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Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age
Religious Authority and Internal Criticism


  • Date Published: December 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107422254

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About the Authors
  • Among traditionally educated scholars in the Islamic world there is much disagreement on the crises that afflict modern Muslim societies and how best to deal with them, and the debates have grown more urgent since 9/11. Through an analysis of the work of Muhammad Rashid Rida and Yusuf al-Qaradawi in the Arab Middle East and a number of scholars belonging to the Deobandi orientation in colonial and contemporary South Asia, this book examines some of the most important issues facing the Muslim world since the late nineteenth century. These include the challenges to the binding claims of a long-established scholarly consensus, evolving conceptions of the common good, and discourses on religious education, the legal rights of women, social and economic justice and violence and terrorism. This wide-ranging study by a leading scholar provides the depth and the comparative perspective necessary for an understanding of the ferment that characterizes contemporary Islam.

    • A leading intellectual examines the crisis currently afflicting modern Muslim society through the work of its religious scholars and thinkers, past and present
    • Debates include some of the most pressing issues facing the Muslim world today: religious education, women, justice and jihad
    • Pioneering work which follows in the footsteps of scholars, Hourani and Enayat, for students of Islamic law, history and religion
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'For those seeking to understand debates among Muslim scholars on contemporary political and social issues, I could hardly think of a more profound study than this one. Few scholars have the depth and reach to accomplish what Zaman does here, which is nothing less than a socio-history of modern Islamic thought. [He] returns again and again to the formative debates of the late nineteenth century to discuss a wide range of issues. A tour de force.' John R. Bowen, Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor, Washington University, St Louis, and author of A New Anthropology of Islam

    'Drawing on rich and diverse materials from debates on some of the most controversial issues facing Muslim communities in the Middle East and South Asia, Zaman explores the ambiguities both within and beyond lines of internal critique to provide nuanced insight into the construction, maintenance, and reconfiguration of religious authority. This is an important book for anyone interested in Islam and Muslim societies in the modern era.' R. Michael Feener, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

    'With great insight and erudition, Zaman opens a new window onto the ways in which the heirs of the pre-modern Muslim scholarly tradition think, rethink, and argue about contentious issues in the modern world, some of them wielding a soft power that few of their counterparts in the Western academy can emulate.' Michael Cook, Princeton University

    'Few books will shape the subfield of Islamic studies in the manner that Muhammad Qasim Zaman's refreshing interpretation of traditional religious thought in the modern period promises to do … Inspired by Zaman's example, future scholarship dedicated to Islamic law and society will render the field a great service by also taking the hermeneutical battles to some of the narratives generated by macro-political and economic conditions that impact Muslim practices and ideas.' Ebrahim Moosa, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107422254
    • length: 374 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 1 map
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Rethinking consensus
    3. The language of Ijtihad
    4. Contestations on the common good
    5. Bridging traditions: madrasas and their internal critics
    6. Women, law, and society
    7. Socioeconomic justice
    8. Denouncing violence: the ambiguities of a discourse
    9. Epilogue: the paradoxes of internal criticism.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Islam in South Asia
  • Author

    Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Princeton University, New Jersey
    Muhammad Qasim Zaman is Robert H. Niehaus '77 Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Religion at Princeton University, New Jersey. He is the author of Religion and Politics under the Early Abbasids and The Ulama in Contemporary Islam, among other works.

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