The Peoples of Islam - 2016

Celebration of the feast of Muharram in Iran

What Iran Wants in Iraq

The rivalry among holy cities, Khomeini’s doctrine opposed to ayatollah al-Sistani’s quietism: how the cracks in the Shi’ite front affect the fight against ISIS

11/11/2016 | Riccardo Redaelli

Algeria, Sufi Mysticism Against Extremism

After the excesses of Salafi and Jihadist Islam, an ancient Muslim spiritual movement, rooted in tradition, regains space in Algerian society

24/10/2016 | Henri Teissier

The Rais: Arab Leaders in Egyptian Literature

From Naguib Mahfouz to Muhammad al-Bisati, the narrative of power, oppressions, revolutions and counter-revolutions goes through the pages of great novels

24/10/2016 | Luisa Orelli

Reading the Qur’an in the Twenty-first Century

The modern era has witnessed the re-emergence of a strongly literalist approach to Scripture that emphasises certain understanding handed down by the tradition to the detriment of other, equally valid readings. Those who adopt the textualist method seem to believe that it provides the highest degree of certainty as to the text’s “meaning.” Others maintain that it is necessary to consider the context in which Muslims are living.

29/07/2016 | Abdullah Saeed

The Imams Who Make the Book Speak

It is a fundamental principle of Shi‘ite exegesis that the imam is the only person who may legitimately interpret the sacred Text, having been chosen and inspired by God for this purpose. Indeed, according to a saying attributed to ‘Alī, the Qur’an “does not speak in a language; it needs its own interpreter.” The latter can only be an infallible imam, just as the Prophet was. At the purely literal level, without the imam’s hermeneutics, the Book does not mean anything; it is a “mute Qur’an.” It is the imam who renders it intelligible and it is for this reason that he is called the “speaking Qur’an.

29/07/2016 | Mathieu Terrier

The Mysticism That Lies Beyond the Letter

The first glimmerings of an interpretation of the Qur’an that goes beyond the text’s immediate meaning can already be glimpsed in the works of the first exegetes and the imams in the Prophet’s family. Yet it was primarily the birth of a specific way of knowledge, Sufism, that started a long tradition of spiritual and esoteric interpretation: an inexhaustible well-spring, fed just as much by the text as by the Sufi tradition, which has always sought the source of its inspiration in the Revelation.

29/07/2016 | Denis Gril

Does the Qur’an Contradict Itself?

The theory of abrogation of the Qur’an by the Qur’an itself has a long history in Islamic tradition and continues to find wide-ranging currency in preaching nowadays. A literary analysis of the text shows the theory to be without foundation, however. It is thus a total nonsense when, by virtue of a manifestly erroneous traditional interpretation, this theory is exploited nowadays by some people in order to abrogate all the Qur’an’s open, tolerant verses in favour of the most combative and exclusivist ones

29/07/2016 | Michel Cuypers

Salafi Source Readings between al-Qaeda and the Isis

Salafis and their readings of the sources are not as straightforward as they may seem, because the text does not necessarily result in a clear-cut and obvious interpretation. Even within the most violent religious extremists current there are important differences. And old Al-Qaeda, Scriptures to hand, does not see eye to eye with Isis on many issues.

29/07/2016 | Joas Wagemakers

When Science Reads the Qur’an

It is called tafsīr ‘ilmī in Arabic and it breaks a centuries-old tradition dominated by a tendency to absolutize the interpretation established by the Forebears. Freeing itself from the traditional commentary, this type of exegesis favours readings that also borrow from other disciplines and seeks (with bizarre results) to demonstrate that the contents of the Revelation are in agreement with the discoveries of science

29/07/2016 | Chiara Pellegrino

The Indonesian Alternative

Religious leaders in the world’s most populous Muslim nation explain why relatively few young people are heading to the front lines in Syria and Iraq. Fear of radicalization and new recruits remains very real. A terrorist attack in Jakarta awoke the government’s fears and triggered action from the security forces

29/07/2016 | Rolla Scolari

The Sayings of the Prophet and the Fortunes of Salafism

Although subject to different trends and assessments, the Hadīth continues to play a leading part in contemporary Islam, too. Preserved in the most prestigious medieval works, the most famous episodes in Muhammad’s life enjoy a fame comparable to some passages of the Qur’an and are cited and used in every context. They are an inescapable point of reference for every aspect in the life of believers and the community.

29/07/2016 | Roberto Tottoli

How Erdogan Weakened the Military

The Turkish President managed to deplete armed forces from their political prerogatives, weakening their Kemalist component and saving himself from the coup

28/07/2016 | Giovanni Parigi

The Coup that brings Erdoğan closer to the dream of a Super Presidency

The president targeted the military, the judiciary, and the education system, which have always opposed his power

27/07/2016 | Francesca Miglio

Muqtada al-Sadr: from Warlord to Populist Leader

During the war in Iraq, his troops were among the most ruthless opponents to the U.S. army and they contributed to the exacerbation of sectarian tensions. Today, the Shiite cleric has reinvented himself as the leader of protests demanding an end to corruption and reforms

26/05/2016 | Andrea Plebani, Chiara Lovotti
Iraqi Kurdistan's leader, Barzani

Which Kurdistan are the Kurds Fighting for?

Political parties, movements, armed militias: why the pan-Kurdish political project falters and each group pursues its own interests

28/04/2016 | Francesca Miglio

The Success of “Reformists” in Iran Does not Represent the Defeat of Ultraconservatives

A clash between the élites in Iran could lead to new public demonstrations

21/03/2016 | Claudio Fontana
Haider al-Abadi

Iraq and the Shiite Internal Opposition

Not just ISIS: the three open fronts of the Abadi government

05/02/2016 | Giovanni Parigi

Why Saudi Arabia is not an Isis That has Made it

They may share the same ideology, but Islamic State’s raison d'être is to remake the world by restoring the "caliphate". The 47 executions and Riyadh's fears

11/01/2016 | Michele Brignone

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