Richard Bulliet, professor of history at Columbia and author of Islam: The View from the Edge (Columbia, 1994).
Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of 'A'Isha bint Abi Bakr, by D.A. Spellberg (forthcoming from Columbia). " 'A'Isha bint Abi Bakr, the youngest of the Prophet's wives, was accused of sexual indiscretions and, unusually, was involved in politics. She was a very controversial figure, but because of her position, she could not be dismissed. Spellberg, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, uses this historical figure as a way of looking at the status of women within the Islamic tradition."
Dale Eickelman, professor of anthropology at Dartmouth and editor of Russia's Muslim Frontiers: New Directions in Cross-Cultural Analysis (Indiana, 1993).
The Failure of Political Islam, by Olivier Roy (Harvard, 1994, translated by Carol Volk). "There are many books on religion and politics in the Muslim world that focus on 'fundamentalism,' but Roy manages to look at broader developments in the world of Islam, such as the advent of mass higher education over the last twenty or thirty years. Universities have had a major effect on how people think about religion, political authority, and their own place in society. He also makes a very interesting connection between the new Muslim intellectuals, who are rethinking religious authority, and the radicals or fundamentalists, and argues that the latter are part of a much larger process whereby the central tenets of Islam are reconsidered."
The Revenge of God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism in the Modern World, by Gilles Kepel (1994, Penn State, translated by Alan Braley). "Kepel, who studies politics at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, is so popular in France that his books sell in supermarkets. What's interesting about this book is that it sets recent developments in the Muslim world in the context of comparable developments in Judaism and Christianity. So-called 'radical' Islam does not, therefore, end up being a special case--there are, after all, radical strains in all three religions. Looking at Rabbi Schneerson's followers, say, and at the literature on Protestant fundamentalism, Kepel argues that all of these religious movements from below will have major implications for the future of civil society."
Abdulaziz Sachedina, professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and author of The Just Ruler in Shi'ite Islam: The Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist in Imamite Jurisprudence (Oxford, 1988).
Islamic Medical Ethics in the Twentieth Century, by Vardit Rispler-Chaim (E.J. Brill, 1993). "The author, a professor of Islamic studies at Haifa University, writes about a subject that has never received much attention--namely, the impact of Western medical ethics on Islam. Islamic medical jurisprudence has arisen only recently, in response to medical advances and the moral dilemmas that these advances have created in terms of saving lives, prolonging lives, and so on. But in this tradition, unlike in the West, communal interests often dominate decisions made for individuals. The author went through all the available material to find modern rulings by Muslim scholars and connect them to rulings made in the classical age, in order to understand how a rule is applied to derive a new decision. And she traces the development of one such decision in a birth control case; it was based on the classical doctrine that a woman must first try mechanical processes and only then may resort to drugs."
Mahmoud Ayoub, professor of Islamic studies at Temple University and author of The Qur'an and its Interpreters (SUNY Albany, 1993).
Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate, by Leila Ahmed (Yale, 1992). "Ahmed's book traces the debates over the veil back to its origins in the colonial period when the British tried to eradicate it. The British claimed they were liberating Middle Eastern women, although their actions were seen as part of the imperial process. Ahmed offers an excellent analysis of what 're-veiling' has meant for Muslim women and the pride associated with that act."
Are there any great books you think we missed? Let us know.