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Article

Rahman, Fazlur  

Ebrahim Moosa

Fazlur Rahman was a preeminent 20th-century Muslim scholar who combined modernism with tradition. He saw his role as that of shaping the study of Islam in the modern Western academy with the empathy of a believer and a critical scholarly acumen. Grounded in philosophy, theology, history, and moral thought, he advocated for a reinterpretation of the early sources of Islamic learning—emphasizing, for example, the more organic Sunnah instead of the atomistic prophetic reports in the form of ḥadīth. Critical of some aspects of the transmitted discursive tradition, he nevertheless viewed tradition as indispensable to the renewal of Islamic thought. He placed the Qurʾān and his specific hermeneutic of the historicized thematics of the revelation at the center of his renewal and reform project. While he took history seriously, in the end a scripture-centered hermeneutic became his preferred discursive framework.

Article

Mexican Islam in the Perspective of Islam in Latin America  

Sylvie Taussig

The very idea of a Mexican Islam is paradoxical: this religion comes from outside, through the migration of people from Arab Islamic countries or through the circulation of symbolic goods fed from outside and circulating ever more easily with the rise of new technologies. However, in the early 21st century, Islam in Mexico and, more generally, Latin America is not a “foreign” or outsider religion. On one hand, sociologically, its followers are equally migrants and converts. On the other hand, Islamic organizations are working hard to think about their territorialization. Finally, like any social fact, the Muslim form of the religion does not exist absolutely but inflects itself according to the context in which it is situated: in this case, if it is true that Islam is one, the practice of Islam is necessarily delineated differently in a Mexican context. The paradox of the Latinity of Mexican Islam needs to be explored in its different dimensions, historical, sociological, ideological, and metapolitical. In fact, tension arises from the double claim of a transnational ummah (whether it is the universalism of Islam as a monotheism that does not take into account races, genders, classes, nations, and so on or the constitution of a community through its religion) and of a Mexican Islam. The Latin perspective has to be addressed by proceeding with the identification of commonalities between the Muslim realities of Latin countries and examining the very claims of a Latinity and then of a Hispanicity of Islam in order to consider the no less paradoxical question of Mexico as an opportunity for renewal for Islam.

Article

The Caliphate  

Carool Kersten

The caliphate as an institution for governing the Muslim community can be traced back to the time immediately after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 ce. With its humble origins in the parochial settings of an Arabian desert oasis, the caliphate provided the structure for the shepherding of a community of believers organized around prophetic teachings calling for return to the true religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets, a religion that came to be known as Islam. Despite internal dissent and even civil war, the caliphate not only survived but even expanded far beyond the Arabian Peninsula. Between the 8th and 10th centuries the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates ruled an empire stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indus River. After that, the challenges of sustained political control proved too formidable to be exercised from a single center, leading to political fragmentation. Although it functioned only for a few centuries as an effective form of Islamic governance, for many Sunni Muslims the caliphate’s political and symbolic significance has outlasted its administrative and institutional fragmentation. Its appeal even continued after its formal abolition in 1924 by the founding president of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881–1938). Since then the caliphate has not just remained a nostalgic memory. Throughout the 20th century and into the new millennium, some proponents of political Islam continue to advocate the restoration of a caliphate as a rallying point for Muslims worldwide, in some instances making concrete efforts toward re-establishing the institution or even proclaiming a new caliph.

Article

Islam, Art, and Depictions of Prophets  

Rachel Milstein

The history of figurative painting in Islamic lands, although limited to certain regions and periods, includes a meaningful variety of saintly iconographies, mostly as book illustrations. Produced from the turn of the 14th to the early 17th century in Iranian capital cities or in the Ottoman Empire, paintings of prophets illuminate manuscripts of universal histories, encyclopedias, didactic poetry, and anthologies of prophetic biographies (Stories of the Prophets). They depict personages, not necessarily prophets, from the Old and the New Testaments, two Arab prophets mentioned in the Qurʼan, and finally Muhammad (and ʿAli, although he was not a prophet). The acts of these figures served as moral and spiritual models for the individual believers and, no less so, for the desired behavior of Muslim rulers. In Iran, the message of the illustrated texts and their paintings shifts from historical to moral, and often to mystical. In the Ottoman Empire, in addition, the prophets were conceived as forefathers of the Ottoman dynasty. In Moghul India, only Solomon and Jesus were depicted, not very often, while Joseph’s story was quite popular in late Kashmir. The impact of Western iconography and style, which characterize the recurrence of Jesus’ image, is seen also in later Iran, where portrayals of Solomon, Joseph, and Jesus were painted mainly on decorative objects, such as pen boxes and book bindings.

