widening set of individual, even idiosyncratic, conceptions of life and yet somehow sustain and elaborate them all." (page 14)

Nikki R. Keddie, Symbol and Sincerity in Islam, Studia Islamica, Vol. 19, 1963, pp. 27-63.
This is a direct access permalink @ the Texas State University Library.  A valid Texas State University user name and password are required.  Scroll down to the article in pdf.
Note: Older browsers may not work for access to periodicals at the Texas State University Library.   New or recent browsers are best. On some browsers, it may be necessary or more convenient to save the article to desktop as pdf with the extension .pdf following the title of the article.
Excerpt from the conclusion of this article: "It would seem a serious error to read the works of either traditional or modern Muslim authors as if they had been written for a homogeneous audience in a liberal, secular society. Often Western criticisms of modern Muslim thinkers seem to focus on the literal accuracy of what they say rather than on the needs and traditions which lead them to express themselves in a certain fashion. Greater awareness of these needs and traditions could lead to greater respect for the useful work performed by modern Muslim thinkers in bridging the painful gap between traditional values and modern needs."  This article by Nikki R. Keddie is accessible in the Files section of the CANVAS site for Political Science 4331/Islamic Law & Politics.

For some evidence of the more recent appearance of a less tolerant version of Islam in Indonesia, see:
Calvin Sims/Indonesia: Gambling That Tolerance Will Trump Fear/NYT April 15, 2007.
For indications of the resilience of Indonesia's traditional, moderate version of Islam, see: Norimitisu Onishi/Indonesia's Voters Retreat From Radical Islam/NYT April 25, 2009.

For a description of the integration of Islam and pre-Islamic folk traditions (and the persistence of these traditions) in an Egyptian village in the 1950's, see: Ḥamed Ammar/Growing Up in an Egyptian Village: Silwa, Province of Aswan (Taylor & Francis, 2003 Reprint - originally published in 1954).  In this book, see especially: Chapter Three - Folk Life And Social Change In The Village, pp. 67-84.
"According to the villagers, the
'ashraf' (people of distinguished descent being related to the Prophet) have a better chance of salvation than others, a notion which, of course, satisfies the villagers' ego as they consider themselves descendants of the Prophet.  The persistence of the religious prerogatives of the 'ashraf' goes to show that the central conception of Islam in the equality of all believers has not entirely supplanted the Arab reverence for distinguished genealogy." (page 74.) [boldfaced added]

"It is no exaggeration to say that the folk culture of the village is permeated by religious sanctions and moral values derived from the Islamic traditions as revealed in the Koran and also infused with rituals and beliefs of an older tradition."
(page 75.) [boldfaced added]

On the questions of understanding and conceptualizing Islam, see the much discussed book by Shahab Ahmed, What Is Islam?: The Importance of Being Islamic (Princeton University Press 2015) @  The first chapter of this book is accessible in pdf at this same 1ocation.

Princeton University Press Description of this book:
What is Islam? How do we grasp a human and historical phenomenon characterized by such variety and contradiction? What is "Islamic" about Islamic philosophy or Islamic art? Should we speak of Islam or of islams? Should we distinguish the Islamic (the religious) from the Islamicate (the cultural)? Or should we abandon "Islamic" altogether as an analytical term?

In What Is Islam?, Shahab Ahmed presents a bold new conceptualization of Islam that challenges dominant understandings grounded in the categories of "religion" and "culture" or those that privilege law and scripture. He argues that these modes of thinking obstruct us from understanding Islam, distorting it, diminishing it, and rendering it incoherent.

What Is Islam? formulates a new conceptual language for analyzing Islam. It presents a new paradigm of how Muslims have historically understood divine revelation—one that enables us to understand how and why Muslims through history have embraced values such as exploration, ambiguity, aestheticization, polyvalence, and relativism, as well as practices such as figural art, music, and even wine drinking as Islamic. It also puts forward a new understanding of the historical constitution of Islamic law and its relationship to philosophical ethics and political theory

A book that is certain to provoke debate and significantly alter our understanding of Islam, What Is Islam? reveals how Muslims have historically conceived of and lived with Islam as norms and truths that are at once contradictory yet coherent.

For a series of essays addressing the questions and issues raised in each chapter of Shahab Ahmed's book, What Is Islam?, see:
What is Islam? Forum - An Introduction August 19, 2016 @ to the links to the essays.
Note: Zareena Grewal's review essay “The Problem with Being Islamic: Definitional and Theoretical Limits and Legacies,” of Shahab Ahmed’s third chapter “Religion and Secular, Sacred and Profane, Theocentric and Anthropocentric, Total Social Fact, Family Resemblance” is accessible @

From the closing lines of What is Islam?:
This book has sought not so much to define, as to bring into definition–to bring into view, to discern and to descry–Islam in its plenitude of meaning. Islam, meaning-making for the self by one-fifth of humanity, is Islam–it is not anything else–and should be conceptualized, understood and appreciated as such; in terms which cohere with its meanings and by which its meanings cohere. By not employing language appropriate to the meaning at stake, and thus by not recognizing Islam for what it is, we–Muslims and non-Muslims–at best misrepresent, and at worst commit an outright injustice to the human and historical existences and endeavours of one-fifth of humanity. We also do an injustice to ourselves by preventing ourselves from apprehending and benefiting from what those existences and endeavours have to offer us by way of understanding and experiencing the human predicament, as well as from apprehending and benefitting from what those existences and endeavours have to offer us by way of making meaning for ourselves. Let us understand, apprehend and benefit from the importance of being Islamic.”
  (boldface added)

For related observations on the diverse dimensions of the Islamic experience with a focus on early Islam, see:
Robert F. Worth, "In the Attic of Early Islam", New York Review of Books, August 24, 2016
This is a review essay of:
Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition, edited by Elias Muhanna (penguinrandomhouse, August 2016).
Robert F. Worth's essay:
"... this bizarre, fascinating book that illustrate(s) the sprawlingly heterodox reality of the early centuries of Islam, so different from the crude puritanical myths purveyed by modern-day jihadis.
(boldface added)
... This, I think, is what the late scholar Shahab Ahmed meant when he wrote in his posthumous book
What Is Islam? that a true understanding of Islam must “come to terms with—indeed, be coherent with—the capaciousness, complexity, and, often, outright contradiction that obtains within” the religion’s lived history".  (boldface added)

On the diversity of Islam and the concept of Muslim unity, see:
Faisal Devji, "Against Muslim unity", Aeon, July 12, 2016 @
From Faisal Devji's essay:
"Even sophisticated people speak of Islam as if it is one thing. The devout, the haters and the indifferent often share this belief in Muslim unity. And for them all there is no greater display of Muslim unity than the Hajj (Pilgrimage).

... Like the idea of the three monotheistic brothers, the idea of Muslim unity is recent, well-meaning and highly misleading.  (boldface added)

... Today, calls for Muslim unity come from so-called militants and moderates alike. Such calls for Muslim unity do not date back much before the 20th century. To be sure, the ideal of universal agreement in Islam might have existed before. But it seldom constituted a political or even religious project beyond fairly circumscribed arenas of debate. On the contrary, the internal schisms and conflicts of Muslim societies demonstrated a sense of confidence and comfort with disagreement as a political necessity."

Video: Islam: Empire of Faith
For a critical review of this PBS film, see: Martin Kramer, Islam for Viewers Like You/The Middle East Quarterly/Winter 2002 Vol. IX: No. 1.
II. The Origins of Islam
1. Mohammed & The Holy Koran The Koran-Browse
Toby Lester, "What Is The Koran?" TheAtlantic, January1999Vol. 283 Issue 1, pp. 43-56.
Texas State University permalink.  A valid Texas State University User Name and password are required for access.

Oleg Grabar/Seeing and Believing: The Image of the prophet in Islam - the real story/The New Republic, November 4, 2009, Vol. 240, Issue 20, pp. 33-37, 5 pages. (pdf)
This is a Texas State University library permalink for direct access to the article by Oleg Grabar.  A valid Texas State University User Name and password are required for access.
Abstract: The article discusses representations of the Prophet Muhammad and Islam. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks led to the creation of a climate of fear and politically charged events. In 2005 a cartoon was published in a Danish newspaper showing the Prophet Muhammad and this incited riots in Muslim regions that resulted in deaths. Many Muslims allege that representations of the Prophet Muhammad are forbidden in Islam and are sins meant to be punished.

2. Mohammed & the Arab Concept of History

Readings: Rahman, Chapters 1, 2.
Arberry, The Holy Koran Interpreted, all, including Arberry's preface.
Khaleel Mohammed/Assessing English Translations of the Qur'an/The Middle East Quarterly/Spring 2005 Vol. XII No. 2.
Neil MacFarquhar/New Translation Prompts Debate on Islamic Verse/NYT March 25, 2007

Edward Rothstein/Abraham's Progeny, and Their Texts (w/images & links)/NYT Arts Section October 23, 2010
“Three Faiths,” a new exhibition at the New York Public Library, examines the braid of belief that binds Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
See image of: "Muhammad Leading the Other Prophets," from a 16th-century Turkish manuscript @

III. Islam as a Way of Life
1. Perceptions of Allah
2. The Islamic Community
3. Major Points of Faith & their Political Significance
4. The Pillars of Islam

Luca Locatelli, "Mecca Goes Mega", NYT, June 8, 2016 @
A building boom in the city’s sacred center has created a dazzling, high-tech 21st-century pilgrimage.  (See slide show accompanying article.)

Michael Gilsenan/And you, what are you doing here?/Review Essay on Abdellah Hammoudi, A Season in Mecca: Narrative of a Pilgrimage (2006)/London Review Of Books/) October 19, 2006 Vol. 28, No. 20.  See also:   (Translation Edition - Hill and Wang January 2006 - from the 2005 French original Une saison à la Mecque)
"With all the contemporary media and political noise about Islam, the changing nature of the pilgrimage and the individual experience of undertaking it are in danger of being lost or relegated to a few lines in a local newspaper or glimpses of family videos and photos. How do different pilgrims now live the pilgrimage, more than a century after the Jeddah? What stories does a pilgrim tell of such a regulated and, for many, exhausting as well as transcendent experience? What kinds of reflection does the haj provoke after more than a hundred years of transformation?

Abdellah Hammoudi’s narrative, A Season in Mecca, offers one response. It is as much a subtle, complex meditation as it is an example of the ‘art of reportage’ (for which it won a Lettre Ulysses Award in Berlin in 2005). It is a commentary on one Arab intellectual’s modern dilemmas as well as on the haj as he experienced it in 1999 and as he continues to apprehend it in his writing. Perhaps it would be better to say, as he struggles to apprehend it, because this sense of struggle gives the writing much of its deep interest."

Hassan M. Fattah/The Price of Progress: Transforming Islam's Holiest Site (Mecca Journal)/NYT March 08, 2007
Thanassis Cambanis/Celebration Marks End of Ramadan in Lebanon/NYT/October 13, 2007

Nicolai Ouroussoff/New Look for Mecca: Gargantuan and Gaudy (w/photos & links)/NYT December 30, 2010
The Saudi government is being criticized for construction projects in the historic core of Mecca that many find appalling.

