January 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

It seems I mostly post booklists here. Again, titles that have caught my eye forthcoming in the next six months (not including those delayed from the last list). **updated

  • Jan-Peter Hartung, A System of Life: Mawdudi and the Ideologisation of Islam (Hurst, December 2013)
  • miriam cooke, Tribal Modern: Branding New Nations in the Arab Gulf (California, January 2014)
  • Andreas Gorke and Johanna Pink, eds., Tafsir and Islamic Intellectual History: Exploring the Boundaries of a Genre (Oxford, January 2014)
  • Angelika Neuwirth, Scripture, Poetry, and the Making of a Community: Reading the Qur’an as a Literary Text (Oxford, January 2014)
  • Elisabeth Roudinesco, Revisiting the Jewish Question (Polity, January 2014)
  • Barbara Cassin et al., eds., Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon (Princeton, February 2014)
  • Jeff Fort, The Imperative to Write: Destitutions of the Sublime in Kafka, Blanchot and Beckett (Fordham, February 2014)
  • A. Kevin Reinhart and Robert Gleave, eds., Islamic Law in Theory: Studies in Jurisprudence in Honor of Bernard Weiss (Brill, February 2014)
  • Ernst van den Hemel and Asja Szafraniec, eds., Words: Religious Language Matters (Fordham, February 2014)
  • ‘A’ishah al-Ba’uniyyah, The Principles of Sufism, trans. Th. Emil Homerin (NYU, February 2014)
  • Aaron Hughes, Rethinking Jewish Philosophy: Beyond Particularism and Universalism (Oxford, February 2014)
  • Steven Miller, War After Death: On Violence and Its Limits (Fordham, March 2014)
  • Etty Terem, Old Texts, New Practices: Islamic Reform in Modern Morocco (Stanford, March 2014)
  • Ali Mirsepassi and Tadd Graham Fernée, Islam, Democracy, and Cosmopolitanism: At Home and in the World (Cambridge, March 2014)
  • Ahmad al-Alawi, The Qur’an and the Prophet in the Writings of Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi, trans. Khalid Williams (Islamic Texts Society, March 2014)
  • Sadia Abbas, At Freedom’s Limit: Islam and the Postcolonial Predicament (Fordham, April 2014)
  • Kabir Tambar, The Reckoning of Pluralism: Political Belonging and the Demands of History in Turkey (Stanford, April 2014)
  • Akeel Bilgrami, Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment (Harvard, April 2014)
  • Gil Anidjar, Blood: A Critique of Christianity (Columbia, May 2014)
  • Veena Das, Michael Jackson, and Arthur Kleinman, eds., The Ground Between: Anthropologists Engage Philosophy (Duke, May 2014)
  • Rudolph T. Ware III, Walking Qur’an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge and History in West Africa (UNC, May 2014)
  • Sarah Bowen Savant and Helena de Filipe, eds., Genealogy and Knowledge in Muslim Societies: Understanding the Past (Edinburgh, May 2014)
  • Tracy McNulty, Wrestling with the Angel: Experiments in Symbolic Life (Columbia, June 2014)


October 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

smelling the hint of spring in a cool winter breeze and
how it makes me feel alive.

the purple shade of your leaves as they leave to die.

sailor moon smoking a cigarette on front street, joined
by a hundred other cosplay enthusiasts on a sunday

humans being dragons that chinese new year’s eve.

a happy lesbian couple holding hands walking down the
street. well, i don’t know if they were happy. maybe they’d
just had a huge fight and were holding hands as a way to
overcompensate and hide their anger. i don’t know i only
saw them passing from across the street. i didn’t have a
chance to peek into their souls.

on a rainy ramadan day, a muslim man uses his jaanamaz
(prayer rug) to shade himself from the wetness as he runs
towards a bus, carrying in his hands the food he will use
to break his fast.

all of this over time, but within a mile.

the feeling of living poetry.

toronto, this is why.

– Adnan Ali, “why i love you so.,” nothing, vol. 1, p. 18.


September 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

They were small waves,
More the likeness of time
Than sorrow –
Sorrow is great and breaks
Along the beach
Lonely under the search
Of gulls and white
With seafoam:
Crest and
Sky the gulls carve –
These were sidelong,
Hurrying swiftly
To the coming tide.
The bay lay curved
Within the land,
Gulls crossed the moon
The light came on
The hook of headland
Beating up the course
Of ships home.
The air was autumn.
More than the swiftness of her cheek
Were the waves
shortly borne.

– Ralph Gustafson, “In time of fall,” Rivers Among Rocks (McClelland and Stewart, 1960), 28.


July 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Where danger is, grows the saving power also” — i’ve realized, that’s how i think of Edmonton.


July 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

Books that have caught my eye, forthcoming from now through the end of the year.

  • Colby Dickinson, ed, Postmodern Saints of France: Refiguring ‘the Holy’ in Contemporary French Philosophy (T&T Clark, July 2013)
  • Asma Sayeed, Women and the Transmission of Religious Knowledge in Islam (Cambridge UP, July 2013)
  • Anthony Paul Smith, A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature: Ecologies of Thought (Palgrave MacMillan, July 2013)
  • On Barak, On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (University of California Press, July 2013)
  • Julianne Hammer & Omid Safi, eds, Cambridge Companion to American Islam (Cambridge UP, July 2013)
  • Kimberley Hart, And Then We Work for God: Rural Sunni Islam in Western Turkey (Stanford UP, July 2013)
  • Ahmed El Shamsy, The Canonization of Islamic Law: A Social and Intellectual History (Cambridge UP, July 2013)
  • Marwa Elshakry, Reading Darwin in Arabic, 1860-1950 (University of Chicago Press, October 2013)
  • Stanley Hauerwas, Approaching the End: Eschatological Reflections on Church, Politics, and Life (Eerdmans, October 2013)
  • Lila Abu-Lughod, Do Muslim Women Need Saving? (Harvard UP, October 2013)
  • Lara Deeb & Mona Harb, Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shi’ite South Beirut (Princeton UP, October 2013)
  • Kathryn Kueny, Conceiving Identities: Maternity in Medieval Muslim Discourse and Practice (SUNY Press, November 2013)
  • Isra Yazicioglu, Understanding the Qur’anic Miracle Stories in the Modern Age (Pennsylvania State UP, November 2013)
  • Samuli Schielke, The Perils of Joy: Contesting Mulid Festivals in Contemporary Egypt (Syracuse UP, December 2013)
  • Ward Blanton & Hent de Vries, eds, Paul and the Philosophers (Fordham UP, December 2013)
  • Paul Heck, Skepticism in Classical Islam: Moments of Confusion (Routledge, December 2013)
  • Daniel Colucciello Barber, Deleuze and the Naming of God: Post-secularism and the Future of Immanence (Edinburgh UP, December 2013)
  • Tom Frost, Giorgio Agamben: Legal, Political and Philosophical Perspectives (Routledge, December 2013)
  • James S. Amelang, Parallel Histories: Muslims and Jews in Inquisitorial Spain (Louisiana State UP, December 2013)
  • Zareena Grewal, Islam is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority (NYU Press, December 2013)

010413 the second

April 1, 2013 § 3 Comments

i posted some quick thoughts on Anne Norton’s new book at AUFS, here. In the weeks since it has been growing on me, once i realized it is not meant to be a monograph and that the shape of its argument is different from what i first anticipated. It has been growing on me for its capacious imagination, the generosity of the vision it offers. This can be gleaned by the following quote she discusses from al-Farabi (d. 339/950) describing the democratic city, which also serves as epigraph to the book. What it means, in short, is that the questions of democracy and the future are held in common if answered variously, and that the anxieties that coalesce and congeal around the figure of the Muslim simply need not. And the relief this offers is immense, as it replaces the current frame of politics with another. The quote:

On the surface, it looks like an embroidered garment, full of colored figures and dyes. Everybody loves it and loves to reside in it, because there is no human wish or desire that this city does not satisfy. The nations emigrate to it, and reside there, and it grows beyond measure. People of every race multiply in it, and this by all kinds of copulation and marriages…. Strangers cannot be distinguished from the residents. All kinds of wishes and ways of life are to be found in it…. The bigger, the more civilized, the more populated, the more productive, and the more perfect it is, the more prevalent and the greater are the good and the evil it possesses. (133)

And i found myself reminded of this quote and this book an afternoon last week, when i dropped off a shoulder bag to be mended (i tore off its strap a couple of weekends ago while wandering a maritime city). The soft-spoken, middle-aged tailor squinting at his sewing machine was playing a recording of Qur’an recitation in his shop as the raucous throngs of foul-mouthed teenagers off from school jostled each other as they passed the corner outside. He had pictures up in his shop of his daughter smiling surrounded by flowers in front of a snowy mountain peak in Iran. And as i left the shop for campus a few minutes later (a seven minute bus ride from this neighbourhood of rich white families then a half-hour subway ride from a station marking the boundary of a strongly immigrant-Bengali stretch of a thoroughfare on the other side of the tracks) i was reminded of what struck me about this city when my sister and i first visited for a week in February 2008. It was its plenitude, the fact that among the grime and recycled air of any subway trip you will hear multiple languages. Of course English is the imperial medium and there are a host of racialized class politics that structure this plenitude, but they do not determine it. “In the diversity of your tongues and hues…,” recites the Qur’an (30:22), and also “and We have made you tribes and families…” (49:13). This inspires that vision.

The counterpoint to this image and promise of the cosmopolis, which Norman O. Brown argues is essentially a theocratic structure and prophecy the response to its corruption, is glimpsed in these pictures a friend shared on FaceBook recently. They are pictures of the teeming skies above cold dark cities. They ask: what if the city is not the vital site of plenitude and forms of life? What if the city is not illuminating? For as in these lines of a poem by Jan Zwicky, lines that have stayed with me in the years since Lara first showed me them, “evil is not darkness, / it is noise. It crowds out possibility, / which is to say / it crowds out silence.” What if the languages of the city are only so much noise? This is a matter neither of light pollution nor some organicist concept of community corrupted nor a phonocentric resentment of mediation. These pictures are an instance of prophetic critique.


April 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

The month of March, among other things, was very busy. i edited ten articles submitted as a journal special issue, three chapters of a biography, two chapters of an edited volume, three dissertation chapters, and a dozen smaller publications (reports, grant applications, final proofs, reviews, dissertation proposals, CVs). i took two weekend trips, continued attending two editing courses, wrote a conference paper. This post registers both my relief that the month is over (and i met most deadlines) and continued appreciation that this freelance work is in fact a viable work option.

April will be lighter, with further work on an edited volume, the Qur’an encyclopedia, one conference paper, a manuscript of transcribed lectures, another journal issue, and hopefully the formalization of this freelance work into a business proper. Every once in awhile i anticipate time to work on my own projects (three article drafts in disarray, reading lists, more broadly thinking ahead to fall PhD applications), but i’ll see how far i get. i find these days i’d rather go on a walk and dream about Alberta than try to read/write in any disciplined fashion.

On a different note, Alexander Key recently posted a helpful annotated bibliography on the topic of Arabic poetics. It’s a topic i find myself absolutely fascinated by though know very little about.


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