Books and edited volumes

Monographs

Female Islamic Education Movements: The Re-democratisation of Islamic Knowledge

(Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Since the 1970s, movements aimed at giving Muslim women access to the serious study of Islamic texts have emerged across the world. In this book, Masooda Bano argues that the creative spirit that marked the rise and consolidation of early Islam, whereby Islam inspired serious intellectual engagement to create optimal societal institutions, can be found within these education movements. Drawing on rich ethnographic material from Pakistan, northern Nigeria and Syria, Bano questions the restricted notion of agency associated with these movements, exploring the educational networks which have attracted educated, professional and culturally progressive Muslim women to textual study, thus helping to reverse the most damaging legacy of colonial rule in Muslim societies: the isolation of mordern and Islamic knowledge. With its comparative approach, this book will appeal to those studying and researching the role of women across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, as well as the wider Muslim world. 

The Rational Believer: Choices and Decisions in the Madrasas of Pakistan

(Cornell University Press, 2012)

Madrasas have been accused of radicalising Muslims and participating, either actively or passively, in terrorist networks since the events of 9/11. The 2007 siege by government forces of Islamabad’s Red Mosque and its madrasa complex, whose imam and students staged an armed resistance against the state for its support of the ‘war on terror’, reinforced concerns about madrasas’ role in regional and global jihad. By 2006 madrasas registered with Pakistan’s five regulatory boards for religious schools had over one million male and 200,000 female students enrolled. The Rational Believer draws on rich interview, ethnographic and survey data, as well as fieldwork conducted in madrasas throughout the country, to explore the network of Pakistani madrasas. Mapping the choices and decisions facing students, teachers, parents and clerics, it explains why the choices available make participation in jihad appear at times a viable course of action; and shows that beliefs are rational and that religious believers look to maximise utility in ways not captured by classical rational choice. Analytical tools from the New Institutional Economics are used to explain apparent contradictions in the madrasa system – for example, how thousands of young Pakistani women in recently-founded Islamic girls’ schools now demand the national adoption of traditional sharia law, despite its highly restrictive limits on female agency.

BREAKDOWN IN PAKISTAN: HOW AID IS ERODING INSTITUTIONS FOR COLLECTIVE ACTION

(Stanford University Press, 2012)

Thirty percent of foreign development aid is channeled through NGOs or community-based organisations to improve service delivery to the poor, build social capital and establish democracy in developing nations. However, growing evidence suggests that aid often erodes, rather than promotes, cooperation within developing nations. Breakdown in Pakistan presents a rare, micro-level account of the complex decision-making processes that bring individuals together to form collective-action platforms. It then examines why aid often breaks down the very institutions for collective action that it aims to promote. Breakdown in Pakistan identifies concrete measures to check the erosion of cooperation among recipients of international development aid. As one of the largest recipients of such aid, the empirical details presented from Pakistan are particularly relevant for policy; although the book’s argument is equally applicable to a number of other developing countries, and has important implications for recent discussions within the field of economics.

Edited Volumes

Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Volume 2: Evolving Debates in the West

(Edinburgh University Press, 2018)

A comparative analysis of key Islamic authority platforms and their debates.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, scholarship and policy debate on Islam and Muslim societies has come to focus primarily on Islam’s ability to make young Muslims gravitate towards anti-modernity movements. Many attribute Islamic militancy, as well as the general socio-economic and political stagnation experienced in some Muslim societies, to Islamic theological or legal dictates. Yet Islamic scholarly tradition is highly pluralistic, and today’s leading Islamic authority structures are developing competing conceptual and methodological approaches which vary greatly in their ability to engage with societal change.

This volume covers the new Islamic authority centres emerging in the West. It makes a major contribution to refining our understanding of the plurality of Islamic tradition in contemporary times, helping to counter the dominant narrative of an inevitable clash of civilisations. It presents evidence of great creative energy within many Islamic scholarly platforms (old as well as new); an energy which aims to provide dynamic answers to modern day challenges from within the Islamic legal and theological tradition.