"It is an architectural absurdity. Just south of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Muslim world’s holiest site, a kitsch rendition of London’s Big Ben is nearing completion. Called the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, it will be one of the tallest buildings in the world, the centerpiece of a complex that is housing a gargantuan shopping mall, an 800-room hotel and a prayer hall for several thousand people. Its muscular form, an unabashed knockoff of the original, blown up to a grotesque scale, will be decorated with Arabic inscriptions and topped by a crescent-shape spire in what feels like a cynical nod to Islam’s architectural past. To make room for it, the Saudi government bulldozed an 18th-century Ottoman fortress and the hill it stood on.
That mentality is dividing the holy city of Mecca — and the pilgrimage experience — along highly visible class lines, with the rich sealed inside exclusive air-conditioned high-rises encircling the Grand Mosque and the poor pushed increasingly to the periphery. (boldface added)
But the Vegas-like aura of these projects can deflect attention from the real crime: the way the developments are deforming what by all accounts was a fairly diverse and unstratified city. The Mecca Clock Tower will be surrounded by a half-dozen luxury high-rises, each designed in a similar Westminster-meets-Wall Street style and sitting on a mall that is meant to evoke traditional souks. Built at various heights at the edge of the Grand Mosque’s courtyard, and fronted by big arched portes-cocheres, they form a postmodern pastiche that means to evoke the differences of a real city but will do little to mask the project’s mind-numbing homogeneity.

Like the luxury boxes that encircle most sports stadiums, the apartments will allow the wealthy to peer directly down at the main event from the comfort of their suites without having to mix with the ordinary rabble below. (boldface added)

At the same time, the scale of development has pushed middle-class and poor residents further and further from the city center. 'I don’t know where they go,' Mr. Angawi said. 'To the outskirts of Mecca, or they come to Jidda. Mecca is being cleansed of Meccans.'

The changes are likely to have as much of an effect on the spiritual character of the Grand Mosque as on Mecca’s urban fabric. Many people told me that the intensity of the experience of standing in the mosque’s courtyard has a lot to do with its relationship to the surrounding mountains. Most of these represent sacred sites in their own right and their looming presence imbues the space with a powerful sense of intimacy.
The issue is not just run-of-the-mill class conflict. The city’s makeover also reflects a split between those who champion turbocharged capitalism and those who think it should stop at the gates of Mecca, which they see as the embodiment of an Islamic ideal of egalitarianism."

See also: Martin Kramer, "Mecca: You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" - a gallery on Flickr @

5. The Shariya
"In most Islamic countries, ... religion is even more powerful in internal than in international affairs.
[There is] an intimate and essential relationship in Islam between religion and politics that has no parallel in any other major religion.

In Islam there was from the beginning an interpenetration of religion and government, of belief and power, ..."  Bernard Lewis/The Multiple Identities Of The Middle East (Schocken Books 1998), pp. 27-28.

E. I. J. Rosenthal/Political Thought In Medieval Islam: An Introductory Outline (Cambridge University Press 1962)
"We must realize that no matter what modern research has established with regard to the origin and development of Muslim law and its threefold foundation in Qur'an, Sunna and Hadith, it is, in a Muslim's consciousness, divine law, perfect and binding on all members of the Muslim community. Otherwise we cannot hope to understand what was in the minds of the Muslim writers whose political thought we consider. Our interpretation must take full account of their basic attitude. (
page 7 & page 8)
Islam knows no distinction between a spiritual and a temporal realm, between religious and secular activities. Both realms form a unity under the all-embracing authority of the Sharia
. (page 8)
... politics, ... is the scene of religion as life on this earth as long as the law of the state is the Sharia." (
page 9) [boldface added]

Hadith Database/The Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad @
Sahih Bukhari @

6. Shariya in Sunni Islam & Halakha in Traditional Judaism: A Comparative Note

7. Shariya in Islam & Sacred Texts & "The Higher Criticism" in the Western Religious Experience: A Comparative Note
See: Peter Steinfels/[Beliefs]Differences in Biblical Approaches Are Irreconcilable, Scholar Says/NYT September 15, 2007
David Plotz/How to Read the Bible: A skeptical believer reclaims the Good Book/International Herald Tribune/September 14, 2007. This is a review of: James L. Kugel/How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now (Free Press 2007).  Read "Preliminaries", an excerpt from this book.
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein/The Political and the Divine/NYT Sunday Book Review September 16, 2007 This is a review of: Mark Lilla, A Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West (Knopf 2007)
See also: Mark Lilla/The Politics of God/NYT Sunday Magazine August 19, 2007. This essay is also noted below in section VI. Issues in Contemporary Islam: Islamism/Radical Islam; Democracy of this syllabus with an excerpt from the essay.

For an analysis of Western (British) "invention" of a religious tradition, Hinduism, assumed to be as organized and theologically coherent as Christianity and Islam, see:
Pankaj Mishra, "How the British invented Hinduism", New Statesman, August 26, 2002
"By reviving the Hindu religion, the middle classes of India hope to turn their country into a world power."
Certainly, most Hindus themselves felt little need for precise self-descriptions, except when faced with questions about religion on official forms. Long after their encounter with the monotheistic religions of Islam and Christianity, they continued to define themselves through their overlapping allegiances to family, caste, linguistic group, region and devotional sect. Religion to them was more unselfconscious practice than rigid belief. Their rituals and deities varied greatly."

Mosques Around The World
View Image Of: The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque)/Istanbul, Turkey
For a discussion of the architecture, art, elements of diverse origin, distinctiveness, and spiritual significance of Islamic mosques see: Bernard Lewis, An Islamic Mosque (Chapter 1, pp. 15-17.) in Bernard Lewis, From Babel To Dragomans: Interpreting The Middle East (Oxford University Press 2004). (revisited)
Images of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey discussed in this essay by Bernard Lewis:
A view of the Sulemaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey
The interior_of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul,Turkey

Adhan (Call to Prayer) video clip @

Readings: Rahman, Chapters 3, 4, 6.
Michael Slackman/A Compass That Can Clash With Modern Life: Eygpt's Muslims Seek Fatwas on Issues Great and Small/NYT June 12, 2007
Photo: Consultation in the Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo (from Slackman article above)
Lydia Polgreen/In Nigeria, the Quest for a 'Humane Shariah' (photos)/NYT December 1, 2007
Elaine Sciolino/Britain Grapples With Role for Islamic Justice (w/photos)/NYT November 19, 2008

Joseph Schacht/An Introduction To Islamic Law
"Islamic law is the epitome of Islamic thought, the most typical manifestation of the Islamic way of life, the core and kernel of Islam itself. The very term fiḳh, 'knowledge, shows that early Islam regarded knowledge of the sacred Law as the knowledge par excellence. Theology has never been able to achieve a comparable importance in Islam; only mysticism was strong enough to challenge the ascendancy of the Law over the minds of the Muslims, and often proved victorious. ... it is impossible to understand Islam without understanding Islamic law." , p. 1.  (boldface added)

E. I. J. Rosenthal/Political Thought In Medieval Islam: An Introductory Outline (Cambridge University Press 1962)

Reuben Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, Chapter IV (pp. 150 through 190) - Islamic Jurisprudence
Reuben Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, Chapter VI (pp. 242 through 270) - Usage, Custom And Secular Law Under Islam

For a discussion of contemporary financial transactions and matters within the framework of Shariya, see:
Jeremy Harding/The Money that Prays/London Review of Books, Vol. 31, No. 8, April 30, 2009.

"Sharia Finance: Last September, as dust and debris from the tellers’ floors began raining onto the empty vaults below, a note of satisfaction was sounded by bankers in the Arab world. Financial institutions sticking to the tenets of Islam, they announced, were largely immune from the debt crisis. Devout Muslims may lend and borrow under certain conditions; they can even buy and sell debt in the form of ‘Islamic’ bonds, but most other kinds of debt trading are frowned on." (boldface added)

Timur Kuran/ The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East (Princeton University Press 2010)

IV. The Major Divisions in Islam
1. Sunni & Shi'a Islam
For a description of the diversity of population groups in Shi'a dominated Iran, see:
Philip Carl Salzman/Persians and Others: Iran's Minority Politics (with maps)/ 14, 2009
"There is a natural tendency to reify countries and think of them as unitary entities, often indicated by calling countries “nations” and presuming a homogeneity and uniformity among the population. But this reification and assumption of homogeneity are almost always inaccurate and misleading. In the case of Iran, it would be a great error to think of the population as being homogeneous, for the people of Iran are in fact quite diverse. There are ethnic, linguistic, organizational, and religious differences among Iranians."

2. Different Spiritual Climates & Different Islamic Conceptions of Life
Readings: Clifford Geertz/Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia (Yale University Press 1968/Hardcover & University of Chicago Press 1971/Paper) (revisited)
Publisher's Comment (University of Chicago Press):
"Mr. Geertz begins his argument by outlining the problem conceptually and providing an overview of the two countries. He then traces the evolution of their classical religious styles which, with disparate settings and unique histories, produced strikingly different spiritual climates. So in Morocco, the Islamic conception of life came to mean activism, moralism, and intense individuality, while in Indonesia the same concept emphasized aestheticism, inwardness, and the radical dissolution of personality."
Clifford Geertz:
"I have attempted both to lay out a general framework for the comparative analysis of religion and to apply it to a study of the development of a supposedly single creed, Islam, in two quite contrasting civilizations, the Indonesian and the Moroccan." (page ix of the author's Preface)

"Religious faith, even when it is fed from a commmon source, is as much a particularizing force as a generalizing one, and indeed whatever universality a given religious tradition manages to attain arises from its ability to engage a widening set of individual, even idiosyncratic, conceptions of life and yet somehow sustain and elaborate them all." (page 14)

For some evidence of the more recent appearance of a less tolerant version of Islam in Indonesia, see: Calvin Sims/Indonesia: Gambling That Tolerance Will Trump Fear/NYT April 15, 2007.

For indications of the resilience of Indonesia's traditional, moderate version of Islam, see: Norimitisu Onishi/Indonesia's Voters Retreat From Radical Islam/NYT April 25, 2009.
People in the world’s most populous Muslim nation are punishing narrowly religious parties at the polls, going against a trend in other Islamic countries.

'On a deeper level, some of the parties’ fundamentalist measures seem to have alienated moderate Indonesians. While Indonesia has a long tradition of moderation, it was badly destabilized with the end of military rule in 1998, which gave rise to Islamist politicians who preached righteousness and to some hard-core elements, who practiced violence. The country has only recently achieved a measure of stability.
'People in general do not feel that there should be an integration of faith and politics,' said Azyumardi Azra, director of the graduate school at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University. 'Even though more and more Muslims, in particular women, have become more Islamic and have a growing attachment to Islam, that does not translate into voting behavior.'
The Islamic parties’ 2004 surge occurred around the time that Indonesian terrorists were attacking hotels and nightclubs popular among Westerners, as well as the Australian Embassy here. A growing number of communities were adopting Shariah as some of the smaller, more hard-line Islamic parties also pushed to insert Islamic law in the Constitution.

The hard-line stance, though, was at odds with the attitudes of Indonesians; most of them practice a moderate version of Islam and were attracted to the Islamic parties for nonreligious reasons.
The parties angered many Indonesians by pressing hard on several symbolic religious issues, like a vague 'antipornography' law that could be used to ban everything from displays of partial nudity to yoga. The governor of West Java, a member of the Prosperous Justice Party, tried to ban a dance called jaipong, deeming it too erotic, but many people view it as part of their cultural heritage.
Despite the Islamic parties’ decline, they remain influential, analysts say. The country’s major secular parties, including President Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, have courted them and their supporters. And the Prosperous Justice Party, despite its minor gain of less than one percentage point, is pressing to increase the number of ministers it has in the coalition government to four from three.

'It’s still not clear where they stand on many issues like freedom of expression, morality, the place of women,' said Ahmad Suaedy, director of the Wahid Institute, a research organization based here. The agenda of many people inside the party is still to Islamize Indonesia, and that’s a constraint on democracy.' " (boldface added)

Readings: Rahman, Chapter 10.
Michael Slackman/For Iran's Shiites, a Celebration of Faith and Waiting/NYT August 30, 2007

Andrea DiCenzo, "From Iraq, an Intimate Glimpse of the Religious Holiday of Arbaeen" (Photographs are included with the text.), NYT, November 18, 2020 (updated from November 9, 2020)
Every year, millions of pilgrims descend on the central Iraqi city of Karbala to commemorate the Shiite holiday of Arbaeen, one of the largest organized gatherings in the world.
From this article: "... a spectacular display of grief, mourning and religious ecstasy.  It commemorates the death of one of Shiite Islam's most important leaders, Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad."

