Islam in the World Today

Islam in the World Today: A Handbook of Politics, Religion, Culture, and Society

Werner Ende
Udo Steinbach
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 1128
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    Islam in the World Today
    Book Description:

    Considered the most authoritative single-volume reference work on Islam in the contemporary world, the German-language Der Islam in der Gegenwart, currently in its fifth edition, offers a wealth of authoritative information on the religious, political, social, and cultural life of Islamic nations and of Islamic immigrant communities elsewhere. Now, Cornell University Press is making this invaluable resource accessible to English-language readers.

    More current than the latest German edition on which it is based, Islam in the World Today covers a comprehensive array of topics in concise essays by some of the world's leading experts on Islam, including:

    • the history of Islam from the earliest years through the twentieth century, with particular attention to Sunni and Shi'i Islam and Islamic revival movements during the last three centuries;

    • data on the advance of Islam along with current population statistics;

    • Muslim ideas on modern economics, on social order, and on attempts to modernize Islamic law (shari'a) and apply it in contemporary Muslim societies;

    • Islam in diaspora, especially the situation in Europe and America;

    • secularism, democracy, and human rights; and

    • women in Islam Twenty-four essays are each devoted to a specific Muslim country or a country with significant Muslim minorities, spanning Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union.

    Additional essays illuminate Islamic culture, exploring local traditions; the languages and dialects of Muslim peoples; and art, architecture, and literature. Detailed bibliographies and indexes ensure the book's usefulness as a reference work.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6483-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xiv)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xv-xx)
    Werner Ende and Udo Steinbach
  4. Part One: Historical Expansion, Political and Religious History

    • I The World of Islam: A Brief Historical Survey
      (pp. 3-35)
      Heribert Busse

      Islam, at present the religion of more than 1 billion people all over the world, emerged on the Arabian Peninsula in the early decades of the seventh century, at a time when decisive changes were taking place in world history. In Europe, the unrest owing to the migration of populations gave way to the kingdoms of the Goths, the Lombards, and the Merovingians. Muhammad’s contemporary on the papal throne was Gregory I, called Gregory the Great (ca. 540–604), who reorganized ecclesiastical institutions, fought remnants of paganism in Italy, and made a name for himself as the author of homilies...

    • II Sunni Islam
      (pp. 36-50)
      Bernd Radtke

      The Arabic word sunna means “tradition,” “custom.” A Sunni (Arab. sunni) is a person who strives to live and act according to customs and tradition. The substance of the customs consists of the sayings and teachings that were passed down from the Prophet Muhammad. Emulating the Prophet is the goal of every pious Muslim; and every pious Muslim will claim that his customary practice and the doctrine he believes in are the true sunna of the Prophet. In this way a Shiʿi, too, can be considered a Sunni, which is why it is necessary to define the concept of sunna...

    • III Shiʿi Islam
      (pp. 51-69)
      Werner Ende

      Roughly 10 to 15 percent of the present Muslim population worldwide belongs to the religious denomination of Shiʿi Islam. The Twelver Shiʿa (Arab. ithna ʿashariyya) are by far the largest Shiʿi sect. Their main communities have for centuries been in southern Iraq, in Iran including Azerbaijan, and in some regions of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent (for example, Lucknow). There are also significant religiously and politically active Twelver Shiʿa minorities in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Bahrain, and the coastal regions of the Arab Gulf states.

      Within the Shiʿa as a whole, this group is theologically somewhere between the Zaydiyya, whose teachings are, all things...

    • IV Revivalist Movements in Islam from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century and the Role of Islam in Modern History: Anticolonialism and Nationalism
      (pp. 70-104)
      Rudolph Peters

      One characteristic common to most revealed religions is that reform is usually depicted as the return to roots and origins, that is, to a pure form of the religion based on the revealed texts and the doctrines of the respective founders. The Christian Reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is only one example of this phenomenon. There has been no major movement within Islam comparable to the Reformation. Nevertheless, over the course of Islamic history there have frequently been spiritual currents claiming to represent an original and pure Islam against the prevailing “depraved” form of the religion, and these...