Case Studies:

This volume presents case studies of six new Islamic scholarly platforms in the West that are proving particularly effective in attracting young Muslims:

Zaytuna College

The Neo-Traditionalism of Tim Winter

The International Institute of Islamic Thought

Tariq Ramadan and the Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics

Yasir Qadhi and ‘Reasonable Salafism’

New Deobandi Institutions in the West

Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Volume 1: Evolving Debates in Muslim Majority Countries

(Edinburgh University Press, 2018)

At the turn of the twenty-first century, scholarship and policy debate on Islam and Muslim societies has come to focus primarily on Islam’s ability to make young Muslims gravitate towards anti-modernity movements. Many attribute Islamic militancy, as well as the general socio-economic and political stagnation experienced in some Muslim societies, to Islamic theological or legal dictates. Yet Islamic scholarly tradition is highly pluralistic, and today’s leading Islamic authority structures are developing competing conceptual and methodological approaches which vary greatly in their ability to engage with societal change.

This volume focuses on the four most influential Islamic authority structures with a visible following among Muslims around the globe. It makes a major contribution to refining our understanding of the plurality of Islamic tradition in contemporary times, helping to counter the dominant narrative of an inevitable clash of civilisations. It presents evidence of great creative energy within many Islamic scholarly platforms (old as well as new); an energy which aims to provide dynamic answers to modern day challenges from within the Islamic legal and theological tradition.

Key features:

Focuses on four influential Sunni Islamic scholarly platforms with a global following: Al-Azhar (Egypt); Saudi Salafism (Saudi Arabia); Deoband (South Asia); Diyanet (Turkey)

Each case study traces the institution’s intellectual genealogy, contemporary political standing, and the discourses of its scholars on Islamic law and social change

SHAPING GLOBAL ISLAMIC DISCOURSES: THE ROLE OF AL-AZHAR, AL-MEDINA, AND AL-MUSTAFA

(Edinburgh University Press, 2015) (co-edited with Keiko Sakurai)

Claims abound that Saudi oil money is fuelling Salafi Islam, just as it is often taken as fact that Iran and the Sunni Arab states are fighting proxy wars in foreign lands. This empirically-grounded study challenges the assumptions prevalent within academic as well as policy circles about the hegemonic power of such Islamic discourses and movements to penetrate all Muslim communities and societies. By focusing on case studies of three of the most influential international centres of Islamic learning in contemporary times (Al-Azhar University in Egypt; the International Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia; and Al-Mustafa University in Iran), Shaping Global Islamic Discourses illustrates how the transmission of ideas is an extremely complex process; and how the outcome depends not just on the strategies adopted by backers of those ideologies, but equally on the characteristics of the receipt communities. In order to understand this complex interaction between global and local Islam and the plurality in outcomes, and with case studies from North and West Africa and Southeast Asia, Shaping Global Islamic Discourses traces the activities and influence of graduates of these three institutions in their home communities to show how ideas are transmitted from one locale to another and how this process often induces adjustments within those ideas.

WOMEN, LEADERSHIP AND MOSQUES: CHANGES IN CONTEMPORARY ISLAMIC AUTHORITY

(Brill, 2012) (co-edited with Hilary Kalmbach)

The acceptance of female leadership in mosques and madrasas is a significant change to historical practice; in many places it signals the mainstream acceptance of some form of female Islamic authority. Women, Leadership and Mosques investigates the diverse range of female religious leadership which exists in contemporary Muslim communities in South, East and Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and North America. Chapters discuss its emergence, the limitations placed upon it, and its wider impact, as well as the physical and virtual spaces used by women to establish and consolidate their authority. Women, Leadership and Mosques is the first volume to bring together analysis of female Islamic leadership in geographically- and ideologically-diverse Muslim communities worldwide.

Undergraduate Texts

RELIGION IN DEVELOPMENT: REWRITING THE SECULAR SCRIPT

(Zed Books, 2009) (co-authored with Séverine Deneulin)

Development practice is full of examples of the importance of religion in the lives of people in developing countries. However, religion has largely remained unexplored in development studies. Religion in Development aims to fill that gap. It reviews how religion has been treated in the evolution of development thought; how it has been conceptualised in the social sciences; and highlights the major deficiencies in secularist assumptions. Arguing that both development theory and practice need to rethink their treatment of religion, the book puts forward an understanding of religions as traditions: religions rest on central tenets and teachings which never cease to be re-interpreted within their social, political and historical contexts. In addition to providing a conceptual framework for analysing the role of religion in development, the book provides numerous empirical examples drawn from the Christian and Islamic religious traditions.