Note: This article may load slowly due to the large number of photographs included with the article.

V. Islamic Mysticism/Sufism
1. Mysticism: The Insights of Gershom Scholem
Gershom Scholem/Major Trends In Jewish Mysticism (Schocken Books 1946, 1995 edition w/Foreword by Robert Alter)
""... mystical religion seeks to transform the God whom it encounters in the peculiar religious consciousness of its own social environment from an object of dogmatic knowledge into a novel and living  experience  and intuition.  In addition, it also seeks to interpret this experience in a new way.
... the outward forms of mystical religion within the orbit of a given religion are to a large extent shaped by the positive content and values recognized and glorified in  that religion." (p. 10.)

2. Sufism "Follow the path to Allah as a flower leans to the sun." (A Sufi saying)

"It (Sufism) is a sphere of spiritual experience which runs parallel to the main stream of Islamic consciousness deriving from phrophetic revelation and comprehended within the Sharī'a and theology.
Sufism was a natural development within Islam .. The outcome was an Islamic mysticism following distinctive Islamic lines of development."
J. Spencer Trimingham/The Sufi Orders in Islam (1971 & 1998), pp. 1-2.

Whirling Dervishes: video clip @
Sufi "Chant", video clip @
Sufi Women Chechnya, video clip @

Readings: Rahman, Chapters 8, 9.
For a detailed description of the origins of Sufism, important Sufis figures, and excerpts from Sufi poems, see: Reynold A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs, pp. 227-235-accessible beginning on page 227 and pp. 383-404-accessible beginning on page 383.

For a discussion of Sufi art, with a slide show, see:
Holland Cotter/The Many Voices of Enlightenment (Art Review | 'Light of the Sufis' - w/slide show)/NYT June 12, 2009
Many voices is what you find in an exquisite show called “Light of the Sufis” in the newly reinstalled Islamic galleries at the Brooklyn Museum.

"'What’s in your head — throw it away! What’s in your hand — give it up! Whatever happens — don’t turn away from it.' That’s how a 10th-century Persian spiritual master — Abu Said ibn Abil-Khair was his name — defined the Islamic devotional practice known as Sufism. Countless other definitions have been proposed since, almost as many as for Islam itself.

Religions and spiritual movements are complicated things, and accurate descriptions of them are bound to be contradictory. Sufism, like Islam, is both mystical and practical, embracing and exclusionary, pacific and assertive, ascetic and sensual, free form and discipline bound. Such oppositions aren’t a problem. They generate the unifying friction that makes culture tick."

Images of Sufi Art:
“Portrait of a Sufi,”Deccan India, 17th century.
Layla Visits Majnun in the grove, a page from an 17th-century Indian manuscript.
Spiritual yearning is often expressed in terms of erotic attraction. One of the grand romances of popular Arabic literature was the Romeo-and-Juliet tale of Majnun and Layla, who fell in love.

In many iterations of the tale, Majnun is a prototype of the Sufi who has become, in the words of the poet Farid al-Din Attar, “a dead body, a nonexistent heart and a soul scorched away,” an ego reduced by love to an ash on the arm of God.

Chen Malul, "The Story of Layla and Majnun - Romeo and Juliet of the East",  Islamic Manuscripts, The Librarians, December 23, 2020

“A Princely Figure and a Dervish,” by Isfahan.
While global politics has made Islam part of our consciousness, we hear little about Sufism and its long history. The term “sufi” probably derives from an Arabic word for wool. Certain followers of Sufism were called “dervishes,” a term related to a Persian word for poor.

For a report on Sufis at war with extremist Muslims in Somalia, see:
Jeffrey Gettleman/For Somalia, Chaos Breeds Religious War (w/slide show & photos)/NYT May 24, 2009
The Sufi scholars are part of a broad, moderate Islamist movement that Western nations are counting on to repel Somalia’s increasingly powerful Islamist extremists.
Photo: Islamist Versus Islamist @
Moderate Sufi scholars recently did what so many others have chosen to do in anarchic Somalia: They picked up guns and entered the killing business, in this case to fight back against ... one of the most fearsome extremist Muslim groups in Africa.

Sabrina Tavernise/Mystical Form of Islam Suits Sufis in Pakistan/NYT February 26, 2010
In modern times, Sufism, a mystical form of Islam, has been challenged in Pakistan by a stricter form of Islam that dominates in Saudi Arabia.

Recommended Reading:
J. Spencer Trimingham/The Sufi Orders in Islam (1971 & 1998)

VI. Issues in Contemporary Islam: Islamism/Radical Islam; Democracy
1. Islam & Modernity
2. Islam & National Identity
3. Democracy, Religious Coexistence & Secularism
4. Jihad & Radical Islam

Readings: Rahman, Chapter 13 & epilogue.
Mary Habeck/Knowing the Enemy: Jihad and Jihadism/Australia-Israel Review December 2006
Bernard Lewis, "Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East", Foreign Affairs, May-June 2005, Vol. 84, Issue 3
Texas State University permalink. A valid Texas StateUniversity User Name and password are required for access.

David Cook/Understanding Jihad (University of California Press 2005).
David Cook is highly critical of scholars such as John Esposito, a widely read author on Islam, who, in Cook's view, "promote the irenic interpretation of jihad." (Cook, p. 43)
"...Esposito apparently deliberately spirtualizes what is an unambiguously concrete and militant doctrine (jihad), without a shred of evidence from the Qur'an or any of the classical sources, in which the jihad and fighting is against real human enemies, and not the devil ..." (Cook, p. 42)
See, for example: John Esposito/Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Reality (Oxford University Press 2002), pp. 27-28.
Speaking of John Esposito and other Western scholars, David Cook states in the Afterword of his book Understanding Jihad:
"It is no longer acceptable for Western scholars or Muslim apologists writing in non-Muslim languages to make flat, unsupported statements concerning the prevalence - either from a historical point of view or within contemporary Islam - of the spiritual jihad.  Thus far these writers have offered no evidence as to whether the spiritual jihad was actually the primary expression of jihad.  It is incumbent upon them, therefore, first to prove that this doctrine had some type of reality outside of the Sufi textbooks and second to demonstrate that either a substantial minority or a majority of Muslims historically believed and acted upon it or that the spiritual jihad actually superseded the militant jihad.  Thus far no scholar has accomplished this." (Cook, p. 166)

See also: Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam (University of Chicago Press 1988/Paper 1991) @
"The sharia is simply the law, and there is no other. It is holy in that it derives from God, and it is the external and unchangeable expression of God's commandments to mankind.
... It is on one of these commandments that the notion of holy war, in the sense of war ordained by God, is based. The term, so translated is jihad, an Arabic word with the literal meaning of 'effort', 'striving,' or 'struggle.' In the Qur'
an and still more in the Traditions, commonly though not invariably followed by the words 'in the path of God', it has usually been understood as meaning 'to wage war.'  The great collections of hadith all contain a section devoted to jihad, in which the military meaning predominates. The same is true of the classical manuals of shari'a law. There were some who argued that jihad should be understood in a moral and spiritual, rather than a  military, sense.  Such arguments were sometimes put forward by Shi'ite theologians in classical times, and more frequently by modernizers and reformists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The overwhelming majority of classical theologians, jurists, and traditionalists, however, understood the obligation of jihad in a military sense, and have examined and expounded it accordingly." (p. 72.) [boldface added] 
For a lengthy description of both classical treatises on
jihad and modern studies based on these sources to which Bernard Lewis refers, see Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam pp. 145-147, note 4.

For John L. Esposito's discussion of jihad in his book, What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam (Oxford University Press 2002), see "What is jihad?" (pp. 117 & 118) in his treatment of "Violence and Terrorists" in Islam as well as additional remarks elsewhere in his book.

Bernard Lewis, "The Roots Of Muslim Rage", Atlantic Monthly, September 1990
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Bernard Lewis/The Revolt of Islam/The New Yorker December 19, 2001/reprinted
Martin Kramer/Coming To Terms: Fundamentalists Or Islamists?/Middle East Quarterly/Spring 2003, Vol. X: No.2
Joel S. Fetzer, J. Christopher Soper/Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany (Cambridge 2005)

Bernard Lewis/What Went Wrong? Western Impact & Middle Eastern Response (Oxford 2002)

Max Rodenbeck/The Truth About Jihad(Review essay on recent books related to Jihad)/New York Review of Books/August 11 2005 Vol. 52 No. 13

Mark Gould, "Understanding Jihad: An authentic Islamic tradition", Policy Review, February-March 2005, No. 129.
David Cook/Anti-Semitic Themes in Muslim Apocolyptic and Jihadi Literature/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs No. 56, May 01, 2007
Robert S. Leiken, "Europe's Angry Muslims", Foreign Affairs, July-August 2005, Vol. 84, Issue 4.
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Nina Bernstein/In American Cities, No Mirror Image of Muslims of Leeds/NYT/July 21 2005
Tamar Lewin/Universities Install Footpaths to Benefit Muslims, and Not Everyone Is Pleased/NYT August 07, 2007
Neil MacFarquhar/At Harvard, Students' Muslim Traditions Are a Topic of Debate/NYT March 21, 2008
Andrea Elliott: An Imam In America- 3 Articles (links)/NYT/March 05 through March 07, 2006
Andrea Elliott/A Cleric's Journey Leads to a Suburban Frontier/NYT January 28, 2007
For critical comments on Andrea Elliott's reporting in the above articles, see: Jonathan Tobin/Another Pulitzer Prize Disgrace/ April 23, 2007
"The most important was Elliot's failure to mention anything about the role of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in the murder of 16-year-old Ari Halberstam in a van filled with Jewish children on the Brooklyn Bridge. Not one of her 11,000 words refers to the fact that it was this same mosque that was the forum for the sermon that inspired one of its congregants, Rashid Baz, to go out and try to murder as many Jews as he could in March of 1994.  ...  How, you may ask, could one write about any religious institution and ignore the most notorious aspect of its recent history?  ...  In a subsequent article in The New York Sun, Halberstam's mother, Devorah, related that she called Elliot to ask why she had omitted the story of her son's murder from the feature on the mosque. Elliot replied that 'she knew nothing about it.' "
See also: Daniel Freedman/For Ari Halberstam - Opinion Piece/New York Sun March 8, 2007
Gary Shapiro/Pulitzer for Imam Feature Called 'Outrageous'/New York Sun April 20, 2007

Neil MacFarquhar/A Growing Demand for the Rare American Imam/NYT June 01, 2007

Neil MacFarquhar/Gay Muslims Find Freedom, of a Sort, in the U.S./NYT November 7, 2007
Samuel G. Freeman/A Hometown Bank Heeds a Call to Serve Its Islamic Clients/NYT March 7, 2009
University Bank in Ann Arbor, Mich., offers financial products that comply with Muslim religious law. This past week it recorded one of its best periods ever.

Neil MacFarquhar/Iraq's Shadow Widens Sunni-Shiite Split in U.S./NYT February 04, 2007
Andrea Elliott/Between Black and Immmigrant Muslims, an Uneasy Alliance/NYT Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mark Landler/German Judge Cites Koran, Stirring Up Cultural Storm/NYT March 23, 2007
Mark Landler/After Lifetime in Germany, Turks Still Alone/NYT March 25, 2007

"Four decades after the first Turks arrived as guest workers, they are reaching retirement in a land that still feels foreign."
Jane Perlez/Old Church Becomes Mosque in Uneasy Britain/NYT/April 02, 2007
"On a chilly night this winter, this pristine town in some of Britain’s most untouched countryside voted to allow a former Christian church to become a mosque.  ...
The narrow vote by the municipal authorities marked the end of a bitter struggle by the tiny Muslim population to establish a place of worship, one that will put a mosque in an imposing stone Methodist church that had been used as a factory since its congregation dwindled away 40 years ago."

