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Iran is a country which, despite its extensive coverage in the media, is often regarded as 'mysterious', 'exotic' and 'other-worldly'. This attitude often stems from a focus on the rhetoric of controversial figures in Iranian politics, rather than looking at the everyday lives of Iranians themselves. In this book, Clarissa de Waal uses her training as an anthropologist to examine the experiences of individuals, concentrating on the Fars province in southwest Iran. This serves to highlight contemporary Iran outside of the capital, which so often dominates western understanding of the country. De Waal interviews a wide range of subjects, from public sector workers and entrepreneurs to Qashqa'i (both settled and nomadic), from students to the unemployed and from hairdressers to university professors. Through these interviews, she offers insight into the commonplace rituals of family interaction, the economics of food and fuel subsidies (and their withdrawal), the pervasiveness of unemployment and the varying approaches to Islam. She explores the extent to which the government of Iran and state-sanctioned religion impinges on citizens at home, work and in their social lives. Yet despite intrusive state interventionism, de Waal encounters inconsistencies between official government strictures and daily life. Satellite dishes, though illegal, are owned by most households, enabling them to watch foreign television from Mexican telenovellas to CNN. Uniquely, by being there during the 2009 elections, de Waal is also able to examine first-hand the various reactions both to the debate in the run-up to the elections and the huge protests in the wake of the election, recording the diverse responses to the candidates and their political platforms. By focusing on the everyday existence of a variety of Iranians from different backgrounds, de Waal offers insightful analysis concerning ordinary Iranians' lives and the impact the state has on them economically, socially and religiously.
The so-called Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, triggered by the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in February 2005, brought to an end three decades of Syrian military presence in the country. Here, Taku Osoegawa challenges the commonly-held claim that Lebanon and its leaders were simple puppets of the Syrian regime during the thirty years characterised as Lebanon under Syrian hegemony. Furthermore, by examining Lebanon s relations with Syria from the establishment of the Asad regime to the current violence in Syria, Osoegawa concludes that the Lebanese government has had its own reasons for aligning with Syria. As the Lebanese-Syrian relationship has had an enormous impact on the international relations of the Middle East, this book is essential reading for those interested in the contemporary regional dynamics."
Despite numerous warnings from intelligence services, ISIS' rise to power has left countries around the world floundering for solutions. Today, we face a threat that is more violent, powerful and financially stronger than ever before. In this book, journalist Benjamin Hall will provide insights by answering the basic questions we still don't have the answers to: Who are they? Where did they come from? How are they so successful, so quickly? How can they be stopped? By embedding himself behind enemy lines, Hall provides a riveting narrative based on firsthand experience and personal interviews. He goes beyond the vicious jihadis to reveal a generation of chaos and uncover a volatile region engulfed in turmoil. Hall reveals why ISIS is a problem that will define the Middle East - and the West - for decades to come.
What is the state's responsibility to its people in the aftermath of a natural hazard based disaster? The book sets out to address this seemingly simple question, after large scale floods devastated Pakistan in 2010 and then again in 2011. Along the way it delves into rich detail about people's everday encounters with the state in Pakistan, uncovers postcolonial discourses on rights of citizenship and dispels mainstream understanding of Islamist groups as presenting an alternative development paradigm to the state. Based on detailed ethnographic fieldwork, In the Wake of the Disaster forces the reader to look beyond narratives of Pakistan as the perennial 'failing state' falling victim to an imminent 'Islamist takeover'. The book shifts the conversation from hysteria and sensationalism surrounding Pakistan to the everyday. In doing so it transforms our understanding of contemporary disasters.
A new cohort of Muslim youth has arisen since the attacks of 9/11, facilitated by the proliferation of recent communication technologies and the Internet. By focusing on these young people as a heterogeneous global cohort, the contributors to this volume-who draw from a variety of disciplines-show how the study of Muslim youth at this particular historical juncture is relevant to thinking about the anthropology of youth, the anthropology of Islamic and Muslim societies, and the post-9/11 world more generally. These scholars focus on young Muslims in a variety of settings in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America and explore the distinct pastimes and performances, processes of civic engagement and political action, entrepreneurial and consumption practices, forms of self-fashioning, and aspirations and struggles in which they engage as they seek to understand their place and make their way in a transformed world.
