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JournalISSN: 0026-3141

Middle East Journal 

Middle East Institute
About: Middle East Journal is an academic journal published by Middle East Institute. The journal publishes majorly in the area(s): Politics & Islam. It has an ISSN identifier of 0026-3141. Over the lifetime, 1609 publications have been published receiving 26230 citations. The journal is also known as: MEJ.
Topics: Politics, Islam, Democracy, Population, Middle East

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Journal Article
TL;DR: Mahmood as discussed by the authors explores the conceptual challenges that women's involvement in the Islamist movement poses to feminist theory in particular and to secular-liberal thought in general through an ethnographic account of the urban women's mosque movement that is part of the Islamic Revival in Cairo, Egypt.
Abstract: WOMEN Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, by Saba Mahmood Princeton, NJ and Oxford, UK: Princeton University Press, 2004 xvi + 199 pages Gloss, to p 203 Refs to p 223 Index to p 233 $55 cloth; $1795 paper This book explores "the conceptual challenges that women's involvement in the Islamist movement poses to feminist theory in particular and to secular-liberal thought in general through an ethnographic account of the urban women's mosque movement that is part of the Islamic Revival in Cairo, Egypt" (p 2) However, Saba Mahmood promises more than an ethnography based on two years of fieldwork (1995-1997) She embarks on an intellectual journey of selfreflection in which she has come "to believe that a certain amount of self-scrutiny and skepticism is essential regarding the certainty of my own political commitments, when trying to understand the lives of others who do not necessarily share these commitments" (p xi) By refusing to take her own political stance as the necessary lens through which the analysis proceeds, the author opens up the possibility that "my analysis may come to complicate the vision of human flourishing that I hold most dear and which has provided the bedrock of my personal existence" (p xii) It is necessary, the author cautions as she embarks upon her inquiry, not to assume that the political position we uphold will necessarily be vindicated or provide the ground for our theoretical analysis As readers, we are invited to join her in "parochializing our assumptions, about the constitutive relationship between action and embodiment, resistance and agency, self and authority - that inform most feminist judgments from across a broad range of the political spectrum about non-liberal movements such as the women's mosque movement" (p 38) It is within that spirit that I have critiqued this book The five chapters are a running argument with and against key analytic concepts in liberal thought as these concepts have come to inform various strands of feminist theory through which non-liberal movements, such as the women's mosque movement, are analyzed Through each chapter Mahmood makes her ethnographic talk back to the normative liberal assumptions about human nature against which such a movement is held accountable "The Subject of Freedom" illustrates the different ways in which the activism of the mosque movement challenges the liberal conception of politics Mahmood analyzes the conception of self, moral agency, and politics that undergird the practices of this non-liberal movement in order to come to an understanding of the historical projects that animate it The pious subjects of the mosque movement occupy an uncomfortable place in feminist scholarship because they pursue practices and ideals embedded in a tradition that has historically accorded women a subordinate status "Topography of the Piety Movement" provides a brief sketch of the historical development against which the contemporary mosque movement has emerged and critically engages with themes within scholarship of Islamic modernism regarding such movements We sense the broad-based character of the women's mosque movement through the author's description and analysis of three of six mosques where she concentrated her fieldwork Despite the differences among the mosque groups - ranging from the poorest to the upper-middle income neighborhoods of Cairo - they all shared a concern for the increased secularization of Egyptian society and illustrate the increasing respect accorded to the da 'iya preacher/religious teacher (who undertakes da'waliterally call, summons or appeal that in the 20th century came to be associated with proselytization activity) "Women and the Da'wa" (pp 64-72) is particularly insightful, as the author juxtaposes the emergence of secular liberalism with the da'wa movement and concludes that "the modernist project of the regulation of religious sensibilities, undertaken by a range of postcolonial states (and not simply Muslim states), has elicited in its wake a variety of resistances, responses and challenges …