Mark Landler/Germans Split Over a Mosque (in Cologne) and the role of Islam/NYT July 05, 2007
"Plans for what would be one of Germany’s largest mosques are rattling an ancient city to its foundations."
For a comparative perspective with regard to Cologne and a Hindu temple and a mosque in the Atlanta area, see:
Brenda Goodman/In a Suburb of Atlanta, a Temple Stops Traffic/NYT July 05, 2007
"Sitting like a wedding cake atop a mound of red clay in the suburb of Lilburn is a Hindu temple that shares an intersection with a Publix supermarket and a Walgreens pharmacy."

Islam & Democracy
Ian Buruma/Tariq Ramadan Has an Identity Issue: Is he an activist scholar or an extremist in scholarly garb?/NYT Sunday Magazine February 04, 2007
For a critical, highly recommended, review of this article by Buruma and much more on Western intellectuals and radical Islam, see:
Paul Berman, "Who's Afraid of Tariq Ramadan?: The Islamist, the journalist, and the defense of liberalism", The New Republic, June 4, 2007, Vol. 236, No. 4,814, pp. 37-63.
Berman's essay can be directly accessed here and here.
The Paul Berman essay can also be viewed @ to the section labeled "Readings on Islam" and look for "Paul Berman: on Tariq Ramadan".  This location is password protected.  Password and user name for access will be provided to students in the course.

"The equanimity on the part of some well-known intellectuals and journalists in the face of Islamist death threats so numerous as to constitute a campaign; the equanimity in regard to stoning women to death; the journalistic inability even to acknowledge that women's rights have been at stake in the debates over Islamism; the inability to recall the problems faced by Muslim women in European hospitals; the inability to acknowledge how large has been the role of a revived anti-Semitism; the striking number of errors of understanding and even of fact that have entered into the journalistic presentations of Tariq Ramadan and his ideas; the refusal to discuss with any frankness the role of Ramadan's family over the years; the accidental endorsement in the Guardian of the great-uncle who finds something admirable in the September 11 attacks--what can possibly account for this string of bumbles, timidities, gaffes, omissions, miscomprehensions, and slanders?  ...  Two developments account for it. The first development is the unimaginable rise of Islamism since the time of the Rushdie fatwa. The second is terrorism."

See also this critical review of Tariq Ramadan's writings and views by Malise Ruthven:
Malise Ruthven, "The Islamic Optimist", The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 13, August 16, 2007.
The Malise Ruthven essay can be viewed @ to the section labeled "Readings on Islam" and look for "Malise Ruthven: The Islamic Optimist".  This location is password protected.  Password and user name for access will be provided to students in the course.

For another perspective on Islam and democracy and the views of Tariq Ramadan and other contemporary Muslim thinkers, see:
Mark Lilla/The Politics of God/Sunday Magazine NYT August 19, 2007
"... we must somehow find a way to accept the fact that, given the immigration policies Western nations have pursued over the last half-century, they now are hosts to millions of Muslims who have great difficulty fitting into societies that do not recognize any political claims based on their divine revelation.  ... the Muslim Shariah is meant to cover the whole of life, not some arbitrarily demarcated private sphere, and its legal system has few theological resources for establishing the independence of politics from detailed divine commands. It is an unfortunate situation, but we have made our bed, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Accommodation and mutual respect can help, as can clear rules governing areas of tension, like the status of women, parents’ rights over their children, speech offensive to religious sensibilities, speech inciting violence, standards of dress in public institutions and the like. Western countries have adopted different strategies for coping, some forbidding religious symbols like the head scarf in schools, others permitting them. But we need to recognize that coping is the order of the day, not defending high principle, and that our expectations should remain low. So long as a sizable population believes in the truth of a comprehensive political theology, its full reconciliation with modern liberal democracy cannot be expected.
... a number of Muslim thinkers around the world have taken to promoting a 'liberal' Islam. What they mean is an Islam more adapted to the demands of modern life, kinder in its treatment of women and children, more tolerant of other faiths, more open to dissent. These are brave people who have often suffered for their efforts, in prison or exile, as did their predecessors in the 19th century, of which there were many. But now as then, their efforts have been swept away by deeper theological currents they cannot master and perhaps do not even understand. The history of Protestant and Jewish liberal theology reveals the problem: the more a biblical faith is trimmed to fit the demands of the moment, the fewer reasons it gives believers for holding on to that faith in troubled times, when self-appointed guardians of theological purity offer more radical hope. Worse still, when such a faith is used to bestow theological sanctification on a single form of political life — even an attractive one like liberal democracy — the more it will be seen as collaborating with injustice when that political system fails. The dynamics of political theology seem to dictate that when liberalizing reformers try to conform to the present, they inspire a countervailing and far more passionate longing for redemption in the messianic future. That is what happened in Weimar Germany and is happening again in contemporary Islam.

The complacent liberalism and revolutionary messianism we’ve encountered are not the only theological options. There is another kind of transformation possible in biblical faiths, and that is the renewal of traditional political theology from within. If liberalizers are apologists for religion at the court of modern life, renovators stand firmly within their faith and reinterpret political theology so believers can adapt without feeling themselves to be apostates.  ...

Today, a few voices are calling for just this kind of renewal of Islamic political theology. Some, like Khaled Abou El Fadl, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, challenge the authority of today’s puritans, who make categorical judgments based on a literal reading of scattered Koranic verses. In Abou El Fadl’s view, traditional Islamic law can still be applied to present-day situations because it brings a subtle interpretation of the whole text to bear on particular problems in varied circumstances. Others, like the Swiss-born cleric and professor Tariq Ramadan, are public figures whose writings show Western Muslims that their political theology, properly interpreted, offers guidance for living with confidence in their faith and gaining acceptance in what he calls an alien 'abode.' To read their works is to be reminded what a risky venture renewal is. It can invite believers to participate more fully and wisely in the political present, as the Protestant Reformation eventually did; it can also foster dreams of returning to a more primitive faith, through violence if necessary, as happened in the Wars of Religion.

Perhaps for this reason, Abou El Fadl and especially Ramadan have become objects of intense and sometimes harsh scrutiny by Western intellectuals. We prefer speaking with the Islamic liberalizers because they share our language: they accept the intellectual presuppositions of the Great Separation and simply want maximum room given for religious and cultural expression. They do not practice political theology. But the prospects of enduring political change through renewal are probably much greater than through liberalization. By speaking from within the community of the faithful, renovators give believers compelling theological reasons for accepting new ways as authentic reinterpretations of the faith. Figures like Abou El Fadl and Ramadan speak a strange tongue, even when promoting changes we find worthy; their reasons are not our reasons. ...

... We have little reason to expect societies in the grip of a powerful political theology to follow our unusual path, which was opened up by a unique crisis within Christian civilization. This does not mean that those societies necessarily lack the wherewithal to create a decent and workable political order; it does mean that they will have to find the theological resources within their own traditions to make it happen."

For a detailed examination of  "the Islamic foundations for affirming on principled grounds residence, political obligation, and loyalty to a non-Muslim state" and, in the author's view, evidence for the existence of "firm and culturally authentic Islamic values ... which can ground Islamically a social contract between Muslims and a non-Muslim liberal democracy", see:
Andrew F. March, "Islamic Foundations for a Social Contract in non-Muslim Liberal Democracies", American Political Science Review, Vol. 101, No. 2, pp. 235-251, May 2007.
This article by Andrew March can be accessed @ to the section labeled "Readings on Islam" and look for "Andrew March: Islam in non-Muslim Liberal Democracies".  This location is password protected.  Password and user name for access will be provided to students in the course.
This article by Andrew March can be directly accessed @
this location (pdf).
See also:
Mark Gould/Islam, the Law, and The Sovereignty of God: Accomodating Qur'anic principles to the civil religion/Policy Review, June-July 2008
"... the absorption of Muslim communities into liberal democracies may facilitate the transformation of Islamic norms into principles consistent with constitutionalism. 
Where Muslims cannot expect to enforce Shari’a they will, hopefully, work to accommodate Islam to the civil religion we find, for example, in the United States. In this civil religion, moral precepts from many denominations are found, but they are abstracted from the denominational precepts that may be in force for believers, precepts that are not enforced politically. The resources for such an accommodation can be found in Islam, in its concern for equality and social justice. If this accommodation occurs in the United States, perhaps it will have an effect on the larger umma, spurring an understanding of Islam that will enable its development in a way to facilitate the construction of viable constitutional states in Muslim majority countries".

Christopher Caldwell/Reflections On The Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, And The West (Doubleday 2009)
See these reviews of this book:
Dwight Garner/A Turning Tide in Europe as Islam Gains Ground/NYT July 30, 2009 and Fouad Ajami/Strangers in the Land (w/photo) NYT Sunday Book Review, August 2, 2009.
For a perspective very different from that of Christopher Caldwell on Muslims in Western Europe, see:
Carolyn M. Warner, Manfred W. Wenner/Religion and the Political Organization of Muslims in Europe, Perspectives on Politics, Volume 4, Number 3 (September 2006), pp. 457-479. (pdf) Note: This is a Texas State University Library permalink.  A valid Texas State University User Name and password are required to access this article.
Joel S. Fetzer, J. Christopher Soper/Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany (Cambridge 2005)

Benjamin R. Barber/Can Islam Accommodate Democracy Or Democracy Accommodate Islam?/Reset Dialogues on Civilizations Annual Meeting, Istanbul 28 June 2008
"It is absurd to think that Islam cannot accommodate democracy or that democracy cannot accommodate Islam. It is not Islam per se, but religion tout court that stands in some tension with secularism and with democracy – a tension that is healthy rather than unhealthy in a free society. Like Christianity and other religions, Islam is a religion practiced in many cultures and societies, sectarian, stratified, schismatic and pluralistic. To the degree Islam is fundamentalist, so is religion in many places, because in our secular age religion is under siege and fundamentalism is above all a reaction to religion under siege".

Tamara Cofman Wittes/Islamist Political Parties: Three Kinds of Movements, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 19, No. 3, July 2008 (pdf)
See also: Tamara Cofman Wittes/Categories of Islamism/Middle East Strategy at Harvard (MESH), July 30, 2008

Bassam Tibi/Islamists Approach Europe: Turkey's Islamist Danger/Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2009, pp.47-54.
"Since their electoral landslide victory in November 2002, Islamists within Turkey's Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) have camouflaged themselves as "democratic Islamic conservatives."[1] The AKP claims to be the Muslim equivalent of the Christian-Democratic parties of Western Europe. Such an analogy is false, however. What the AKP seeks is not "Islam without fear," to borrow the phrase of Trinity College professor Raymond Baker,[2] but rather a strategy for a creeping Islamization that culminates in a Shari‘a (Islamic law) state not compatible with a secular, democratic order. The AKP does not advertise this agenda and often denies it. This did not convince the chief prosecutor of Turkey who, because of AKP efforts to Islamize Turkey, sought to ban the party and seventy-one of its leaders. While the AKP survived a ban, the majority of justices found that the AKP had worked to advance an Islamist agenda and undermine secularism.[3] Nevertheless, the AKP enjoys the backing of the United States and the European Union as well. Through its support for institutional Islamism in Turkey, the West loses its true friends: liberal Muslims."

See all of Olivier Roy, Globalized Islam: The Search For A New Ummah (Columbia University Press 2004 & 2006) and note Chapter 4 The Triumph Of The Religious Self - pp. 148 - 201 especially The Crisis Of Authority and religious Knowledge - pp. 158 -171.