The Arab Maghreb-the long stretch of North Africa that expands from Libya to Mauritania-is a vitally important region that impacts the security and politics of Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and the broader Middle East. As Middle East scholars Frederic Wehrey and Anouar Boukhars show in Salafism in the Maghreb, it is also home to the conservative, literalist interpretation of Islam known as Salafism, which has emerged as a major social and political force. Through extensive interviews and fieldwork, Wehrey and Boukhars examine the many roles and manifestations of Salafism in the Maghreb, looking at the relationship between Salafism and the Maghreb's ruling regimes, as well as competing Islamist currents, increasingly youthful populations, and communal groups like tribes and ethno-linguistic minorities. They pay particular attention to how seemingly immutable Salafi ideology is often shaped by local contexts and opportunities. Informed by rigorous research, deep empathy, and unparalleled access to Salafi adherents, clerics, politicians, and militants, Salafism in the Maghreb offers a definitive account of this important Islamist current.
This work examines reformations of Islam and culture in Turkey and the successful Islamic modernist Fethullah Gulen movement.
This pioneering ethnographic work centers on the dynamics of female authority within the religious life of a conservative Muslim community in the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan. Peshkova draws upon several years of field research to chronicle the daily lives of women religious leaders, known as otinchalar, and the ways in which they exert a powerful influence in the religious life of the community. In this gender-segregated society, the Muslim women leaders have staked out a vibrant space in which they counsel and assist the women in their specific religious needs. Peshkova finds that otinchalar's religious leadership filters into other areas of society, producing social changes beyond the ritual realm and challenging stereotypical definitions of what it means to be a Muslim woman. Weaving together the stories of individuals' daily lives with her own journey to and from post-Soviet Central Asia, Peshkova provides a rich analysis of identity formation in Uzbekistan. She presents readers with a nuanced portrait of religion and social change that starts with an individual informed but not determined by the sociohistoric context of the region.
For centuries the nature and meaning of Islamic art has been misunderstood in the West, being regarded as no more than decoration. But in fact the abstract art of Islam represents the sophisticated development of a supra-naturalistic tradition, since the portrayal of human and animal forms has always been discouraged by the Prophet Muhammad, so as to avoid idolatry. Hence, among the world's great artistic traditions, Islamic art has maintained its singular integrity and inner content with the least diversion from its aim: the affirmation of unity as expressed in diversity. The Pythagorean/Platonic doctrines are easily recognizable in the body of Islamic geometric art, as the wisdom of this practice was exalted by Socrates, in Plato's Republic dialogue (527), when he specifically gave the reason for practising geometry. Its practice rekindled the inner organ (or eye of wisdom) by which alone we can see the truth. The geometrical patterns of Islamic art reveal to the eye of the sensitive onlooker the intrinsic cosmological laws affecting all Creation. The primary function of these patterns is to lead the mind from the literal and mundane world towards the underlying permanent reality. The numerous sequential drawings show how the art of Islam is inseparable from the science of mathematics. Thus, we can see clearly how an Earth-centred - 'common-sense' - view of the cosmos gives renewed signficance to the number patterns produced by the orbits of the planets, correlating the cosmos as experienced by man with the patterns created in Islamic art, and thereby throwing new light on the perennial symbolic significance of number. The mathematical tessellations inherent in space-filling patterns are revealed as an essential practical and philosophical basis for the creation of each completed work of art - whether a tile, a carpet, a wall or an entire building - and thus affirm the underlying essential unity of all things.
Islamic law influences the lives of Muslims today as aspects of the law are applied as part of State law in different forms in many areas of the world. This volume provides a much needed collection of articles that explore the complexities involved in the application of Islamic law within the contemporary legal systems of different countries today, with particular reference to Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan. The articles identify the relevant areas of difficulties and also propose possible ways of realising a more effective and equitable application of Islamic law in the contemporary world. The volume features an introductory overview of the subject as well as a comprehensive bibliography to aid further research.
