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Islam: Culture, Institutions and Agents

The three books reviewed in this article do not seem closely related in the first impression. Younos’ book sheds light upon Islamic culture in the context of cultural anthropology; Duri’s book scrutinizes some of the significant Islamic institutions, their emergence, evolution, functioning, as well as the principles that emerged during the formative period of Islam.

Islam Culture Institutions and Agents
Islam: Culture, Institutions and Agents

Islamic Culture: A Study of Cultural Anthropology

By Farid Younos

Author House: Bloomington, 2013, 158 pages, $26.87, ISBN: 9781491823446


 

Early Islamic Institutions: Administration and Taxation from the Caliphate to the Umayyads and Abbasids

By Abd al-Aziz Duri 

New York: I.B.Tauris, 2011, 256 pages, $45.00, ISBN: 9781848850606


 

Son Dönem Osmanlı Suriye’sinde Islahat Hareketleri

(Islamic Reform: Politics and Social Change in Late Ottoman Syria)

By David Dean Commins 

İstanbul: Mahya, 2014, 318 pages, 18.75 TL, ISBN: 9786055222246

 

The three books reviewed in this article do not seem closely related in the first impression. Younos’ book sheds light upon Islamic culture in the context of cultural anthropology; Duri’s book scrutinizes some of the significant Islamic institutions, their emergence, evolution, functioning, as well as the principles that emerged during the formative period of Islam. The last book, Islamic Reform, focuses on a number of religious intellectuals’ lives in a wide context, and their reactions to the nineteenth century transformations that undermined their importance. What connects these books is Islam, and its followers’ agencies in the social, political and economic sphere. Relying mainly on diverse subfields of study, these authors introduce basic principles of Islam, the culture and tradition in which the religion emerged, Muslims’ ways of conducting their agencies in accordance with Islamic principles, and their reactions to changing circumstances in due course. Despite their commonalities, these books are considerably different from each other with regard to their approaches, methodology, their use of primary and secondary sources, and their target audience. However, the books might be read together in order to grasp Islam in respect to its source, basic tenets, practice and their relation to the political and fiscal organization of the Islamic State, the dynamics of its evolution according to new circumstances, culture and tradition. Additionally, the transformation that the Ottoman Syria went through in the nineteenth century and the religious intellectuals’ response to that transformation, disagreements and consensus might render a comparative reading of theoretical problems in different time periods. 

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