Religious Coexistence - Muslims and Jews Under Islamic Rule:
S. D. Goitein/The Actual and Legal Position of the Jews Under Arab Islam-Excerpt from Chapter 5 of S. D. Goitein, Jews And Arabs:Their Contacts Through the Ages (Schocken, 1974 revised edition; original published in 1955).
"... it is certain that the Muslim conquest meant for the Jews a great improvement in their situation in various respects: first, they ceased to be an outcast community persecuted by the ruling church and became part of a vast class of subjects with a special status, Muslim public law made no distinction between Jews and Christians; secondly, the actual provisions which regulated the legal status of so large a part of the population were by the very force of circumstance less oppressive than those intended by the Byzantine rulers especially for the Jews; ...
However, in the second, and in particular the third century of the Muslim era, when, for many reasons, the Muslims had become the majority and had developed an elaborate religious law, many humiliating restrictions were imposed upon Christians and Jews, some of which went back directly to Byzantine anti-Jewish legislation.
First, infidels were forced to dress differently from Muslims. This injunction gave rise throughout the centuries to a spate of often ridiculous laws; for example, some rules forced Jewish women to wear shoes of different colors, one black and the other white. The yellow badge for Jews was known in Muslim countries many centuries before it was introduced into Christian Europe." (boldface added - This statement by Goitein, boldfaced here, is found on page 67 of the 1955 edition.)
On the yellow badge for Jews: 
"Christians and Jews were to wear distinguishing garments, or emblems on their clothes.  This was the origin of the *ghiyār, the yellow patch which was first introduced by a caliph in Baghdad in the ninth century, and spread into Europe - for Jews - in later medieval times."  Bernard Lewis/The Multiple Identities Of The Middle East (Schocken Books 1998), pp. 120-121.
ghiyār - "differentiation", regulation of dress for tolerated minorities such as Jews and Christians. See: Josef W. Meri, Jere L. Bacharach/Medieval Islamic Civilization (Routledge 2005), p. 160.

See also: Norman A. Stillman/The Jews Of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book (The Jewish Publication Society of America 1979)
Chapter 2 - Under The New Order: Middle-Eastern Jewry in the First Three Centuries of Islam (pp. 22-39.) 
See especially pages
24, 25, 26, and 27; and also Bernard Lewis/The Jews of Islam (Princeton University Press 1984).

For a comparative analysis of the position of Jews in Islam and in Christianity during the Middle Ages, where the author notes the "substantial security - at times verging on social (though not legal) parity) - that Jews enjoyed through centuries of existence under Muslim rule", see:
Mark R. Cohen/Under Crescent & Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton University Press 1994 and 2008)
Mark R. Cohen, Under Crescent & Cross, Introduction to the 2008 Edition
"UNDER CRESCENT AND CROSS was published in 1994. It was a response to a polarization that had occurred, especially since the 1970s, in historical writing about Jewish-Muslim relations in the Middle Ages. At one pole stood those who adhered to the view, first espoused by European Jewish historians in the nineteenth century, that relations between Jews and Arabs were more harmonious than the so-called lachrymose relations between Jews and Christians in Europe.This was exaggerated by some into the idea of an interfaith utopia, a veritable “Golden Age,” with Muslim Andalusia as the model. According to this view, Jews lived securely, protected by a tolerant Islam, and achieved remarkable heights in medicine and in the political arena, holding prominent positions in Muslim courts and becoming assimilated culturally to Arab-Muslim intellectual society.

The literary achievement of the Jews of Andalusia and other parts of the Islamic world—the starting point for the “Golden Age” idea—cannot be denied, nor is it denied by Jewish scholars. Even the political application, however exaggerated, has a certain objective correlative, for some Jews did, indeed,achieve remarkable heights in official Islamic society.There is even a connection between the cultural and the political achievements. It is reasonable to assume that a second-class minority thoroughly adopts the culture of the majority group only if it enjoys a certain measure of comfort in society as a whole, let alone has access to intellectual circles in the majority society and to its corridors of power. But the interfaith utopia was a myth insofar as it ignored the Jews’ inferior legal status and the fierce persecution of non-Muslims (Jews and Christians) in North Africa and Andalusia in the twelfth century by the infamous “fundamentalist”Almohads, and other occasional outbursts of hostility and violence in Spain and elsewhere in the Islamic world.

These painful moments in Jewish-Arab history were also disregarded by Arab and Arabist writers in more recent times.They adopted the originally Jewish myth of the interfaith utopia and argued that relations between Jews and Muslims had been harmonious until the coming of Zionism. Absent Zionism, they asserted, the Arab-Israeli conflict would disappear. Some even suggested that Israelis give up their state and return to living under the benevolent protection of a tolerant Islam.

The Jewish response to these claims—the opposite pole—represented a drastic, 180-degree turn away from the Jewish image of the interfaith utopia. Jewish writers, some of them historians, most of them nonspecialist popular writers, journalists, or blog masters, put forth the claim that Islam has been an intolerant religion from the very beginning, and that throughout the Middle Ages Islam persecuted Jews, treating them almost as poorly as they were treated by antisemitic, medieval Christianity. At its extreme, the revisionist theory brands Islam as an inherently antisemitic religion and blames Islam at its core, not Zionism, for the current conflict between Jews and Arabs. I have called this, alternatively, the “countermyth of Islamic persecution” and the “neolachrymose conception of Jewish-Arab history.” It ignores, one might say suppresses, the substantial security—at times verging on social (though not legal) parity—that Jews enjoyed through centuries of existence under Muslim rule, as well as the deeply Arabized culture of the Jews of the Islamic Middle Ages."

See this chapter in Mark R. Cohen's book: Mark R. Cohen, Under Crescent & Cross, Chapter Four-The Legal Position Of Jews In Islam, pp. 52 through 74.

Religious Coexistence in Islamic Spain: Enlightened Tolerance or Distorted Utopian Image:
Edward Rothstein/Was the Islam Of Old Spain Truly Tolerant?/NYT September 27, 2003
"... a retrospective utopianism. Islamic Spain has been hailed for its ''convivencia'' -- its spirit of tolerance in which Jews, Christians and Muslims, created a premodern renaissance. Córdoba, in the 10th century, was a center of commerce and scholarship. Arabic was a conduit between classical knowledge and nascent Western science and philosophy. The ecumenical Andalusian spirit was even invoked at this summer's opening ceremony for the new mosque.  ...
... That heritage, though, can be difficult to define. Even at the mosque, the facade of liberality gave way: at its conference on ''Islam in Europe,'' one speaker praised al-Andalus not for its openness but for its rigorous fundamentalism. Were similar views also part of the Andalusian past? The impulse to idealize runs strong. If Andalusia really had been an enlightened society that combined religious belief with humanism and artistry, then it would provide an extraordinary model, offering proof of Islamic possibilities now eclipsed, while spurring new understandings of the West.  ...
... A more scholarly paean is offered in The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain (Little, Brown, 2002) by Maria Rosa Menocal, a professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Yale University. Ms. Menocal argues that Andalusia's culture was ''rooted in pluralism and shaped by religious tolerance,'' particularly in its prime -- a period that lasted from the mid-eighth century until the fall of the Umayyad dynasty in 1031. It was undermined, she argues, by fundamentalism -- Catholic and Islamic alike.
... But as many scholars have argued, this image is distorted. Even the Umayyad dynasty, begun by Abd al-Rahman in 756, was far from enlightened. Issues of succession were often settled by force. One ruler murdered two sons and two brothers. Uprisings in 805 and 818 in Córdoba were answered with mass executions and the destruction of one of the city's suburbs. Wars were accompanied by plunder, kidnappings and ransom. Córdoba itself was finally sacked by Muslim Berbers in 1013, its epochal library destroyed.
... Andalusian governance was also based on a religious tribal model. Christians and Jews, who shared Islam's Abrahamic past, had the status of dhimmis -- alien minorities. They rose high but remained second-class citizens; one 11th-century legal text called them members of ''the devil's party.'' They were subject to special taxes and, often, dress codes. Violence also erupted, including a massacre of thousands of Jews in Grenada in 1066 and the forced exile of many Christians in 1126."

For another view of the Jewish and Christian experiences in Islamic Spain, see:
Darío Fernández-Morera/The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise/Intercollegiate Review,Vol. 41, No. 2, Fall 2006 (pdf).

See also:
Dario Fernandez-Morera,  The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, February 2016)

For an analysis of Christian - Muslim relations and problems of religious and cultural identity in al-Andalus or Spain under Islamic rule (with a focus on the ninth century), see:
Jessica A. Coope/The Martyrs of Córdoba: Community And Family Conflict In An Age Of Mass Conversion (University of Nebraska Press 1995).
See especially: Jessica A. Coope, The Martyrs of Córdoba, Chapter 6 - Problems of Religious and Cultural Identity.

See also:
Rachel Donaldo/Name Debate Echoes an Old Clash of Faiths [Cordoba, Spain] (w/photos & links)/NYT November 5, 2010
The bishop of an ancient cathedral objects to signs that reflect its origin as a mosque, in the latest chapter in the region’s contested religious legacy.

Jews Under Shi'a Rule in Iran:
Robert S. Greenberger, "How Jew-Friendly Persia Became Anti-Semitic Iran", Moment Magazine, November-December 2006
A Texas State University permalink.  A Texas State University User Name and password are required for access.  (Note: This link may provide direct access without going through the Texas Stsate University library.)
"... Treatment of minorities (in Persia/Iran) deteriorated after the Safavids took power in the 1500s, imposing their hard-line brand of Shia Islam and ushering in “the worst era of Persian-Jewish relations,” says political scientist Eliz Sanasarian of the University of Southern California, author of Religious Minorities in Iran.

The Safavids forcibly converted Iran’s Sunni Muslims to Shia Islam and introduced the concept of 'ritual pollution,' which further segregated minorities from their neighbors. Because nonbelievers were deemed spiritually and physically contagious, Jews were barred from leaving their houses when it rained, for fear the water would transmit their impurities. A Jew who entered a Muslim home had to sit on a special rug and could not be offered tea, food or a water pipe, since any object touched by a Jew could no longer be used by a Muslim. (boldface added)

Safavid rule came to an end in 1736, but the Muslim perception of Jews as impure remained. Occasional violent outbreaks, reminiscent of the blood libels and pogroms carried out in Europe, punctuated the next two centuries of Qajar Dynasty rule. In one incident in the northeastern town of Mashhad in 1839, an ailing Jewish woman was told to use dogs’ blood to cure a certain malady. A rumor quickly spread that she had tried the cure on a Shia holiday, deliberately insulting the sect. Jews were attacked and some three dozen killed, while the rest of the Jewish community was given the choice of conversion to Islam or death. Such bloody outbreaks persisted until the 20th century, ..."

Religious Coexistence - Muslims and Christians in Egypt
Michael Slackman/As Tensions Rise for Egypt's Christians, Officials Call Clashes Secular/NYT August 2, 2008
A rash of violence that has been described as “open season” on the nation’s Christians is actually a series of unrelated incidents, according to security officials.
"Christian Arabs have increasingly complained of being marginalized in the Middle East, with large numbers leaving over the decades. Now it appears that pressure on these communities is spiking, whether in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan or the West Bank. In each, Christians speak of specific national behavior that has made them feel less welcome."

Michael Slackman/In Egypt, Religious Clashes Are Off the Record/NYT February 1, 2010
During one of the most serious outbreaks of sectarian violence in years, Egypt declared that any talk of sectarian conflict amounted to sedition.

