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In Celebration of Ramadan 2023

In celebration of Ramadan this year (Ramadan mubarak!), Notre Dame Press is excited to share some of its most important titles in Islamic studies and Muslim-Christian relations. In line with the University’s Catholic mission, the Press is deeply committed to publishing first-rate scholarship on the relationship between Christianity and Islam, as well as books that focus the Islamic tradition in its own right.

Political Theology and Islam: From the Birth of Empire to the Modern State sets out to answer an unassumingly tricky question: What is politics in Islam? Paul Heck’s answer takes the form of a close analysis of sovereignty across Islamic history, approaching this concept from the perspective of political theology. As he illustrates, the history of politics in Islam is best understood as an ongoing struggle for a moral order between those who occupy positions of rulership and religious voices that communicate the ethics of Islam and educate the public in their religious and moral devotions.

“Paul Heck has written an important, rich, and magisterial book that explains tension between rulers and religion-based activism in defense of popular rights throughout the history of Islam.”

—Abdulkader H. Sinno, author of Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond

Medicine and Shariah: A Dialogue in Islamic Bioethics provides the critical foundations for an Islamic bioethics that better attends to specific biomedical contexts and also accurately reflects the moral vision of Islam. This volume brings together a number of scholarly essays that map out the discourse of this emerging discipline, offering a multidisciplinary model for deriving and applying Islamic moral norms in biomedical contexts.

“The book is well written, striking an academic and balanced tone, which cannot be said of much that passes for Islamic bioethics today. I have no doubt that Aasim Padela will be remembered as a pioneer of our field.”

Journal of Islamic Ethics

Don’t Think for Yourself: Authority and Belief in Medieval Philosophy offers a historical perspective on an important and perennial philosophical question: How and when should we turn to experts in forming our own beliefs? Adamson’s study challenges us to reconsider our approach to this question through a constructive recovery of the intellectual and cultural traditions of the Islamic world, the Byzantine Empire, and Latin Christendom.

“This is a highly original work in its combination of popular and scholarly themes. Adamson weaves together a number of disparate sources under the broad theme of the epistemic legitimacy of authority, many of them unexpected companions.”

—Deborah L. Black, author of Logic and Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” and “Poetics” in Medieval Arabic Philosophy

Muhammad Reconsidered: A Christian Perspective on Islamic Prophecy engages Islam from deep within the Christian tradition by addressing the question of Muhammad’s prophethood, drawing from Thomas Aquinas’s theology of prophecy. Without either appropriating the prophet as an unwitting Christian or reducing both Christianity and Islam to a common denominator, Moreland studies Muhammad within a Christian theology of revelation. This lens leads to a more sophisticated understanding of Islam, one that honors the integrity of the Catholic tradition and argues for the possibility in principle of Muhammad as a religious prophet.

“Anna Moreland’s illuminating and powerfully argued book is essential reading for anyone concerned about how Catholic Christians should engage with their Muslim neighbors. It provides an insightful and badly needed account of how, according to Aquinas, God communicates through prophetic utterances and acts. This is theology at its best.”

—Alasdair MacIntyre, author of After Virtue

Defending Muḥammad in Modernity presents the most comprehensive and theoretically engaged work to date on one of the most long-running, complex, and contentious disputes in modern Islam: the Barelvī-Deobandī polemic. The book challenges the commonplace tendency to view such moments of intra-Muslim contest through the prism of problematic yet powerful liberal secular binaries like legal/mystical, moderate/extremist, and reformist/traditionalist. Tareen argues that the Barelvī-Deobandī dispute was instead animated by what he calls “competing political theologies” that articulated contrasting visions of the normative relationship between divine sovereignty, prophetic charisma, and the practice of everyday life.

“Tareen’s Defending Muhammad in Modernity is a thoroughly researched, well-written, monumental contribution to the scholarly literature on religious construction during colonialism in South Asia.”

American Journal of Islam and Society

Constructing Civility: The Human Good in Christian and Islamic Political Theologies seeks to bridge Christian and Islamic political theologies on the basis of an Aristotelian ethics. The author argues that modern secularism entails ideological commitments that can work against the promotion of public civility in pluralistic societies. A corrective outlook on public life and the public sphere, one that aligns with and recovers the notion of the human good, is necessary. Park therefore develops a framework for a universally applicable public civility in multifaith and multicultural contexts by engaging the central concepts of the “image of God” (imago Dei) and “human nature” (fitra) in Roman Catholicism and Islam.

“Citing sympathetic Catholic and Muslim philosophers, legal scholars, and ethicists, Park devotes well-crafted chapters to elaborating his claim that to be human is to be intrinsically relational, rational, and purposive. These inherent attributes of human nature, he submits, shape the way we interpret experience, history, and culture, derive universally binding moral principles, and establish the criteria for adjudicating competing applications of them.”

Reading Religion

Juan de Segovia and the Fight for Peace: Christians and Muslims in the Fifteenth Century  presents a clear, chronological narrative that follows the thought and career of Juan de Segovia (d. 1458), theologian, translator of the Qur’ān, and lifelong advocate for the forging of peaceful relations between Christians and Muslims. Although some historians have suggested that the multifaith heritage of his native Spain accounts for his unconventional belief that peaceful dialogue with Muslims was possible, Wolf argues that other aspects of his life and thought were equally important. Ultimately, she demonstrates that de Segovia’s thought on Islam and the proper Christian stance toward the Muslim world was consistent with his approach to other endeavors and with cultural and intellectual movements at play throughout his career.

