From Religious Empires to Secular States: State Secularization in Turkey,Iran, and Russia by Birol Baskan, Routledge, 2014Download

In the 1920s and the 1930s, Turkey, Iran and Russia vehemently pursued state-secularizing reforms, but adopted different strategies in doing so. But why do states follow different secularizing strategies? The literature has already shattered the illusion that secularization of the state has been a unilinear, homogeneous and universal process, and has convincingly shown that secularization of the state has unfolded along different paths. Much, however, remains to be uncovered.

This book provides an in-depth comparative historical analysis of state secularization in three major Eurasian countries: Turkey, Iran and Russia. To capture the aforementioned variation in state secularization across three countries that have been hitherto analyzed as separate studies, Birol Baskan adopts three modes of state secularization: accommodationism, separationism and eradicationism. Focusing thematically on the changing relations between the state and religious institutions, Baskan brings together a host of factors, historical, strategic and structural, to account for why Turkey adopted accommodationism, Iran separationism and Russia eradicationism. In doing so, he expertly demonstrates that each secularization strategy was a rational response to the strategic context the reformers found themselves in.

Table of Contents:

  • > Introduction: The Secular State and Its Three Types.
  • > Mobilizing Sheikhs and Ulama: Religion and the Ottoman Empire.
  • > Accommodationist State Secularization in Republican Turkey.
  • > Appeasing the Ulama: Religion and the State in Iran.
  • > Separationist State Secularization in Pahlavi Iran.
  • > Taming the Church: Religion and the Russian Empire.
  • > Eradicationist State Secularization in Soviet Union.
  • > Conclusion: The Fates of Three Models of Secular States.


The House of Service: The Gulen Movement and Islam’s Third Way by David Tittensor, 2014, Oxford University Press.

David Tittensor offers a groundbreaking new perspective on the Gulen movement, a Turkish Muslim educational activist network that emerged in the 1960s and has grown into a global empire with an estimated worth of $25 billion. Named after its leader Fethullah Gulen, the movement has established more than 1,000 secular educational institutions in over 140 countries, aiming to provide holistic education that incorporates both spirituality and the secular sciences.

Despite the movement’s success, the little is known about how its schools are run, or how Islam is operationalized. Drawing on thirteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in Turkey, Tittensor explores the movement’s ideo-theology and how it is participated in the schools. His interviews with both teachers and graduates from Africa, Indonesia, Central Asia, and Turkey show that the movement is a missionary organization, but of a singular kind: its goal is not simply widespread religious conversion, but a quest to recoup those Muslims who have apparently lost their way and to show non-Muslims that Muslim can embrace modernity and integrate into the wider community. Tittensor also examines the movement’s operational side and shows how the schools represent an example of Mohammad Yunus’s social business model: a business with social cause at its heart.

The House of Service is an insightful exploration of one of the world’s largest transnational Muslim associations, and will be invaluable for those seeking to understand how Islam will be perceived and practiced in the future.

Theorizing Islam: Disciplinary Deconstruction and Reconstruction by Aaron W. Hughes, 2014, Acumen Publishing.

The scholarly study of Islam has become ever more insular and apologetic. Academic Islamic Studies has tried to maintain a focus on truth, authenticity, experience and meaning and has effectively avoided discussion of larger social, cultural and ideological issues.

Many scholars of Islam have presented themselves to their colleagues, the media and the public as the interpreters of Islam and have done so with an interpretation which tends, almost universally, to the liberal and egalitarian. The ignorance and hostility which the Islamic faith has faced since 9/11 has partly necessitated the taking of such a position. But, as ‘Theorizing Islam argues, the issue remains that only one interpretation of Islam is generally being presented and, as with any interpretation, this has its own assumptions.

The aim of ‘Theorizing Islam’ is to explore the potential for a fuller, more honest and more sophisticated approach to both theory and methodology in the academic study of Islam

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Islam and Religious Studies Post 9/11

  • > The Scholarly Dream of Following Muhammad’s Footsteps
  • > Another Painting on Islam’s Early Canvas
  • > John Esposito and the Muslim Women
  • > Toward a Reconfiguration of the Category ‘Muslim Women’
  • > Reflections On Ernst and Martin’s Rethinking Islamic Studies
  • > From Islamic Religious Studies to the ‘New Islamic Studies’

Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East by Shadi Hamid, 2014, Oxford University Press

A significant contribution to a topic of global importance that is constantly in the news On-the-ground detail and insider perspectives, including interviews with leading Islamist figures in Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia, many of whom are currently imprisoned.

Challenges academic and conventional wisdom, arguing that it was repression that forced Islamist groups to moderate

Explores the changing role of U.S. policy toward Islamist groups and offers guidance for policymakers going forward.

