“Leading scholars and activists bring exciting perspectives on what went into the making of the Muslim world, its journeys into modernity, and the challenges it must confront after September 11, 2001”, says Amyn B Sajoo the series’ editor. He notes that while a feast of books on Islam and Muslims has been served since 2001, the ones of high quality tend to serve academics, while the general public is fed a dubious diet. “Polls show that even elite policymakers have a hopelessly distorted picture of Muslim peoples, traditions and narratives”, according to Dr. Sajoo.
Yet, Muslims themselves often need to be reminded of the diversity and dynamism of their heritage. There is plenty of evidence of this civilisational depth in the twelve chapters of the opening volume: Reza Aslan and Abdallah Saeed on how Prophet Muhammad and later interpreters grappled with the ideals of the Holy Qur’an, Amir Hussain on the many ‘Islams’ that have come out of the Revelation, Azizah al-Hibri on the status of women amid social change, Bruce Lawrence and Gary Bunt on the ‘digital umma’ and its predecessor networks, Hasan Khan, Raficq Abdulla and Amira Bennison on how architecture, poets and cities have shaped communities, Anil Khamis and Shainool Jiwa on the ethics of learning and governance.
The tone for this new series is set by the epigraph from Goethe in the Companion: “What you have as heritage, take now as task; for thus you will make it your own”. Future publications will focus on ethical traditions, cultures, and key figures and societal influences in Islam.