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Defining Islam for the Egyptian State: Muftis and Fatwas of the D R Al-Ift (Studies of Religion in Africa) 0th Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-9004109476
ISBN-10: 9004109471
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Editorial Reviews


'"The author is to be commended on this valuable study and on bringing to light the different Islamic perspectives on some of the crucial issues simmering in contemporary Egyptian society. This is an important study."' Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi, "Journal of Church and State," 1999. '"In casting light on the attempts by some contemporary Islamic thinkers to construct an Islamic response to modernity while combating the near ideological hegemony which radical Islamists have enjoyed both in the Muslim world and in the West, this volume is to be warmly welcomed."' Vincent Durac, "British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies," 1999."

About the Author

Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute, The University of Copenhagen.

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies of Religion in Africa (Book 59)
  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Brill (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9004109471
  • ISBN-13: 978-9004109476
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,003,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
This work is within the stream of a lot of scholarship that has recently been paying close attention to the role of the fatwa in Islamic discourse; moreover, it also succeeds well in describing the fatwas in terms of their modern significance in juxtaposition to their traditional role in Islamic society. Egypt as the home of al-Azhar as Islam's most prestigious instution of traditional Islamic learning and the [now disupted] leader of the Arab-World is a an excellent location for the study to take place. The author effectively places the rise of the Dar al-Ifta in the context of Egyptian Islam, International Islamic bodies, and the modern crisis of religious authority facing Islam today. In addition to this, his examination of the careers and fatwas of Egypts most famous Muftis, Gad al-Haqq and Sayyid al-Tantawi, is excellent and quite useful. Recommended for those interested in Islam in Egypt in particular, but this work would also be useful for a general study of Islamic authority in practice [as co-opted by a modern nation-state in this particular case].
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Format: Hardcover
Should Islam ban insurance (as a form of gambling) or permit it (because its purpose is the reduce risk)? What about the telegraph, the hat, and reasonable interest on certificates of deposit? The answer to these and other questions comes in a fatwa, an advisory opinion on Islamic law issued by a religious authority known as a mufti. More than any other mechanism, fatwas provide a way for Islam to adopt to new places and times; as such, they constitute a basic building block of Muslim life, though one only recently receiving the attention they deserve. Skovgaard-Petersen, a Danish scholar, moves the process greatly forward through his excellent study of their "gradual institutionalization" in twentieth-century Egypt, the country perhaps most crucial to their development. As his title suggests, he argues that the mufti was the key intermediary between events on the ground and the government's interpretation of them. Even more: the mufti became "a central figure" in developing the political meaning of Egypt's Islamic identity. Skovgaard-Petersen pays particular attention to a ground-breaking fatwa by the renowned scholar, Muhammad 'Abduh (1849-1905), in which he permitted Muslims in South Africa to eat the meat of animals slaughtered by Christians. Not only was the distance involved startling, but so was the permission. With this, 'Abduh introduced a "new kind of public fatwa: the daring well-researched statement, where the State Mufti is reconsidering the Islamic tradition taking into account the needs of the time." He has had many successors, and cumulatively they have done much to adapt Islam to modernity.
Middle East Quarterly, June 1999
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