In 1989, Francis Fukuyama famously announced the “end of history.” The Berlin Wall had fallen; liberal democracy had won out. But what of illiberal democracy–the idea that popular majorities, working through the democratic process, might reject gender equality, religious freedoms, and other norms that Western democracies take for granted? Nowhere have such considerations become more relevant than in the Middle East, where the uprisings of 2011 swept the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups to power.

In Temptations of Power, Shadi Hamid draws on hundreds of interviews with leaders and activists from across the region to advance a new understanding of how Islamist movements change over time. He puts forward the bold thesis that repression “forced” Islamists to moderate their politics, work in coalitions, de-emphasize Islamic law, and set aside the dream of an Islamic state. Meanwhile, democratic openings in the 1980s–and again during the Arab Spring–pushed Islamists back toward their original conservatism. With the uprisings of 2011, Islamists found themselves in an enviable position, but one for which they were unprepared. Groups like the Brotherhood combine the features of both political parties and religious movements, leading to an inherent tension they have struggled to resolve. However pragmatic they may be, their ultimate goal remains the Islamization of society. When the electorate they represent is conservative as well, they can push their own form of illiberal democracy while insisting they are carrying out the popular will. This can lead to overreach and significant backlash. Yet, while the Egyptian coup and the subsequent crackdown were a devastating blow for the Islamist “project,” obituaries of political Islam are premature.

As long as the battle over the role of religion in public life continues, Islamist parties in countries as diverse as Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan will remain an important force whether in the ranks of opposition or the halls of power. But what are the key factors driving their evolution? A timely and provocative reassessment, Hamid’s account serves as an essential compass for those trying to understand where the region’s varied Islamist groups have come from and where they might be headed.

Never Wholly Other: A Muslim Theology of Religious Pluralism by Jerusha Tanner Lamptey, 2014, Oxford University Press

How does the Qu’ran depict the religious “other”? Historically, this question has provoked extensive debate among Islamic scholars about the identity, nature, and status of the religious “other”. Today, this debate assumes great importance because of the pervasive experience of religious plurality, which prompts inquiry into convergences and divergences in belief and practice as well as controversy over appropriate forms of interreligious interaction. The persistence of religious violence and oppression give rise to difficult questions about the relationship between the depiction of religious “others,” and intolerance and oppression.

Scholars have traditionally accounted for the coexistence of religious similarity and difference by resorting to models that depict religious as isolated entities or by models that arrange religions in a static, evaluative hierarchy. In response to the limitations of this discourse, Jerusha Tanner Lamptey constructs an alternative conceptual and hermeneutical approach that draws insights from the work of Muslim women interpreters of the Qu’ran, feminist theology, and semantic analysis. She employs it to re-evaluate, re-interpret, and re-envision the Qu’ranic discourse on religious difference. Through a close and detailed reading of the Qu’ranictext, she distinguishes between two forms of religious difference. Through a close and detailed reading of the Qur’anic text, she distinguishes between two forms of religious difference-hierarchical religious difference and articulates a new, integrated model of religious pluralism.

 (De) Monopolising Paradise: An Intellectual Inquiry into the Relationship Between Islam and non-Muslim by Sultan Khan and Lubna Nadvi, Unisa Press ,2014

(De) Monopolising Paradise argues that some interpretations of Islamic texts serve to distance Islam from other communities. Originally published as ‘Islam and non-Muslims’ by M.I. Meer in 1956, this edited version offers an in-depth interpretation of Qur‘ânic verses, with the idea that unlike other religions, which regard salvation as the sole monopoly of their followers, Islam recognises that God-fearing people of other religions would be duly rewarded by their Lord for pursuing the path of righteousness within the context of their faith. (De)Monopolising Paradise is an intellectual inquiry into what the Qur‘ân actually says about Muslims and non-Muslim relationships; it is a treatise for all persons of faith reminding them of the real message of Islam, Tawhîd, (Oneness), and the idea of unity .

What is Islamic Philosophy? by Roy Jackson, 2014, Routledge .

What is Islamic Philosophy? offers a broad introduction to Islamic thought, from its origins to the many challenging issues facing Muslims in the contemporary world. The chapters explore early Islamic philosophy and trace its development through key themes and figures up to the twenty-first century.

Topics covered include:

  • > ethical issues such as just war, abortion, women’s rights, homosexuality and cloning
  • > questions in political philosophy regarding what kind of Islamic state could exist and how democratic can (or should) Islam really be
  • > the contribution of Islam to ‘big questions’ such as the existence of God, the concept of the soul, and what constitutes truth.

This fresh and original book includes a helpful glossary and suggestions for further reading. It is ideal for students coming to the subject for the first time as well as anyone wanting to learn about the philosophical tradition and dilemmas that are part of the Islamic worldview.