    • V The Distribution of Muslims throughout the World: Figures and Information on the Present Situation
      (pp. 105-126)
      Peter Heine and Riem Spielhaus

      Dealing with demographic statistics is always difficult. They are invariably connected with too many concrete political implications. The problems are well known and apply also to demography in the Third World. According to the Old Testament, God punished David for having a census taken (2 Samuel 24). Mistrust, fear, and various notions of prestige also lead today to imprecise answers being given in censuses.¹ Yet even in countries with elaborate systems for registering vital statistics, figures relating to the size of the Muslim population are not necessarily reliable. This is due especially to the fact that data on religious affiliation...

  5. Part Two: The Political Role of Islam in the Present

    • I The Intra-Islamic Discussion on a Modern Economic and Social System
      (pp. 129-140)
      Johannes Reissner

      Part of the Prophet Muhammad’s legacy was his conscious intervention into the existing social and economic system of the early-seventh-century Arabian Peninsula. The best-known examples are the compulsory tax for the poor paid by every Muslim (Arab. zakat) and the Qurʾan’s ban on charging interest, yet there are many more. Islamic law developed at a later stage comments on many areas of economic life, and the religious endowments (Arab. awqaf, plural of waqf) are an institution created by Islam which is still of great economic and social significance in some countries of the Islamic world to this day. The Qurʾan...

    • II Islamic Economics in Practice: Interest-Free Financial Management
      (pp. 141-192)
      Volker Nienhaus

      The Qurʾan and the sunna contain the basic elements of Islamic business ethics, which have been further formulated and specified on an institutional basis by traditional Islamic law (shariʿa). These business ethics have influenced the economic behavior of individual Muslims, on the one hand, and led to the evolution of specific forms of economies (for example, religious endowments, educational and social institutions run by mosques), on the other.

      This chapter does not deal with such practical implementations of the traditional economic theory developed by Islamic theologians and legal scholars.¹ Instead it covers the contemporary theoretical development of modern Islamic economics...

    • III Developments in Law
      (pp. 193-220)
      Hans-Georg Ebert

      In the countries of Asia and Africa in which the Islamic religion has a presence, specific legal systems have formed on the basis of these countries’ historical, political, social, and religious development, taking account of imposed norms and principles. The majority of these are fully able to regulate relationships among people (private law), as well as the individual’s relationship to state authority and relationships among state bodies (public law). At the same time, national legal systems reflect various local, regional, and Islamic characteristics that overlap and cannot be reduced to Islamic law, or shariʿa. As in Western countries, the state...

    • IV The Status of Islam and Islamic Law in Selected Countries
      (pp. 221-547)

      After decades of decline (1923–1950), Islam underwent a resurgence in Turkey (1950–1980) and has now grown into the dominant political force in the country. The republic on which Mustafa Kemal Atatürk left such an indelible mark continues to have a secular constitution, and religion is still denied access to the legislature, but religious forces have gained such importance institutionally and in terms of their impact on the masses that many believe Turkey is in the midst of a transition to a fundamentalist state. Others wonder with increasing concern just how long the military will passively watch this development,...

    • V The Islamic Diaspora: Europe and America
      (pp. 548-604)

      The status of Muslim communities in western Europe has changed rapidly in the first few years of the twenty-first century. They consist of a growing number of individuals who were born in Europe and are able to speak English, French, and German better than Turkish or Arabic. Yet as diaspora communities, they continue to maintain close ties with their coreligionists outside Europe. The Islamic diaspora has created new challenges for Muslims and western European countries alike. Muslims must decide how they want to practice their religion and how they wish to pass it on to younger generations who are living...

    • VI The Discussion within Islam on Secularism, Democracy, and Human Rights
      (pp. 605-618)
      Alexander Flores

      The relationship to modernity is one of the key themes—if not the central theme—for politicians and intellectuals in the Muslim world who are concerned with their societies’ social and political issues and perspectives. In general they have few problems with aspects of modernity such as material and technical modernization or the use of rational methods of thought. It is the aspects that imply acceptance of a catalogue of “Western” values that tend to be more problematic and arouse fierce controversy. There are frequently disputes within Islam about the nexus of topics around democracy, human rights (not least women’s...

