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The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 21:4

perspective of equality is slowly replacing the complementary rights perspective. The author informs the reader about the current discourses on gender equality and their historical roots. He argues that, contrary to the expectations of some of Iran’s archconservatives and despite the many setbacks for women under the Islamic Republic, the government’s official stance toward women was a return to 1936 (the “Awakening Project”) rather than to 1883 (the reactionary misogyny of “Disciplining Women”). For example, women’s athleticism in the Islamic Republic (the Islamic Women’s Olympics) is reminiscent of the early Pahlavi regime, in spite of the veiling and seclusion. To further illustrate this point, Amin draws the reader’s attention to Salam Iran, a website ( sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ottawa. The site is an example of the extent to which Iranian women participate in the country’s public and civic life. Another example of the current state of ideology is the Women’s Bureau of the Presidential Office, which gathers a great deal of data and statistics on women in relation to arts, sports, education, and the family. Amin argues that even such themes as “Women and Revolution” and “Women and the Constitution” (Islamic revolution) are direct responses to the more recent legacy of the “White Revolution” (Pahlavi revolution) that have their roots in the first major legal alliance between the state and women: the Marriage Law of 1931. This book is an excellent source for students of Iranian history from a gender perspective, academics, and those who wish to understand contemporary political issues in Iran. The book is also recommended for those who wish to learn about contemporary Iran more generally, as a great deal of what is happening there cannot be easily understood without an understanding of Iran’s recent history.
Roksana Bahramitash Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The Crisis of Muslim History: Religion and Politics in Early Islam
Mahmoud M. Ayoub Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications, 2003. 179 pages. A host of recent events – well known to all and not in need of rehearsal here – have had, among a variety of other consequences, the unexpected effect of

An exchange quoted later (p. a desire for stability. 23). that form the subject matter of this book. at least in part. and moral integrity that reasserted itself in his appointment of `Umar (p. a tack not unlike the one he uses in his important contribution to tafsir studies: The Qur’an and Its Interpreters. 147) The uncertainty surrounding the nature of legitimate authority is a constant theme throughout Ayoub’s narrative. it disregards the closer and more direct kinship of `Ali. as well as by less successful contenders. is aimed at supporting his central assertion that because “the Prophet died without leaving a clear political system” (p. and `Ali. Ayoub considers the works of both Muslim and western scholars to be fraught with the political and theological biases of their authors. in the crucial historical time period known as the Rashidite (or “Rightly Guided”) caliphate. 4) of this era (stretching from the death of the Prophet until `Ali’s assassination) and its implications for subsequent generations.” “Shi`ite clerics. (p. It is the “political and socio-religious crisis” (p. often fail to provide a clear account of this formative period of Islamic history. Using this methodology. Ayoub envisions his work as filling a void found in most general introductions to Islam. `Umar.” however. 22). the Prophet’s cousin. His analysis of the various claims to the caliphate advanced by Abu Bakr.” and “Wahhabi radicals. the roots of this sectarianism can be found.Book Reviews 119 focusing the world’s attention on the diversity of Muslims and the Islamic tradition. The constant talk of “Sunni triangles. As for those who have ventured to write in the area. This episode clearly demonstrates the . which for all their other merits. 4) speak for themselves. the Companions did not agree – indeed they vehemently disagreed – on answers to questions of political authority: It must in fact be concluded that neither the companions of the Prophet nor their successors were able to arrive at a universally acceptable solution to the deep and persistent crisis of succession or caliphal appointment. order. His desire to avoid this pitfall motivates him to adopt the novel approach of letting the “primary sources of Muslim thought and history” (p. `Uthman. Ayoub seeks to construct and present a balanced account of the major historical events of the Rashidite era in an effort to explore the interaction between considerations of religion and politics in early Islamic understandings of the nature of authority. however. raises important questions about what precisely divides the Muslim community along these lines. For Ayoub. 31). reveals Abu Bakr’s conduct to have been motivated by a fear of sedition. Whereas Abu Bakr’s argument for the Muhajirun’s precedence over the Ansar is based on the former group’s tribal proximity to the Prophet.

