Before Sept. 11th, few Westerners had heard of Wahhabism. Today, it is a much more widely known. Frequently mentioned in association with Osama bin Laden, Wahhabism is portrayed by the media and public officials as an intolerant, puritanical, militant interpretation of Islam that calls for the wholesale destruction of the West in a jihad of global proportions. In the first study ever undertaken of the writings of Wahhabism’s founder, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1702-1791), Natana DeLong-Bas shatters these stereotypes and misconceptions. Her reading of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s works produces a revisionist thesis: Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was not the godfather of contemporary terrorist movements. Rather, he was a voice of reform, reflecting mainstream 18th-century Islamic thought. His vision of Islamic society was based upon a monotheism in which Muslims, Christians and Jews were to enjoy peaceful co-existence and cooperative commercial and treaty relations. Eschewing medieval interpretations of the Quran and hadith (sayings and deeds of the prophet Muhammad), Ibn Abd al-Wahhab called for direct, historically contextualized interpretation of scripture by both women and men. His understanding of theology and Islamic law was rooted in Quranic values, rather than literal interpretations. A strong proponent of women’s rights, he called for a balance of rights between women and men both within marriage and in access to education and public space. In the most comprehensive study of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s interpretation of jihad ever written, DeLong-Bas details a vision in which jihad is strictly limited to the self-defense of the Muslim community against military aggression. Contemporary extremists like Osama bin Laden do not have their origins in Wahhabism, she shows. The hallmark jihadi focus on a cult of martyrdom, the strict division of the world into two necessarily opposing spheres, the wholescale destruction of both civilian life and property, and the call for global jihad are entirely absent from Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s writings. Instead, the militant stance of contemporary jihadism lies in adherence to the writings of the medieval scholar, Ibn Taymiyya, and the 20th century Egyptian radical, Sayyid Qutb. This book fills a gap in the literature about Wahhabism by returning to the original writings of its founder.
From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad
For sale only in the Middle East
Egypt’s Monastic Art and Architecture
Gawdat Gabra With a historical introduction by Tim Vivian
Egypt’s Monastic Art and ArchitectureGawdat Gabra
With a historical introduction byTim Vivian
Egypt, the birthplace of communal monasticism, has a rich store of monasteries and monastic art. Coptic Monasteries takes the reader on a tour of the best preserved and most significant of these ancient religious centers, documenting in exhaustive detail the richness and the glory of the Coptic heritage. An informative introduction by Tim Vivian brings to life the early Christian era, with background information on the origins of the Coptic Church as well as its rites and ceremonies, sketches of some of monasticism’s founding figures, and accounts of some of the difficulties they faced, from religious schism to nomadic attacks. Gawdat Gabra’s expert commentary, complemented by almost one hundred full-color photographs of newly restored wall paintings and architectural features, covers monasteries from Aswan to Wadi al-Natrun. Ranging across a thousand years of history, Gabra’s observations will make any reader an expert on the composition and content of some of Egypt’s most outstanding religious art, the salient architectural features of each monastery, as well as the ongoing process of restoration that has returned much of their original vibrancy to these works. A unique and invaluable historical record, Coptic Monasteries is equally an in-depth, on-the-spot guide to these living monuments or an armchair trip back in time to the roots of one of the world’s oldest Christian traditions....read more
15 October 2010
96 color illus.
Photographs of Sufi Rituals in the Middle East and the Balkans
Photographs of Sufi Rituals in the Middle East and the BalkansNicolaas Biegman
Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam, is as far from the strident and often violent fundamentalist strain of the religion that has so captured world attention as it is possible to be. Sufis in all parts of the Islamic world are broad-minded, tolerant, and non-violent, their quest only to find and approach God through all means, including poetry, music, and dance. Historian Nicolaas Biegman has been observing and photographing Sufi practice and ritual in different Muslim lands for many years, and here in this collection of extraordinary photographs he feels the pulse of the Sufi experience, with its enormous variety in discipline and exuberance, intellectualism and spontaneity, in Egypt, Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia. In accompanying texts he explores what lies behind the rituals, and explains aspects of Sufi life and practice such as the position of women....read more
1 June 2009
100 color illus.
Christianity and Monasticism in Wadi al-Natrun
Edited by Maged S.A. Mikhail Mark Moussa
Wadi al-Natrun, a depression in the Western Desert of Egypt, is one of the most important centers for the development and continued thriving of the Coptic monastic tradition. Christianity and monasticism have prospered there from as early as the fourth century until the present day, when four major monasteries still flourish. Here, international specialists in Coptology, examine various aspects of Coptic civilization in Wadi al-Natrun over the past seventeen hundred years. The studies center on aspects of the history and development of monasticism inWadi al-Natrun, as well as the art, architecture, and archaeology of the four existing and numerous former monasteries of the region. Contributors: Elizabeth S. Bolman, Karl-Heinz Brune, Peter Grossmann, Johannes den Heijer, Suzana Hodak, Lucy-Anne Hunt, Mat Immerzeel, Martin Krause, Ewa Parandowska, S.G. Richter, Rushdi Said, Zuzana Skalova, Hany H. Takla, Tim Vivian, Jacques van der Vliet, Youhanna NessimYoussef, Ugo Zanetti....read more
1 March 2009
90 b/w illus.
Christianity and Monasticism in Upper Egypt
Volume 1: Akhmim and Sohag
Edited by Gawdat Gabra Hany Takla
Volume 1: Akhmim and SohagEdited by Gawdat Gabra
Christianity and monasticism have flourished along the Nile Valley in the Sohag region of Upper Egypt from as early as the fourth century until the present day. The contributors to this volume, international specialists in Coptology from around the world, examine various aspects of Coptic civilization in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag over the past seventeen hundred years. Many of the studies center on the person and legacy of the great Coptic saint, Shenoute the Archimandrite (348–466 ce), looking at his preserved writings, his life, his place in Pachomian monasticism, his relations with the patriarchs in Alexandria, and the life in his monastic system. Other studies deal with the art, architecture, and archaeology of the two great monasteries that he founded and the archaeological and artistic heritage of the region. Contributors: Heike Behlmer, Elizabeth Bolman, Anne Boud’hors, Andrew Crislip, Stephen Emmel, Cäcilia Fluck, James Goehring, Suzana Hodak, Dale Kinney, Rebecca Krawiec, Bentley Layton, Catherine Louis, Nina Lubomierski, Nashaat Mekhaiel, Samuel Moawad, Siegfried G. Richter, Ashraf Sadek, Sofia Schaten, Zuzana Skalova, Bigoul al-Suriany, Mark Swanson, Hany Takla, Janet Timbie, Jacques Van der Vliet, Youhanna Youssef, Ugo Zanetti....read more
30 May 2008
40 b/w illus.