History

History

The Just War and Jihad: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

R. Joseph Hoffman, ed., New York: Prometheus Books, 2006. 303 pages.

The fifteen chapters of this book bring together scholars from a variety of fields to examine and analyze what they perceive to be a relationship between religion and violence. Generating a feeling of déjà vu, they rehash previously developed assumptions, arguments, and biases that tend to ignore underlying causes related to the “existence of the sacred,” for reasons apparently beyond the domain of secular comprehension. The articles reiterate conventional secular arguments about the dangers of religious convictions on “peace” and tend to vary in quality and consistency, which reflects on the book’s overall merit.

The Canadian Muslim Network Tribute to Civil Liberties in Canada: In Honour of Maher Arar and Monia Mazigh

Statement Delivered on behalf of the Canadian Muslim Network by Dr Tyseer Aboulnast, O.ONT, Parliament Hill, Feb 14, 2007

The Honourable Mr Stephane Dion, Leader of the Liberal party of Canada, M. Gilles Duceppe, chef de la Parti Bloc Quebecois, The Honourable Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP party, senators and parliamentarians, Mr. Arar and Dr. Mazigh, honored guests, or in likely more appropriate terms for this event, friends and fellow Canadians: Assalamu Alaykum. May you all be in Peace. Let me welcome you all with the greeting of Islam on behalf of the Canadian Muslim network; a network of Muslim organizations across Canada from BC to Alberta all the way to Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The network was put in place to create an environment of collaboration and communication between Muslim organizations on issues of interest to Muslim Canadians nationally as well as to enhance communication and collaboration between Canadians of Muslim faith with Canadians of all other faiths.

Jordanian Jerusalem: Holy Places and National Spaces

Kimberly Katz, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005. 214 pages.

For centuries, Jerusalem has been revered as the holy site of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; strategically coveted as a means to consolidate territorial gains; and conquered thirty-seven times between its foundation and the sequestering of its ancient hub by Israeli forces during the Six-Day War. As the region underwent significant change after World War II, the Holy City increasingly became contested. While the Palestinians nurtured concerns regarding land sales and the escalating influx of Jewish settlers, their apprehension became lost amidst the tussle for authority between Transjordan, which sought to affirm its role as custodian of the holy places, and the nascent state of Israel, which strove to strengthen its presence in the city. Charting the endeavors of KingAbdullah and KingHussein to assert Transjordan’s authority over Jerusalemdespite international and Israeli rivalry, Katz affords a unique insight into the multifarious means used to court its residents through events, banknotes, and stamps between 1948 and 1967.

Islam in Modern Turkey: An Intellectual Biography of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

Shukran Vahide, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005. 424 pages.

Sukran Vahide’s Islam in Modern Turkey: An Intellectual Biography of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi is a timely contribution to the study of one of the most prominent Islamic thinkers of the twentieth century. This comprehensive study on Nursi’s life (1876-1960) and works would be appropriate for use in graduate and undergraduate courses in religious, Islamic, and Middle Eastern studies departments. Vahide fills an important gap in the study of Nursi and his works, which has become increasingly popular among western scholars in recent decades. Prior to its publication, only a few brief biographies of Nursi existed, and those focused solely on presenting a chronological account of his life. Hence this book’s most significant contribution is, as pointed out in the subtitle, the fact that it is an “intellectual biography.”

The Kurdish National Movement: Its Origins and Development

Wadie Jwaideh, Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2006. 419 pages.

A native of Iraq,Wadie Jwaideh founded the Islamic and Near Eastern studies program at Indiana University (Bloomington) in the early 1960s and oversaw its rise to national and international recognition until his retirement in the mid-eighties. Under his leadership, Indiana University became an internationally renowned center for the study of Islam and the Middle East. His counsel was often sought by many, including heads of state. Moreover, his encyclopedic knowledge of Arabic, Islamic history, and culture was unmatched. In 2004, his students and friends founded the Jwaideh Memorial Lecture. 

The Last Jews of Baghdad: Remembering a Lost Homeland

Nissim Rejwan, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004. 268 pages.

“It is all but impossible to pinpoint a date or an event with which the position of the Jews of Iraq began to deteriorate and take the course leading finally, inevitably, to the destruction of community,” writes Nissim Rejwan near the end of his memoir The Last Jews of Baghdad (p. 188). Yet their centuries long presence was such that, as the author notes, for those Jews who were born and grew up in Baghdad before the mass exodus of 1950-51, the presence of a mere handful of elderly Jews in the city today is “a state of affairs [that] is hard to imagine” (p. 1). Rejwan’s endearing memoir traces out a period of Iraqi history that saw the disappearance of a community that had been an integral part of the human map and the city’s history. The author’s youth, from his birth in 1926 to his irrevocable departure in 1952 for Israel, condemns him to what he refers to as a state of permanent unbelonging. Rejwan was born in a Baghdad, where Jews were an indigenous, integrated community that participated fully in the city’s sociocultural life. 

A Concise History of the Middle East, 8th ed.

Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. and Lawrence Davidson, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2006. 559 pages.

In a discipline rich in studies addressing the multifarious aspects of the Middle East, a publication exploring the region’s history fromthe pre-Islamic period to the present confronts a fervent contest in establishing itself as a notable work. As the authors of A Concise History of the Middle East indicate from the outset, the challenge of conveying the relevance of past events to contemporary affairs is both complex yet essential. For Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. and Lawrence Davidson, the course is well-worn, as their publication enters its eighth edition since 1979.With a plethora of maps depicting the transitory regional borders dating from the Byzantine period to the present day, alongside cogent depictions of the Hashemite lineage and the Ottoman sultans and a piquant narrative, Goldschmidt and Davidson provide an account that proves – although directed toward undergraduate students and neophytes to the Middle East – a satisfying meander through regional triumphs and despairs over the course of twenty-one chapters.

Islam in History and Politics: Perspectives from South Asia

Asim Roy, ed., New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006. 224 pages.

This collection of essays consists primarily of the output of Australia’s first major conference on South Asian Islam, held in 1996.Most of the contributions to this somewhat delayed volume, then, were written by scholars working in the Australian and New Zealand academe. Editor Asim Roy has tried to close the intervening decade with an at times polemical introduction focusing on the Islamophobia that has been rising steadily since the conference was held.

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