Category: Islam


Peter Henne on Religion-State Relations and Counterterrorism

During the 1990s, following the end of the Cold War, the United States began to ramp up counterterrorism efforts around the globe. Some nations proved relatively cooperative with these efforts whereas others did not. Prof. Peter Henne (University of Vermont) explains how religion-state relations condition the response of different governments to these counterterrorism examples. We examine this in a broad perspective and with specific attention to Pakistan, UAE, and Turkey.

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Jeremy Menchik on Islam, Tolerance, Democracy, & Indonesia

Indonesia is both the world’s largest majority Muslim country and a consolidated democracy. Yet, unlike Western democracies, the Indonesian state pursues a policy of Godly nationalism that prioritizes religious belief over secularism. Despite this, the nation also exhibits a high level of religious toleration for various religious minorities including Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and various variants of Islam. Prof. Jeremy Menchik (Boston University) discusses this interesting balancing act and explains

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Lawrence Rubin on Islam and Ideational Balancing

When it comes to foreign policy and international relations, can theological ideas promoted by one country become “weapons” or “threats” to other regimes? Prof. Larry Rubin (Georgia Tech) discusses how the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Sudanese Revolution of 1989 affected the ideational balance of power in the Middle East and how Egypt and Saudi Arabia mobilized ideational resources to respond.

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Ani Sarkissian on Politics & Religious Civil Society in Turkey (Encore Presentation)

In light of the interesting political developments in Turkey this past year, we dip into our archives to feature an encore presentation with Prof. Ani Sarkissian discussing the relationship between religious civil society and politics in Turkey.

More new episodes on the way.

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Matthew Derrick on the Geography of the Umma (Encore Presentation)

The notion of “the umma” — the community of Islamic believers — is often thought to be at odds with modern (post-Westphalian) notions of national territory. Islam, it is said, transcends the geographic boundaries of the nation-state and this may present unique problems for how societies understand and interact with one another. Prof. Matthew Derrick discusses the role of territory in history and how the umma fits into this, taking on scholars such as Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis who see a disjuncture between the umma and national territory. Prof. Derrick, a geographer, argues that territory is still important and often trumps transnational religious identity, or is at least a concept that cannot be discarded so easily.

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Clark Lombardi on Sharia Law

What is sharia law? And how are governments working them into their constitutions in contemporary Muslim societies? Prof. Clark Lombardi (University of Washington Law School) tackles these questions and several more in an informative discussion of the history and contemporary application of sharia law. He contrasts and compares canon and common law with sharia and has reflections on how this all affects good governance.

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Nile Green on Islam in Bombay and Beyond

We celebrate our 300th episode by going back in time to look at how industrialization and globalization affected the Islamic religious landscape of Bombay, India, and what effect those changes had on a larger geography and period of time. Prof. Nile Green, a historian at UCLA, joins us to take us on this interesting journey. Instead of seeing modernization leading to a standardized and “Protestant” form of Islamic faith (as Max Weber might predict), Nile argues that the laissez faire approach of the British towards non-Christian religions combined with Christian missionaries resulted in numerous forms of Islam, from “reformist” to “customary.” He notes how this “religious economies” approach also explains the expansion of Islam into places such as Japan and the United States.

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Jared Rubin on Religion & Credit Risk in the Ottoman Empire

When it comes to gaining access to cheap financial credit, we normally assume that the economic, political, and cultural elite in society will have a better chance at obtaining favorable loans. However, during the late Ottoman Empire, the wealthy, males, and Muslims were considered to be higher credit risks than the poor, females, and non-Muslims. Prof. Jared Rubin of Chapman University explains why this is, referencing a fascinating historical study he conducted with Prof. Timur Kuran (another frequent guest on our podcast).

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Eileen Kane on the Russian Hajj

As industrialization progressed in the 19th century and railroads became more commonplace, the costs of making the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) became more affordable for the large number of Muslims who lived in Russian territory. Prof. Eileen Kane, a historian at Connecticut College, discusses how the Russians tsars and the Soviets managed the pilgrimage routes to facilitate their geo-political and economic goals, and how Muslims in turn reacted. This story has heretofore gone untold but reveals a great deal about religion and politics, not only in centuries gone by, but for our contemporary world as well.

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Rodney Stark on The Triumph of Faith

The decline of religion around the world may be greatly exaggerated. Returning for his sixth appearance on our podcast, Prof. Rodney Stark, co-founder of Baylor’s ISR, discusses his new book “The Triumph of Faith” and reviews how the religious landscapes in various countries and regions of the world has been greatly transformed in the past half century. We look at “nones” from the United States, the rise of indigenous Christianity in Africa, and how even the Japanese still rely upon Shinto priests for blessings.

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