Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Composing Egypt: Reading, Writing, and the Emergence of a Modern Nation, 1870-1930 | Hoda A. Yousef

Composing Egypt: Reading, Writing, and the Emergence of a Modern Nation, 1870-1930 | Hoda A. Yousef: In this innovative history of reading and writing, Hoda Yousef explores how the idea of literacy and its practices fundamentally altered the social fabric of Egypt at the turn of the twentieth century. She traces how nationalists, Islamic modernists, bureaucrats, journalists, and early feminists sought to reform reading habits, writing styles, and the Arabic language itself in their hopes that the right kind of literacy practices would create the right kind of Egyptians.
The impact of new reading and writing practices went well beyond the elites and the newly literate of Egyptian society, and this book reveals the increasingly ubiquitous reading and writing practices of literate, illiterate, and semi-literate Egyptians alike. Students who wrote petitions, women who frequented scribes, and communities who gathered to hear a newspaper read aloud all used various literacies to participate in social exchanges and civic negotiations regarding the most important issues of their day. Composing Egypt illustrates how reading and writing practices became not only an object of social reform, but also a central medium for public exchange. Wide segments of society could engage with new ideas about nationalism, education, gender, and, ultimately, what it meant to be part of modern Egypt.

Hoda A. Yousef is Assistant Professor of History at Denison University.

"The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment" by Alexander Bevilacqua

"Alexander Bevilacqua is assistant professor of history at Williams College, where he teaches the history of early modern Europe. He is interested in the cultural and intellectual transformations of what is often considered the first global era."

"Authors, Readers and Printers of 16th Century Hebrew Books in the Ottoman Empire" by Joseph Hacker

Monday, March 19, 2018

"Redefining the Muslim Community: Ethnicity, Religion, and Politics in the Thought of Alfarabi" (ALEXANDER ORWIN, PENN PRESS 2017)

"Writing in the cosmopolitan metropolis of Baghdad, Alfarabi (870-950) is unique in the history of premodern political philosophy for his extensive discussion of the nation, or Umma in Arabic. The term Umma may be traced back to the Qur'ān and signifies, then and now, both the Islamic religious community as a whole and the various ethnic nations of which that community is composed, such as the Turks, Persians, and Arabs. Examining Alfarabi's political writings as well as parts of his logical commentaries, his book on music, and other treatises, Alexander Orwin contends that the connections and tensions between ethnic and religious Ummas explored by Alfarabi in his time persist today in the ongoing political and cultural disputes among the various nationalities within Islam. According to Orwin, Alfarabi strove to recast the Islamic Umma as a community in both a religious and cultural sense, encompassing art and poetry as well as law and piety. By proposing to acknowledge and accommodate diverse Ummas rather than ignoring or suppressing them, Alfarabi anticipated the contemporary concept of "Islamic civilization," which emphasizes culture at least as much as religion. Enlisting language experts, jurists, theologians, artists, and rulers in his philosophic enterprise, Alfarabi argued for a new Umma that would be less rigid and more creative than the Muslim community as it has often been understood, and therefore less inclined to force disparate ethnic and religious communities into a single mold. Redefining the Muslim Community demonstrates how Alfarabi's judicious combination of cultural pluralism, religious flexibility, and political prudence could provide a blueprint for reducing communal strife in a region that continues to be plagued by it today."

Alexander Orwin is an assistant professor of Political Science at Louisiana State University.

"Debating Slavery in the Arab Middle East: Abolition between Muslim Reformers and Conservatives" by Prof. Amal Ghazal

“Debating Slavery in the Arab Middle East: Abolition between Muslim Reformers and Conservatives,” In Behnaz Mirzai Asl, Ismael M. Montana and Paul E. Lovejoy (eds.), 
Islam, Slavery and Diaspora (Trenton NJ: Africa World Press, 2009): 139-153.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Refractions of Islam in India by Carl W. Ernst

"The essays explore Sufism as it developed in the Indian subcontinent, including translations of previously unavailable texts, and revealing unexpected insights into the lives, practices, and teachings  of Indian Muslims over nearly a thousand years. They also trace remarkable moments in the history of Muslim engagement with Indian religious and cultural practices. This includes not only Muslim participation in Indian art and literature, but also the extraordinary role that Sufis have played in the practice of yoga. Employing new approaches to religious studies that avoid essentialism and ideological concepts of religion, and shorn of unnecessary jargon, these compelling essays will be easily accessible to a larger audience."

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Zohar Collector's Edition | Translated by Daniel C. Matt

Zohar Collector's Edition | Translated by Daniel C. Matt: "This limited edition set includes all twelve volumes of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition. Each volume is bound in tan- and butterscotch-colored cloth with foil stamping on the spine and blind stamping on the front. The volumes have been collected into four slipcases of matching tan cloth and blind stamping on each side of each case, with foil stamping on the back of the case and a ribbon for easy removal without damaging the book. Each book includes a letter-pressed and hand-numbered book plate, denoting the set number. Only 150 sets will be produced.

