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Human in Death


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Human in Death


Kecia Ali’s Human in Death explores the best-selling futuristic suspense series In Death, written by romance legend Nora Roberts under the pseudonym J. D. Robb. Centering on troubled NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire tycoon husband Roarke, the novels explore vital questions about human flourishing.  

Through close readings of more than fifty novels and novellas published over two decades, Ali analyzes the ethical world of Robb’s New York circa 2060. Robb compellingly depicts egalitarian relationships, satisfying work, friendships built on trust, and an array of models of femininity and family. At the same time, the series’ imagined future replicates some of the least admirable aspects of contemporary society. Sexual violence, police brutality, structural poverty and racism, and government surveillance persist in Robb’s fictional universe, raising urgent moral challenges. So do ordinary ethical quandaries around trust, intimacy, and interdependence in marriage, family, and friendship.  

Ali celebrates the series’ ethical successes, while questioning its critical moral omissions. She probes the limits of Robb’s imagined world and tests its possibilities for fostering identity, meaning, and mattering of human relationships across social difference. Ali capitalizes on Robb’s futuristic fiction to reveal how careful and critical reading is an ethical act.

Baylor University Press  |  Amazon  |  Indiebound

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Human in Death offers a sustained and subtle inquiry into J. D. Robb’s In Death books as novels of ideas: texts which invite their readers to think about love, desire, and romantic relationships—they are, after all, romance novels—but also friendship, vocation, state violence, and the dangerous allure of utopianism. . . . This is a groundbreaking contribution to the study of mass- market fiction and the ethics of reading, as well as to the emerging field of popular romance studies.”
Eric Selinger, President, International Association for the Study of Popular Romance
“A deeply engaging critical reflection, Ali deftly explores how fiction both shapes and reflects our comple lived realities, how fictional utopias can reiterate and justify the prejudices of the present. Under Ali's prescient analysis, J.D Robb's popular novels become a venue for an exploration of American culture, what scares and what satisfies is revealed by Ali as saying so much more.”
Rafia Zakaria, author of The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan
“When black people could not see themselves in the stories that shape our lives and only histories of our inferiority were offered as recompense, Afrofuturism argued that we turn our eye to fiction to imagine a better future. Kecia Ali has written a brilliant exemplar of sociology of fiction that honors the spirit of Afrofuturism, although the subject matter couldn’t be further from those we consider racial projects. . . . A thought-provoking and accessible read for sociologists and laypeople alike.”
Tressie McMillan Cottom, Virginia Commonwealth University
“This study is a handy resource for any reader interested in a sweeping, yet meticulous look at the sci-fi/murder mystery/romance series. Human in Death: Morality and Mortality in J.D. Robb’s Novels contains an evenhanded examination of the ethical stances visible in protagonist Eve Dallas’s world, especially in relation to gender and sexuality, economic and bodily inequality, and personal and systemic violence. The last is particularly useful for its calling out of the series’ inattention to racism and the slant Robb gives to police brutality and abuse of power in the futuristic United States.”
Jayashree Kamblé, LaGuardia Community College
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Sexual Ethics & Islam


Sexual Ethics & Islam


Whether exploring the thorny issues of wives' sexual duties, divorce, homosexuality, or sex outside marriage, discussions of sexual ethics and Islam often spark heated conflict rather than reasoned argument. In this updated and expanded edition of her ground-breaking work, feminist Muslim scholar Dr Kecia Ali asks how one can determine what makes sex lawful and ethical in the sight of God. 

Drawing on both revealed and interpretative Muslim texts, Ali critiques medieval and contemporary commentators alike to produce a balanced and comprehensive study of a subject both sensitive and urgent, making this an invaluable resource for students, scholars, and interested readers.

