Reclaiming Islamic Tradition

Modern Interpretations of the Classical Heritage

Edited by Elisabeth Kendall, Ahmad Khan

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Explores how the classical Islamic tradition has been retrieved, reformed and reshaped in the modern Islamic world

Recent events in the Islamic world have demonstrated the endurance, neglect and careful reshaping of the classical Islamic heritage. A range of modern Islamic movements and intellectuals has sought to reclaim certain concepts, ideas, persons and trends from the Islamic tradition. This book profiles some of the fundamental debates that have defined the conversation between the past and the present in the Islamic world. Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic law, gender, violence and eschatology are just some of the key themes in this study of the Islamic tradition’s vitality in the modern Islamic world. This book will allow readers to situate modern developments in the Islamic world within the longue durée of Islamic history and thought.

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Notes on Contributors
Introduction, Elisabeth Kendall & Ahmad Khan
1. Modern Shiʿite Legal Theory and the Classical Tradition, Robert Gleave
2. Muḥammad Nāṣīr al-Dīn al-Albānī and Traditional Hadith Criticism, Christopher Melchert
3. Islamic Tradition in an Age of Print: Editing, Printing, and Publishing the Classical Tradition, Ahmad Khan
4. Reaching into the Obscure Past: The Islamic Legal Heritage and Reform in the Modern Period, Jonathan A. C. Brown
5. Reading Sūrat al-Anʿām with Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā and Sayyid Quṭb, Nicolai Sinai
6. Contemporary Iranian Interpretations of the Qur`an and Tradition on Women’s Testimony, Karen Bauer
7. Ibn Taymiyya between Moderation and Radicalism, Jon Hoover
8. The Impact of a Sixteenth-Century Jihad Treatise on Colonial and Modern India, Carole Hillenbrand
9. Jihadist Propaganda and Its Exploitation of the Arab Poetic Tradition, Elisabeth Kendall
10. Contemporary Salafi Literature on Paradise and Hell: The Case of ʿUmar Sulaymān al-Ashqar, Christian Lange
'An excellent treatise for anyone who intends to understand debates in the Islamic world today and explore how Islamic tradition is continuously being reinterpreted, recast, reconfigured, and manipulated to address complex situations.'
Sania Ismailee , Reading Religion

Ranging from law to exegesis and poetry, this volume presents prodigious evidence that tradition is not fragile and static, as many assume, but malleable and often re-interpreted. The contributors skilfully show that the past is not ‘a foreign country’, but an intimate part of the contestation over authority and meaning in modern Muslim societies.

James Piscatori, Durham University
Elisabeth Kendall is Senior Research Fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Pembroke College, Oxford University. Previously, she held positions at the Universities of Edinburgh and Harvard, as well as serving as Director of a UK government sponsored Center focused on building Arabic-based research expertise. Her current research examines how militant jihad groups exploit traditional local Arab cultures. She has lectured at government and academic institutions all around the world.

Ahmad Khan is postdoctoral researcher at Universität Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut. In 2014-15, he was Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford, Faculty of Oriental Studies. His D.Phil (Oxon) examined discourses of heresy and the formation of medieval Sunni orthodoxy. His current research focuses on the history of medieval Iran. His second research specialism concerns modern Islamic history/thought, particularly the emergence of publishing houses and editors in the Islamic world.

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