Ethnic & Racial Relations in the Islamic Experience
Bernard Lewis/Race and Slavery in the Middle East: An Historical Enquiry w/reproductions of illustrated artwork (Oxford University Press 1990)
"... in the writings of Muslim jurists, who unanimously reject the enslavement of free Muslims, of whatever race or origin.  Nor did the total identification of blackness with slavery, which occurred in North and South America, ever take place in the Muslim world.  There were always white slaves as well as black ones, and free blacks as well as slaves.  Nevertheless, the identification of blackness with certain forms of slavery went very far - and in later centuries white slaves grew increasingly rare.
In the central Islamic lands, black slaves were most commonly used for domestic and menial purposes, often as eunuchs, sometimes also in economic enterprises, as, for example, in the gold mines of ... Upper Egypt ..., in the salt mines, and in the copper mines of the Sahara where both male and female slaves were employed.  The most famous were the black slave gangs who toiled in the salt flats of Basra.  Their task was to remove and stack the nitrous topsoil, so as to clear the undersoil for cultivation, probably of sugar, and at the same time to extract the saltpeter.  Consisting principally of slaves imported from East Africa and numbering some tens of thousands, they lived and worked in conditions of extreme misery.  ...  They rose in several successive rebellions, the most important of which lasted fifteen years, from 868 to 883, and for a while offered a serious threat to the Baghdad Caliphate. (boldface added)
Jurists occasionally discuss the status of black Muslim slaves.  Muslim law unequivocally forbids the enslavement of free Muslims of whatever race, and was usually obeyed in this.  There is, however, evidence that the law was not always strictly enforced to protect Muslim captives from black Africa."
(Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle Eastpp. 55-57; for a description of the sources consulted by Lewis on the slave revolt of the Zanj, as it has come to be known, see Lewis, p. 127, note 18.)
(boldface added)
Note: The term "zenci" in Turkish (pronounced zenji) remains in modern colloquial Turkish a term used to refer to individuals with black skin.  See: New Redhouse Turkish-English Dictionary (Redhouse Yayınevi, 1968).

For an example of contemporary perceptions of race and ethnicity in Saudi Arabia, see:
Robert F. Worth/A Black Imam Breaks Ground in Mecca (w/photo)/NYT April 11. 2009
Sheik Adil Kalbani became the first black man to lead prayers in Mecca after being chosen by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

"Officially, it was his skill at reciting the Koran that won him the position, which he carries out — like the Grand Mosque’s eight other prayer leaders — only during the holy month of Ramadan. But the racial significance of the king’s gesture was unmistakable.

Sheik Adil, like most Saudis, is quick to caution that any racism here is not the fault of Islam, which preaches egalitarianism.  The Prophet Muhammad himself, who founded the religion here 1,400 years ago, had black companions.

“Our Islamic history has so many famous black people,” said the imam, as he sat leaning his arm on a cushion in the reception room of his home. 'It is not like the West.'

It is also true that Saudi Arabia is far more ethnically diverse than most Westerners realize. Saudis with Malaysian or African features are a common sight along the kingdom’s west coast, the descendants of pilgrims who came here over the centuries and ended up staying.

But slavery was practiced here too, and was abolished only in 1962*.  Many traditional Arabs from Nejd, the central Saudi heartland, used to refer to all outsiders as “tarsh al bahr” — vomit from the sea. People of African descent still face some discrimination, as do most immigrants, even from other Arab countries. Many Saudis complain that the kingdom is still far too dominated by Nejd, the homeland of the royal family. There are nonracial forms of discrimination too, and many Shiite Muslims, a substantial minority, say they are not treated fairly. (boldface added)

'The prophet told us that social classes will remain, because of human nature,' Sheik Adil said gravely. 'These are part of the pre-Islamic practices that persist'.”

*For a reference to the abolition of slavery in Saudi Arabia in 1962, see: Bernard Lewis/The Multiple Identities Of The Middle East (Schocken Books 1998), p. 40.

For a report on the contemporary status of Iraqis of African descent, see:
Timothy Williams/In Iraq's African Enclave, Color Is Plainly Seen (w/photos & links)/NYT December 3, 2009
African-Iraqis talk of discrimination so steeped in Iraqi culture that they are prohibited from interracial marriage and denied even menial jobs.
"Officially, Iraq is a colorblind society that in the tradition of Prophet Muhammad treats black people with equality and respect.

But on the packed dirt streets of Zubayr, Iraq’s scaled-down version of Harlem, African-Iraqis talk of discrimination so steeped in Iraqi culture that they are commonly referred to as 'abd' — slave in Arabic — prohibited from interracial marriage and denied even menial jobs. (boldface added)

Historians say that most African-Iraqis arrived as slaves from East Africa as part of the Arab slave trade starting about 1,400 years ago. They worked in southern Iraq’s salt marshes and sugar cane fields."

Additional Materials on Islam and Democracy:
Jon Emontjan, "As Shariah Experiment Becomes a Model, Indonesia’s Secular Face Slips", NYT, January 13, 2017 @

Calvin Sims/Indonesia: Gambling That Tolerance Will Trump Fear/NYT Sunday Week in Review April 15, 2007
Photo: In Banda Aceh, Indonesia, women are caned under local Islamic law/NYT April 15, 2007
See: Calvin Sims/Indonesia: Gambling That Tolerance Will Trump Fear/NYT April 15, 2007
Peter Gelling/Indonesian Village Struggles With Ban on Muslim Sect/NYT, June 11, 2008
A day after Indonesia issued a decree calling on 200,000 adherents of a 130-year-old Muslim sect to cease practicing their faith or face arrest, the country braced for protests.

Islam in Malaysia: Liz Gooch/A Reality Show Where Islam Is the Biggest Star (w/photos)/NYT July 29, 2010
A show in which contestants compete for a job offer as an imam has built a following among young Malaysians.
Liz Gooch/In Malaysia, Shiites Struggle to Practice Their Faith/NYT March 24, 2011
Where Sunni Islam is the official religion, other forms of the faith, including Shiite Islam, are considered deviant and are not allowed to be spread.
... "The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but when it comes to Islam, the country’s official religion, only the Sunni denomination is permitted. Other forms, including Shiite Islam, are considered deviant and are not allowed to be spread."
... While sectarian divisions are associated more with countries like Iraq and Pakistan, Islamic experts say Malaysia is an example of a Muslim-majority country where the Shiite branch is banned. They say the recent raid reflects the religious authorities’ reluctance to accept diversity within Islam, and was part of the authorities’ continuing efforts to impose a rigid interpretation of the religion."

Craig S. Smith/North Africa: Under Attack, and Relying on Repression/NYT Sunday Week in Review April 15, 2007

James Traub of the NYT provides an informative, and, on occasion, cautiously accepting or sympathetic look at the activities of the Muslim Botherhood in Egypt in recent years in the context of the larger question of "Islamic democrats". He concludes with the suggestion that America engage the Muslim Brotherhood as a "moderate Islamic body".  See: James Traub/Islamic Democrats?/NYT sunday Magazine April 29, 2007.
For a very different view of the compatibility of Islam and democracy, see:
David Bukay/Can There Be an Islamic Democracy?/Middle East Quarterly Spring 2007, Vol. XIV, No. 2.
"Are Islam and democracy compatible?  ... Many Muslim intellectuals seek to prove that Islam enshrines democratic values. ...  For Islamists, though, the motivation is to remove suspicion about the nature and goals of Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood ... ."

Thanassis Cambanis/Jordan's Islamists Seek Offices Their Allies Scorn/NYT November 16, 2007
Sabrina Tavernise/Turkish City (Konya) Counters Fear of Islam's Reach/NYT May 15, 2007
Sabrina Tavernise/A Secular Turkish City Feels Islam's Pulse Beating Stronger, Causing Divisions/NYT June 01, 2007
Sabrina Tavernise/In Turkey, Bitter Feud Has Roots In History/NYT June 22, 2008
Michael Slackman/Molding the Ideal Islamic Citizen (Iran)/NYT-Week in Review/Sunday, September 09, 2007
Michael Slackman/Arrests in Egypt Point Toward a Crackdown/NYT June 15, 2007
"The authorities have been referring to the family as Koranists, a derogatory label in the context of the faith, suggesting allegiance to a cultlike organization."
Michael Slackman/Memo From Egypt: Fashion and Faith Meet, on Foreheads of the Pious/NYT December 18, 2007
It has become popular among men to have a circle of callused skin on the forehead, which emerges when worshipers press their heads to the ground for prayer.
Michael Slackman/With a Word, Eygptians Leave It All to Fate/NYT June 20, 2008
Nazila Fathi/Despite President's Denials, Gays Insist They Exist, if Quietly, in Iran/NYT/September 30, 2007

Islam and Science:
Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy/Science and the Islamic World-The quest for rapproachment/Physics Today, Vol. 60, August, 2007
Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, chair and professor in the department of physics at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, in his article in
Physics Today, the flagship publication of The American Institute of Physics, contends: "Internal causes led to the decline of Islam's scientific greatness long before the era of mercantile imperialism. To contribute once again, Muslims must be introspective and ask what went wrong."
From the article by Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy:
Image of 16th Century Muslim Astronomers: Ottoman Empire astronomers working in 1577 at an observatory in Istanbul
This painting accompanied an epic poem that honored Sultan Murad III, who ruled from 1574 to 1595. The observatory was demolished in 1580 after astronomers sighted a comet and predicted a military victory that failed to materialize. The poem was published a year later. (For more on ancient Islamic astronomy, see the American Institute of Physics online cosmology exhibit @
See also: Dennis Overbye/How Islam Won, and Lost, the Lead in Science/NYT October 30, 2001.

For a discussion of the efforts of early Islamic thinkers to examine the relationship between Islamic theology and science, as it was understood in their day, see:
Josef Van Ess/The Flowering of Muslim Theology (Harvard University Press 2006) pp. 79-98 (a portion) of Chapter 3 Theology and Science.
Additional Recommended Readings (various):
Christopher Caldwell/Allah Mode: France's Islam Problem/The Weekly Standard/July 15, 2002
Christopher Caldwell/Veiled Threat: Can French Secularism Survive Islam?/The Weekly Standard/Jan. 19, 2004
Katrin Bennhold/Spurning Secularism, Many French Muslims Find Haven in Catholic Schools (includes photos)/NYT September 30, 2008
Spurning the secular state schools, some Muslim students have found religious accommodation at private ones.
Neil J.Kressel, "The Urgent Need to Study Islamic Anti-Semitism", The Chronicle Of Higher Education, March12, 2004, Vol. 50. Issue 27.
Texas State University permalink.  A valid Texas State University User Name and password are required for access.

Robert F. Worth/Languishing at the Bottom of Yemen's Ladder (with slide show)/NYT February 27, 2008
"They are known as 'Al Akhdam' — the servants. Set apart by their African features (see photo), they form a kind of hereditary caste at the very bottom of Yemen’s social ladder". (boldface added)
Bruce Bawer/Tolerating Intolerance: The Challenge of Fundamentalist Islam in Western Europe/Partisan Review/July19, 2002
Bernard Lewis/Muslim Anti-Semitism/The MiddleEast Quarterly/June 1998
V. S. Naipaul/Our Universal Civilization/The 1990 Wriston Lecture/

Hesham Samy Abdel-Alim/Hip hop Islam/Weekly.Al-Ahram/7-13 July 2005
Adam Nossiter/Senegal Court Forbids Forcing Children to Beg (w/photo & link to a Human Rights Watch report)/NYT September 13, 2010
Some see a social revolution in the punishment of Muslim holy men who lived off the gleanings of the young panhandlers they coerced.

VII. Women & Gender in Islam
1. Contested Memory: Sunni-Shi'a Perspectives & the Figure of Aishe
2. Sexuality & Women's Rights
3. Muslim Gays
Photo: In Banda Aceh, Indonesia, women are caned under local Islamic law/NYT April 15, 2007
See: Calvin Sims/Indonesia: Gambling That Tolerance Will Trump Fear/NYT April 15, 2007
Rasheed Abou-Alsamh/Ruling Jolts Even Saudis: 200 Lashes for Rape Victim/NYT November 16, 2007
Rasheed Abou-Alsamh/Saudi Rape Case Spurs Calls for Reform/NYT December 1, 2007
"The case of a 20-year-old woman who was sentenced to be lashed after pressing charges against seven men who raped her and a male companion has provoked a rare and angry public debate in Saudi Arabia, leading to renewed calls for reform of the Saudi judicial system.
...  The woman, known here only as “the Qatif girl, ” was initially subjected to 90 lashes for being alone with a man to whom she was not married.
...  Her outspoken human rights lawyer appealed the sentence and brought down the wrath of the court, which doubled the woman’s sentence and stripped her lawyer of his license to practice."