“Anne Marie Wolf’s analysis of the life and thoughts of fifteenth-century Castilian conciliarist and Church reformer Juan de Segovia is an accessible and engaging intellectual history of a figure that historians have traditionally found difficult to classify. Wolf’s book constitutes an excellent contribution to our growing understanding of the range of Christian perceptions of Islam in the later Middle Ages—a topic which, as she points out, remains far less studied and understood than Christian portrayals of Judaism in that era.”

American Historical Review

Early Modern Dialogue with Islam: Antonio de Sosa’s Topography of Algiers makes available in translation a riveting sixteenth-century chronicle by a Portuguese cleric, Doctor Antonio de Sosa, who was captured by Algerian corsairs in 1577 and held as a Barbary slave for over four years while awaiting ransom. The Topography is a fascinating description of a city at the crossroads of civilizations, with a sophisticated multilingual population of Turks, Arabs, Moriscos, Berbers, Jews, Christian captives, and converts to Islam from across the world.

An Early Modern Dialogue with Islam is two books in one: an indispensable historical resource for those interested in the early modern Mediterranean world, and a critical page turner, showing us the very best of what skilled, patient literary scholarship can produce.”

Modern Language Notes

Opening the Qur’an: Introducing Islam’s Holy Book offers a comprehensive and extraordinarily readable, step-by-step introduction to the Qur’an, making the text accessible to students, teachers, clergy, and general readers interested in Islam and Islam’s holy Book. Wagner first places the prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an, and the early Muslim community in their historical, geographical, and theological contexts. This background is a basis for interpreting the Qur’an and understanding its role in later Muslim developments, as well as for relationships between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He then looks in detail at specific passages, moving from cherished devotional texts to increasingly difficult and provocative subjects.

Opening the Qur’an is the fruit of a remarkable effort by a Christian scholar, Walter Wagner, to understand the Qur’an and its place in Islamic society. . . . All of Opening the Qur’an . . . is marked by Wagner’s sincere effort to deepen his own theological reflections while reading the Qur’an. In this, his work makes an important contribution to the contemporary Muslim-Christian conversation.”

The Catholic Historical Review

Chosen among Women: Mary and Fatima in Medieval Christianity and Shi’ite Islam combines historical analysis with the tools of gender studies and religious studies to compare the roles of the Virgin Mary in medieval Christianity with those of Fatima, daughter of the prophet Muhammad, in Shi`ite Islam. The book explores the proliferation of Marian imagery in Late Antiquity through the Church fathers and popular hagiography, as well as the importance of Fatima in the evolution of Shi`ite identity throughout the Middle East.

“Thurlkill has produced a remarkable study, a model for comparative work in the history of religions. The book is original, well-researched, and shows great erudition. Thurlkill’s original acumen is brought to bear on a rich and variegated topic that has for too long been ignored by specialists not willing to move beyond the confines of overly determined areas of research.”

—Brannon Wheeler, United States Naval Academy

Islamic Law: From Historical Foundations to Contemporary Practice describes the relationship between historical theories of Islamic law and the views of contemporary Islamic writers. Covering the key topics in the area, including the history, sources and formation of Islamic law, the legal mechanisms, and the contemporary context, it is strong in its coverage of the modern perspective, which distinguishes this book from other texts in the field.

“This work has a neat, lucid structure and, as such, will constitute a valuable aid to the study of a very complex subject . . . [This] book will be essential reading and I would certainly recommend it to both my undergraduates and postgraduates.”

—Professor Ian R. Netton, University of Leeds

Islamic Aesthetics: An Introduction challenges the commonplace idea that Islamic art ought to belong in its own, separate aesthetic category. It is often argued that a very special sort of consciousness went into creating Islamic art, that Islamic art is different from other forms of art, that Muslims are not allowed to portray human beings in their art, and that calligraphy is the supreme Islamic art form. Oliver Leaman challenges all of these ideas, arguing that they are the result of orientalism. Instead, he suggests that the criteria we should apply to Islamic art are identical to the criteria applicable to art in general.

“This is certainly an important and thought-provoking work, one of the few that is willing to treat seriously the topic of aesthetics in Islam. As such, this book provides an important corrective to much of what has been written about art in various Islamic contexts over the past century.”

The Journal of Religion

The Death of al-Hallaj: A Dramatic Narrative tells the story of the famous Muslim mystic, Mansur al-Hallaj. Martyred in 922 CE by the government for his teachings, al-Hallaj has lived on through the centuries in the legends and memories of Muslims the world over. The reader who meets al-Hallaj for the first time in this book will be impressed by the striking similarities he shares with Jesus Christ, Socrates, and the Jewish Hasidic masters. Al-Hallaj is a man so caught up in God’s love that he speaks with the wisdom of a mystic. Yet he is worldly and down-to-earth in his affection, his wit, and his joy.

“All who read it will be uplifted by the story. . . . Mason has provided both a stirring tale and an insight into Islamic culture and tradition.”

South Bend Tribune

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