How safe is Turkey's liberal democracy? The rise to power in 2002 of the right-leaning Islamic Justice and Development Party ignited fears in the West that Turkey could no longer be relied upon to provide a buffer against the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East. Once hailed by the West as a model of secularism and moderation in the Muslim world, Turkey is now seen to be under the influence of the 'creeping Islamisation' of the JDP (or AKP as it is known in Turkey). Yet to what extent has this affected the lives of Turkish citizens? Evangelia Axiarlis here explores the contribution of the JDP to civil liberties and basic freedoms, long suppressed by secular and statist Kemalist ideology, and how this has remained unexamined despite more than a decade in government. In this - the first detailed study of the policies and ideology of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an's government - the author examines the extent to which the JDP has worked to improve civil life in Turkey and critically addresses whether a government built on Islamic principles can champion political reform. Exploring how Islam and democracy are neither monoliths nor mutually exclusive, this is a timely contribution to the wider understanding of political Islam.
Why do tribal genealogies matter in modern-day Saudi Arabia? What compels the strivers and climbers of the new Saudi Arabia to want to prove their authentic descent from one or another prestigious Arabian tribe? Of Sand or Soil looks at how genealogy and tribal belonging have informed the lives of past and present inhabitants of Saudi Arabia and how the Saudi government's tacit glorification of tribal origins has shaped the powerful development of the kingdom's genealogical culture. Nadav Samin presents the first extended biographical exploration of the major twentieth-century Saudi scholar Hamad al-Jasir, whose genealogical studies frame the story about belonging and identity in the modern kingdom. Samin examines the interplay between al-Jasir's genealogical project and his many hundreds of petitioners, mostly Saudis of nontribal or lower status origin who sought validation of their tribal roots in his genealogical texts. Investigating the Saudi relationship to this opaque, orally inscribed historical tradition, Samin considers the consequences of modern Saudi genealogical politics and how the most intimate anxieties of nontribal Saudis today are amplified by the governing strategies and kinship ideology of the Saudi state. Challenging the impression that Saudi culture is determined by puritanical religiosity or rentier economic principles, Of Sand or Soil shows how the exploration and establishment of tribal genealogies have become influential phenomena in contemporary Saudi society. Beyond Saudi Arabia, this book casts important new light on the interplay between kinship ideas, oral narrative, and state formation in rapidly changing societies.
The true story of the Taliban's remarkable resurgence in Pakistan and war-torn Afghanistan more than a decade after the U.S. military's post-9/11 incursion In autumn 2001, U.S. and NATO troops were deployed to Afghanistan to unseat the Taliban rulers, repressive Islamic fundamentalists who had lent active support to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda jihadists. The NATO forces defeated and dismantled the Taliban government, scattering its remnants across the country. But despite a more than decade-long attempt to eradicate them, the Taliban endured-regrouping and reestablishing themselves as a significant insurgent movement. Gradually they have regained control of large portions of Afghanistan even as U.S. troops are preparing to depart from the region. In his authoritative and highly readable account, author Hassan Abbas examines how the Taliban not only survived but adapted to their situation in order to regain power and political advantage. Abbas traces the roots of religious extremism in the area and analyzes the Taliban's support base within Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In addition, he explores the roles that Western policies and military decision making- not to mention corruption and incompetence in Kabul-have played in enabling the Taliban's resurgence.
How do women in conservative religious movements expand spaces for political activism in ways that go beyond their movements' strict ideas about male and female roles? How and why does this activism happen in some movements but not in others? Righteous Transgressions examines these questions by comparatively studying four groups: the Jewish settlers in the West Bank, the ultra-Orthodox Shas, the Islamic Movement in Israel, and the Palestinian Hamas. Lihi Ben Shitrit demonstrates that women's prioritization of a nationalist agenda over a proselytizing one shapes their activist involvement. Ben Shitrit shows how women construct "frames of exception" that temporarily suspend, rather than challenge, some of the limiting aspects of their movements' gender ideology. Viewing women as agents in such movements, she analyzes the ways in which activists use nationalism to astutely reframe gender role transgressions from inappropriate to righteous. The author engages the literature on women's agency in Muslim and Jewish religious contexts, and sheds light on the centrality of women's activism to the promotion of the spiritual, social, cultural, and political agendas of both the Israeli and Palestinian religious right. Looking at the four most influential political movements of the Israeli and Palestinian religious right, Righteous Transgressions reveals how the bounds of gender expectations can be crossed for the political good.
