Recent Posts

March 22nd, 2017

When is the Islamic state? Historical time and the agenda of Islamic studies

posted by Kabir Tambar

For Love of the ProphetFrom the Islamic revolutions in Iran (1978-79) and Sudan (1989) to the recent emergence of ISIS, the concept of an Islamic state is often greeted in North America and Western Europe with a distinct historical anxiety, as a phenomenon of pre-modernity erupting in our midst. Scholars of Islamic studies have long countered that in fact these entities are constituted squarely within the discourses and institutions of the modern state: the movement in Iran, for instance, followed the longstanding revolutionary-national tradition in claiming that it acted on behalf of the will of “the people,” and the Sudanese leadership embraced the idea of civilizing a pre-modern religiosity, a project that has been a hallmark of Enlightenment thought. Nation-states that claim to derive their law from Islam still typically codify sharia in the format of a constitution, often drawing on the conventions and language of international law as a guide.

In reminding readers of these points, scholars of Islamic studies challenge the relegation of Islamic politics to pre-modernity. But in showing the many ways in which actual political practices in the Muslim world remain within the fold of modernity, this line of critique risks reinscribing the same temporal division, leaving it in place as the very condition of intelligibility of Islamic politics. How might a different understanding of historical time reorient the agenda of Islamic studies?

Read When is the Islamic state? Historical time and the agenda of Islamic studies

March 20th, 2017

“I am not a racist, but . . .”: The perversity of the recent ECJ ruling on the “headscarf issue”

posted by Carlo Invernizzi Accetti

March 16th, 2017

New itineraries in the study of Islam and the state

posted by Iza Hussin

March 16th, 2017

For Love of the Prophet—An Introduction

posted by Noah Salomon

~ More recent posts ~


For Love of the Prophet

by Noah Salomon

For Love of the Prophet

Noah Salomon’s recent ethnography of the Islamic state in Sudan looks at this political formation as it is lived out in daily life. As Salomon phrases it in his introduction to the series,

“As much a meditation on the religious dimensions of the modern state in general as it is an ethnography of religious and political life in Sudan, For Love of the Prophet asks readers to question their own assumptions about what has sustained foundational politics in our ‘post-foundational age.’ Moving beyond arguments about the impossibility of the Islamic state as a moral-theoretical or an ethical-political project, For Love of the Prophet draws on ethnographic research to ask by what means the Islamic state does in fact proceed in spite of its seeming contradictions.”

In this series, six scholars from an array of disciplines discuss Salomon’s contribution to conversations on state formation, the Islamic in the public, and the history of Sudan.

Read Salomon’s introduction to the series here.


Theologies of American exceptionalism

Guest edited by Winnifred Fallers Sullivan and Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

The one-day workshop which produced these pairs of essays focused on “Theologies of American Exceptionalism,” asking participants to expound on an exemplary text. These ranged from what might usually be regarded as explicitly religious texts, such as John Winthrop’s sermon aboard the Arabella and Khomeini’s Last Testament, to judicial opinions, such as that of the US Supreme Court articulating the doctrine of conquest, literary reflections on the Great American Novel, explicitly political engagements with theology, and academic writing on capitalism, consumption, and excess.

Begin by reading the introduction.

Featured discussion

Mere Civility

A forum on Teresa Bejan’s new book exploring “our contemporary crisis of civility” by examining debates about religious toleration.

Featured publication

The End of Theology

J. Aaron Simmons discusses Christian theology as it relates to mission in his review of this new volume edited by Jason Sexton and Paul Weston.

Featured essay

Understanding the president’s reality

In this critique, Judith Gurewich uses Lacanian psychoanlaysis to illustrate the “paranoid” public behavior of President Trump.