To celebrate the completion of the twenty-year project to translate The Zohar, Stanford University Press is pleased to offer a complete set of all twelve volumes of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition.

Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed readers ever since it emerged in Spain over seven hundred years ago. Written in a lyrical Aramaic, the Zohar, the masterpiece of Kabbalah, features mystical interpretation of the Torah, from Genesis to Deuteronomy.

The Zohar: Pritzker Edition volumes present the first translation ever made from a critical Aramaic text of the Zohar, which has been established by Professor Daniel C. Matt (along with Nathan Wolski and Joel Hecker) based on a wide range of original manuscripts. Every one of the twelve volumes provides extensive commentary, appearing at the bottom of each page, clarifying the kabbalistic symbolism and terminology, and citing sources and parallels from biblical, rabbinic, and kabbalistic texts.

About the authors

Daniel C. Matt is a leading authority on Jewish mysticism. For twenty years, he served as Professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has also taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Matt is the author of The Essential Kabbalah (1995), God and the Big Bang (1996), and Zohar: Annotated and Explained (2002). He is also the translator of the first nine volumes of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition.

Joel Hecker serves as Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Yeshiva University. Hecker is the author of Mystical Bodies, Mystical Meals: Eating and Embodiment in Medieval Kabbalah (2005) and the translator of Volume Eleven of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition.

Nathan Wolski is the Liberman Family Lecturer in Jewish Studies with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University, Australia. He is the author of A Journey into the Zohar: An Introduction to the Book of Radiance (2010), and translator of Melila Hellner-Eshed's seminal work, A River Flows From Eden: The Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar (Stanford, 2009)."

Brothers Apart: Palestinian Citizens of Israel and the Arab World | Maha Nassar

Brothers Apart: Palestinian Citizens of Israel and the Arab World | Maha Nassar: "When the state of Israel was established in 1948, not all Palestinians became refugees: some stayed behind and were soon granted citizenship. Those who remained, however, were relegated to second-class status in this new country, controlled by a military regime that restricted their movement and political expression. For two decades, Palestinian citizens of Israel were cut off from friends and relatives on the other side of the Green Line, as well as from the broader Arab world. Yet they were not passive in the face of this profound isolation. Palestinian intellectuals, party organizers, and cultural producers in Israel turned to the written word. Through writers like Mahmoud Darwish and Samih al-Qasim, poetry, journalism, fiction, and nonfiction became sites of resistance and connection alike. With this book, Maha Nassar examines their well-known poetry and uncovers prose works that have, until now, been largely overlooked. The writings of Palestinians in Israel played a key role in fostering a shared national consciousness and would become a central means of alerting Arabs in the region to the conditions—and to the defiance—of these isolated Palestinians. Brothers Apart is the first book to reveal how Palestinian intellectuals forged transnational connections through written texts and engaged with contemporaneous decolonization movements throughout the Arab world, challenging both Israeli policies and their own cultural isolation. Maha Nassar reexamines these intellectuals as the subjects, not objects, of their own history and brings to life their perspectives on a fraught political environment. Her readings not only deprovincialize the Palestinians of Israel, but write them back into Palestinian, Arab, and global history."


Tabari’s Qur’an Commentary, Comprehensive Exposition of the Interpretation of the Verses of the Qur’an, is one of the great monuments of classical Arabic and Islamic scholarship which, over a millennium, has been a fundamental reference work for scholars engaged in the tradition of Qur’ānic exegesis. This two-volume translation focuses on thirty selected verses and Sūras, or Chapters, associated with special merits and blessings and also includes Ṭabarī’s own introduction to the Comprehensive Exposition.

Volume I contains: Ṭabarī’s introduction; The Opening; the Throne Verse and the final three verses from The Cow (2:255 and 284–286); The Family of ʿImrān (3:7 and 18); Repentance (9:38–40 and 128–129); the story of Moses and al-Khaḍir from The Cave (18:60–82); the Verse of Light from The Light (24:35–42); Prostration; Yāʾ Sīn.

Volume II contains: The Companies (39:53–55); The Smoke; The Beneficent; The Inevitable Occasion; Iron; The Gathering (59:18–24); Sovereignty; The Resurrection; The Most High; The Sun; The Night; The Earthquake; The Chargers; Rivalry; The Disbelievers; Aid; Sincerity; Daybreak; People.

Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923) is one of the most famous Muslim scholars of medieval Islamic civilization. He composed numerous books in Arabic in the fields of Islamic law, Qur’ān commentary and history. The only two large books of his to survive are his History of Messengers and Kings and his Qur’ānic commentary, The Comprehensive Exposition of the Interpretation of the Verses of the Qur’ān.

Scott C. Lucas is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona.