1,398 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: The search for a new ummah is discussed in this article, where the authors make a distinction between what they call Islamism and "neofundamentalism" and argue that Islam often serves primarily as a marker of national and/or ethnic identity rather than as a political program.
Abstract: Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, by Olivier Roy. New York: Columbia University Press, in association with the Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales, Paris, 2004. xi + 340 pages. Index to p. 349. $29.50. Olivier Roy devotes much of Globalized Islam to the distinction between what he calls "Islamism" and "neofundamentalism." He argues that Islamist movements tend to seek power in specific countries and have become increasingly nationalistic. Neofundamentalist movements, on the other hand, tend to focus on the Islamic world as a whole and do not concentrate on achieving power. According to Roy, neofundamentalists usually favor da'wa, or preaching, over jihad. "For neofundamentalists the aim of action is salvation, not revolution" (p. 248). Even when neofundamentalists do engage in jihad, they still shun "political action" (p. 250). Yet, Roy's list of "neofundamentalist" movements includes al-Qa'ida as well as the Tablighi Jama'a (p. 234). It is hard to see how anyone could argue that al-Qa'ida is more interested in salvation than revolution or that its acts of violence are not political. Roy is a knowledgeable and insightful scholar, and he makes many important points. He rightly stresses that Islam often serves primarily as a marker of national and/ or ethnic identity rather than as a political program. He rightly criticizes those who think that the behavior of Muslims today can simply be explained by examining verses of the Qur'an. And he correctly emphasizes that al-Qa'ida has an anti-imperialist dimension that should not be ignored (although this is hard to reconcile with his characterization of al-Qa'ida as an apolitical neofundamentalist movement). At the same time, however, Roy makes many sweeping generalizations that are simply inaccurate. He claims that "Bin Laden only paid lip-service to Palestine till the end of 2001" (p. 3). This is a common assertion. It is also an erroneous one. In a 1994 letter to Sheikh 'Abd al-'Aziz bin Baz, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Bin Laden wrote: "The Shar'i obligation regarding Palestine and our Palestinian brothers, [who are] among the helpless oppressed men, women, and children, is jihad in the path of God and inciting the Umma to jihad to liberate all of Palestine and return it to Islamic rule." Much of this letter is devoted to rejecting the very idea of a peace agreement with Israel. (The Arabic text of the letter is available online at Roy asserts that "popular mobilisation in the Middle East centres around nationalism...not around Islam" (p. 51). Similarly, he contends that "Osama Bin Laden did not grasp that the genuine antiAmericanism of the 'average' Arab had never led to a sustainable political mobilisation, and that if such mobilisation ever did happen it would be over Palestine and Iraq that is, over Arab and not Islamic issues" (p. 56). It is true that groups like Hamas and the main movements fighting the American-led occupation of Iraq have a nationalist dimension, and this is an important point. …

612 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: In 2000, Ibrahim Warde as mentioned in this paper published Islamic Finance in the Global Economy, a survey of Islamic finance in the global economy, which provides a much needed introduction to a highly complex set of economic, cultural, and political phenomena.
Abstract: Islamic Finance in the Global Economy, by Ibrahim Warde. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 2000. 252 pages. Notes. Gloss. Index. $90. Reviewed by Clement M. Henry Ibrahim Warde has written a forthright and scholarly survey of a subject that deserves the attention of both international bankers and area specialists who are interested in Islamic culture or political economy. Islamic Finance in the Global Economy documents the evolution of Islamic banking over the past quarter of a century, from the go-go era of abundant oil revenues that readily supported a new commercial adventure to the current decade of accelerated globalization, especially of financial institutions. It offers a much-needed introduction to a highly complex set of economic, cultural, and political phenomena. Dr. Warde's definition of Islamic financial institutions is that they be "based, in their objectives and operations, on Koranic principles." Typically they will have a religious board that decides what is properly Islamic, although Warde notes that there are exceptions and that "no definition.. is entirely satisfactory" (p. 5). Throughout his survey, the author is at pains to emphasize that Islam admits of many interpretations, that Islamic banking should not be confounded with Islamist politics, and that political Islamism comes in many shapes and forms. He cites Aziz al-Azme's "Islams" approvingly (p. 17) but, perhaps for the benefit of his banker readers, devotes more space than they deserve to criticizing journalists like Steven Emerson who conjure up pictures of terrorism and money-laundering (pp. 218, 222). Warde himself has an excellent command of the serious literature on political Islam, including scholars like Olivier Carre, who should be better known in the United States. References to Richard Bulliet and Ernest Gellner might have further enriched his discussion of contemporary Islamism and its possible convergence with economic liberalism. After an initial take-off in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Islamic banks stagnated. Declines in oil revenues, coupled with a financial crisis in Kuwait, put many of these new banks at risk. Unlike the anti-Islamic propaganda of the popular press or the equally uninformative apologetics written by dedicated Islamists, Warde frankly discusses issues of Islamic "moral hazard" and financial mismanagement that have plagued a number of these institutions. Host governments have been obliged to bail out a number of them, including the Kuwait Finance House in 1984, the largest Islamic bank at the time, and, in 1998, the most venerable of them, Dubai Islamic Bank, which was founded in 1974. Despite their growing pains and although oil revenues stagnated until quite recently, after this book went to press, Islamic financial institutions got a second wind (or "aggiornamento" as the author calls it) with the intensified pressures on the region to integrate into the global economy. As times became more difficult, with the poorer, heavily indebted countries in the region obliged to engage in financial structural adjustment, Islamic financial institutions paradoxically took off once more. Warde highlights the congruence between the new international financial environment and these culturally specific banks. …