Article

Islamic Bioethics: Abortion  

Gilla K. Shapiro and Jonathan K. Crane

Religion plays a significant role in the bioethical decisions of abortion, which is the procedure for terminating a pregnancy before the fetus reaches viability. The bioethical discussion of abortion in Islam has great significance for health policy, significantly affecting how women seek out abortions and the rates of unsafe abortions and national maternal mortality. Guiding texts of Islamic religious authority, the Quran and the Sunnah, do not directly address abortion, but the Quran does include the prohibition of infanticide and mistreatment of unwanted children. It details how abortions are justified on varying grounds, such as the endangerment of the woman’s life.

Article

Islam in Southeast Asia  

Khairudin Aljunied

Islam has maintained its presence in Southeast Asia for more than a millennium, dating back to as early as the 7th century. By the 21st century, the estimated total of Muslims surpassed 240 million, making Southeast Asia a site that is populated by one of the largest Muslim communities on the planet. Muslims are majorities in 21st-century Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In other Southeast Asian countries, namely Myanmar, Cambodia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam, they remain as minorities, experiencing varying levels of integration and assimilation with the majority non-Muslim Buddhist or Christian populations. The massive though gradual spread of Islam in the region can be attributed to the generally peaceful, multifaceted, and creative ways by which Islam was infused into the everyday life of local societies. Traders, Sufi missionaries, scholars, rulers, and even non-Muslims have all contributed to the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia. Most Muslims in Southeast Asia are Sunnis, adhering to the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence, Ash’ari theology, and Sufi ethics. Located within this cosmopolitan and diverse religious landscape are Muslims who belong to other schools of Islamic jurisprudence and theological leanings such as Hanafi, Ja’fari, Shi’ah, and Salafi. Viewed from the perspective of the longue durée (long duration), the venture of Islam in Southeast Asia can be divided into four successive phases: gradualist (7th–14th centuries), populist (15th–19th centuries), colonial-reformist (19th–mid-20th centuries), and assertive (mid-20th–21st centuries).

Article

The Alevis  

Gisela Procházka-Eisl

The Alevis are a religious community on the periphery of Shia Islam. The name “Alevi” means “Adherents of ʿAli,” alluding to Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin ʿAli ibn Abi Talib, who enjoys extraordinary veneration among Alevis. Alevism was developed in Central Anatolia during the 13th century by itinerant Muslim mystics. It includes elements of pre-Islamic Turkish shamanism and aspects of mainstream Shia Islam, which influenced it through cultural contacts with Safavid Iran. Alevism never was a unified and homogeneous community but has always had a variety of sub-groups. For centuries Alevis practiced their rites in secret, which created suspicion and rumor among Sunnite Muslims. Today’s Alevis still have to struggle with this distrust, and are often regarded as heretics by the Sunnites. The designation “Alevi” came into use in the early 20th century as a collective term for a number of religious groups such as Bektaşi, Tahtacı, and Abdal, and today is used instead of the former, pejorative term Kızılbaş (“Red-Heads”). The Alevis are the largest religious minority group in the Republic of Turkey, where their estimated number is around 15 million. Large Alevi groups also reside in the Balkan states as well as in Central and Western Europe, particularly Germany and Austria. Roughly two-thirds of the Alevis are Turkish speakers. The other third speak Kurdish and Zazaki. In the 1980s, the community underwent the so-called “Alevi revival,” a process of exposure and openness that can be partly explained as a reaction against the re-Islamization of Turkish society. Today Alevis perform their rites and express their beliefs openly. Although they share certain features with them, the Alevis should not be confused with the Alawis (Nusayris), who live in southern Turkey and Syria and who are all Arabic speakers.

