Schooling Islam: The Culture and Politics of Modern Muslim Education

Princeton University Press
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Since the Taliban seized Kabul in 1996, the public has grappled with the relationship between Islamic education and radical Islam. Media reports tend to paint madrasas--religious schools dedicated to Islamic learning--as medieval institutions opposed to all that is Western and as breeding grounds for terrorists. Others have claimed that without reforms, Islam and the West are doomed to a clash of civilizations.

Robert Hefner and Muhammad Qasim Zaman bring together eleven internationally renowned scholars to examine the varieties of modern Muslim education and their implications for national and global politics. The contributors provide new insights into Muslim culture and politics in countries as different as Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. They demonstrate that Islamic education is neither timelessly traditional nor medieval, but rather complex, evolving, and diverse in its institutions and practices. They reveal that a struggle for hearts and minds in Muslim lands started long before the Western media discovered madrasas, and that Islamic schools remain on its front line.



Schooling Islam is the most comprehensive work available in any language on madrasas and Islamic education.

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About the author

Robert W. Hefner is Director of the Program on Islam and Civil Society at the Institute on Culture and Religious Affairs at Boston University. Muhammad Qasim Zaman is Robert H. Niehaus '77 Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Religion at Princeton University.
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Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Dec 16, 2010
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9781400837458
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Education
Religion / Islam / General
Religion / Religion, Politics & State
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From the cleric-led Iranian revolution to the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, many people have been surprised by what they see as the modern reemergence of an antimodern phenomenon. This book helps account for the increasingly visible public role of traditionally educated Muslim religious scholars (the `ulama) across contemporary Muslim societies. Muhammad Qasim Zaman describes the transformations the centuries-old culture and tradition of the `ulama have undergone in the modern era--transformations that underlie the new religious and political activism of these scholars. In doing so, it provides a new foundation for the comparative study of Islam, politics, and religious change in the contemporary world.

While focusing primarily on Pakistan, Zaman takes a broad approach that considers the Taliban and the `ulama of Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, and the southern Philippines. He shows how their religious and political discourses have evolved in often unexpected but mutually reinforcing ways to redefine and enlarge the roles the `ulama play in society. Their discourses are informed by a longstanding religious tradition, of which they see themselves as the custodians. But these discourses are equally shaped by--and contribute in significant ways to--contemporary debates in the Muslim public sphere.


This book offers the first sustained comparative perspective on the `ulama and their increasingly crucial religious and political activism. It shows how issues of religious authority are debated in contemporary Islam, how Islamic law and tradition are continuously negotiated in a rapidly changing world, and how the `ulama both react to and shape larger Islamic social trends. Introducing previously unexamined facets of religious and political thought in modern Islam, it clarifies the complex processes of religious change unfolding in the contemporary Muslim world and goes a long way toward explaining their vast social and political ramifications.

Civil Islam tells the story of Islam and democratization in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation. Challenging stereotypes of Islam as antagonistic to democracy, this study of courage and reformation in the face of state terror suggests possibilities for democracy in the Muslim world and beyond.

Democratic in the early 1950s and with rich precedents for tolerance and civility, Indonesia succumbed to violence. In 1965, Muslim parties were drawn into the slaughter of half a million communists. In the aftermath of this bloodshed, a "New Order" regime came to power, suppressing democratic forces and instituting dictatorial controls that held for decades. Yet from this maelstrom of violence, repressed by the state and denounced by conservative Muslims, an Islamic democracy movement emerged, strengthened, and played a central role in the 1998 overthrow of the Soeharto regime. In 1999, Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid was elected President of a reformist, civilian government.


In explaining how this achievement was possible, Robert Hefner emphasizes the importance of civil institutions and public civility, but argues that neither democracy nor civil society is possible without a civilized state. Against portrayals of Islam as inherently antipluralist and undemocratic, he shows that Indonesia's Islamic reform movement repudiated the goal of an Islamic state, mobilized religiously ecumenical support, promoted women's rights, and championed democratic ideals. This broadly interdisciplinary and timely work heightens our awareness of democracy's necessary pluralism, and places Indonesia at the center of our efforts to understand what makes democracy work.

In rich detail Jonathan Berkey interprets the social and cultural consequences of Islam's regard for knowledge, showing how education in the Middle Ages played a central part in the religious experience of nearly all Muslims. Focusing on Cairo, which under Mamluk rule (1250-1517) was a vital intellectual center with a complex social system, the author describes the transmission of religious knowledge there as a highly personal process, one dependent on the relationships between individual scholars and students. The great variety of institutional structures, he argues, supported educational efforts without ever becoming essential to them. By not being locked into formal channels, religious education was never exclusively for the elite but was open to all. Berkey explores the varying educational opportunities offered to the full run of the Muslim population--including Mamluks, women, and the "common people." Drawing on medieval chronicles, biographical dictionaries, and treatises on education, as well as the deeds of endowment that established many of Cairo's schools, he explains how education drew groups of outsiders into the cultural center and forged a common Muslim cultural identity.

Originally published in 1992.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Few challenges to the modern dream of democratic citizenship appear greater than the presence of severe ethnic, religious, and linguistic divisions in society. With their diverse religions and ethnic communities, the Southeast Asian countries of Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia have grappled with this problem since achieving independence after World War II. Each country has on occasion been torn by violence over the proper terms for accommodating pluralism. Until the Asian economic crisis of 1997, however, these nations also enjoyed one of the most sustained economic expansions the non-Western world has ever seen.