Robert Mackey/The Lede: Saudis Debate Ban on Women Drivers (w/links to blog & youtube)/NYT May 7, 2009
Katherine Zoepf/Talk of Women’s Rights Divides Saudi Arabia/NYT May 31, 2010
Katherine Zoepf/For Saudi Women, Biggest Challenge Is Getting to Play (w/links & photo)/NYT November 20, 2010
Physical activity is forbidden in Saudi Arabia’s state-run girls’ schools, and the country is one of the few that have not sent women to the Olympic Games.
... "The laws and customs that govern Saudi women’s lives are among the most restrictive anywhere. Public separation of the sexes is stringent. Saudi women may not drive or vote and must wear floor-length cloaks known as abayas and head scarves whenever they leave home. They may not appear in court.

Salman Massod/Video of Taliban Flogging (of a woman) Rattles Pakistan (w/video)/NYT April 4, 2009
An undated image taken from mobile phone footage released by Dunya TV Channel shows a woman in a body-covering burka face down on the ground being flogged.
Paying no heed, the commander orders those holding her to tighten their grip and continues the public flogging. A large group of men quietly stands and watches in a circle around her.
See also:  Note on video: Access to this video requires use of more recent browsers.

Barry Bearak/In a Complex Family, Death Adds to the Indignity (Polygamy & Muslim Women in South Africa)/NYT July 23, 2009
A South African court ruled that when a husband dies without a will in a polygamous Muslim marriage, each of his wives is guaranteed legal rights of inheritance.

Steven Erlanger and Souad Mekhennet/Family Code Gets Nudge, but Women Seek a Push (Morocco)/NYT August 19, 2009
Five years after changes were passed to family law in Morocco, conservatives are still angry, and young women are still falling through the cracks.

Neil MacFarquhar/Abused Muslim Women in U.S. Gain Advocates/NYT January 6,  2008

Sara Corbett/A Cutting Tradition (w/slides)/NYT Sunday Magazine January 20, 2008
Robert F. Worth/Voice for Abused Women Upsets Dubai Patriarchy/NYT March 23, 2008
Sharla Musabih, an American-born Emirati citizen, has founded the Emirates’ first women’s shelter and earned many enemies in the process.
Steven Erlanger/A Daughter of France's 'Lost Territories' Fights for Them/NYT June 14, 2008
Fadela Amara, one of the highest-ranking Muslim women in France, is responsible for bringing hope to the poor, angry suburbs that burst into flames three years ago.
Katrin Bennhold/A Veil Closes France's Door to Citizenship/NYT July 19, 2008
Steven Erlanger/Burqa Furor Scrambles French Politics (w/photos)/NYT September 1, 2009
A fear that France’s principles of citizens’ rights, equality and secularism are being undermined is shaping the debate over whether to ban any face-covering cloak.
Photo for this NYT article by Steven Erlanger: A woman wearing a niqab passed a bookstore at the annual meeting of the Islamic Organizations Union in Le Bourget, in the northeastern suburbs of Paris in 2005.

Elaine Sciolino and Souad Mekhennet/Operation Lets Muslim Women Reclaim Virginity (Europe)/NYT, June 11, 2008

Fatima Mernissi/Beyond the Veil: Male Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society ((Indiana University Press Revised Edition 1987, 1st Edition 1975)  Read the entire book.
From the Publisher:
"... Mernissi explores the disorienting effects of modern life on male-female relations, looks at the male-female unit as a basic element of the structure of the Muslim system, and explores the sexual dynamicxs of the Muslim world."
Read Aslan, pp. 68-74.

Leila Ahmed/Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (Yale University Press 1992)
From the Publisher:
"Are Islamic societies inherently oppressive to women? Is the trend among Islamic women to appear once again in veils and other traditional clothing a symbol of regression or an effort to return to a 'pure' Islam that was just and fair to both sexes? In this book Leila Ahmed adds a new perspective to the current debate about women and Islam by exploring its historical roots, tracing the developments in Islamic discourses on women and gender from the ancient world to the present."

Reuben Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, Chapter II (pp. 91 through 134) - The Status Of Women In Islam

A Variety of Views on Women and Islam
Kamel Daoud, "The Sexual Misery of the Arab World", NYT, Sunday Review, Op-Ed, February 14, 2016 (translated from the French original)

Carla Power/A Secret History (On rediscovering female Islamic scholars of the Middle Ages)/NYT Sunday Magazine February 25, 2007
"In the Middle Ages, many Islamic scholars were women. Will their redicovery have an effect on Muslim women today?"

Neil MacFarquhar/New Translation Prompts Debate on Islamic Verse/NYT March 25, 2007 (revisited)

Lauren Weiner, "Islam and Women: Choosing to veil and other paradoxes", Policy Review, October-November 2004No. 127.
Nilüfer Göle/Visible Women: Actresses in the Public Realm/New Perspectives Quarterly/Spring 2004

Lila Abu-Lughod/The Muslim Woman: The power of images and the danger of pity/Eurozine/September 01, 2006
"In the common Western imagination, the image of the veiled Muslim woman stands for oppression in the Muslim world. This makes it hard to think about the Muslim world without thinking about women, sets up an "us" and "them" relationship with Muslim women, and ignores the variety of ways of life practiced by women in different parts of the Muslim world. Anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod emphasizes that veiling should not be confused with a lack of agency or even traditionalism. Western feminists who take it upon themselves to speak on behalf of oppressed Muslim women assume that individual desire and social convention are inherently at odds: something not borne out by the experience of Islamic society."

Lorraine Adams/Beyond the Burka - an essay/NYT Sunday Book Review January 6, 2008

Muslim women’s voices are being heard as never before. But which ones?
Sabrina  Tavirnese/In Quest for Equal Rights, Muslim Women's Meeting Turns to Islam's Tenets/NYTFebruary 16, 2009

Jane Perlez/Muslims' Veils Test Limits of Britain's Tolerance (with slide show)/NYT June 22, 2007
Photo: A young British Muslim woman wears a full-face veil.

Mariam Lau/Stepping out of the fire (On the rights of Muslim/Turkish women in Germany)/'t. 06, 2006
"Having been violently attacked by the husband of one of her clients, Berlin lawyer and Islam critic Seyran Ateș has closed her legal practice. A fighter for human rights resigns."
Elaine Sciolino/Britain Grapples With Role for Islamic Justice (w/photos)/NYT November 19, 2008 (revisited)

Christopher Caldwell/Where Every Generation Is First-Generation (Turkish women & assimilation issues in Germany)/NYT Sunday Magazine, May 27, 2007
"Marriage is not just an aspect of the immigration problem in Germany; to a growing extent, it is the immigration problem.  Starting in the 1960s, millions of Turkish “guest workers” were imported to provide manpower for the German economic boom.  The guest-worker program was ended in 1973, the year of the first oil crisis, but large-scale immigration from Turkey has scarcely abated since.
...  This leaves open only one avenue for non-European men and women who want to enter Germany legally: marriage to someone with legal residency in the country.  Fortunately for would-be immigrants, young ethnic Turks in Germany have a strong tendency to marry people from the home country.  Exact statistics are hard to come by, but it is possible that as many as 50 percent of Turks (a word that in common parlance often includes even those with German citizenship) seek their spouses abroad ... .  For most of the past decade, ... between 21,000 and 27,000 people a year have successfully applied at German consulates in Turkey to form families in Germany. (Just under two-thirds of the newcomers are women.)  That means roughly half a million spouses since the mid-1980s, which in turn means hundreds of thousands of new families in which the children’s first language is as likely to be Turkish as German.  ...  Binational marriage alarms many Germans for two reasons.  First, it allows the Turkish community to grow fast at a time when support for immigration is low.  The Turkish population in Germany multiplies not once in a life cycle but twice — at childbirth and at marriage.  Second, such marriages retard assimilation even for those Turks long established in Germany.  You frequently hear stories from schoolteachers about a child of guest workers who was a star pupil three decades ago but whose own children, although born in Germany, struggle to learn German in grade school.  After half a century of immigration, every new generation of Turks is still, to a large extent, a first generation. (boldface added)  ...  Turkish marriages are seldom Western-style love matches.  They are often arranged by parents.  A 2003 study by the Federal Ministry of Family found that a quarter of Turkish women in Germany hadn’t even known their partners before they married.  ...  The tragedy of imported brides, Necla Kelek writes, is that they will live in Germany but never arrive there." (boldface added)

Interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on National Public Radio (NPR)/May 9, 2006-Includes Backgrounder on Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Christopher Hitchins/The Caged Virgin: Holland's shameful treatment of  Ayaan Hirsi Ali/ 8, 2006
An Interview with Ayan-Hirsi-Ali-video clip @
Ayaan Hirsi Ali/Islam's Silent Moderates/NYT December 7, 2007
Barry Gewen/Muslim Rebel Sisters: At Odds With Islam and Each Other/NYT Week In Review Sunday, April 27, 2008
Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji are two of the most prominent and outspoken critics of what they and others see as “mainstream Islam,” but their approaches couldn’t be more different.

Rebecca Hillauer/On Fadela Amara & young Muslim women in the working class suburbs of France/ 8, 2005
Neil MacFarquhar/To Muslim Girls, Scouts Offer a Chance to Fit In/International Herald Tribune/November 28, 2007

The  Headscarf  Debate @
Joseph Berger/'My War at Home': A Muslim Woman's Critique of Custom/NYT/March 25, 2006
Norimitsu Onishi/Head Scarf Emerges as Indonesia Political Symbol (w/photos)/NYT July 3, 2009
The jilbab, the Islamic style of dress in which a woman covers her head and neck, has become an issue in Indonesia’s presidential campaign.

"Despite being the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia does not have a tradition of Islamic dress. Most Indonesian women started wearing the jilbab in the last decade, after the fall in 1998 of President Suharto, who had kept a close grip on Islamic groups.  (boldface added)

Fashion and clothing industry experts said the number of women wearing jilbabs rose sharply in the past three years, for reasons of religion, fashion or something undefined.

'If you ask 10 different women why they’re wearing jilbab, you’ll get 10 different answers,' said Jetti R. Hadi, the editor in chief of Noor, a magazine specializing in Muslim fashion, which features jilbab-clad models on its cover. 'You cannot assume that because a woman is wearing a jilbab, she’s a good Muslim'."

Photo: A stall in Jakarta selling Muslim head scarves, known in Indonesia as jilbabs. Sales are booming in the country, where women traditionally went unveiled.

Beverly M. Weber/Revealed by the Veil: Undertanding France's Headscarf Debates/Humanities and Social Sciences Net Online April, 2008  A review of
Joan Wallach Scott/The Politics of the Veil (Princeton University Press 2007).
Rayyan Al-Shawaf/Covering Up: What to learn from the French debate over headscarves/Christianity Today, May-June 2008  A review of
John R. Bowen/Why The French Don't Like Headscarves (Princeton University Press 2007) and Joan Wallach Scott/The Politics of the Veil (Princeton University Press 2007).