Article

Islam in the Caribbean  

Ken Chitwood

It is difficult to speak of “Islam in the Caribbean” in any unified sense. Because the story of Islam and Muslims in the Caribbean is characterized by both a long, multifaceted history and modern miscellany, there is no past or present uniformity in progeny, perspectives, or practices. Nonetheless, the classification offers a geographically focused and categorically complex frame of reference to consider often overlooked aspects in the region and of global Islam. Stretching from the long 16th century to the present day, the narrative of Islam and Muslims in and of the Caribbean is one of colonial power and cosmopolitanization, contested history and concurrent heterogeneity, global connectedness, and local complexity. Across the region, Muslim experience is significantly linked to the complex nexus of relationships and interactions between peoples and powers in the wider Atlantic world since the 16th century. Yet, because the Anglophone, Dutch, Hispanophone, and Francophone Caribbeans are each marked by colonial lineages and created certain networks by which Islam and Muslims arrived in the region, there are multiple assemblages that mark and make up the various socialities in the region. Thus, their stories are sufficiently diverse to warrant distinct recognition and treatment. At the same time, and thanks to this shared Atlantic world, there are shared themes and common concerns that can be identified across the Caribbean, including but not limited to: diaspora dynamics, migration, minoritization, transregional networks, debates over hybridity and purity, religious diversification, notions of space and place, class issues, questions of indigeneity, and the interstices of race and religion in colonial and postcolonial perspectives. In addition, there have also been enough interactions at, across, and between the various “Caribbeans” to justify—indeed, necessitate—comparing them and putting them into conversation with one another. Aliyah Khan, in her literary study of the significance, influence, and changeability of Muslims in the Anglophone Caribbean, emphasized both the need to decenter the U.S. in the study of Islam in the Americas and further globalize the study of global Islam by putting different regions into comparative perspective (e.g., the Anglophone Caribbean and the Hispanophone Caribbean). This requires putting connected, yet seemingly disparate, contexts such as Trinidad and Puerto Rico, Suriname and Haiti, the Bahamas and Cuba into comparative conversation. The result of such juxtapositions is not only a richer appreciation of the constitutive aspects of Caribbean history and contemporary culture but a more extensive and entangled understanding of global Islam’s constituent communities and representative sites.

Article

Palestinian Muslim Communities in Colombia  

Felipe Medina Gutiérrez and Odette Yidi David

Arabic-speaking peoples, including Palestinians mostly Christian from Ottoman-controlled lands and later living under European mandates in greater Syria, migrated to the Americas, during the last quarter of the 19th century and until the end of the World War II. The creation of the State of Israel in May 1948 meant the expulsion and forced migration of yet more Palestinians, some settling in refugee camps in the region and others moving to distant countries, such as Colombia. This new wave of Palestinian immigrants was overwhelmingly Muslim. The Palestinian diaspora in the 21st century comprises about ten million people around the world and is highly diverse in terms of religious identity. Some communities have organized around supporting the development of their host countries and homeland; nonetheless, not many people are aware of these stories. Also, it is common in the “West” to witness accusations that Palestinians, Muslims, and Arabs in general are violent by nature, as a result of a series of orientalist misconceptions about a people and a religion that, despite exceeding 1,600 billion believers around the world, remains misunderstood. Something similar happens with the Palestinian diaspora in Colombia, where little research has been undertaken to historicize their presence and interactions. Primary and secondary sources illustrate how the Palestinian Muslim immigrant community in Colombia has integrated into the local society and strengthened its ties on a social level beyond the political and economic issues, with consideration of its religious identity and minority condition.

Article

Terrorism and Violence in North America  

Atiya Husain

Even among those most invested in defining “terrorism,” there is an inability to agree on a shared definition. This suggests the political nature of the concept. Terrorism is best understood in relation to other social phenomena, particularly colonialism and capitalism. This essay discusses several questions on the topic of terrorism and violence: What is at stake in the definition of terrorism? What is the relationship of Muslims and Islam to terrorism? What is the scope of counterterrorism? In addressing these questions, the article discusses a range of topics including Black Power, paper terrorism, “Barbary” pirates, the Christian Identity Movement, black identity extremism, racially motivated violent extremism, and the permeation of terrorism concerns into sectors, including education and natural disaster management.