In the late nineteenth century, as a consequence of imperial conquest and a mobility revolution, Russia became a crossroads of the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The first book in any language on the hajj under tsarist and Soviet rule, Russian Hajj tells the story of how tsarist officials struggled to control and co-opt Russia's mass hajj traffic, seeing it as not only a liability but also an opportunity. To support the hajj as a matter of state surveillance and control was controversial, given the preeminent position of the Orthodox Church. But nor could the hajj be ignored, or banned, due to Russia's policy of toleration of Islam. As a cross-border, migratory phenomenon, the hajj stoked officials' fears of infectious disease, Islamic revolt, and interethnic conflict, but Eileen Kane innovatively argues that it also generated new thinking within the government about the utility of the empire's Muslims and their global networks.
In the year 1000, the economy of the Middle East was at least as advanced as that of Europe. But by 1800, the region had fallen dramatically behind--in living standards, technology, and economic institutions. In short, the Middle East had failed to modernize economically as the West surged ahead. What caused this long divergence? And why does the Middle East remain drastically underdeveloped compared to the West? In "The Long Divergence," one of the world's leading experts on Islamic economic institutions and the economy of the Middle East provides a new answer to these long-debated questions.
Timur Kuran argues that what slowed the economic development of the Middle East was not colonialism or geography, still less Muslim attitudes or some incompatibility between Islam and capitalism. Rather, starting around the tenth century, Islamic legal institutions, which had benefitted the Middle Eastern economy in the early centuries of Islam, began to act as a drag on development by slowing or blocking the emergence of central features of modern economic life--including private capital accumulation, corporations, large-scale production, and impersonal exchange. By the nineteenth century, modern economic institutions began to be transplanted to the Middle East, but its economy has not caught up. And there is no quick fix today. Low trust, rampant corruption, and weak civil societies--all characteristic of the region's economies today and all legacies of its economic history--will take generations to overcome.
"The Long Divergence" opens up a frank and honest debate on a crucial issue that even some of the most ardent secularists in the Muslim world have hesitated to discuss.
Muslim countries experience wide variation in levels of Islamist political mobilization, including such political activities as protest, voting, and violence. Institutional Origins of Islamist Political Mobilization provides a theory of the institutional origins of Islamist politics, focusing on the development of religious common knowledge, religious entrepreneurship, and coordinating focal points as critical to the success of Islamist activism. Examining Islamist politics in more than 50 countries over four decades, the book illustrates that Islamist political activism varies a great deal, appearing in specific types of institutional contexts. Detailed case studies of Turkey, Algeria, and Senegal demonstrate how diverse contexts yield different types of Islamist politics across the Muslim world.
In this landmark study, Shahla Haeri offers the extraordinary biographies of several Muslim women rulers and leaders who reached the apex of political systems of their times. Their stories illuminate the complex and challenging imperatives of dynastic succession, electoral competition and the stunning success they achieved in medieval Yemen and India, and modern Pakistan and Indonesia. The written history of Islam and the Muslim world is overwhelmingly masculine, having largely ignored women and their contributions until well into the 20th century. Religious and legal justifications have been systematically invoked to justify Muslim women's banishment from politics and public domains. Yet this patriarchal domination has not gone on without serious challenges by women - sporadic and exceptional though their participation in the battle of succession has been. The Unforgettable Queens of Islam highlights lives and legacies of a number of charismatic women engaged in fierce battles of succession, and their stories offer striking insights into the workings of political power in the Muslim world.
Russians in Iran seeks to challenge the traditional narrative regarding Russian involvement Iran and to show that whilst Russia's historical involvement in Iran is longstanding it is nonetheless much misunderstood. Russia's influence in Iran between 1800 and the middle of the twentieth century is not simply a story of inexorable intrusion and domination: rather, it is a complex and interactive process of mostly indirect control and constructive engagement. Drawing on fresh archival material, the contributors provide a window into the power and influence wielded in Iran not just by the Russian government through it traditional representatives but by Russian nationals operating in Iran in a variety of capacities, including individuals, bankers, and entrepreneurs. Russians in Iran reveals the multifaceted role that Russians have played in Iranian history and provides an original and important contribution to the history and international relations of Iran, Russia and the Middle East.
