Books: New Releases, May/June




Bridging the Gap: Islam’s Challenge for America



Ashraf W. Nubani 

2022. Pp. 264. PB: $17.99. Kindle: $0.99 

New Degree Press, Potomac, Md.

Nubani argues that building a bridge between Islam and Western principles leads to a bigger, much-needed discussion. 

Islam, as more of an ideology than an idea that resolves the oft-misunderstood paradox of freedom through submission, offers a powerful message in the marketplace of ideas. 

Citing its tenets, Nubani sets out to reframe Western values in a way that can accentuate and foster human dignity. Delving deep into the philosophy behind Islam’s rulings and codes of ethics, he argues that a firm grasp of Islam’s core beliefs could provide a deeper and more realized appreciation of the U.S.

In the U.S., where religion is declining, this is an eye-opening and inviting assessment.

Rebellious Wives, Neglectful Husbands: Controversies in Modern Qur’anic Commentaries



Hadia Mubarak

2022 Pp. 368. HB: $29.95. Kindle: $19.99

Oxford University Press USA

Mubarak explores significant shifts in modern Quranic commentaries on the subject of women by placing three of the 20th century’s most influential Sunni Quranic commentaries — “Tafsir al-Manar,” “Fi Zilal al-Qur’an” and “al-Tahrir wa’l-Tanwir” — against the backdrop of modern North Africa’s broader historical, intellectual and political developments. 

She shows how colonialism, nationalism and modernization set into motion new ways of engaging with this topic. Focusing on commentaries as a scholarly genre, Mubarak offers a critical and comparative analysis of these three commentaries along with seven medieval commentaries, spanning from the ninth to 14th centuries, on neglectful husbands (4:128), rebellious wives (4:34), polygyny (4:3) and divorce (2:228). 

Jihad: What Everyone Needs to Know 



Asma Afsaruddin 

2022. Pp. 224. HB: $74.00. PB: $18.95

Oxford University Press USA

Considering the over-abundance of misinformation, Afsaruddin has written this book for a general audience. 

The word “jihad” generally appears in the context of violence waged against the West by “militants” in or from Muslim-majority societies. This usage, which she argues overwhelmingly colors popular discourse about Islam and Muslims, has resulted in highly simplistic, distorted and ahistorical understandings. 

She addresses the great need for a discussion that explores jihad’s dimensions by examining it from scriptural, theological, moral and ethical, legal and socio-political perspectives. This historically grounded scholarly and yet accessible treatment stretches from Islam’s formative period until the contemporary period.

Islam and the Arab Revolutions: The Ulama Between Democracy and Autocracy



Usaama Al-Azami 

2022. Pp. 392. HB: $70.00

Oxford University Press, USA

The 2011 Arab “Spring” was a transformative moment, as people revolted against long-standing autocrats — most of them installed and propped up by Western democracies — to call for “bread, freedom and dignity.” The results have been mixed: tentative success stories like Tunisia and even more repressive dictatorships in places like Egypt, with the backing of several Western and Gulf states.

Focusing primarily on Egypt, al-Azami considers a relatively understudied dimension: the role of prominent religious scholars, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Ali Gomaa and Abdullah bin Bayyah. Pro-revolutionary ulama have justified activism against authoritarian regimes, whereas counterrevolutionary scholars have provided religious backing for repression and, in some cases, the mass murder of unarmed protestors.

He finds that while a minority of noted scholars have enthusiastically endorsed the counterrevolutions, their approach is attributable less to premodern theology than to their distinctly modern commitment to the authoritarian state.

Mantle of Mercy: Islamic Chaplaincy in North America 



Muhammad A. Ali, Omer Bajwa, Sondos Kholaki, Jaye Starr (eds.)

2022. Pp. 320. HB: $24.95. Kindle: $11.49

Templeton Press

West Conshohocken, Penn. 

This collection of 30 Muslim chaplains’ essays reveals how they skillfully apply the mercy and compassion exemplified by Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to the people in their care, how their faith guides their service, how they navigate the obstacles of a predominantly Christian profession and how they minister to the spiritual needs of non-Muslims.

Working in hospitals, prisons, universities, the armed forces and elsewhere, Muslim chaplains encounter unique challenges that require them to call upon their faith’s resources with wisdom and tenderness. The contributors explore these circumstances and offer personal stories showing how Islamic principles can be joined with spiritual insight to strengthen and comfort the sick and suffering. 

A Caliph for Our Time: How Abu Bakr’s Inaugural Address Can Transform Leadership Today 



Iqbal J. Unus 

2022. Pp. 100. HB: $11.90. PB: $5.50. Kindle: $0.00.

Jonah Publishing, Herndon, Va.

Leadership is complex. The common threads running through its fabric may be around us as well as bound up in the folds of history. The inaugural addresses of exceptional political leaders give us an idea of how they envisioned leadership in different times and circumstances. Unus pries loose such leadership lessons in Abu Bakr as-Siddiq’s (‘alayhi rahmat) extraordinary inaugural sermon, in which he finds meanings that illuminate the context of our own time and space.

Heavenly Returns: What the Abrahamic Faiths Teach Us About Financial & Spiritual Well-Being 

M. Yaqub Mirza, Gary Moore 

2022. Pp. 84. PB: $4.99. Kindle: $1.00

We Uyghurs Have No Say: An Imprisoned Writer Speaks 



Ilham Tohti 

2022. Pp. 192. PB: $24.95. Kindle: $9.99

Verso Books, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ilham Tohti, an intellectual and economist, prolific writer and former host of Uyghur Online (Uyghurbiz), has been called “a Uyghur Mandela.” He was arrested in 2014 and accused of advocating separatism, violence and the overthrow of the Chinese government. After a two-day trial, this winner of the PEN/Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was sentenced to life imprisonment. Nothing has been heard from him since.

