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Knowledge as Politics by Other Means: An Interview with Wael Hallaq

Throughout the last three decades, Wael Hallaq has emerged as one of the leading scholars of Islamic law in Western academia. He has made major contributions not only to the study of the theory and practice of Islamic law, but to the development of a methodology through which Islamic scholars have been able to confront challenges facing the Islamic legal tradition. Hallaq is thus uniquely placed to address broader questions concerning the moral and intellectual foundations of competing modern projects. With his most recent work, The Impossible State, Hallaq lays bare the power dynamics and political processes at the root of phenomena that are otherwise often examined purely through the lens of the legal. In this interview, the first of a two-part series with him, Hallaq expands upon some of the implications of those arguments and the challenges they pose for the future of intellectual engagements across various traditions. In particular, he addresses the failure of Western intellectuals to engage with scholars in Islamic societies as well as the intellectual and structural challenges facing Muslim scholars. Hallaq also critiques the underlying hegemonic project of Western liberalism and the uncritical adoption of it by some Muslim thinkers. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jun 9, 2014 - 6 comments

An old view of the Old City

What did Palestine look like in 1896?
posted by flapjax at midnite on Feb 15, 2014 - 17 comments

"I felt like I'd been catapulted from one end of the universe to the other"

This weekend marks the time of the Hajj, a core pillar of Islam in which great tides of humanity venture to the ancient city of Mecca to honor God. Predating Mohammed's birth by centuries, the pilgrimage comprises several days of rites, from congregation like snow on Mount Arafat and the ritual stoning of Shaitan to the circling of the sacred Kaaba (the shrouded cubical monolith Muslims pray toward daily) and kissing the Black Stone (colored by the absorption of myriad sins, and believed by some to be a fallen meteorite). While the city has modernized to handle this largest of annual gatherings -- building highway-scale ramps, gaudy skyscrapers for the ultra-rich, and tent cities the size of Seattle -- it remains mysterious, as unbelievers are forbidden from entering its borders. Richard Francis Burton became famous for touring the city in disguise to write a rare travelogue, but contemporary viewers have a more immediate guide: Vice Magazine journalist Suroosh Alvi, who smuggled a minicam into the city to record The Mecca Diaries [alt], a 14-minute documentary of his own Hajj journey. Browse the manual to see what goes into a Hajj trip, or watch the YouTube livestream to see the Grand Mosque crowds in real time.
posted by Rhaomi on Nov 4, 2011 - 31 comments

Teaching 9/11

The Challenge of Teaching 9/11 "The events of September 11th are being discussed, taught, and commemorated in high school classrooms throughout the nation this week. And in many of those classrooms, the students are increasingly too young to have many actual memories of their own of that day’s events. I visited two high school classes in the San Francisco Bay Area to see how teachers are approaching the topic, what the students know and don’t know, and how they feel about the events surrounding that day."

‘Who’s Osama bin Laden?’: Teaching 9/11 to Muslim youth "In the ten years since Sept. 11, many Muslim Americans feel they’ve had to deal with rising discrimination. Those who remember 9/11 at least understand how this started. But there’s a new generation of Muslim Americans who don’t. They were too young in 2001, or they weren’t yet born. But these children aren’t too young to perceive discrimination. At least one local Islamic school is still working through how, exactly, to teach its young students about 9/11."
posted by nooneyouknow on Sep 9, 2011 - 84 comments

Zeitoun

Abdelrahman Zeitoun is a Syrian American businessman who spent the days after Katrina paddling around New Orleans in a canoe, saving elderly people and feeding stranded pets. His efforts were brought to a halt when he was detained by the Bush administration on suspicion of being a terrorist. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Aug 10, 2009 - 30 comments

Doing our homework on the Middle East

22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
posted by LobsterMitten on Mar 7, 2007 - 37 comments

Christians and Muslims. eying each other with interest

The Truth About Muslims. William Dalrymple, one of those rare historians who can really write (his books From the Holy Mountain and White Mughals have gotten rave reviews), takes on Bernard Lewis and gives some fascinating information about the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims through the centuries:
Fletcher also stresses the degree to which the Muslim armies were welcomed as liberators by the Syriac and Coptic Christians, who had suffered discrimination under the strictly Orthodox Byzantines: "To the persecuted Monophysite Christians of Syria and Egypt, Muslims could be presented as deliverers. The same could be said of the persecuted Jews.... Released from the bondage of Constantinopolitan persecution they flourished as never before, generating in the process a rich spiritual literature in hymns, prayers, sermons and devotional work."

posted by languagehat on Dec 14, 2004 - 18 comments

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