• Marvine Howe. Al-Andalus Rediscovered: Iberia’s New Muslims. London: Hurst, 2012. 289 pp.

    Marvine Howe. Al-Andalus Rediscovered: Iberia’s New Muslims. London: Hurst, 2012. 289 pp.

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  • The Challenge of Administering Justice to an Islamic Minority living in a Non-Muslim State: the Shari‘a Courts in Israel

    Iyad Zahalka

  • Islamic Legal Hybridity and Patriarchal Liberalism in the Shari’a Courts in Israel

    The civil judicial family law system and the shari‘a courts in Israel are a fascinating site for the study of legal hybridity, particularly with regard to cases involving the legal and religious rights of women. Legal hybridity is found both in the shari‘a courts, even when ruling on cases that are under their exclusive jurisdiction, and in the family courts that apply provisions of Islamic and Israeli law. In this article, I examine as a case study of the problem of appointing a woman as arbitrator between quarelling spouses in the shari‘a court arbitration process. This example shows how a shari‘a court operates under pressure from the secular civil judicial system. It is discernible how a system of legal hybridity gives rise to multiple discourses deriving from different normative systems and various players—such as human rights organizations, Islamic feminist movements, secular feminist movements, and the Israel Supreme Court—seeking to navigate the discourse in pursuit of their interests. My central thesis is that this system of legal hybridity is enhancing a patriarchal liberalism that is filled with obstacles and hurdles preventing full equality.

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  • Renegades as Crossover Figures: Forgers of the Early Modern Mediterranean

    The early modern Mediterranean world would be incomprehensible without taking into account the key roles of the so-called renegades—converts to Islam—who were far more numerous than converts to Christianity. Since renegades rarely wrote or spoke about themselves except under inquisitorial interrogation, and since most texts of the period portrayed them with hostility, the widest range of sources and discursive genres (including literary) in many languages needs to be examined in order to get some sense of who they were. As frontier protagonists, renegades articulated the cultural and religious divide within the Mediterranean. Models proposing split personalities, antagonistic civilizations, or religious discord have done little to resolve the enigma posed by the renegades in all their heterogeneity. This article questions the emphasis on belief and “sincerity” that has always dominated the discussion of renegades, stressing instead their pragmatism, strategic orientation, and acquired capabilities.

  • Being Muslim and European Without Contradiction—Myth or Reality?

    The article reviews a critique of European modernity through the eyes of Bassam Tibi, a European Muslim sociologist. Tibi’s discursive analysis presents a detailed description of how an Islamic pluralism addresses the conceptual, philosophical, cultural, social, and political interpretations of Islam in a European context. His Islamic pluralism suggests the ways in which a secular interpretation of Islam can influence religion-state relations in Europe. Exploring the tensions resulting from being both Muslim and European, Tibi proposes that Muslims in Europe avidly maintain some basis of Islam within their identity, even if they adapt that interpretation to make it compatible with European norms and values. His perspectives are juxtaposed with Muslim intellectual opposition to a European Islamic pluralism that offers a basis for Islamic diversity in Europe. The article concludes that even Tibi’s moderate interpretation of Islam does not fully eliminate the inherent contradiction involved in being both Muslim and European, although he does suggest a means of bridging cross-cultural tensions.

  • Review Essay: Georges Tarabichi and the Religionization of the Public Sphere: A Heretic Voice from the East

    Georges Tarabichi. هرطقات [Heresies]
    Vol. I: عن الديموقراطية والعلمانية والحداثة والممانعة العربية [On Democracy, Secularism, Modernity and Arab
    Reluctance], 3rd ed. Beirut: Dar al-Saqi and The Association of Arab Rationalists, 2011. 237 pp.
    Vol. II: العلمانية كإشكالية إسلامية – إسلامية [Secularism as an Intra-Islamic Issue], 2nd ed. Beirut: Dar al-Saqi and The Association of Arab Rationalists, 2011. 253 pp.

  • The Struggle for Humanism in Islamic Contexts

    The section is a translation of the introductory chapter of The Struggle for Humanism in the Islamic Context, by the late French-Algerian philosopher Muhammed Arkoun, who was one of the most important Muslim philosophers in the last few decades. Arkoun believes that the key to rejuvenating and revitalizing Islam is in understanding and reviving tenth-century methods. He attacks the separation of disciplines that removes Islamic studies from religious studies, as is customary in both the Muslim and the Western world and rejects the ceaseless quest for authenticity. He complains that the Muslim world is afflicted by modern ideologies without being included as a partner in the construction of this modernism, and calls for intellectual, sociological, legal and philosophical activity by scholars of Islam to restore reason to Islam. He blames the failure of enlightenment in the Muslim world on the education systems of countries and religious movements that emphasize authenticity, patriarchal nationalism, national character and difference, thus sowing the seeds of fanaticism and hatred of strangers. The obsessive search for authenticity serves the dominant movements as an escape from their problems and hinders the development and revitalization of humanism in the Islamic context. Arkoun argues that hiding behind the search for authenticity will not let them permanently avoid the difficult challenge of analyzing the text underlying Muslim law. Only such an act will restore Islamic studies to the disciplinary framework of religious studies and energize humanism in the Muslim world.

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  • Rediscovering the Mediterranean: Political Critique and Mediterraneanism in Mohammed Arkoun’s Thought

    The article explores the works and the thought of Muhammed Arkoun, one of the most prominent Muslim intellectuals in the West, and a representative of liberal Islam. Since the 1970s, Arkoun’s major intellectual critique was directed at “Islamic reason.” He endeavored to deconstruct the “regimes of truth” of Islamic medievalist dogmas, which still function as orthodoxies among contemporary Muslims (Sunni, Shiʿi and Khariji). According to his analysis, this medievalist perception of Islam fulfills a function in the modern era of political ideology. His works not only deconstruct and reassess Islamic traditional epistemology but also posit a counterpoint to the common perception of Islam among both Muslim believers and western scholars.

    The article contextualizes Arkoun’s works in the intellectual and political history of the Arab-Muslim countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean. The first section presents a general overview of Arkoun’s oeuvre since the 1960s, with special emphasis on the foundation of his political critique. The second section sheds light on the role of the Mediterranean as a concept of mental and geo-cultural space in Arkoun’s thought.