This volume are Tohti’s own words — his plain-spoken calls for justice, scholarly explanations of Xinjiang’s history and poignant personal reflections. While his courage and outspokenness about the plight of the Muslim minority is extraordinary, these essays sound a measured insistence on peace and just treatment for the Uyghurs.

Downpour of Blessing (2 vols.) 



Khalid Baig

2022. Pp. 904. PB: $50.00

Open Mind Press, Garden Grove, Calif.

This book is a collection of nearly 1,000 hadiths on beliefs, acts of worship, social interactions, business dealings, family life, gender relations, food and clothing, medicine, attitudes, insights, emotions, etiquette, character building, outlook on life and worldview.

The compiler’s selection is mainly guided by Maulana Manzoor Nomani’s (d. 1997) “Ma‘arif al-Ḥadith.” Subject indexes both in English and Arabic will facilitate searching for hadith texts.

Islam’s Reformation of Christianity



Zulfiqar Ali Shah

2022. Pp. 337. PB: $20.00

Claritas Books, Swansea, UK

Jesus (‘alayhi as salam), a product of Semitic monotheism, moral law, piety, and humility, proclaimed the other worldly kingdom. According to Shah, the Roman Empire and mythology transformed his ethical monotheism.

Islam, the author argues, was revealed as an intellectual cure to Christian paradoxes, as well as an egalitarian pluralistic alternative to its ongoing inquisitions and religiopolitical absolutism. It spread in the Eastern Christian territories like a fire.

This newer revelation reformed Pauline Christianity’s paradoxical incarnational theology, antinomianism, grace-based salvation scheme, divine right for the Vatican and Europe’s monarchies, interventionist cosmology and religious persecution.

Shah provides an in-depth study of the Islamic, southern reformation of Christianity — a reformation seldom acknowledged or studied by historians.

He further explores how the Islamic reformative scheme emphasized ethical, transcendental monotheism, natural theology and rational discourse by limiting monarchical power and emphasizing an inclusive, pluralistic and free society. 

Islam’s natural, rational, moral, republican and egalitarian southern reformation of Christianity occurred long before the partial northern reformation of Martin Luther (d.1546) and John Calvin (d.1564).

St. Thomas Aquinas and Muslim Thought



Zulfiqar Ali Shah

2022. Pp. 313. PB: $20.00

Claritas Books, Swansea, UK

St. Thomas Aquinas (d.1274) was one of Western Christianity’s best known medieval philosophical theologians, a stalwart of scholasticism and among its most influential figures. Shah argues that he was greatly influenced by Muslim synthetic thought.

The gulf between reason and revelation, faith and philosophy, and Jesus (‘alayhi as salam) and Aristotle were wider in Christianity than in Islam. Aquinas bridged that gap with the help of Islamic philosophical thought. This work, Shah states, highlights his intersections with the great Muslim philosophers and their impact upon his personality. Aquinas widely quoted such Muslim philosophers and theologians as Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina, al-Farabi, al-Ghazali and al-Razi and acted upon their wisdom.

Aquinas’ upbringing in southern Italy and geographical and intellectual affinity with Islamic civilization played a significant role in his intellectual development. His 13th-century Christendom was fully engaged with Muslims on multiple levels. In fact, his greater family was involved with the neighboring Muslims of Lucera and Apulia and in the army of Frederick II.

Medieval Christianity’s transition from the Dark Ages was facilitated by Aquinas’ philosophical theology, which was also shaped by the translation of philosophical and scientific manuscripts from Arabic to Latin.

He was what he became partly due to these interfaith interactions, which this revelatory new book lays bare for the first time. 

Islam and the English Enlightenment: The Untold Story



Zulfiqar Ali Shah

2022.   PB: $25.00

Claritas Books, Swansea, UK

Shah’s cross-fertilization of Western and Islamic ideas ensures that readers will never see these two world’s relationship in the same way again.

He documents how the thinkers of English Enlightenment were indebted to Islamic sciences and thought and how its foundational principles of rationalist thought, scientific inquiry and religious toleration were deeply anchored in the Islamic tradition. 

This book brings forth Islam’s central role in shaping the values and ideas of John Locke (d.1704), Isaac Newton (d.1727) and other reformers who helped produce the modern world.

One Sun and Countless Stars: A Muslim Book of Numbers 



 Hena Khan  (Mehrdokht Amini, Illus.)

2022. Pp. 32 HB $17.99

Chronicle Books, San Francisco

Hena Khan has brought companions to her earlier works,Counting and culture come together in this stunning companion to Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, using .one sun to countless stars to create a gentle introduction to numbers also celebrates the many diverse traditions of the Muslim world, encouraging readers young and old to reflect upon — and count — their many blessings. It is equally at home in the classroom or being read on a parent’s lap.

Did Santa Forget About Me?



Susan El Yazgi 

2021. Pp. 30. PB: $19.99

SS Publications, Dale City, Va.

It is a day before Christmas break, and many of her classmates are excited about Christmas and Santa visiting them. At home, the young Muslima student asks her parents why Santa doesn’t love her. Her mom explains the differences, points out that they celebrate Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha, and describes their beautiful holiday traditions.

Shima Khan, Department of English, Wellesley High School, Wellesley, Mass.

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