Neil MacFarquhar/As Barrier [between men and women] Comes Down, a Muslim Split Remains/NYT June 25, 2006
Katherine Zoepf/Islamic Revival Led by Women Tests Syria's Secularism/NYT August 29, 2006
Katherine Zoepf/A Dishonorable Affair/NYT Sunday Magazine September 23, 2007 ("Honor killings" in Syria)
"Zahra died from her wounds at the hospital the following morning, one of about 300 girls and women who die each year in Syria in so-called honor killings, according to estimates by women’s rights advocates there. In Syria and other Arab countries, many men are brought up to believe in an idea of personal honor that regards defending the chastity of their sisters, their daughters and other women in the family as a primary social obligation. Honor crimes tend to occur, activists say, when men feel pressed by their communities to demonstrate that they are sufficiently protective of their female relatives’ virtue. Pairs of lovers are sometimes killed together, but most frequently only the women are singled out for punishment. Sometimes women are killed for the mere suspicion of an affair, or on account of a false accusation, or because they were sexually abused, or because, like Zahra, they were raped.
Some advocates claim that Syria has an especially high number of honor killings per capita, saying that the country is second or third in the world. In fact, reliable statistics on honor killing are nearly impossible to come by. The United Nations Population Fund says that about 5,000 honor killings take place each year around the world, but since they often occur in rural areas where births and deaths go unreported, it is very difficult to count them by country. Some killings have been recorded in European cultures, including Italy, and in Christian or Druse communities in predominantly Muslim countries. But it is widely agreed that honor killings are found disproportionately in Muslim communities, from Bangladesh to Egypt to Great Britain. (boldface added)

The Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Eddin Hassoun, Syria’s highest-ranking Islamic teacher, has condemned honor killing and Article 548 in unequivocal terms. Earlier this year, when we met for a rare interview in his spacious office on the 10th floor of Syria’s ministry of religious endowments, he told me, “It happens sometimes that a misogynistic religious scholar will argue that women are the source of all kinds of evil.” In fact, he said, the Koran does not differentiate between women and men in its moral laws, requiring sexual chastity of both, for example. The commonly held view that Article 548 is derived from Islamic law, he said, is false.

With his tightly wound white turban and giant pearl ring, the grand mufti is one of Syria’s most recognizable public figures. He is a charismatic and generally popular sheik, but because he is appointed by the state, many Syrians believe that his views reflect those of the ruling party, and they may find his teachings suspect as a result. In downtown Damascus, one man I interviewed on the street declared that the grand mufti was not a “real Muslim” if he believed in canceling Article 548. “It’s an Islamic law to kill your relative if she errs,” said the man, who gave his name as Ahmed and said that he learned of Zahra’s story on Syrian television. “If the sheik tries to fight this, the people will rise up and slit his throat.”

There are religious figures who defend the status quo. At a conference on honor killing held this year at Damascus University, Mohammed Said Ramadan al-Bouti, one of Syria’s most esteemed clerics, maintained that the laws should not be changed, defending them on the principle in Shariah law that people who kill in defense of their property should be treated with lenience (he is believed to have moderated his stance since). When, at an earlier conference, the grand mufti announced that he didn’t believe protecting a woman’s virginity was the most important component of honor, many attendees were upset. In response, a group of about a dozen women, all dressed in the long black abayas that in Syria are usually worn by only very conservative women, walked out of the room".

Katherine Zoepf/Love on Girls' Side of the Saudi Divide (with photos)/NYT May 13, 2008
Robert F. Worth/Challenging Sex Taboos, With Help From the Koran (w/photo)/NYT June 6, 2009
"Wedad Lootah, a marital counselor in Dubai, is the author of what for the Middle East is an amazingly frank new book of erotic advice.
...  in which she celebrates the female orgasm, confronts taboo topics like homosexuality and urges Arabs to transcend the backward traditions that limit their sexual happiness.
... In Saudi Arabia and other countries where the genders are rigorously separated, many men have their first sexual experiences with other men, which affects their attitudes toward sex in marriage, Ms. Lootah said.
... In a region where “honor killings” of women who have sex outside marriage remain fairly common, sex education is widely viewed as a portal to sin. Genital cutting of women still takes place in Egypt, though it is now illegal. Arab writers and artists have begun to tackle these subjects."

Laura Secor, "Stolen Kisses: Iran's Sexual Revolutions", Nation December 15, 2008, Vol. 287, Issue 20.
Texas State University permalink. A valid Texas State University User Name and password are required for access.

Michael Slackman/Molding the Ideal Islamic Citizen (Iran)/NYT-Week in Review/Sunday, September 09, 2007 (revisited)
Photo from Slackman NYT article immediately above with caption: "CULTURE BLEND Islamic strictures met Persian love of pleasure in a Tehran shop in 2005 when a head scarf was pulled back to show some hair."
Sabrina Tavernise/Youthful Voice Stirs Challenge to Secular Turks/NYT October 14, 2008
In a country that built its modern identity on secularism, the embrace of religious identity is an act of rebellion.

Muslim Gays
Adam Nossiter, "Wielding Whip and a Hard New Law, Nigeria Tries to ‘Sanitize’ Itself of Gays", NYT, Sunday, February 9, 2014.  (NYT permalink)
Timothy Williams and Tareq Maher/Iraq's Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder/NYT April 8, 2009
In a country that remains religious and conservative, the response to a gay subculture has been swift and deadly.
Nicholas Kulish/Gay Muslims Pack a Dance Floor of Their Own (in Berlin)/NYT, January 1, 2008
Patrick Healy/The Provincetown (Beirut) of the Middle East (w/photos & slide show)/NYT Travel Section Sunday, August 2, 2009
Beirut has re-emerged as the party capital of the Arab world, particularly for gay and lesbian vacationers in search of a social life denied to them at home.
"While homosexual activity (technically, sexual relations that officials deem “unnatural”) is illegal in Lebanon, as in most of the Arab world, Beirut’s vitality as a Mediterranean capital of night life has fueled a flourishing gay scene — albeit one where men can be nervous about public displays of affection and where security guards at clubs can intercede if the good times turn too frisky on the dance floor. But even more than the partying, Beirut represents a different Middle East for some gay and lesbian Arabs: the only place in the region where they can openly enjoy a social life denied them at home.
...In Saudi Arabia, Yemen and several other countries, homosexual acts are punishable by death." (boldface added)

Irshad Manji/Confessions of a Muslim Dissident: Why I Fight for Women, Jews, Gays, and Allah/Audio
Irshad Manji addresses the ideas in her international best-seller, "The Trouble with Islam Today:? A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith".
April 19, 2005 at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley
Irshadd Manji's website:

Gabrielle Glaser, "A Gay Muslim Filmmaker Goes Inside the Hajj", NYT, September 24, 2015 @

Azar Nafisi/Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

See also: Nazila Fathi/In Iran, Tactics of Fashion Police Raise Concerns/NYT May 04, 2007
Nazila Fathi/Starting at home, Iran's women fight for rights/International Herald Tribune February 13, 2009
Women's rights advocates say Iranian women are displaying a growing determination to achieve equal status in this conservative Muslim theocracy, where male supremacy is still enscribed in the legal code.

Michiko Kakutani/Life in Iran, Where Freedom Is Deferred/NYT April 14, 2009
A review of: Azadeh Moaveni, Honeymoon in Tehran: Two Years of Love and Danger in Iran (Random House 2009)
"One day in spring 2007, Ms. Moaveni reports: 'The authorities launched the most ferocious crackdown on ‘un-Islamic’ dress in over a decade. Overnight, they revised the tacit rules governing women’s dress. The closets of millions of women across the country contained nothing but short, tailored coats; ankle-length pants; and bright headscarves. Suddenly, these styles were grounds for arrest. In the days that followed, the police detained 150,000 women for failing to abide by the official dress code.'

'I suppose to people living in free countries where women wear what they please, the difference between a relaxed dress code and a stern one sounds inconsequential,' she writes. 'In fact, it mattered desperately. In the years when women could wear colors, could show off the lines of their figures, what in effect became acceptable was the expression of individuality. Between the year 2000 until that April of 2007, I wore a headscarf and manteau in Tehran, but I still looked, from head to toe, like Azadeh. I did not resemble the thousands of other women on the street, but only myself. As I presume was the case for most women, this helped me to perceive the oppressive weight of the regime as lighter than it perhaps actually was.'

In these pages Ms. Moaveni does an affecting job of conveying how the Islamic government’s edicts permeated every aspect of people’s private lives. Couples wishing to hold a 'mixed wedding,' where men and women commingle, are advised to hire expensive security details to guard against police raids. Baby names have to be chosen with care so as to avoid forbidden names, including European names, Kurdish names and the names of pre-Islamic Persian heroes."
Read the first chapter of Honeymoon in Tehran by Azadeh Moaveni.

Anne Applebaum/Woman Power (Iran-with photos of women protesters & links to related articles on women in Islam & Iran)/Slate June 22, 2009
Regimes that repress the civil and human rights of half their population are inherently unstable.
"Women in sunglasses and head scarves speaking through megaphones, brandishing cameras, carrying signs. When they first appeared, the photographs of the 2005 Tehran University women's rights protests were a powerful reminder of the true potential of Iranian women. They were uplifting, they featured women of many ages, and they went on circulating long after the protests themselves died down. Now they have been replaced by a far more brutal and already infamous set of images: the photographs and video taken last weekend of a young Iranian woman, allegedly shot by a government sniper, dying on the streets of Tehran."

Michael Slackman/Cultural Collisions in the Slow Lane to Modernity (w/photo of separate sections for men & women at a McDonald's in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)/NYT May 09, 2007. The caption below the photo reads: "At a golden-arched symbol of globalization in Riyadh, modernity yields to tradition with separate sections for men and completely covered women."
Robert F. Worth/As Taboos Ease, Saudi Girl Group Dares to Rock (w/link to the group's website)/NYT November 24, 2008

Saudi Arabia’s first all-girl rock band has an underground hit as the country’s harsh code of morals slowly thaws.

Michael Slackman/A Quiet Revolution in Algeria: Gains by Women/NYT  May 26, 2007 (with photos depicting Algerian women’s growing participation in society). "In this tradition-bound nation scarred by a brutal Islamist-led civil war that killed more than 100,000, a quiet revolution is under way: women are emerging as an economic and political force unheard of in the rest of the Arab world."

Norimitsu Onishi/In Singapore, a More Progressive Islamic Education/NYT April 23, 2009
Photo: An all-girls high school chemistry class taught at the Madrasa Al Irsyad Islamiah in Singapore
A madrasa that balances religious and secular studies is seen by the country’s Muslim leaders as the future of Islamic education in Southeast Asia.

Michael Slackman/In Egypt, a Rising Push Against Genital Cutting/NYT September 20, 2007 (includes photo slide show)
"'The Koran is a newcomer to tradition in this manner,' she said. 'As a male society, the men took parts of religion that satisfied men and inflated it. The parts of the Koran that helped women, they ignored.' ...
  It is an unusual swipe at the Islamists who have promoted the practice as in keeping with religion, especially since the government generally tries to avoid taking on conservative religious leaders. It tries to position itself as the guardian of Islamic values, aiming to enhance its own wilted legitimacy and undercut support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned but popular opposition movement.But the religious discourse concerning genital cutting has changed, ... " (boldface added)
Michael Slackman/Dreams Stifled, Egypt's Young Turn to Islamic Fervor (with photos)/NYT February 17, 2008
Across the Middle East, many people are forced to put off marriage, the gateway to independence. In their frustration they turn to religion for solace.

Video: Women & Islam


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Learning and teaching take place best in an atmosphere of intellectual freedom and openness. All members of the academic community are responsible for supporting freedom and openness through rigorous personal standards of honesty and fairness. Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty undermine the very purpose of the university and diminish the value of an education.
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c. Plagiarism means the appropriation of another's work and the unacknowledged incorporation of that work in one's own written work offered for credit. (Underline Added)
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Students who have committeed academic dishonesty may be subject to:
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1. A requirement to perform additional academic work not required of other students in the course;
2. Required to withdraw from the course with a grade of F. (Underline Added)
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