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Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire [Paperback]

Hamid Dabashi
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

13 May 2008

This book is a radical piece of counter-intuitive rethinking of the clash of civilizations theory and global politics.

In this richly detailed criticism of contemporary politics, Hamid Dabashi argues that after 9/11 we have not seen a new phase in a long running confrontation between Islam and the West, but that such categories have in fact collapsed and exhausted themselves. The West is no longer a unified actor and Islam is ideologically depleted in its confrontation with colonialism. Rather we are seeing the emergence of the US as a lone superpower, and a confrontation between a form of imperial globalized capital and the rising need for a new Islamic theodicy. 

The combination of political salience and theoretical force makes Islamic Liberation Theology a cornerstone of a whole new generation of thinking about political Islamism and a compelling read for anyone interested in contemporary Islam, current affairs and US foreign policy. Dabashi drives his well-supported and thoroughly documented points steadily forward in an earnest and highly readable style.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New Ed edition (13 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415771552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415771559
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,331,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Born in Iran, he received a dual PhD in Sociology of Culture and Islamic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. Dabashi has written 20 books, edited four, and written over 100 chapters, essays, articles and book reviews. An internationally renowned cultural critic, his writings have been translated into numerous languages.

Dabashi has been a columnist for the Egyptian al-Ahram Weekly for over a decade, and is a regular contributor to Aljazeera and CNN. He has been a committed teacher for nearly three decades and is also a public speaker, a current affairs essayist, a staunch anti-war activist, and the founder of Dreams of a Nation. He has four children and lives in New York with his wife, the Iranian-Swedish feminist scholar and photographer Golbarg Bashi.

Follow him on Twitter @HamidDabashi
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Product Description

About the Author

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York, USA. He is the author of several books including: Authority in Islam: From the Rise of Muhammad to the Establishment of the Umayyads (1989/1992); Iran: A People Interrupted (2007); Theology of Discontent: The Ideological Foundations of the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1993/2005); Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema (edited with an Introduction, 2006); and Close up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, Future (2001).

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book 29 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is interesting in terms of the title that opens new horizons for reading and researching on the subject in the context of the Muslim World.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important piece of work 26 Sep 2010
By Jean J. Hughes - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Historian and theologian, Hamid Dabashi is forthright, organized and thorough. The introduction is a bit repetetive but, as a life-long teacher, I understand his continually bringing us back to the outline. His is the story of an ancient people whose theology/religiosity and life style are so integrated as to be inseparable. The breadth of his world view makes this book a must read. In no uncertain terms, he defines the battle between unholy global domination and all of its victims. Here is a writer who knows we can learn to co-exist as indterdependent communities promoting a sustainable planet if we can resist and overcome the power-over paradigm in which we live.

James Cone's Theology of Black Liberation, Gustavo Gutierrz and Juan Segundo's Liberation Theologies for Latin America began the conversation. Hamid Dabashi continues the dialogue by explaining the struggle of Muslims, by identifying their primary enemy, and by joining their struggle with those of the aforementioned and others to maintain the unique characteristics of their communities in a modern and cosmopolitan world as co-creators of a future with an equal, respectful, playing field.

It is impossible to do this book justice in a short review. For me, the book is an invitation to join the human race, not as dominator nor as submissive nor as a passive but interested spectator. The world needs reflective, passionate participants who believes in what is possible, who can compromise with integrity and who can tell the difference between truth and propaganda. Thank you, Mr. Dabashi.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Islamic Liberation Theology 10 Feb 2011
By SMohr - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Dabashi uses to make his argument. Not as clear as I would have liked and it drags on a bit, but a good read.
14 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Review by Stephen Schwartz 16 Nov 2009
By Marabout - Published on
The title of this volume by Dabashi, the contentious Columbia University professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature, calls to mind an argument made during the 1980s by traditional Catholics opposed to the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. Since all the monotheistic religions are founded on principles of liberation, why should a new "liberation theology," as imagined by the Sandinistas and other Marxists, be grafted onto any of them? Did not the defiance of pharaoh by Moses and the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus--undertaken by personalities who are both honored in Islam--along with Muhammad's battles against corrupt rulers, constitute an original and sufficient theology of liberation?

The motives for the novelty of liberation theology among Third-World Christians and in Dabashi's version of the Islamic intellect are the same. For protagonists of this outlook, traditional religion has proved wanting in addressing recent political questions, especially those posed by colonialism. Thus Catholic clerics in South America believed themselves impelled to armed action in guerrilla formations; thus Dabashi prescribes a reordering of Islam that would more clearly identify the faith of Muhammad with leftism. The parallel is boasted by the author, who, defying historical continuity, does his best to make the two variants, Christian and Muslim, inseparable.

Still, Dabashi seeks Islamic religious legitimacy for his conception. He therefore associates it with the 150-year old Salafi movement for modernization of the Muslim world. He writes that "the rise of Islamic liberation theologies dates back to the early nineteenth century" and the aftermath of "British, French and Russian colonial adventures." But with his specialization in Iran, he devotes a good part of this work to the ideology of the Islamic Revolution although offering little more than a rehash of Iranian religio-political literature. Overall, this volume is so clogged with fashionable but digressive references to everything popular in the contemporary academy, from the Frankfurt School to diatribes against George W. Bush, that it will be of little consequence to serious observers of the Middle East.

As with the Christian liberation theologians, Dabashi presents religion as a cover for a political extremism that courts being an apologia for terrorism. He begins the book with an equation of the atrocities of September 11, 2001, with what he calls "terrorizing U.S. military campaigns" and, in the footnotes, rants against "dilettantes" who link the views of the Egyptian radical Islamist Sayyid Qutb with "the actions attributed to Osama bin Laden." Such rhetoric, and little more, fills Dabashi's pages and, apparently, his mind. Such, it seems, is Dabashi's distinctive da'wa (proselytism).
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