Oneworld Publications  |  Amazon  |  Indiebound

 

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“In this important revised edition of Ali's major treatise on a feminist approach to Islam, she offers a broad and comprehensive view of how sexual ethics have been defined in Islam throughout history, and how those understandings inform and define Islam today. . . . A significant addition to the feminist understanding of Islam and its complex views of sexuality.”
Publishers Weekly
“It's great to have a new edition of this foundational work in Muslim feminism that, ten years down the road, widens and deepens the important questions raised by the first edition.”
Dr. Judith Plaskow, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies, Manhattan College
“A refreshing analysis of sexual ethics in Islam with a focus on relevance to contemporary Muslims in the West.”
Daniel Varisco, Contemporary Islam
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The Lives of Muhammad


The Lives of Muhammad


Recent outbursts sparked by a viral video and controversial cartoons powerfully illustrate the passions and sensitivities that continue to surround the depiction of the seventh-century founder of Islam. The Lives of Muhammad delves into the many ways the Prophet’s life story has been told from the earliest days of Islam to the present, by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Emphasizing the major transformations since the nineteenth century, Kecia Ali shows that far from being mutually opposed, these various perspectives have become increasingly interdependent.

Since the nineteenth century, two separate streams of writing, one hagiographic and the other polemical, have merged into a single, contentious story about the life of Muhammad. Protestant missionaries, European Orientalists, Indian and Egyptian modernists, and American voices across the spectrum, including preachers, scholars, Islamophobes, journalists, academics, and new-age gurus, debated Muhammad’s character and the facts of his life. In the process, texts written symbolically came to be read literally. Muhammad’s accomplishments as a religious and political leader, his military encounters with Meccans and Medinan Jews, and—a subject of perennial interest—his relationships with women, including his young wife Aisha, are among the key subjects writers engaged, repurposing early materials for new circumstances.

Many of the ideas about Muhammad that Muslims embrace today—Muhammad the social reformer, Muhammad the consummate leader, Muhammad the ideal husband—arose in tandem and in tension with Western depictions. These were in turn shaped by new ideas about religion, sexuality, and human accomplishments.

Harvard University Press  |  Amazon  |  Indiebound
 


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“The modern telling of Muhammad’s biography appears in Ali’s work as a collaboration between Muslims and non-Muslims, revivalists and reformists, sympathetic outsiders and antagonistic critics who drew not only from a more or less stable outline of Muhammad’s life, but also from worldwide notions of great men and from certain controversies.”
Michael Knight, Washington Post
“Ali refrains from assessing the veracity of the variant readings, although some of the more obvious sinkholes would stun even the moderate Muslim reader or casual Islamic scholar. (For example, the man named Muhammad probably originally had a pagan-sounding name that was whitewashed by later historians.)”
Publishers Weekly
“The Prophet Muhammad might justly be described as the Jekyll and Hyde of historical biography. For centuries, he has been “alternately revered and reviled,” as Kecia Ali, an associate professor of religion at Boston University, notes in her excellent overview of the abundant literature.”
Eric Ormsby, Wall Street Journal
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Marriage and Slavery In Early Islam


Marriage and Slavery In Early Islam


What did it mean to be a wife, woman, or slave in a society in which a land-owning woman was forbidden to lay with her male slave but the same slave might be allowed to take concubines? Jurists of the nascent Maliki, Hanafi, and Shafi‘i legal schools frequently compared marriage to purchase and divorce to manumission. Juggling scripture, precedent, and custom on one hand, and the requirements of logical consistency on the other, legal scholars engaged in vigorous debate. The emerging consensus demonstrated a self-perpetuating analogy between a husband’s status as master and a wife’s as slave, even as jurists insisted on the dignity of free women and, increasingly, the masculine rights of enslaved husbands.

