Resources

I was asked in 2011 to contribute an article to a special issue of the journal Religions published by the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (Qatar). The Editor-in-Chief is Patrick Laude, a faculty member of the Georgetown University extension in Doha and this was a special issue on "Ecological Responsibility." The Keynote article was written by Prince Charles of Wales and my article was the first one after his. Twelve more followed mine, including one by Omid Safi, "Qur'an and Nature: Cosmos as Divine Manifestation in Qur'an and Islamic Spirituality." Two other articles were written by Christians, both Orthodox. There were two Jews, three Muslims (including Safi), one Buddhist, one Hindu, one Chinese author emphasizing the diversity of views of China's "Three Teachings" (Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism). There was also one article on indigenous African religions and environmentalism and another by Yale scholar Mary Evelyn Tucker on "World Religions, Earth Charter and Ethics for a Sustainable Future."

My article, “Muslim-Christian Trusteeship of the Earth: What Jesus Can Contribute,” is a combination of things I have written before, except for my extensive use of Glen Stassen and David Gushee's Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003). I was also arguing that being trustees of the Earth included peacebuilding among humans.  Truly, a holistic approach to caring for the enviroment also entails we take care of one another as fellow human beings. Peacebuilding encompasses all the above concerns, as Glen Stassen's ten steps for Just Peacemaking demonstrate. Wars have become more and more destructive on people and nature.

Take notice of their interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, especially. I believe you will find the idea of "transformative initiative" very helpful, whatever your spiritual orientation.

 

My book Earth, Empire and Sacred Text is about forging a theology of creation common to Muslims, Christians and Jews, so as to encourage and sustain mutual cooperation toward a more just and peaceful world. In my research I was struck and saddened by the tragedy of millions and millions of indigenous peoples wiped out by the Western colonial expansion of the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries. The message of the Qur'an may or may not be behind the breathtaking military expansion of the Arabian tribes in the seventh and eight centuries, but an empire even greater than Rome at its height emerged.

Coming out of World War I, US President Woodrow Wilson was instrumental in bringing together the League of Nations. I doubt that he intended for his nation to supplant the British and French colonial empires, but that's what happened after WWII. After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, only one superpower remained standing, and it may be for the best that US global power is waning so dramatically under the current administration. Empires may have some benefits for the people and nations under their sway, but the resulting repression and suffering outweigh any of those benefits. At least, that's how I see it.

Here are twenty pages expanding on this idea, but with a laser-like focus on the indigenous people, the so-called Fourth World. In the last part I raise the issue of human rights, not only on an individual basis, but on a collective basis as well. We must, as people of faith who believe that God created the nations and cultures of the world from "one soul" (Q. 49:13), find a way to work together to manage much better than we have up to now our natural enviroment -- God's "good" creation -- and our life together as humankind, a tapestry of many different languages, races and cultures.

 

Shadi Hamid is senior fellow a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and regularly contributes to The Atlantic. The book I review here was named a Foreign Affairs Best Book of 2014:

Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

This review will appear in the next issue of Sociology of Islam (Brill) 4, 3-4, 2016. This text is a bit longer than the published version.

 

 

This was one of my earliest articles, published in the The Maghreb Review:

“The Fuzzy boundaries between Reformism and Islamism: Malik Bennabi and Rashid al-Ghannushi on Civilization.” The Maghreb Review 29, 1-2 (2004):123-52.

If you want to go into Bennabi's thought in greater depth and discover how he influenced a whole generation of thinkers, including Rachid Ghannouchi and his Ennahda Movement, this will be worth your time! In particular, long before the 1990s theory of the "Clash of Civilizations" (Samuel Huntington), Bennabi was theorizing about the rise and fall of civilizations, about the pathology and diagnosis of civilizations. His thought also falls within the postcolonial thought of French Caribbean thinker Aimé Césaire. In the end, Ghannouchi borrows much of his mentor's framework but adapts it adroitely to his particularly aims in Tunisia.

A coalition of Muslims and Christians have come together to address the rising tide of discrimination, intolerance, and at times downright hatred against Muslims in the United States. This is what is called today Islamophobia (see my 2011 blog on the 138-page report by the Center for American Progress entitled, "Fear, Inc.: Exposing the Islamophobia Network in America"; also my blog examining Robert Spencer's work).

Among these are the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD) based in Washington, DC, Peace Catalyst International (PCI) headquartered in Denver and the Dialogue Institute (DI) at Temple University in Philadelphia.

In January 2014, ICRD convened 19 U.S. and Pakistani religious leaders for a week in Nepal to establish an Interfaith Leadership Network (ILN) that will develop and jointly pursue capacity-enhancing initiatives to ease the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan and to arrest the spread and impact of Islamophobia in the United States. Among other goals, this Network proposes to bring together American religious leaders, predominantly from the Evangelical movement, to educate, discuss and ultimately limit the impact of Islamophobia in the United States.

The next step was for Douglas Johnston of the ICRD, Rick Love of PCI, and Leonard Swidler of Temple University's DI to convene a conference on Religious Freedom and Islamophobia (October 6-8, 2015), which sought to help evangelicals and others understand the consequences of and develop thoughtful responses to Islamophobia in the United States.

This was the paper I presented -- a look at the historical roots of American evangelical Islamophobia. My thesis was that from the late seventeen century to now there has been a sad continuity in evangelical polemics against Islam and Muslims, but that there were nevertheless signs of hope today as well. We should continue to vigorously build on those!

 

The core of the human rights paradigm is that all human beings by virtue of simply being human are bearers of inalienable rights. The intrinsic dignity of the human person, moreover, is the guarantee of the universality of the international human rights standard. Human dignity also includes human solidarity, as evidenced in international law by the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ratified in 1966. This paper argues from a comparative perspective, therefore, that human rights discourse is reinforced by the central tenets of both Islam and Christianity in two areas, its universality and its application to the economic sphere.

 

“A Muslim and Christian Orientation to Human Rights: Human Dignity and Solidarity,” Indiana International and Comparative Review 24, 4 (2014): 899-920.

 

 

 

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