As the Egyptian army continues its bloody assault on a number of sit-in protests carried out by supporters of the ousted Mohamed Morsi, those of us lucky enough to be merely onlookers may seek more context than can be summed up in a live blog or twitter feed.
Pluto has put together this list of some of our top titles dealing with the Arab Spring and contemporary political Islamism.
The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings sheds light on the historical background and initial impact of the mass uprisings which have shaken the Arab world since December 2010. The book brings together the best writers from the online journal Jadaliyya, which has established itself as an unparalleled source of information and critical analysis on the Middle East.
The authors, many of whom live in the countries affected, provide unique understanding and first-hand accounts of events that have received superficial and partial coverage in Western and Arab media alike. While the book focuses on those states that have been most affected by the uprisings it also covers the impact on Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq.
The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings covers the full range of issues involved in these historic events, from political economy and the role of social media, to international politics, gender, labour and the impact on culture, making this the ideal one-stop introduction to the events for the novice and specialist alike.
“Jadaliyya has established itself as an indispensable source dealing with the contemporary Arab world. This collection of its pieces on the Arab uprisings is perhaps the best introduction to the political movements that have shaken that region since January 2011. It represents a set of intelligent commentaries on revolutionary events in almost every Arab country, and their repercussions in the area generally and beyond. Essential reading.”
Talal Asad, City University of New York
From Libya in the east to the Gulf peninsula in the west, the ‘Arab Spring’ has shaken entrenched regimes. Decades-old dictatorships have fallen after mass protests. Whilst the final outcome is unclear, the historical importance of these events is beyond doubt.
Farhad Khosrokavar contextualizes the demands of the protesters. He looks beyond the Arab world to show how the movements are leaving a deep imprint on countries like Iran and how a new conception of democracy is emerging in the region, challenging traditional ideas.
Looking to the future, Khosrokavar discusses how the new movements may change the world.
Farhad Khosrokhavar is Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. His most recent book in English is The New Arab Revolutions that Shook the World (2012).
This classic book explores the intellectual, political and social foundations of Islamism, and current Islamist groups across the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Written by Egyptian philosopher and leading Arab intellectual, Fouad Zakariyya, and now available for the first time in English, this thoughtful book has no rival as a critical introduction to the nature of contemporary Islamism.
The book was written in the aftermath of the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and at the height of global debates about the relevance of Islamism in contemporary Muslim societies – especially in the light of Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979.
Zakariyya offers an important analysis of the multiple voices of current Islamism. He explores various recent attempts to construct an Islamic social and political order, presenting a sustained critique of modern ideological currents and theological worldviews. He delves into the sensitive question of Shari’ah, civil society and democracy in the Arab world. Ultimately, Zakariyya argues for a secular and democratic civil society that is unconstrained by past interpretations of the Shari’ah.
The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam brings together the writings of highly influential figures in the field of Islamism in the contemporary Arab world, many of whose writings have never been available before in English.
Addressing the key issues such as human rights, civil society, secularism, globalisation and ummah, and the impact of the West on the modern Arab world, this is the perfect starting point for students and academics looking to understand ‘Political Islam’ in contemporary Arab and Muslim societies.
The contributors include such important Islamist thinkers and activists as Abdullah Azzam, central to the spread of Islamism in Afghanistan, Sayyid Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah, a major Shiite figure in contemporary Lebanon and Ahmad Bin Yousuf, a political advisor to Akram Haniyya in Gaza.
“A fascinating examination of a range of Arab interpretations of Islam and Islamism, including reflections on jihad, Israel/Palestine, and responses to the West since 9/11. Abu-Rabi’s comprehensive introduction provides a cohesive context for these studies. Highly recommended for students of Islamist movements, contemporary political developments in the Middle East, and Islam in general.”
Jane Smith, Harvard Divinity School
First comprehensive book on the history and development of Arab philosophy, tackling major issues and key thinkers.
“This book deals with the major issues facing the Arab world.”
The Middle East