Category: Islam

Ann Wainscott on Morocco’s Religious Foreign Policy

During the past two years, the Moroccan government has begun exporting various religious education programs as part of its foreign policy strategy in the North and West African region. Prof. Ann Wainscott explains how this new development is both an outgrowth if its domestic religious strategy, and a response by other nations to adopt some of the policies implemented in Morocco. The success of this foreign policy, as witnessed by its embrace by nations such as Mali and Senegal, is in part a function of Morocco’s cultural-historical legitimacy in the region, the existence of pre-existing educational institutions, and the ability to link religious education to great economic integration. Prof. Wainscott also explains the unique flavor of Moroccan and West African Islam.

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Murat Iyigun on Monotheism, Conflict, Europe, the Ottomans, and the Blues

Did the Ottoman Caliphate have any impact on Europe’s socio-political and economic development? While we often examine Europe’s late medieval history in isolation from other world events, Prof. Murat Iyigun (University of Colorado) argues that the Ottoman Empire’s advances into southeast Europe affected the religious, political, and economic history of Europe in very interesting ways. We also look at the ability of monotheism to guarantee longer and more expansive sociopolitical control, and the influence of mothers on the military policy of Ottoman sultans. At the end of the podcast, we have a special treat — an original “arabesque blues” song, Muqarnas, written and performed by Murat!

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Paul Kubicek on Islam, Political Islam, and Democracy

Can democratic governance on a national scale coincide with Islam? Prof. Paul Kubicek (Oakland University) takes us on a comparative journey to show where predominately Islamic populations have existed successfully with democracy. While much of media and scholarly attention on the topic of Islam and democracy has focused on the Middle East, Paul discusses the interesting cases of Turkey, Senegal, Mali, and Tunisia, while also noting some of the difficulties in democratic transitions in places such as Bangladesh. He also shares his reflections on the Arab Spring.

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John Owen IV on Confronting Political Islam, Historical Lessons

As ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other radical forms of political Islam take center stage in the news and policy circles, can we learn anything about the broad-based movement known as Islamism from the history of Europe? Prof. John Owen IV discusses how the West has dealt with its own radical ideological struggles and the parallels we can draw to the present situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Does a Scottish rebellion in the 1560s have anything worth informing us about the Taliban? Find out!

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Torrey Olsen on Faith-Based Humanitarianism and World Vision

What is it like to be shot at and abducted while serving as a religiously-based humanitarian aid worker? Torrey Olsen, who spent 15 years in West Africa with World Vision and other organizations details his experiences and what he learned in the field. He also discusses the history and operation of World Vision, a Christian-based relief organization that operations in roughly 100 countries, including some of the most dangerous hot spots around the world. We examine various projects World Vision undertakes including an ecumenical outreach program to Muslims concerning the Ebola pandemic in Africa.

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Philip Jenkins on Religion & World War I

As we solemnly observe the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, historian Philip Jenkins joins us to discuss the religious dimensions of “The Great & Holy War” (which is also the title of his new book). We survey the spiritual, apocalyptic, and even occult language and imagery that was used to understand the war, mobilize troops, and even guide it on occasion. Prof. Jenkins also lays out the consequences that this pivotal historical event had on the global spiritual landscape … consequences that we are still experiencing to this very day.

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Karen Elliott House on Journalism and Saudi Arabia

Pulitzer Prize recipient Karen Elliott House joins us to discuss her career as a diplomatic correspondent in the Middle East for the Wall Street Journal and a number of important changes that are occurring in what many consider to be one of the most stable countries in that turbulent region. After discussing the life of a female reporter covering a male-dominated culture, which has a few surprising benefits, we review Saudi Arabia’s socio-economic landscape and internal tensions that are generating support for reform.

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Ani Sarkissian on Politics and Religious Civil Society in Turkey

With Turkey playing a pivotal role in the Middle East, and a country that is often viewed as a model for democracy in the Islamic world, we take a look at this country’s history, politics, and civil society with Prof. Ani Sarkissian of Michigan State University. Are liberalizing reforms that are designed to make it easier to create civic associations having their intended effect? Or is there something to Turkey’s history and political structure that are creating some unintended consequences?

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Kevan Harris on Iran’s Islamic Revolution and Green Movement

With Iran in the news recently, we consult with Kevan Harris of Princeton’s Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies on the country’s recent history from its 1979 Islamic Revolution to the stalled Green “Revolution” (or movement) in the past half decade. Prof. Harris explains the process of social mobilization in 1979 and how it differed in 2009, as well as how the Islamic regime consolidated its rule over the past quarter century.

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Ron Hassner on Sacred Spaces & Holy Conflict

Why are conflicts over holy shrines and other sacred spaces so often violent and intractable? Prof. Ron Hassner (UC-Berkeley, political science) offers an intringuing answer that revolves around the nature and various characteristics of sacred ground. Our discussion covers the breakdown of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in 2000, the recent controversy over the “Ground Zero mosque” in New York City and several other examples.

This is an encore performance of an interview that aired in the fall of 2010. We will be back with a fresh interview next week.

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