Innovation in Islam: Traditions and Contributions

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Mehran Kamrava
University of California Press, Apr 18, 2011 - History - 251 pages
“In a clear and historically incisive argument, Kamrava and the other contributors indicate how the Islamic concept of innovation (Arabic, bid ‘a) is an essentially contested and adaptive concept. Since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslims have vigorously argued about its meaning and how to apply it. This incisive collection of essays range far beyond the confines of theology and jurisprudence, integrating ideological concerns with the exigencies of mundane ones, as well as crossing the sectarian divide of Sunni and Shia.”

—Dale Eickelman, author of Muslim Politics

"The economic and political underdevelopment of the Islamic world is commonly attributed to conservatism rooted in Islam. This splendid collection of provocative essays addresses the issue from several different perspectives and in various contexts. Collectively, the essays provide a broad introduction to the topic of innovation in Islam, both through what they teach and what they invite the reader to pursue."

—Timur Kuran, author of The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East

“Muhammad brought new ideas and practices to the monotheistic tradition, but Muslim scholars interpreting the Qur’an and ahadith sought to squelch ideas that smacked of innovation. Such is the conventional wisdom. But Mehran Kamrava leads a stable of distinguished scholars in demonstrating persuasively that innovation has never ceased to mark the Islamic tradition. Indeed, the greatest modern innovators may be those Islamists who denounce innovation! These powerful essays overwhelm the conventional wisdom.”

—Robert D. Lee, author of Religion and Politics in the Middle East: Identity, Ideology, Institutions, and Attitudes


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part one the intellectual process
part two the arts and letters
part three islam in the modern world
Between Politics and Theology
Modern Movements in Islam
List of Contributors

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About the author (2011)

Mehran Kamrava is Interim Dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar and also the Director of the School's Center for International and Regional Studies. He is the author of The Modern Middle East: A Political History since the First World War (second edition, UC Press) and Iran's Intellectual Revolution. He has also edited The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking Politics and Modernity (UC Press).

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