front cover of Parables of Coercion
Parables of Coercion
Conversion and Knowledge at the End of Islamic Spain
Seth Kimmel
University of Chicago Press, 2015
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, competing scholarly communities sought to define a Spain that was, at least officially, entirely Christian, even if many suspected that newer converts from Islam and Judaism were Christian in name only. Unlike previous books on conversion in early modern Spain, however, Parables of Coercion focuses not on the experience of the converts themselves, but rather on how questions surrounding conversion drove religious reform and scholarly innovation.
            In its careful examination of how Spanish authors transformed the history of scholarship through debate about forced religious conversion, Parables of Coercion makes us rethink what we mean by tolerance and intolerance, and shows that debates about forced conversion and assimilation were also disputes over the methods and practices that demarcated one scholarly discipline from another.

front cover of Paths of Accommodation
Paths of Accommodation
Muslim Societies and French Colonial Authorities in Senegal and Mauritania, 1880–1920
David Robinson
Ohio University Press, 2000

Between 1880 and 1920, Muslim Sufi orders became pillars of the colonial regimes and economies of Senegal and Mauritania. In Paths of Accommodation, David Robinson examines the ways in which the leaders of the orders negotiated relations with the Federation of French West Africa in order to preserve autonomy within the religious, social, and economic realms while abandoning the political sphere to their non-Muslim rulers.

This was a striking development because the local inhabitants had a strong sense of belonging to the Dar al-Islam, the “world of Islam” in which Muslims ruled themselves.

Drawing from a wide variety of archival, oral, and Arabic sources, Robinson describes the important roles played by Muslim merchants and the mulatto community of St. Louis, Senegal. He also examines the impact of the electoral institutions established by the Third Republic, and the French effort to develop a reputation as a “Muslim power”—a European imperial nation with a capacity for ruling over Islamic subjects.

By charting the similarities and differences of the trajectories followed by leading groups within the region as they responded to the colonial regimes, Robinson provides an understanding of the relationship between knowledge and power, the concepts of civil society and hegemony, and the transferability of symbolic, economic, and social capital.


front cover of Paths toward the Nation
Paths toward the Nation
Islam, Community, and Early Nationalist Mobilization in Eritrea, 1941–1961
Joseph L. Venosa
Ohio University Press, 2014
In the early and mid-1940s, during the period of British wartime occupation, community and religious leaders in the former Italian colony of Eritrea engaged in a course of intellectual and political debate that marked the beginnings of a genuine national consciousness across the region. During the late 1940s and 1950s, the scope of these concerns slowly expanded as the nascent nationalist movement brought together Muslim activists with the increasingly disaffected community of Eritrean Christians. The Eritrean Muslim League emerged as the first genuine proindependence organization in the country to challenge both the Ethiopian government’s calls for annexation and international plans to partition Eritrea between Sudan and Ethiopia. The league and its supporters also contributed to the expansion of Eritrea’s civil society, formulating the first substantial arguments about what made Eritrea an inherently separate national entity. These concepts were essential to the later transition from peaceful political protest to armed rebellion against Ethiopian occupation. Paths toward the Nation is the first study to focus exclusively on Eritrea’s nationalist movement before the start of the armed struggle in 1961.

front cover of Pious Property
Pious Property
Islamic Mortgages in the United States
Bill Maurer
Russell Sage Foundation, 2006
Owning a home has always been central to the American dream. For the more than one million Muslims in the United States, this is no exception. However, the Qur'an forbids the payment of interest, which places conventional home financing out of reach for observant Muslims. To meet the growing Muslim demand for home purchases, a market for home financing that would be halal, or permissible under Islamic law, has emerged. In Pious Property, anthropologist William Maurer profiles the emergence of this new religiously based financial service and explores the ways it reflects the influence of Muslim practices on American economic life and vice versa. Pious Property charts the development of Islamic mortgages in America, starting with Islamic interpretations of the prohibition against riba—literally translated as "increase" but interpreted as "usury" or "interest." Maurer then explores the different practices that have emerged as permissible options for Islamic homebuyers—such as lease-to-own arrangements, profit-loss sharing, and cost-plus contracts—and explains how they have gained acceptance in the Islamic community by relying on payment schemes that avoid standard interest rate payments. Using interviews with Muslim homebuyers and financiers, and in-depth analysis of two companies that provide mortgage alternatives to Muslims, Maurer discovers an interesting paradox: progressive Muslims tend to use financial contracts that seemingly comply better with the prohibition against interest, while traditional Muslims seem more inclined to take on financing very similar to interest-based mortgages. Maurer finds that Muslims make their decisions about using Islamic mortgage alternatives based not only on the views of religious scholars, but also on their conceptions of how business is supposed to be conducted in America. While one form of Islamic financing is seemingly more congruent with the prohibition against riba, the other exhibits more of the qualities of American mortgages—anonymity and standardized forms. The appearance that an Islamic financing instrument is legal and professional leaves many Muslim homebuyers with the impression that it is halal, revealing the influence of American capitalism on Muslim Americans' understanding of their religious rules. The market for halal financial products exists at the intersection of American and Islamic culture and is emblematic of the way that, for centuries, America's newcomers have adapted to and changed the fabric of American life. In Pious Property, William Maurer explores this rapidly growing economic phenomenon with historical perspective and scholarly insight.

front cover of Politicizing Islam in Austria
Politicizing Islam in Austria
The Far-Right Impact in the Twenty-First Century
Farid Hafez
Rutgers University Press, 2024
Among its Continental peers, Austria has stood out for its longstanding state recognition of the Muslim community as early as 1912. A shift has occurred more recently, however, as populist far-right voices within the Austrian government have redirected public discourse and put into question Islam’s previously accepted autonomous status within the country. 

Politicizing Islam in Austria examines this anti-Muslim swerve in Austrian politics through a comprehensive analysis of government policies and regulations, as well as party and public discourses. In their innovative study, Hafez and Heinisch show how the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) adapted anti-Muslim discourse to their political purposes and how that discourse was then appropriated by the conservative center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). This reconfiguration of the political landscape prepared the way for a right-wing coalition government between conservatives and far-right actors that would subsequently institutionalize anti-Muslim political demands and change the shape of the civic conditions and public perceptions of Islam and the Muslim community in the republic. 

front cover of Postcolonial France
Postcolonial France
The Question of Race and the Future of the Republic
Paul Silverstein
Pluto Press, 2018
France has in recent years emerged as a bellwether for worldwide anxieties around postcolonialism and multiculturalism, and the rise of right-wing populism. This book offers a detailed exploration of the dynamics and dilemmas of the present moment of crisis and hope in France through an exploration of a number of recent moral panics. Paul Silverstein here examines urban racial violence, female Islamic dress and male public prayer, anti-system gangster rap, and sports—all of which have triggered major national debates over France’s multicultural future. Silverstein shows convincingly that these conflicts can be traced back to unresolved tensions around France's imperial project, the present-day effects of which are still being felt.

Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter