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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.