Article

Islamic Society of North America  

Iqbal J. Unus

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is arguably the most influential of organizations and institutions that represent and serve the interests of the growing community of Muslims in the United States and Canada. ISNA evolved in the early 1980s from the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada (MSA), founded in 1963 by international students on North American college campuses. ISNA has secured its place among Muslim Americans by opening its membership to all Muslim Americans, regardless of ethnicity or sectarian persuasion. Further, its member-elected leadership facilitates timely and relevant responses to the changing civic and political environment. Headquartered in suburban Plainfield, Indiana, ISNA is governed by a board of directors and managed by an executive director as its chief executive officer. As an Internal Revenue Service–designated tax-exempt charity, ISNA is funded by contributions from members and donors and by revenues from its conventions and conferences. ISNA claims and promotes leadership and service as its guiding principles and draws from those themes for its most visible activities: an annual convention, its flagship bimonthly publication, two annual education forums, and its active engagement with governmental and religious institutions. A vibrant youth program, an inclusive orientation, a stewardship outlook, and membership open to Muslims of all sectarian persuasions have earned ISNA a prominent place in the American Muslim community. ISNA’s comprehensive work in many areas of Muslim-American life has enabled it to initiate and lead collaborative initiatives among Muslim organizations to advance common goals. Yet, during the nearly sixty years of their existence, MSA and ISNA have endured a few financial and operational challenges. Funding by core supporters and diligence by committed officers helped strengthen ISNA’s resilience and reinforce its ingrained appeal to North American Muslims. By thoughtfully collaborating with faith-based organizations, civic-minded activist groups, and governmental entities at national levels, ISNA has secured a preeminent position as the representative voice of Muslim Americans. ISNA’s annual conventions and flagship magazine are recognized as significant contributions to the maturity of the Muslim American presence in North America.

Article

Islamic Relics  

Richard McGregor

Relics can be found in every era of Islamic history, throughout the Islamic world. In line with other religious traditions of the Near East, the Qur’an mentions several objects endowed with special power (e.g., Joseph’s coat, the Ark of the Covenant). The earliest Islamic literature, preserving the life and mission of Muḥammad, presents details of several revered objects. These include objects handed down from pre-Islamic prophets as well as the discards of Muḥammad’s person, including clothing, weapons, and hair. Saintly figures, descendants of the Prophet, and his companions have also been sources for relics. Relics are displayed and venerated in devotional contexts such as shrines, tombs, mosques, madrasas, and museums. Relics have been paraded on special occasions such as the festival days of the Muslim calendar, in medieval protest marches, as part of the rituals for relief from drought, and as talismans in battle. Despite the occasional objection from austere doctors of law, devotion to relics has remained commonplace. While a full inventory is impossible, five categories may be proposed for the Islamic relic: (a) Bodily relics include the blood of martyrs, hair, and fingernail parings. Shrines have been built over severed heads—the most famous being that of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (d. 680). (b) Contact relics, having collected the baraka (blessing) of their one-time owners, pass those blessings on to any pilgrim who touches them. Several staffs, lances, bows, shields, turbans, cloaks, and sandals attributed to the Prophet have been preserved, some of which were presented as symbols of authority in the early caliphate. (c) Impressions in stone made by feet, hands, fingers, posteriors, and even hooves are preserved. Muḥammad’s footprints saw a brisk trade in the medieval period, and his sandal inspired a minor tradition of devotional iconography first in manuscript copies and later in modern mass production. (d) Inanimate objects, miraculously endowed with speech or locomotion, constitute a fourth category. These animated relics could be speaking stones or moving trees, particularly in the sacred topographies of Medina and Mecca. (e) Many revered places which were the site of important events have been marked off and preserved. More than commemorations, these “stage relics” anchored sacred history and holy bodies in the landscape. The location of Muḥammad’s birthplace in Mecca was until recently a revered stage relic.

