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  1. Islamisation of Knowledge: Problems, Principles and Prospective click
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Sociology and Anthropology
Culture from a different, Islamic perspective PDF Print E-mail

Mahmoud Dhaouadi 

There are nowadays a number of reasons to encourage sociologists to study culture in order to seek a deeper understanding of the nature and manifestations of culture in the behaviour of individuals and societies. Globalisation has become a hot topic for all at the beginning of the twenty-first century (al-Khuli 2000, p.515). In today’s world, economic globalisation is particularly prominent. But it is no exaggeration to say that most people on the five continents feel that cultural globalisation is even more present. The information and communication revolutions naturally play a decisive role in the greater prevalence of communication, which serves to disseminate the hallmarks of cultural globalisation to all corners of the globe, east, west, north and south.

With regard to specialised branches of sociology, the study of culture is today one of the most prominent, leading to the emergence in this discipline of a field known as cultural studies, which focuses on the study of the cultural manifestations of human groups (During 1999, p.610; Long 1997, p.529).

With regard to the cutting-edge fields in both psychology and sociology, we find, on the one hand, cognitive psychology (which is closely concerned with the individual, above all as a cultural being) which is a pioneering branch of psychology (Martin and Rumelhart 1999, p.391); and on the other hand, we find the branch of cultural sociology increasingly prominent among sociologists (Bonnel and Hunt 1999, p.350).

These factors alone confer legitimacy on efforts to devote greater attention to the study of culture and its contribution in order to highlight certain aspects that have been neglected by contemporary social science research. As we shall see, these are aspects of crucial importance for undertaking in-depth research on the essence of culture, which is the prime characteristic of the human race, and which has given it pre-eminence in the universe.

Transnational Muslims in American Society PDF Print E-mail

Amina Beverly McCloud, Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2006. 161 pages.

In post-9/11 America, the necessity for a comprehensive study of transnational Muslim communities, as well as their identities and dynamics within American society, is filled by Aminah Beverly McCloud’s Transnational Muslims in American Society. This comprehensive study examines a cross section of Muslim communities in diaspora and exile, from the Palestinians to the Iranians to the very small community of Muslim Chinese. The author’s examination, which loosely relies on notoriously vague immigration records, first-person interviews, and clever anecdotes, is also coupled with a general history and overview of Islam and the individual communities. The brief histories of each community and its ethnic, cultural, and Islamic idiosyncrasies, placed at the beginning of each chapter, are particularly helpful. In addition, her nuanced analyses of women’s positions in the contexts of their own communities provides an important depth to the study.

Islam Obscured: The Rhetoric of Anthropological Representation PDF Print E-mail

Daniel Martin Varisco, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. 226 pages.

Daniel Martin Varisco’s Islam Obscured: The Rhetoric of Anthropological Representation provides a very sound and well-informed literary critique of Clifford Geertz’s Islam Observed (1968), Ernest Gellner’s Muslim Society (1981), Fatima Mernissi’s Beyond the Veil (1975), and Akbar Ahmed’s Discovering Islam (1988). The author, an experienced ethnographer of Middle Eastern societies, examines the treatments and representations of Islam in these seminal texts. After presenting his topic and background in the introduction, he demonstrates how these four authors obscured, misrepresented, and elided the everyday lives of Muslims. In the epilogue, Varisco gleans some important lessons for the study of Islam from his entertaining and witty exploration of these social science texts.

Muslims in Europe: Precedent and Present PDF Print E-mail

H. A. Hellyer

Muslims and Islam have been at the center of some of the most vital post-9/11 debates. In Europe, the controversy has intensified due to the conflation of the aforementioned discussions and the arguments currently raging in Europe surrounding European identity. In such parleys, the assumption has been that Muslims in Europe are an alien presence with a short and temporary history. This article seeks to demonstrate that historically speaking, this is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. The integration of Muslims and the recognition of Islam may take place through a variety of different ways owing to the specificities of individual European nation-states. However, they will need to consider the past precedents of the Muslim presence in order to appropriately organize the present and in looking to the future.

Towards Understanding the Relation between Religions and Cultures in Southeast Asia PDF Print E-mail

Joseph I. Fernando

In the face of modernity and its erosion of traditional values, we need to preserve something of the wisdom of traditional culture. The traditional cultures have taken thousands of years to evolve and  are necessary to preserve. They are the carriers of the accumulated wisdom of the people since Antiquity. They give man a sense of belonging, acceptance, and assurance. They enshrine the values, which define meaning, guide, motivate, and lead people to fulfillment. We find cultural traditions still alive in the rural communities of Southeast Asia. It is to these communities that we need to turn to guide us on our road to the future.

Palestinians Born in Exile: Diaspora and the Search for a Homeland PDF Print E-mail

Juliane Hammer, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005. 271 pages.

There is a striking lack of studies on the Palestinian diaspora. Undoubtedly the pioneering work of Edward Said (“Reflections on Exile,” in Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, eds. Russell Ferguson [The MIT Press: 1990]) on exile and Rashid Khalidi (Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness [Columbia University Press: 1997]) both touch on many of the related issues of collective memory, cultural identity, and the relationship between the “center” (the homeland) and the diasporic communities and how these issues manifested themselves in the Palestinian case. More recently, Abbas Shiblak (Reflections on Palestinian Diaspora in Europe [2000]), Sari Hanafi (Here and There: Analyses of the Relationship between Diaspora and the Centre [2001: in Arabic]), and Helena Schulz and Juliane Hammer (The Palestinian Diaspora: Formation of Identities and Politics of Homeland [Routledge: 2003]) explore different aspects of the Palestinian diaspora.

The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism PDF Print E-mail

Timothy Marr, Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 309 pages.

Perceptions of the “other” are a powerful force in day-to-day human interaction, as well as in domestic and international politics. Since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism almost three decades ago, many scholars have appropriated and debated his thesis about the reality-changing power of European (and American) discourses on Muslims and Arabs. In the book under review, Timothy Marr, professor of English in the American Studies Curriculum department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, simultaneously broadens and criticizes Said’s ideas.

Sufism in the West PDF Print E-mail

Jamal Malik and John Hinnells, eds., New York: Routledge, 2006. 207 pages.

This edited volume, along with David Westerlund’s edited Sufism in Europe and North America (RoutledgeCurzon: 2004), are pioneering works, since the systematic study of this topic is still in its infancy. Its introduction and nine chapters bring together anthropological, historical, Islamicist, and sociological perspectives on questions of identity as regards Sufism’s double marginalization within a non-Muslim majority environment and within the broader Islamic discourse. The Sufis’ need to position themselves against and reconcile themselves with a variety of others causes western Sufis to employ a fascinating kaleidoscope of strategies ranging from assimilation to confrontation and appropriation.

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