    • VII The Situation of Women in Islamic Countries
      (pp. 619-681)
      Wiebke Walther

      The status of women in Islam has been an issue for over two hundred years and is currently one of the world’s most controversial subjects both interand intraculturally, which means also for Muslims of different regions and orientations. In fact the situation of the world’s almost 600 million Muslim women varies so greatly today that it will be possible to address only some of the more essential aspects. My focus here is on the Middle East, that is, the Arab world from North Africa to Iraq, as well as Turkey and Iran. These countries have different languages and historical developments,...

    • VIII Islamist Groups and Movements
      (pp. 682-696)
      Guido Steinberg and Jan-Peter Hartung

      Islamist groups and movements have left their mark on the history of the Muslim world since the first half of the twentieth century. Since the 1980s and 1990s they have even become important actors on the world stage. They can be found everywhere Muslims live, including the large diasporas in Europe, North and South America, and Australia. There are currently so many different groups that even specialists have difficulty keeping track of them, so this chapter can make no claim to completeness. Its objective is to introduce the most important groups, discuss their characteristics, and show trends in the development...

    • IX Mystical Brotherhoods and Popular Islam
      (pp. 697-711)
      Frederick De Jong

      Islamic mystical brotherhoods (dervish or sufi orders, Arab. tariqa, pl. turuq) can be defined as hierarchically organized initiatory associations rooted in a mystical conception of Islam.¹ Fundamental to this concept is the implicit or explicit axiomatic stance that human beings can attain a state of direct knowledge of God or oneness with God. This mystical conception of Islam is evident in numerous brotherhoods, structuring their doctrines and religious practices.

      The mystical teacher (shaykh, murshid, pir) stands at the top of the hierarchy of a brotherhood. He generally justifies his claims as teacher and head of the brotherhood through the fact...

    • X Sects and Special Groups
      (pp. 712-732)
      Werner Schmucker

      In an apocryphal story about the Prophet related in collections of traditions (hadith) and heresiographies, Muhammad predicts that his own community will split into seventy-one sects. While this figure may have been merely a literary approximation, the historical reality proved to be even more diverse. Nevertheless, Muslim contemporaries can now affirm with satisfaction that the immense spectrum of classical sects has been reduced to a mere handful and that only a few new sects such as the Bahai and the Ahmadis have emerged in the modern era. In light of other divisions within the umma, this advance in the idea...

    • XI Islam and Non-Islamic Minorities
      (pp. 733-742)
      Johanna Pink

      The status of religious minorities in the Islamic world is a potentially explosive issue in numerous respects. Even the use of the term “minorities” is not unproblematic. In many countries of the Islamic world, part of the political rhetoric of both Muslims and non-Muslims is the claim that classifying the population into majority and minorities violates the fundamental unity of the nation. The adherents of this position tend to regard any attempt to explore the situation of minorities as a threat to national unity and as fostering sectarianism and division. In Egypt, for example, the existence of minorities is regularly...

    • XII International Islamic Organizations
      (pp. 743-752)
      Johannes Reissner

      The idea of an all-Islamic congress marked the beginning of developments that led to the establishment of contemporary international Islamic organizations. Already in the second half of the nineteenth century, representatives of reform Islam such as Muhammad ʿAbduh and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani envisaged such a congress. The Ottoman sultan—whose position as caliph and thus “protector of Islam” had been affirmed in the Ottoman constitution of 1876—then exploited the idea politically in an attempt to preserve the unity of the Ottoman Empire against emerging national movements, in particular the Arab national movement. The ideology of pan-Islamism also influenced anti-Ottoman...

  6. Part Three: Present-Day Islamic Culture and Civilization

    • I “Orientalistics” and Orientalism
      (pp. 755-766)
      Reinhard Schulze

      Although the “Oriental” was already seen in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as a cultural tradition distinct from that of the Occident, and was also considered separately in academic research and teaching, only in the nineteenth century did the view emerge that research on the “Orient” represented a separate academic discipline. The German name for this discipline, “Orientalistics” (Orientalistik), is more recent, while the English term “Orientalism” is older. The latter did not so much refer to academic dealings with the Orient itself as actually describe those types of thinking and lifestyles that made explicit reference to the Orient. Accordingly,...