Article

“Whosoever Sees an Evil”: Muslim Americans’ Human Rights Advocacy  

Sahar Aziz

The quintessential foil to liberalism in the Western imagination continues to be Islam. Orientalist stereotypes of Muslims as uncivilized and savage justified European conquest that led to centuries of colonialism. The United States followed suit when it replaced Britain and France as the new “Great Power” in Muslim majority countries, but this time through political and military hegemony. International human rights, formally developed after World War II by Western nations, became a soft power tool that perpetuated Orientalist portrayals of Muslim societies as illiberal, misogynist, and violent on account of their Islamic values. As a result, some Western lawyers and scholars frame Islam as the cause of international human rights violations, thereby making military and political interventions necessary to protect Muslims’ human rights. That is, Islam is antithetical to universal human rights. Meanwhile, insufficient attention is paid to Western nation’s support for the despots that violate their Muslim citizens’ human rights. To the extent explorations of human rights and Islam are conducted in good faith, the lived experiences of Muslims offer more insights than abstract debates infected by Orientalist academic training. Accordingly, this article looks to Muslims in America as a case study to show how Islamic principles can and do inform Muslim leaders’ defense of human rights. Muslim elected officials, human rights lawyers, and religious leaders explicitly reference their Islamic beliefs as the basis for their social justice work in the United States. The political environment in which Muslims live, rather than their religion per se, is thus more predictive of compliance with international human rights norms.

Article

Wilfred Cantwell Smith and the Study of Islam  

Suzanne Smith

Wilfred Cantwell Smith’s formative contributions to the study of Islam were made mostly in the mid- to late 20th century, beginning with the 1943 publication of his dissertation Modern Islam in India: A Social Analysis in Lahore. His later achievements were integrated with his pedagogical and administrative innovations to the point that he influenced the study of Islam in North America by shaping his students and the settings in which they were educated as much as by his published works. All these efforts were informed by a larger mission: to foster recognition that the understanding of Islam in the past, present, and future required knowledge and awareness of the role it plays and has played in the hearts, minds, and lives of Muslims; to do justice to Islam by forging a critical and empathetic historical understanding of the Islamic tradition; and to create a new approach to the study of religion grounded in the difference between personal faith and cumulative tradition. Smith’s scholarly ethos was an outgrowth of his Weltaanschauung, the hallmark of which was what he referred to as participation in reality. One participated in reality, he suggested, through the loving exercise of reason and justice in the pursuit of truth. With respect to the study of Islam, truth was not to be mastered solely through the accumulation and interpretation of data but also through personal knowledge of and, ideally, friendship with modern Muslims. Smith was an all but uncategorizable figure, having been early on a materialist, Marxist, existentialist, Presbyterian minister and missionary, and later a rationalist thinker with conspicuous debts to German idealism and classical Greek metaphysics, as well as a visionary administrator and teacher of Islamic and comparative religious history.

Article

Transnational Jihadi Movements  

Mona Sheikh and Saer El-Jaichi

Transnational jihadi movements are defined by their transnational appeal and demands, their reaction against external interventions and call for Muslim autonomy, and their network-like organization. These movements perceive jihad—in terms of an armed struggle—to be a (neglected) duty incumbent upon all Muslims, regardless of their national affiliation. The global jihadi movement has had two organizational manifestations: al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State movement. Al-Qaeda first appeared on the global stage in the 1990s as a local recruitment bureau for the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the Cold War. Islamic State appeared in the 2000s, initially as an Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda in the context of the country’s political turmoil in 2001–2003, later developing into a separate expansionist movement that took territorial control of large parts of Syria and Iraq. Though Islamic State lost its territorial control in 2018, it is still active across different regions, much like al-Qaeda. Regional branches of both organizations are at times reliant on a centralized authority, but more often they are local movements that have declared loyalty to the agenda of the al-Qaeda or Islamic State. The worldview of transnational jihadi movements is framed and defined by geopolitical events that took place in the Middle East from the 1960s onward. The movements appear with a defensive anticolonial ethos against foreign intervention and interference, but also with offensive ambitions of establishing a transnational caliphate. Though Islamic State has a sectarian agenda largely defined against Shia Muslims, both contemporary movements are driven by the belief that God’s sovereignty is threatened, that the United States and the West are an enemy of Muslims along with apostate Muslim regimes, and that Islam needs to be purified from disbelief. Tactical and interpretive differences regarding the definition of disbelief, the right timing of establishing the caliphate, and fighting the near enemy (apostate regimes) or the far enemy (the United States and the West) have caused divisions among the transnational jihadi movements.

