Exploring Muslim Contexts

​Series Editor: Farouk Topan 

The Exploring Muslim Contexts (EMC) series aims to explore issues that are critical to all contemporary societies, particularly those that remain relatively unexplored within Muslim environments. It examines the contemporary challenges faced by both Muslim-majority societies and Western countries with Muslim populations. 

While the focus of research is on Muslim contexts, it is obvious that no such undertaking is possible without taking into account change at the global level. 

Muslim cultures and societies are integrally linked to and embedded in the processes and impacts of globalisation and transnational exchanges.

The Exploring Muslim Contexts series addresses questions pertaining to knowledge construction, social change, development and new forms of socio-economic, political and cultural practices and differentiations in Muslims contexts.

Kandiyoti et al cover (ECMC)-page-001 (1).jpgGender, Governance and Islam

Edited by Deniz Kandiyoti, Nadje Al-Ali and Kathryn Spellman Poots

Publication Date: August 2019

ISBN: 9781474455428​ ​(HB)

Published in association with Edinburgh University Press

Available for purchase here

Analyses the links between gender and governance in contemporary Muslim majority countries and diaspora contexts
Following a period of rapid political change, both globally and in relation to the Middle East and South Asia, this collection sets new terms of reference for an analysis of the intersections between global, state, non-state and popular actors and their contradictory effects on the politics of gender.

The volume charts the shifts in academic discourse and global development practice that shape our understanding of gender both as an object of policy and as a terrain for activism. Nine individual case studies systematically explore how struggles for political control and legitimacy determine both the ways in which dominant gender orders are safeguarded and the diverse forms of resistance against them.

Key Features
  • Highlights the centrality of gender politics in understanding political changes and new forms of governance in Muslim majority contexts
  • Explores gender politics in Muslim majority countries as well as Muslim diasporas in Europe and the US
  • Critically discusses the transformations of the role of religion in intersecting layers of local, national and transnational governance
  • Presents 9 case studies: Egypt; Iran; Turkey; Saudi Arabia; Afghanistan; Palestine; Iraq; Pakistan; and diasporic communities in Europe and North America

"Nearly two decades after her path breaking Women, Islam and the State, Deniz Kandiyoti is back with another seminal volume reflecting on a similar set of problematics. Edited with two of her gifted students, Nadye Ali and Kathryn Poots, themselves leaders in the field, this spectacular collection of articles captures the intensity of debates in the social sciences and complexity of gender in our times. With its theoretical insights and carefully grounded empirical research, the volume will stand the test of time and become a classic."​
- Beth Baron, CUNY

Deniz Kandiyoti is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at SOAS. Nadje Al-Ali is Robert Family Professor of International Studies and Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies at Brown University. Kathryn Spellman Poots is Associate Professor at AKU-ISMC and Visiting Associate Professor at Columbia University.​

​​Shaping Global Islamic Discourses: The Role of Al-Azhar, Al-Medina and Al-Mustafa

Edited by Masooda Bano and Keiko Sakurai

ISBN: 9780748696857​ (HB) 


Published in association with: Edinburgh University Press

Reviews: "Superbly edited, this authoritative book sheds light on state-university relations, institutional strategies, student-teacher relations, and the impact of returning graduates on their home communities of three leading Islamic universities with a global footprint. Shattering the myths surrounding Islamic education today, this book is vital reading for scholars, policy makers, and a general audience."

- Dale Eickelman, Dartmouth College

"Makes a serious contribution to ongoing debates about the changing nature of authority and the shifting discourse on Islam in the modern world through masterful case studies the examine how the global is negotiated in the local."

- Sajjad H Rizvi, University of Exeter​

Explores the influence ​of centres of Islamic learning in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt

​Claims abound that Saudi oil money is fuelling Salafi Islam in cultural and geographical terrains as disparate as the remote hamlets of the Swat valley in Pakistan and sprawling megacities such as Jakarta. In a similar manner, it is often regarded as a 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 hegemonic power of such Islamic discourses and movements to penetrate all Muslim communities and societies. Through case studies of academic institutions the volume illustrates how transmission of ideas is an extremely complex process, and the outcome of such efforts 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 the global and local Islam and the plurality in outcomes, the volume focuses on the workings of three universities with global outreach, and whose graduating students carry the ideas acquired during their education back to their own countries, along with, in some cases, a zeal to reform their home society.

Key Features

  • ​Focuses on case studies of three of the most influential international centres of Islamic learning in contemporary times: Al-Azhar University in Egypt, International Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia, and Al-Mustafa University in Iran

  • Traces the activities and influence of graduates 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

  • ​Takes a comparative appoach with cases from North and West Africa and Southeast Asia​​

Masooda Bano is Associate Professor and University Research Lecturer at the Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford; Keiko Sakurai is Professor at the Faculty of International Research and Education, School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan.

Contemp​orary Islamic Law in Indonesia: Sharia and Legal Pluralism

By Arskal Salim

ISBN: 978 0 7486 9333 7​ (HB) 


Published in association with: Edinburgh University Press

Reviews: "Arskal Salim’s Contemporary Islamic Law in Indonesia offers a rich and interesting ethnographic study that looks into a number of relevant questions not only in Aceh, but also in other parts of the archipelago and religiously plural societies more generally...especially successful in illuminating those complicated disputes at the local level in the messy postconflict context."

- Kikue Hamayotsu, Journal of Church and State​

The first ethnographic account of legal disputes, practice and institutions in post-tsunami Aceh

Indonesia has probably the fastest changing legal system in the Muslim world. This ethnographic account of legal pluralism in the post-conflict and disaster situation in Aceh addresses changes in both the national legal system and the regional legal structure in the province. Focusing on the encounter between diverse patterns of legal reasoning advocated by multiple actors and by different institutions (local, national and international; official and unofficial; judicial, political and social cultural) it considers the vast array of issues arising in the wake of the December 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Aceh.

​​It investigates disputes about rights to land and other forms of property, power relations, the conflict of rules, gender relationships, the right to make decisions, and prevailing norms. These disputes are presented on multiple levels and in various forums, either through negotiation or adjudication, regardless of whether they are settled or not. The cases involve various actors from villages, the courts, the provincial government and the legislature, the national Supreme Court and the central government of Indonesia.

Ke​y Features:

  • Co​vers legal disputes surrounding inheritance, marriage and divorce, legislation and law-making, land dispute, non-Muslims and shari'ah, and religious courts

  • Includes compelling legal case studies from the post-disaster situation

  • ​Presents law as a site of contestation reflecting the unique set of conflicts arising after the 2004 tsunami

Arskal Salim is Senior Lecturer at the Religion and Society Research Centre, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Australia. 

Genealogy and Knowledge in Muslim Societies: Understanding the Past 

Edited by Sarah Bowen Savant & Helena de Felipe

ISBN: 978 0 7486 4497 1 (HB) 


Published in association with: Edinburgh University Press

Reviews: "Sarah Bowan Savant and Helena de Felipe have collected an excellent series of chapters in this volume, which conside​rs the diverse role that genealogy has played and the uses it has been put to in Muslim societies...The articles collected here move across a wide geographic area of the Muslim world. Syria, Iran, al-Andalus, the Maghreb and other regions are considered. The chronological range of the articles is also considerable, going from the very first decades of Islam to the close of the twentieth century. By providing such a broad spectrum, the book has quite a lot to offer to the reader and allows for an extensive comparison of the notions of genealogy and the uses to which it has been put."

- Stephen Donnachie, University of Swansea, Al-Masaq: Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean​

Explores the generation, preservation and manipulation of genealogical knowledge

From​​ the Prophet's family tree to the present, ideas about kinship and descent have shaped communal and national identities in Muslim societies. So an understanding of genealogy is therefore vital to our understanding of Muslim societies, particularly with regard to the generation, preservation and manipulation of genealogical knowledge.

These 9 case studies link genealogical knowledge to particular circumstances in which it was created, circulated and promoted. They stress the malleability of kinship and memory, and the interests this malleability serves.

Key Features

Draws on primary sources from across the Middle East, the Maghreb, and Sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from works of the classical Arabic heritage to oral testimonies gained from fieldwork

Questions how genealogical knowledge has been generated, how it has empowered political and religious elites and how it has shaped understandings about the past – including those of modern scholars

  • Examines the authenticity, legitimacy and institutionalisation of genealogical knowledge

  • Looks at the bases for sectarian, tribal, ethnic and other identities

  • ​Explores hierarchy and grounds for prestige and infamy​

Sarah Bowen Savant is Associate Professor at AKU-ISMC; Helena de Felipe is Lecturer at the Universidad de Alcalá, Spain.

Ethnographies of Islam: Ritual Performances and Everyday Practices

Edited by Baudouin Dupret, Thomas Pierret, Paulo G. Pinto & Kathryn Spellman-Poots

ISBN: 978 0 7486 4550 3 (HB); ISBN: 978 0 7486 8984 2 (PB) 


Published in association with: Edinburgh University Press

Reviews: "The strength of this volume lies in its emphasis on the ethnographic method and the rich set of data it provides...a selection of some of the most intriguing papers is certainly recommended for an anthropology class on diverse Muslim societies."

- Jens Kreinath, Wichita State University, Numen 63.1

"A collective volume of rare intellectual and methodological coherence... This is a landmark volume that marks the coming of age for the study of Islam through ethnography."

- Nile Green, Anthropos​

Explores the impact of the ethnographic method on the representation of Islam in anthropology

This comparative approach to the various uses of the ethnographic method in research about Islam in anthropology and other social sciences is particularly relevant in the current climate. Political discourses and stereotypical media portrayals of Islam as a monolithic civilisation have prevented the emergence of cultural pluralism and individual freedom. Such discourses are countered by the contributors who show the diversity and plurality of Muslim societies and promote a reflection on how the ethnographic method allows the description, representation and analysis of the social and cultural complexity of Muslim societies in the discourse of anthropology.

Key Features​

  • ​Shows the benefit of using ethnography as a method to engage with and relate to specific empirical realities

  • Includes case studies on rituals and symbols in Syria, Tunisia, Damascus, Algeria, Britain, Pakistan, Brazil and Lebanon

  • ​Covers practices such as veiling, students' religious practices, charitable activities, law, and scholarship in Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Yemen​

Baudouin Dupret is a Researcher at CNRS, France; Thomas Pierret is Lecturer in Contemporary Islam, University of Edinburgh; Paulo G. Pinto is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil; Kathryn Spellman-Poots is Associate Professor at AKU-ISMC.

Cosmopoli​tanisms in Muslim Contexts: Perspectives from the Past

Edited by Derryl N. MacLean & Sikeena Karmali Ahmed

ISBN: 978 0 7486 4456 8 (HB)  ISBN: 978 0 7486 8985 9 (PB)  


Published in association with: Edinburgh University Press

Reviews: "Cosmopolitanisms in Muslim Contexts exceeds all previous efforts to address the intersection of Islam and cosmopolitan norms, values and options. Against the backdrop of Islamicate civilization and contemporary global challenges, its contributors accent cosmopolitanism as both a political ideal and a social practice in several contexts. At last one can, and does, grasp the critical cosmopolitan element of the Muslim world throughout the Afro-Eurasian ecumene."

- Professor Bruce B. Lawrence, Author of The Qur'an - A Biography

MacLean and Ahmed are to be commended for bringing together such a wide range of scholarship under the same theoretical umbrella.

- Ian Campbell, Georgia State University, Middle East Media and Book Reviews

Looks at moments in world history when cosmopolitanism pervaded Muslim societies

This collection of 9 essays focuses on instances in world history when cosmopolitan ideas and actions pervaded specific Muslim societies and cultures. The contributors explore the tensions between regional cultures, isolated enclaves and modern nation-states.

Cosmopolitanism is a key concept in social and political thought, standing in opposition to closed human group ideologies such as tribalism, nationalism and fundamentalism. Recent discussions of it have been situated within Western self-perceptions. Now, this volume explores it from Muslim perspectives.

Key Features

  • ​Contributors include Felicitas Becker, Thomas Kuehn, Ariel Salzmann, Iftikhar Dadi and Muhammed Khalid Masud

  • Choses models from 4 areas: the Swahili coast, the Ottoman Empire/Turkey, Iran and Indo-Pakistan, showing the differences and similarities between areas

  • ​​Each region is covered in 2 chapters, providing a basis for comparison​

Derryl N. MacLean is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Director of The Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures (CCSMSC) at Simon Fraser University, Canada; Sikeena Karmali Ahmed is a former Manager of Publications at AKU-ISMC.​

Development Models in Muslim Contexts: Chinese, 'Islamic' and Neo-liberal Alternatives​

Edited by Robert Springborg

ISBN: 978 0 7486 3968 7 (HB)


Published in association with: Edinburgh University Press

Reviews: ​"...the core of the book is excellent."

- Ali Abd al-Malik, The Islamic Quarterly​

​The Challenge of Pluralism: Paradigms from Muslim Contexts

Edited by Abdou Filali-Ansary ​and Sikeena Karmali-Ahmed

ISBN: 978 0 7486 3969 4 (HB)


Published in association with: Edinburgh University Press