The Works of Ibn Wāḍiḥ al-Yaʿqūbī (3 vols): An English Translation

Matthew S. Gordon, Miami University, Chase F. Robinson, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Everett K. Rowson, New York University, and Michael Fishbein, The University of California, Los Angeles

"The Works of Ibn Wāḍiḥ al-Yaʿqūbī contains a fully annotated translation of the extant writings of Abū al-`Abbās al-Ya`qūbī, a Muslim imperial official and polymath of the third/ninth century, along with an introduction to these works and a biographical sketch of their author. The most important of the works are the History (Ta’rikh) and his Geography (Kitab al-buldan). The works also contains a new translation of al-Ya`qubī’s political essay (Mushakalat al-nas) and a set of fragmentary texts drawn from other Arabic medieval works. Al-Ya`qūbī’s writings are among the earliest surviving Arabic-language works of the Islamic period, and thus offer an invaluable body of evidence on patterns of early Islamic history, social and economic organization, and cultural production."

Contributors: Laila Asser, Paul Cobb, Lawrence I. Conrad, Elton Daniel, Fred Donner, Michael Fishbein, Matthew S. Gordon, Sidney H. Griffith, Wadad Kadi (al-Qāḍī), Lutz Richter-Bernberg, Chase F. Robinson, Everett K. Rowson

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sufism: A New History of Islamic Mysticism by Alexander Knysh

Sufism: After centuries as the most important ascetic-mystical strand of Islam, Sufism saw a sharp decline in the twentieth century, only to experience a stunning revival in recent decades. In this comprehensive new history of Sufism from the earliest centuries of Islam to today, Alexander Knysh, a leading expert on the subject, reveals the tradition in all its richness. Knysh explores how Sufism has been viewed by both insiders and outsiders since its inception. He examines the key aspects of Sufism, from definitions and discourses to leadership, institutions, and practices. He devotes special attention to Sufi approaches to the Qur’an, drawing parallels with similar uses of scripture in Judaism and Christianity. He traces how Sufism grew from a set of simple moral-ethical precepts into a sophisticated tradition with professional Sufi masters (shaykhs) who became powerful players in Muslim public life but whose authority was challenged by those advocating the equality of all Muslims before God. Knysh also examines the roots of the ongoing conflict between the Sufis and their fundamentalist critics, the Salafis—a major fact of Muslim life today. Based on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, Sufism is an indispensable account of a vital aspect of Islam.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

"Theology and Society in the Second and Third Centuries of the Hijra. Volume 3 A History of Religious Thought in Early Islam" by Josef van Ess. Translated from the German by Gwendolin Goldblum

"Volume 3 of "Theology and Society", the most comprehensive study of Islamic intellectual and religious history, focusing on Muslim theology. With its emphasis on the eighth and ninth centuries CE, it remains the most detailed prosopographical study of the early phase of the formation of Islam. Originally published in German between 1991 and 1995, Theology and Society is a monument of scholarship and a unique scholarly enterprise which has stood the test of time as an unparalleled reference work."

Islam without Europe: Traditions of Reform in Eighteenth-Century Islamic Thought By Ahmad S. Dallal

Islam without Europe
Traditions of Reform in Eighteenth-Century Islamic Thought
By Ahmad S. Dallal
Islam without Europe
Approx. 448 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, index

PAPERBACK ISBN: 978-1-4696-4140-9
Published: June 2018
HARDCOVER ISBN: 978-1-4696-4034-1
Published: June 2018
Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks
Paperback Available June 2018, but pre-order your copy today!

"Replete with a cast of giants in Islamic thought and philosophy, Ahmad S. Dallal’s pathbreaking intellectual history of the eighteenth-century Muslim world challenges stale views of this period as one of decline, stagnation, and the engendering of a widespread fundamentalism. Far from being moribund, Dallal argues, the eighteenth century--prior to systematic European encounters--was one of the most fertile eras in Islamic thought.

Across vast Islamic territories, Dallal charts in rich detail not only how intellectuals rethought and reorganized religious knowledge but also the reception and impact of their ideas. From the banks of the Ganges to the shores of the Atlantic, common people and elites alike embraced the appeals of Muslim thinkers who, while preserving classical styles of learning, advocated for general participation by Muslims in the definition of Islam. Dallal also uncovers the regional origins of most reform projects, showing how ideologies were forged in particular sociopolitical contexts. Dallal concludes that reformists’ ventures were in large part successful--up until the beginnings of European colonization of the Muslim world. By the nineteenth century, the encounter with Europe changed Islamic discursive culture in significant ways into one that was largely articulated in reaction to the radical challenges of colonialism."

Part 2018-2 of the Third Edition of Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Islam

Said the Prophet of God: Hadith Commentary across a Millennium - Joel Blecher (Author)

Said the Prophet of God: "Although scholars have long studied how Muslims authenticated and transmitted Muhammad’s sayings and practices (hadith), the story of how they interpreted and reinterpreted the meanings of hadith over the past millennium has yet to be told. Joel Blecher takes up this charge, illuminating the rich social and intellectual history of hadith commentary at three critical moments and locales: classical Andalusia, medieval Egypt, and modern India."