Redeeming Slavery: The 'Islamic State' and the Quest for Islamic Morality

In February 2015, journalist Graeme Wood caused a stir with “What ISIS Really Wants,” published in The Atlantic. Wood’s article focuses on the Islamic State’s apocalyptic religious vision, since analyzed more fully by Will McCants. Among other things, Wood asserts that the group is, as Bernard Haykel puts it, “smack in the middle of the medieval tradition,” which includes things that shock and repulse observers, Muslim and non-Muslim alike—including, it seems, savage violence and slavery.  Its deployment of brutality, especially its capture, enslavement, sale, and rape of women from Iraq’s Yazidi minority, are among the issues mentioned when the question is asked: Is the Islamic State in fact Islamic? Continue reading →

Aisha: Mother of the Faithful | Oct. 2014
Islami Commentary

Despite the common perception that Muslims cling to archaic ideas about their prophet, in fact many ideas about Muhammad that contemporary Muslims hold developed over the last two centuries in tandem and in tension with Western Christian writers’ views of him. Muslim and non-Muslim accounts of his life have intersected and intertwined in crucial ways and all have been affected by contemporary ideas about sexuality and human achievement. Continue reading →

Brunei’s Horrific New Penal Code — And Why It Matters

Hollywood protests over Brunei’s new “sharia” penal code have caught the public imagination. It’s a depressingly familiar story: a repressive government aims to squash dissent while bolstering its Islamic credentials. Last week brought the first wave of Brunei’s new criminal rules, which target offenses like failing to attend Friday prayers and bearing a child out of wedlock. The next phase brings corporal punishments including whippings for alcohol consumption and amputations for certain types of theft. Next year will see stoning for adultery and homosexual sex. Oh, and the death penalty for insulting the Prophet. Continue reading →

Feminism and Religion

All-Male Nonsense

A brilliant site has been making the rounds of social media: I became aware of it just in time to suggest a post: an all-male symposium at Cambridge Muslim College on the future of the madrasa. The original article, since removed, touted its diverse participants, but as someone observed, clearly they only meant diverse styles of facial hair. The organizer apparently chose “to exclude women despite having had the matter brought to his attention” in the planning stages by male participants. (As of this writing, the college still has an all-male homepage.) Continue reading →

ISIS and Authority

Last week, Graeme Wood caused quite a stir with his article “What ISIS Really Wants.” It focused on the apocalyptic religious vision of the group and contended that ISIS was, as a scholar quoted in the article put it, “smack in the middle of the medieval tradition,” including on the things most shock and repulse observers, such as slavery. Though Wood grants that most Muslims do not support ISIS, and acknowledges in passing the role of interpretation in formulating its doctrines, the overall impression conveyed by the article was that Muslims who deny that ISIS is a fair representation of Islam are either apologists or simply do not really know anything about Islam. Others have offered rebuttals of many of the points in the article, and Bernard Haykel, the scholar quoted, has offered a more nuanced articulation of his views. Continue reading →

So You’re Going to the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting

Ten thousand people descend on San Diego this weekend for the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature joint Annual Meeting. We will present papers, interview and be interviewed, shop for books, and network busily. Many will feel overwhelmed, lost, and/or hungry – convention center food somehow always manages to be lousy and expensive. Continue reading →


Redeeming Slavery: The ‘Islamic State’ and the Quest for Islamic Morality.” Mizan: Journal for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations, 1:1, September 2016 (HTML) (PDF)

Just Say Yes: Law, Consent, and Muslim Feminist Ethics.” In A Jihad for Justice: Honoring the Life and Work of Amina Wadud. Kecia Ali, Juliane Hammer, and Laury Silvers, eds. E-book. 2012, pp. 121-34

“Aisha: Mother of the Faithful” IslamiCommentary (NOTE: this is preferred spacing and capitalization)

Embracing the Veil—If Only for One Day” (a.k.a, that time I ran a 5K in an X-Men costume)

Men, Men Everywhere

More from Feminism & Religion

“Belief-O-Matic and Me.”

More from Huffington Post


Continue reading →