This timely volume brings together fifteen leading specialists of the region to consider the impact of two generations of nation-building and market-making on pluralism and citizenship in these deeply divided Asian societies. Examining the new face of pluralism from the perspective of markets, politics, gender, and religion, the studies show that each country has developed a strikingly different response to the challenges of citizenship and diversity. The contributors, most of whom come Southeast Asia, pay particular attention to the tension between state and societal approaches to citizenship. They suggest that the achievement of an effectively participatory public sphere in these countries will depend not only on the presence of an independent civil society, but on a synergy of state and society that nurtures a public culture capable of mediating ethnic, religious, and gender divides.

The Politics of Multiculturalism will be of special interest to students of Southeast Asian history and society, anthropologists grappling with questions of citizenship and culture, political scientists studying democracy across cultures, and all readers concerned with the prospects for civility and tolerance in a multicultural world.

In the aftermath of the cold war, political commentators spoke ebulliently of the triumph of liberal democracy over its ideological rivals. Shortly thereafter, however, a surge of ethnic and religious violence raised doubts about whether democracy could survive outside Western culture. Similar concerns were soon raised even in Western nations by widespread citizen disengagement from the political process. Voter apathy, ideological conflict, and debates about cultural diversity intensified doubts about the continuing viability of democratic institutions. Throughout the whole world, then, few questions have come to define more clearly the challenge of our age than this: how to facilitate civil, free, and democratic interaction among citizens of multicultural societies.

Democratic Civilityexamines the core requirements necessary to make democracy work. Subtly interweaving case studies and theoretical reflection, Hefner and his contributors examine the ideals, culture, development, and organization of civil democracy. Against a historical background, they consider today's challenges to democracy, asking whether international politics is destined to lead to a clash of civilizations, or whether civil and democratic ideas are indeed realizable in a multicultural world. Essays by Adam B. Seligman, Robert Wuthnow, Brigitte Berger, and Anton C. Zijderveld address subjects germane to the “culture wars” controversy in the United States and other Western countries. And Daniel Chirot, Jose Casanova, Robert P. Weller, and S. Gordon Redding examine the prospects for democracy in non-Western, post-communist societies, in particular Chinese society and the Muslim world.

Hefner's highly readable volume reaches the core of the ongoing debate between Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and Francis Fukuyama's The End of History—whether liberal democratic values are generalizable to non-Western societies, or realizable only in the West. Democratic Civility will be of interest to those in the fields of anthropology, sociology, history, political theory, and philosophy.

There is a struggle for the hearts and minds of Muslims unfolding across the Islamic world. The conflict pits Muslims who support pluralism and democracy against others who insist such institutions are antithetical to Islam. With some 1.3 billion people worldwide professing Islam, the outcome of this contest is sure to be one of the defining political events of the twenty-first century.

Bringing together twelve engaging essays by leading specialists focusing on individual countries, this pioneering book examines the social origins of civil-democratic Islam, its long-term prospects, its implications for the West, and its lessons for our understanding of religion and politics in modern times.


Although depicted by its opponents as the product of political ideas "made in the West" civil-democratic Islam represents an indigenous politics that seeks to build a distinctive Islamic modernity. In countries like Turkey, Iran, Malaysia, and Indonesia, it has become a major political force. Elsewhere its influence is apparent in efforts to devise Islamic grounds for women's rights, religious tolerance, and democratic citizenship. Everywhere it has generated fierce resistance from religious conservatives. Examining this high-stakes clash, Remaking Muslim Politics breaks new ground in the comparative study of Islam and democracy. The contributors are Bahman Baktiari, Thomas Barfield, John R. Bowen, Dale F. Eickelman, Robert W. Hefner, Peter Mandaville, Augustus Richard Norton, Gwenn Okruhlik, Michael G. Peletz, Diane Singerman, Jenny B. White, and Muhammad Qasim Zaman.

When students from a Muslim boarding school were convicted for the 2002 terrorist bombings in Bali, Islamic schools in Southeast Asia became the focus of intense international scrutiny. Some analysts have warned that these schools are being turned into platforms for violent jihadism. Making Modern Muslims is the first book to look comparatively at Islamic education and politics in Southeast Asia. Based on a two-year research project by leading scholars of Southeast Asian Islam, the book examines Islamic schooling in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, and the southern Philippines. The studies demonstrate that the great majority of schools have nothing to do with violence but are undergoing changes that have far-reaching implications for democracy, gender relations, pluralism, and citizenship.

Making Modern Muslims offers an important reassessment of Muslim culture and politics in Southeast Asia and provides insights into the changing nature of state-society relations from the late colonial period to the present. It allows us to better appreciate the astonishing dynamism of Islamization in Southeast Asia and the struggle for Muslim hearts and minds taking place today. Timely and readable, this volume will be of great interest to teachers and specialists of Islam and Southeast Asia as well as the general reader seeking to understand the great transformations at work in the Muslim world.

Contributors: Esmael A. Abdula, Bjorn Atle Blengsli, Joseph Chinyong Liow, Robert W. Hefner, Richard G. Kraince, Thomas M. McKenna.

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