    • II Islam and Cultural Self-Assertion
      (pp. 767-778)
      Rotraud Wielandt

      Cultural self-assertion is not a basic human need felt everywhere and in every period. The wish for it is, rather, the symptom of a crisis: it is perceived only when people find the basic values of their native culture threatened by an alien culture that is novel to them. Such a threat arises, in the perception of Muslims today, from the technical, industrialized civilization of modern Europe. An awareness that this endangers their own cultural existence has spread widely in the Islamic world since traditional ways of life began to be Westernized under the influence of the political and economic...

    • III Islam and Local Traditions Syncretic Ideas and Practices
      (pp. 779-791)
      Olaf Schumann and Lode Frank Brakel

      The term “syncretism” originated in antiquity, but there are only a few examples of its use. One can be found in the essay “On Brotherly Love,” in which Plutarch cites the example of the Cretans. Though quarreling frequently, the Cretans quickly overcame their differences and joined in an alliance when faced with a common enemy. According to Plutarch, they called this synkretismos. Erasmus of Rotterdam took up the term in a generalized way in 1519, when he exhorted Melanchthon to behave peacefully toward the humanists. He derived the word from the Greek synkeránnymi, meaning “to mix together.” He intended the...

    • IV Is There an Islamic Linguistic Sphere? Islamic Idiom in the Languages of Muslim Peoples
      (pp. 792-799)
      Otto Jastrow

      For Muslims, the Qurʾan represents a linguistic miracle. They believe that its unique character prohibits translation of any kind into other languages, and actually makes the idea of translation seem meaningless. The Qurʾan can, however, be elucidated and explained in other languages—just as Arabic-speaking Muslims rely entirely on explanation for understanding many passages—but only the original Arabic text of the Qurʾan is allowed to be read aloud and publicly recited. The same applies to ritual prayer (salat), from the muezzin’s call to prayer chanted in Arabic, and the Qurʾan verses recited during prayers, to the concluding words “Al-salamu...

    • V Islam Reflected in the Contemporary Literature of Muslim Peoples
      (pp. 800-829)
      Johann Christoph Bürgel

      Whereas Islamic expansion once encompassed large areas of Asia and considerable peripheral regions of Africa and Europe, changing them forever, in the modern era European civilization has practically overrun and changed the whole world. A similar process has occurred in literature. Literary forms and means of expression originating in Europe have become the model for literature in the so-called developing countries, although autochthonous literary traditions have endured and merged with Western influence to create new forms of expression. The process of literary renewal in non-European countries generally exhibits some important common features. These include the introduction of printing and newspapers...

    • VI Contemporary Painting and Graphic Art in the Islamic World
      (pp. 830-837)
      Peter Heine

      There are two fields of art with a limited tradition in today’s Islamic world, namely, the visual arts and the different forms of musical and straight theater. The medieval Islamic world was familiar with different rudimentary forms of drama, but in the case of Greek comedy and tragedy it did not adopt the forms of antiquity as extensively as it did in the natural sciences and medicine. The visual arts were no exception. Ancient sculptures in temple and palace complexes were familiar from representations, but they did not find their way into works by Islamic artists. A comparable development can...

    • VII Contemporary “Islamic” Architecture and Representational Art
      (pp. 838-858)
      Mohamed Scharabi

      Asking whether it is possible to talk about contemporary “Islamic” architecture and representational art raises another question: Did “Islamic” architecture and representational art ever really exist? Before we look at the present-day situation, we should therefore consider the art and architectural history of Islamic culture in the period before European or Western forms of life and economy permeated Islam; In other words, we have to address the intrinsic local tradition.

      Early Islamic urban construction, and the related architecture and representational art, were mainly concerned with preexisting cultures. The newly founded residential cities, for instance, were based on typical models such...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 859-948)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 949-1008)
  9. About the Authors
    (pp. 1009-1018)
  10. Name Index
    (pp. 1019-1036)
  11. Subject Index
    (pp. 1037-1092)
  12. Geographical Index
    (pp. 1093-1114)