While his decision to offer various versions of the same event has significant scholarly value. we are told. 28) and `Umar’s principled refusal to designate his son as successor (pp. Consider. Ayoub’s work is undoubtedly a thorough investigation into early Islamic history. While `Umar is praised as a far-sighted man (p. 4). he is (only three pages later) not astute enough to have “completely perceived the far-reaching religious. highlighted by Ayoub. Ayoub’s methodological decision to present a wide array of primary sources occasionally creates tensions within his own narrative. spelling mistakes and errant diacritical marks) detract from the overall quality of the book. 87-88) are noticed by the reader to be in stark contrast with `Uthman’s preferential treatment of his Umayyad kinsmen (p. 89) that. the reader feels as though he may have fallen short of another of his stated purposes: to produce an introductory work (p. 54). of the caliph” (p.g. In that. The lack of a definitive answer to questions of authority is perhaps sufficiently revealed simply in the range of procedures employed in choosing the caliph: competitive discussion and consultation among the elders of Madinah in the case of Abu Bakr. . he fulfills his goal of contributing a “clear and somewhat comprehensive presentation of the formative period” (p. rather than the moral persuasion. Finally. political. direct appointment in the case of `Umar. the vague allusion to “the necklace incident” (p. and finally into many and often disparate modern nation states” (p. for example. the “election” of `Ali. several noticeable typographical errors (e. 4). 41). a six-man shura council that eventually chose `Uthman. Furthermore. a development that Ayoub considers an example of the evolving emphasis on the “power. Similarly. sparked `A’isha’s animosity toward `Ali. as well as the latter’s ensuing confrontation with Mu`awiyah. between political expediency and more strictly religious considerations. Yet. at times. and economic consequences” of his selections for the shura council. who saw himself as `Uthman’s heir. it is perhaps overwhelming for the novice. To compound matters.. 54). 30). then into a cosmopolitan nomocratic kingship. a handful of passages seem to assume that the readers are already acquainted with the history to which they are supposedly being introduced.120 The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 21:4 complex interplay. supposedly “weight[ing] the outcome in favor of `Uthman” despite being personally inclined toward `Ali (p. Abu Bakr’s egalitarian distribution of wealth (p. 43-44). social. The controversy surrounding political authority is portrayed as the most pressing question of the time. and is played out in history through the Muslim state’s transformation from a theocracy during the Prophet’s lifetime to a “tribal meritocracy.

This anthology. part of Jayyusi’s Project for the Translation of Arabic (PROTA). In contrast. will bring attention to a dynamic. the anthology most closely related to this one. Ayoub’s work remains an important contribution. One problem with this particular anthology. as well as brief introductions to each individual contribution. other anthologies by Jayyusi – for example. but understudied. however. It portrays well the very real and human nature of the early Muslim community. Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology (Columbia University Press: 1987) and Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature (Columbia University Press: 1992) – are accompanied by useful and lengthy introductions written by Jayyusi herself. ed. is that Jayyusi’s seven-page editor’s introduction barely manages to explain the impetus behind the project. 2003. and how they were resolved. demonstrating the breadth of the genre and its interest not only to scholars and specialists. but also to those concerned with literature more generally. and translators (after a brief glossary of Arabic words). Ontario. Junaid Quadri MA student. the urgent political questions and crises facing this identifiably religious society. Department of Philosophy University of Waterloo. contributors. coedited with Roger Allen (Indiana . Likewise. The need to examine these responses in light of today’s realities can hardly be overstated.Book Reviews 121 Despite these objections. MA: Interlink Books. Northampton. This diverse collection consists of 20 short plays by 15 playwrights. Although it includes short biographies of the editor. genre of Arabic literature. 466 pages Like most of the other anthologies edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi. make her acknowledgments and outline the major themes in short plays in general – let alone contextualize the plays included in this volume. Canada Short Arabic Plays: An Anthology Salma Khadra Jayyusi. Modern Arabic Drama: An Anthology. however. not least for its ability to introduce English readers to classical sources of Islamic history in an accessible way. Short Arabic Plays is a collection of translated Arabic literary works focused around one particular genre. Waterloo. there are no introductions to the individual works or even such bibliographic indications as their original titles and dates of publication.