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Islam and Modernity

Key Issues and Debates

Edited by Muhammad Khalid Masud, Armando Salvatore, Martin van Bruinessen

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Recent events have focused attention on the perceived differences and tensions between the Muslim world and the modern West. As a major strand of Western public discourse has it, Islam appears resistant to internal development and remains inherently pre-modern. However Muslim societies have experienced most of the same structural changes that have impacted upon all societies: massive urbanisation, mass education, dramatically increased communication, the emergence of new types of institutions and associations, some measure of political mobilisation, and major transformations of the economy. These developments are accompanied by a wide range of social movements and by complex and varied religious and ideological debates.

This textbook is a pioneering study providing an introduction to and overview of the debates and questions that have emerged regarding Islam and modernity. Key issues are selected to give readers an understanding of the complexity of the phenomenon from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The various manifestations of modernity in Muslim life discussed include social change and the transformation of political and religious institutions, gender politics, changing legal regimes, devotional practices and forms of religious association, shifts in religious authority, and modern developments in Muslim religious thought.

Key Features

  • Each chapter contains an overview of relevant secondary literature and concludes with a summary of the key ideas presented and a set of questions
  • Contributing authors include some of the best-known academics from various disciplines in the field presenting state of the art scholarship in their specialised areas


Part 1 Conceptualising Modernity
1. Tradition and Modernity within Islamic Civilisation and the West, Armando Salvatore
2. Western Scholars of Islam on the Issue of Modernity, Muhammad Khalid Masud and Armando Salvatore
Part 2 Negotiating Modernity
3. Political Modernity in the Middle East, Sami Zubaida
4. Islam, Modernity and the Politics of Gender: Perspectives from the Middle East, Central Asia and Afghanistan, Deniz Kandiyoti
5. Sufism, 'Popular' Islam and the Encounter with Modernity, Martin van Bruinessen
6. Colonialism and Islamic Law, Ebrahim Moosa
Part 3 Debating Modernity
7. The Reform Project in the Emerging Public Spheres, Armando Salvatore
8. The Ulama and Contestations of Religious Authority under Modern Conditions, Muhammad Qasim Zaman
9. Islamic Modernism, Muhammad Khalid Masud
10. The Shifting Politics of Identity, Abdulkader Tayob
List of Contributors.

About the Author

Muhammad Khalid Masud is Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology in Islamabad. His recent publications include the edited volumes Travellers in Faith, Studies on Tablighi Jama'at (2000), and Leading Muslim Intellectuals of Eighteenth Century India (in Urdu, 2008).

Armando Salvatore is Associate Professor of Sociology of Culture and Communication at the Oriental Studies University, Naples. Among his most recent books are The Public Sphere: Liberal Modernity, Catholicism, Islam (2007), and Public Islam and the Common Good (co-edited with Dale F. Eickelman, 2004).

Martin van Bruinessen is Professor of the Comparative Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies at Utrecht University. His publications include Kurdish Ethno-Nationalism versus Nation-Building States (2000), and Sufism and the 'Modern' in Islam (co-edited with Julia D. Howell, 2007).


There is no doubt that a textbook like this is urgently needed.
- Andreas Christmann, Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research
Has the potential for becoming the standard point of departure for understanding the profound changes in Islamic thought and practice in the modern world… No other book captures current debates with such effectiveness, also placing them in a historical context accessible to students, colleagues, and adventuresome general readers.
- Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College