Article

Theology, Issues in North America  

Candace Mixon

Muslims have been present in North America long before the transatlantic slave trade; Western and North African Muslims were an (involuntary) part of “New World” expeditions as early as the 1500s. Muslims who arrived enslaved during the transatlantic slave trade were often prohibited from practicing, writing about, or discussing Islam. Later, immigration waves, new religious movements, and eventually dedicated centers for teaching about Muslims and Islam and centers of Muslim education and debate yielded sophisticated responses to the specific challenges and benefits of North American Muslim life. Authenticity and connection to Arabo-centric Islam have often characterized theological movements, while the variety of North American Muslim communities developed an ever-changing pallet of Islams and identity markers that still do not coalesce neatly into traditional theological schools. The concept and translation of Islamic theology, or kalam, does not map onto its comparative Christian counterpart. Kalam has historically been employed to define modes of correct Muslim practice within Muslim communities while defending against questions, attacks, or degradations by other religious groups. Islamic theology can be considered from two directions: foundations of practicing Islam that form Muslims’ obligations derived from many Qur’anic interpretations and through the discipline of theology, focused on the rational and technical inquiry of doctrines and arguments to determine correct practice. Both approaches delve into intra-Muslim dialogues, which are vital to the outcome of believers’ performance in this world to prepare for the next. North American experiences inform Muslim approaches to theology, whether attributed to transcontinental migration or developed within the boundaries of North America. Such approaches may sometimes be disparate or even oppositional, accumulated through the lack of a singular religious authority. Numerous leadership groups, histories, informal leaders, and recognized pathfinders who could be considered leading the charge to promote particular theologically driven movements in North America can be pointed to. At the same time, many Muslims in North America do not belong to any particular Muslim organization; they may connect with ethnic or regional communities instead. Tracing the history of Islam in North America is a framework for following North American approaches to theological debates that serve to create, police, or multiply the variety of Muslim experiences in North America. The decentralized development and diversification of Islam in North America contribute to a diversity of theological practices that are better embraced in their multiplicities rather than treated as a cohesive body.

Article

The Expansion of African American Muslim Movements beyond the United States  

Philipp Bruckmayr

Following the emergence of a variety of African American Muslim movements in the United States since the 1920s, Islam began to spread among African American and African Caribbean communities in a number of states in the Americas and the Caribbean as well as in Great Britain. There is little evidence for the expansion of early African American Muslim movements, such as the Moorish Science Temple and the Nation of Islam (NOI), beyond the United States in the first decades of their existence, but the process gained traction in the second half of the 20th century. By the 1970s, different originally US-based African American Muslim movements had acquired followings in Canada, England, and various Caribbean and South American states. These included not only the NOI, and its successor organization, the World Community of al-Islam in the West (later known as the American Society of Muslims), but also the Islamic Mission to America, the Dar-ul-Islam movement, the Ansaaru Allah Community, and the Islamic Party in North America. In addition, African Americans and African Caribbeans in different countries embraced Islam on a more individual basis, inspired by famous African American Muslims, such as Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. This transnational expansion of African American Islam represents a conversion process among African-descended populations, which has radiated not from the Muslim world but the United States across the western hemisphere and into Europe. Despite the international connections of some of the concerned movements, African American and African Caribbean Muslim communities outside the United States initially exhibited only limited discursive and personal links to either the Muslim world or established local Muslim communities of South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern descent. By the 1980s, however, many of the US-based movements were in a state of disarray and disintegration. As a result, the ties of African American and African Caribbean Muslims to the United States were weakened and local tendencies toward emancipation from US organizations and models intensified. Concomitantly, at least in some locations, interactions with larger and longer-established local Muslim communities of South Asian, Southeast Asian, and/or Middle Eastern descent increased. Another major development during the period was the general growing exposure to transnational impulses from the Muslim world, particularly from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and South Asia. Against this background, African American and African Caribbean Muslim communities outside the United States have embarked on various paths of transformation, including toward more widely recognized Sunni (including Salafi) and Shiite expressions of Islam. Many communities have nevertheless retained a distinctly Afro-centric character, either in orientation or just in membership, without subscribing to a racialist theology. Notable cases in point are Trinidad’s Jamaat al-Muslimeen, the Afro-Colombian Shiite community of Buenaventura, and Suriname’s Sadaqatul Islam, as well as London’s Salafi Brixton Mosque. Individual African American and African Caribbean Muslim scholars and leaders, such as the Trinidadian Shiite Shaykh Ahmed Haneef or the Jamaican Jihadist preacher Abdullah el-Faisal, have, however, acquired followings and influence extending way beyond African-descended constituencies. Arguably, the most well-known African Caribbean scholar to date is the Jamaica-born Bilal Philips, one of the key figures of Salafi preaching in English.