335 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam by Gilles Kepel as discussed by the authors is a detailed account of the trail of political Islam which is divided into two parts, but is weak in one important area: it lacks a bibliography.
Abstract: Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, by Gilles Kepel. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002. viii + 376 pages. Notes to p. 429. Gloss. to 433. Index to p. 454. $29.95. Few books will so fully and comprehensively intimidate the reader with their depth, breadth, and mastery of argument as Gilles Kepel's new study of Islamist movements. In just 400 pages, Kepel has managed to tell the story of the origins, ideological history, and profile of groups and states which make up the world of "Political Islam." The book is truly a detailed account of the trail of political Islam. Jihad is divided into two parts, but is weak in one important area: it lacks a bibliography! The first of the two parts, a total of eight chapters, tells the tale of the rise of political Islam, tracing its progress across Asia and Africa. In addition to the wealth of information which it provides, Part I also illustrates the ability of Islamists to penetrate Muslim societies of very different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The author carefully assesses the impact of key political events - from the Six Day War to the Iranian revolution, from the Jihad in Afghanistan to the rise of the Islamic Salvation Front (Front islamique du salut, or FIS) in Algeria - in the Muslim world on the march of political Islam. By seeking, at each juncture, to evaluate the broader consequences of each of these events on political Islam, Kepel provides readers with a cumulative narrative of forces which have given shape and content to political Islam. He ends Part I with insights on the influence of political Islam in shaping Muslim opinion in one of its newly-adopted homes, Western Europe. In the course of analyzing the multifaceted impact of Muslim immigrants and of political Islam on Western European responses to political Islam, Kepel makes an important statement, and one which has been the source of controversy since Olivier Roy's `Failure of Political Islam' study. Kepel expresses the view that for all its successes, 1989 was to be "the high point of Islamist expansion" (p. 201). In the remaining seven chapters of the book (Part II), Kepel sets out to explain why 1989 may prove to have been the apex of "Islamist expansion." Much of the debate here is about the decline of political Islam since the early 1990s. The analytical focus is very much on the corroding impact on political Islam as a transnational movement of the terror tactics adopted by Islamist groups. Some of the chapter titles convey the message rather well: chapter 11, for example, is entitled "The Logic of Massacre in the Second Algerian War," chapters 12 and 13 are called, respectively, "The Threat of Terrorism in Egypt" and "Osama bin Laden and the War Against the West." These and the other four chapters in Part II make the argument that the Islamists' terror tactics not only turned public opinion against them, not only adversely affected their recruitment drive at home, but also galvanised the ruling regimes into action. The latter made very effective use of their security forces, unleashing them against Islamist strongholds in Egypt, Algeria, and Jordan. But, in addition, the state, with Western support, also attempted to fight the Islamists with economic tools: provision of aid to deprived regions, allocation of extra resources for education, job creation and infrastructural development, and of course, the deepening of economic reform and liberalization strategies in order to attract more private investment. …

265 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: In this paper, Rashid Khalidi argues that a Palestinian national identity developed prior to the British mandate and also asserts that the origins of that identity are not reducible to the conflict with Zionism as recent works may suggest.
Abstract: PALESTINE AND PALESTINIANS Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, by Rashid Khalidi. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. xvi + 209 pages. Notes to p. 265. Bibl. to p. 285. Index to p. 309. $29.50. Reviewed by Niall O Murchu This book argues, using original research and secondary sources, that a Palestinian national identity developed prior to the British mandate. It also asserts that the origins of that identity are not reducible to the conflict with Zionism as recent works may suggest.' As outlined below, the principal thesis is sustained well, but requires more attention to the history of Ottoman state building. Data presented from the Arabic press, however, only emphasize the centrality of Zionism to the Palestinian narrative. The context for the initial development of modem notions of citizenship and national identity is a profound shift in the career paths of the Jerusalem elite occasioned by the Tanzimat, the Ottoman reforms of the mid-19th century. Those families which traditionally relied on their knowledge of Islamic law and reputation as judges found their monopoly on legal services threatened by the expansion of a more centrally controlled legal system. The Tanzimat was a qualitative shift in the co-optive bargain between Istanbul and the provinces-the success of the notables depended increasingly on positions they attained as Ottoman civil servants. The empire's need for a modern administrative and legal cadre also prompted the expansion of the educational system. In turn, the growth of education and administration helped to create a reading public for the Arabic press which blossomed following the Ottoman Revolution (1908). Such developments provided the foundations for a new conception of identity as nationality. The book's question is: Why did the primary locus of political identity come to be Palestinian, and not Ottoman or Arab? In answering, the author ingeniously traces the careers of two Jerusalem intellectuals whose qualifications took them to the heart of the Ottoman empire. The biographies of Yusuf Diya' al-Khalidi and Ruhi al-Khalidi are developed using materials catalogued during the restoration of the Khalidi Library in Jerusalem. Notably, both men wound up at odds with the Ottoman imperial authorities. Yusuf Diya' was effectively detained in Istanbul by Sultan `Abd al-Hamid II. Ruhi's opposition to Zionism was rebuffed by his colleagues in the Ottoman parliament in Istanbul. …

260 citations

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