In his dazzling new book The Aliites: Race and Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali
(University of Chicago Press, 2019), Spencer Dew
treats his readers to a riveting and often counterintuitive account of the interaction of law, race, and citizenship in the discourses of the Moorish Science Temple and other movements inspired by Noble Drew Ali. How do theological visions of democracy serve as critiques of racism and exclusionary politics? In what ways does a notion of sovereignty as located in faith and outside history mobilize popular sovereignty to critique modern state sovereignty? What are the complicated mechanisms through which legal institutions, texts, and theaters are engaged and negotiated to make space for a notion of citizenship grounded in the entanglement of law, love, and social transformation? These are among the central questions that animate this sparkling study, situated at the intersection of legal studies, African American Religion, and American Islam. Lucidly composed, theoretically charged, and discursively playful, The Aliites
is sure to transform the way we look at Noble Drew Ali and his profound and complex legacy. This book will also generate important and productive conversations in various undergraduate and graduate seminars on American Islam, American Religion, Political Studies, History, and Law.
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.