With all of the politics being lobbed around these days, the topic has become quite the hot button subject. What better way to indulge in such a topic than with an intelligent discussion over a hot pot of tea debating the intricacies of a modern Middle Eastern agenda? Here are a few of the books we have on politics at the IRC:
The Arab Spring by Hamid Dabashi
This pioneering explanation of the Arab Spring will define a new era of thinking about the Middle East.
In this landmark book, Hamid Dabashi argues that the revolutionary uprisings that have engulfed multiple countries and political climes from Morocco to Iran and from Syria to Yemen, were driven by a 'Delayed Defiance' - a point of rebellion against domestic tyranny and globalized disempowerment alike - that signifies no less than the end of Postcolonialism. Sketching a new geography of liberation, Dabashi shows how the Arab Spring has altered the geopolitics of the region so radically that we must begin re-imagining the 'the Middle East'.
Ultimately, the 'permanent revolutionary mood' Dabashi brilliantly explains has the potential to liberate not only those societies already ignited, but many others through a universal geopolitics of hope.
Arab Youth: Social Mobilization in Times of Risk by Samir Khalaf and Roseanne Saad Khalaf
In 2011 thousands of Arab youth took to the streets revealing the genesis of a new generation sparked by the desire for civil liberties and participatory democracy.
Arab Youth explores the antecedents of the upheavals and anticipates alternative venues of resistance that marginalized youth—from Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine to Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran—can mobilize to realize their emancipatory expectations.
Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America's Wars in the Muslim World by Nir Rosen
Nir Rosen’s Aftermath, an extraordinary feat of reporting, follows the contagious spread of radicalism and sectarian violence that the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the ensuing civil war have unleashed in the Muslim world.
Aftermath is both a unique personal history and an unsparing account of what America has wrought in Iraq and the region. The result is a hair- raising, 360-degree view of the modern battlefield its consequent humanitarian catastrophe, and the reality of counterinsurgency.
Over the course of the last 1400 years, Islam has grown from a small band of followers on the Arabian peninsula into a global religion of over a billion believers. How did this happen?
The usual answer is that Islam spread by the sword--that believers waged jihad against rival tribes and kingdoms and forced them to convert. Lamin Sanneh argues that this is far from the case.Beyond Jihad examines the origin and evolution of the Muslim African pacifist tradition, beginning with an inquiry into Islam's beginnings and expansion in North Africa and its transmission across trans-Saharan trade routes to West Africa.
The book focuses on the ways in which, without jihad, the religion spread and took hold, and what that assimilation process means for understanding the nature of religious and social change.At the heart of this process were clerics who used educational, religious, and legal scholarship to promote Islam. Once this clerical class emerged it offered continuity and stability in the midst of political changes and cultural shifts; it helped inhibit the spread of radicalism, and otherwise challenged it in specific jihad outbreaks.
With its roots in the Mali Empire and its policy of religious and inter-ethnic accommodation, and going beyond routes and kingdoms, pacifist teaching tracked a cumulative pathway for Islam in remote districts of the Mali Empire by instilling a patient, Sufi-inspired, and jihad-negating impulse into religious life and practice. Islam was successful in Africa, the book argues, not because of military might but because it was made African by Africans who adapted it to a variety of contexts.
Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
This is the extraordinary account of Amani’s journey through adolescence as a Muslim girl, from the Islamophobia she’s faced on a daily basis, to the website she launched that became a cultural phenomenon, to the nation’s political climate in the 2016 election cycle with Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. While dispelling the myth that a headscarf makes you a walking target for terrorism, she shares both her own personal accounts and anecdotes from the “sisterhood” of writers that serve as her editorial team at MuslimGirl. Amani’s honest, urgent message is fresh, timely, and a deeply necessary counterpoint to the current rhetoric about the Middle East.
IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq by IraqiGirl
I feel that I have been sleeping all my life and I have woken up and opened my eyes to the world. A beautiful world! But impossible to live in.
These are the words of fifteen-year-old Hadiya, blogging from the city of Mosul, Iraq, to let the world know what life is really like as the military occupation of her country unfolds. In many ways, her life is familiar. She worries about exams and enjoys watching Friends during the rare hours that the electricity in her neighborhood is running.
But the horrors of war surround her everywhere—weeklong curfews, relatives killed, and friends whose families are forced to flee their homes. With black humor and unflinching honesty, Hadiya shares the painful stories of lives changed forever. “Let’s go back,” she writes, “to my un-normal life.”
With her intimate reflections on family, friendship, and community, IraqiGirl also allows us to witness the determination of one girl not only to survive, but to create, amidst the devastation of war, a future worth living for.