Harvard University Press  |  Amazon  |  Indiebound

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“Ali’s main thesis is that the texts of early jurists reveal that they depended on scripture, precedent, custom, and logical consistency all at once to emerge with a consensus that often compared, through analogy, marriage to purchase and divorce to manumission. This premise is lucidly argued and well documented.”
Nadia Maria El Cheikh, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies
“A significant contribution that transcends the subfields of Islamic law, medieval history, and gender studies.”
Nerina Rustomji, Journal of Law
and Religion
“This book has been thoughtfully designed to engage, and will stimulate readers from many fields.”
Julia Bray, Journal of the History
of Sexuality
 
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Imam Shafiʿi


Imam Shafiʿi


Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafiʿi (767-820) was one of Islam's foundational legal thinkers. Shafiʿi considered law vital to social and cosmic order: the key obligation of each Muslim was to obey God, and it was through knowing and following the law that human beings fulfilled this duty. Drawing on the most recent scholarship on Shafi'i's work as well as her own investigations of his life and writings, Kecia Ali explores Shafi'i's innovative ideas about the nature of revelation and the necessary if subordinate role of human reason in extrapolating legal rules from revealed texts. This study sketches his life in his intellectual and social context, including his engagement with other early figures including Malik and Muhammad al-Shaybani. It explores the development and refinement of his legal method and substantive teachings as well as their transmission by his students. It also shows how he became the posthumous "patron saint" of a legal school, who remains today a figure of popular interest and veneration as well as a powerful symbol of orthodoxy.

 Oneworld Publications  |  Amazon  |  Indiebound

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“Kecia Ali has performed a great service for Islamic studies by harmonizing early sources with the most compelling recent scholarship to produce a biography of [al-Shafi'i], one of Islam's most important figures. His life is presented in a tightly organized and lucid way accessible to non-specialists or undergraduates, useful for graduate students, and a fine source of reference for scholars.”
Carolyn Baugh, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences
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A Guide for Women in Religion


A Guide for Women in Religion


Significantly updated and expanded, this indispensable resource offers students and scholars alike real advice in navigating the ever-changing academic landscape. Offering practical guidance on graduate school, dissertation-writing, job interviews, promotions, retirement, publications, conferences, and so much more, this is the essential resource.

Palgrave Macmillan   |   Amazon  |  Indiebound

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“This is a must-have book for women in religious studies from undergraduate to emerita. A Guide for Women in Religion is filled with vital information and resources for women along the career spectrum and also a fine resource book for all who mentor them. Once again the editors of this new edition have kept it a fresh and relevant guide for those sorting out the academic maze. Excellent!”
Emilie M. Townes, Dean, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor, Womanist Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University
A Guide for Women in Religion is not just new and improved; it's classic and essential. With wisdom that arises from collaborative sharing, the guide meets the challenges of today's religious studies landscape with attention to how diversities limit access, the impact of technology, and openness to expanding academic circles that include a variety of professions. From graduate school through many career decisions, the Guide provides invaluable advice. A must have on every shelf!”
Kate M. Ott, Assistant Professor, Christian Social Ethics, Drew University
A Guide for Women in Religion offers wise advice and good counsel, with a warm and vibrant sense of humor. The revised edition reflects important changes facing women in the academy today - from navigating an academic career as a woman with a disability to grappling with the changing landscape for contingent faculty. An invaluable resource, and a great gift to all of us in the profession!”
Rabbi Julia Watts Belser, Associate Professor, Georgetown University
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A Jihad for Justice


A Jihad for Justice


This open-access e-book adapts the tradition of the academic Festschrift to honor a thinker and scholar whose vital and ongoing contributions to Qur'anic hermeneutics and the study of women, gender, and Islam have profoundly changed conversations about these topics among American Muslims and worldwide. A Jihad for Justice collects scholarly essays, personal reflections, letters, poems, and art honoring amina wadud and furthering the transformative scholarship and activism to which she has dedicated her life.

Full PDF

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Islam: The Key Concepts


Islam: The Key Concepts


Co-authored with Oliver Leaman, Islam: The Key Concepts brings together accessible short entries and essays on more than a hundred key topics, including the Qur’an, faith, theology, gender, fundamentalism, martyrdom, jihad, Islam in America, Islam in Europe and Islamic Law. Each entry contains references and suggestions for further reading.

Routledge   |  Amazon   |   Indiebound