This book assesses the capabilities of an Islamic approach in aiding self-organisation by examining the case of the occupied Palestinian territories in conjunction with a comparative analysis of four other nations. Three main mechanisms of Islamic development are explored; finance, microfinance and charity. Identifying the need to recognise the non-linear nature of societal interaction at the individual, community and state levels, the book uses complexity theory to better understand development. It assesses the role of Islamic development at macro and micro levels and identifies issues with rigid and hierarchical policy making.
Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Occupied Palestinian Territory has been the subject of extensive international peacebuilding and statebuilding efforts coordinated by Western donor states and international finance institutions. Despite their failure to yield peace or Palestinian statehood, the role of these organisations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is generally overlooked owing to their depiction as tertiary actors engaged in technical missions. In Palestine Ltd., Toufic Haddad explores how neoliberal frameworks have shaped and informed the common understandings of international, Israeli and Palestinian interactions throughout the Oslo peace process. Drawing upon more than 20 years of policy literature, field-based interviews and recently declassified or leaked documents, he details how these frameworks have led to struggles over influencing Palestinian political and economic behaviour, and attempts to mould the class character of Palestinian society and its leadership. A dystopian vision of Palestine emerges as the by-product of this complex asymmetrical interaction, where nationalism, neo-colonialism and `disaster capitalism' both intersect and diverge. This book is essential for students and scholars interested in Middle East Studies, Arab-Israeli politics and international development.
Since the age of the Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD), Iran and the West have time and again appeared to be at odds. Iran and the West charts this contentious and complex relationship by examining the myriad ways the two have perceived each other, from antiquity to today. Across disciplines, perspectives and periods contributors consider literary, imagined, mythical, visual, filmic, political and historical representations of the 'other' and the ways in which these have been constructed in, and often in spite of, their specific historical contexts. Many of these narratives, for example, have their origin in the ancient world but have since been altered, recycled and manipulated to fit a particular agenda. Ranging from Tacitus, Leonidas and Xerxes via Shahriar Mandanipour and Azar Nafisi to Rosewater, Argo and 300, this inter-disciplinary and wide-ranging volume is essential reading for anyone working on the complex history, present and future of Iranian-Western relations.
Through detailed exploration of events in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Syria and Yemen, Sean Burns here breaks down the concept of professionalism within the armed forces into its component parts and demonstrates how variation in military structures determines their behaviour. In so doing, and by emphasising historical context and drawing on a wide range of political science theory, Burns sheds fresh light onto the ways in which military structure affects the potential for democratic transition or the course of civil war. With this book he presented a wide-ranging study of the Middle East which provides key tools to understanding the opportunities for democratisation, both during the Arab Spring and beyond, and which is therefore essential reading for anyone working on the Middle East, popular uprisings and the politics of repression.
Pakistan is both the embodiment of national ambitions fulfilled and, in the eyes of many, a failed state. Muslim Zion cuts to the core of the geopolitical paradoxes entangling Pakistan to argue that it has never been a nation state in the conventional sense. It is instead a distinct type of political geography, ungrounded in the historic connections of lands and peoples, whose context is provided by the settler states of the New World but whose closest ideological parallel is the state of Israel. A year before the 1948 establishment of Israel, Pakistan was founded on a philosophy that accords with Zionism in surprising ways. This book understands Zion as a political form rather than a holy land, one that rejects hereditary linkages between ethnicity and soil in favour of membership based on nothing but the idea of belonging. Like Israel, Pakistan came into being through the migration of a minority population, inhabiting a vast subcontinent, who abandoned old lands in which they feared persecution to settle in a new homeland. Just as Israel is the world's sole Jewish state, Pakistan is the only Muslim country to make religion the sole basis for its nationality. Revealing how Pakistan's troubled present continues to be shaped by its past, Muslim Zion is a penetrating critique of what comes of founding a country on an unresolved desire both to join and reject the world of modern nation-states.
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