In her intimidatingly brilliant new book Law and Politics Under the Abbasids: An Intellectual Portrait of al-Juwayni
(Cambridge University Press, 2019), Sohaira Siddiqui
conducts a masterful analysis of how conditions of political change and fragmentation generate intellectual debates and fermentation on the often-conflictual interaction of certainty, continuity, and community in Muslim thought and practice. Focused on the thought and career of the prominent 11th-century Muslim scholar al-Juwayni (d. 1085), Siddiqui examines the hermeneutical choices, operations, and conundrums that go into the negotiation of epistemic certainty in the realms of law and theology with the imperative of historical change and dynamism. The distinguishing hallmark of this book is the way it conducts a thoroughly interdisciplinary examination of early Muslim intellectual thought by putting Islamic law, theology, and politics into a productive and rather profound conversation. The outcome is a study that combines philological prowess, analytical sophistication, and astonishing lucidity. Sure to spark important conversations in Islamic Studies and beyond, this book deserves to be taught in wide ranging undergraduate and graduate seminars as well.
SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listener feedback is most welcome.