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Islamic Bioethics: Codes of Medical Ethics  

Aisha Malik

The evolution of Islamic medical ethics codes and treatises began with the akhlāq and adab treatises, followed by the codes developed by the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences (IOMS). Akhlāq and adab approximate the meaning of ethics. Akhlāq refers to one’s character, while adab literally means civility or etiquette and refers to norms of right conduct, which are often understood as “one’s disposition as formed by habit.” Though an official code of ethics was absent in the early years of Islam, a small group of conscientious physicians, concerned with the quality of medical care and the reputation of their profession, provided guidelines for individual physicians’ professional behavior. These include Adab–al Ţabīb (The Practical Ethics of the Physician), the Akhlāq -al-Ţabīb (Medical Ethics), and al-Qānūn Fi’l-Tibb (Canon of Medicine). Other important ethics codes include the Islamic Code of Medical Ethics, the International Islamic Code for Medical and Health Ethics, and the Islamic Code of Medical and Health Ethics.

Article

Islamic Theological Views on Darwinian Evolution  

Nidhal Guessoum

The various positions that Muslim scholars have adopted vis-à-vis Darwin’s theory of evolution since its inception in 1859 are here reviewed with an eye on the theological arguments that are embraced, whether explicitly or implicitly. A large spectrum of views and arguments are thus found, ranging from total rejection to total acceptance, including “human exceptionalism” (evolution is applicable to all organisms and animals but not to humans). The two main theological arguments that are thus extracted from Muslim scholars’ discussions of evolution are: 1) Is God excluded by the evolutionary paradigm or does the term “Creator” acquire a new definition? 2) Does Adam still exist in the human evolution scenario, and how to include his Qur’anic story in the scientific scenario? Additional, but less crucial issues are sometimes raised in Islamic discussions of evolution: a) Does the extinction of innumerable species during the history of life on earth conflict with the traditional view of God’s creation? b) Is theodicy (“the problem of evil”) exacerbated or explained by evolution? c) Are “species” well-defined and important biological entities in the Islamic worldview? d) Can the randomness that seems inherent in the evolutionary process be reconciled with a divine creation plan? These questions are here reviewed through the writings and arguments of Muslim scholars, and general conclusions are drawn about why rejectionists find it impossible to address those issues in a manner that is consistent with their religious principles and methods, and why more progressive, less literalistic scholars are able to fold those issues within a less rigid conception of God and the world.

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Governance in Classical Islamic Thought  

Ovamir Anjum

Governance in Islamic history has taken many different forms. The formative period saw most innovative deployment of the Arab tribal norms under the guidance of Islamic norms and the pressure of the rapid expansion. After the conquests, the ruling elite augmented their Arab tribal form of governance with numerous institutions and practices from the surrounding empires, particularly the Persian empire. The Umayyads ruled as Arab chiefs, whereas the Abbasids ruled as Persian emperors. Local influences further asserted themselves in governance after the Abbasids weakened and as Islamization took root. After the fragmentation of the Abbasid empire by the ah 4th century/10th century ce, a distinctively Islamic society emerged whose regional rulers upheld its law and institutions such as land-grants (iqṭāʿ), taxation (kharāj and jizya), education (legal madhhab, jāmiʿ and madrasah), and judiciary (qaḍāh). A triangle of governmental authority was established, with the caliph as the source of legitimacy, symbol of community unity, and leader of religious rites; the sultan as the territorial king who maintained the army and monopoly over violence; and the scholars (ulama’) as socioreligious leaders of their respective communities. The caliph or the sultan appointed the local qāḍīs from among the ulama’, who served not only as judges and mediators but also as moral guides and administers of endowments and jurisconsults and counselors, and thus played a key role in the self-governance of classical Islamic societies.