• Qawwali Routes: Notes on a Sufi Music’s Transformation in Diaspora

      Sonia Gaind-Krishnan (MDPI AG, 2020-12-01)
      In recent years, alongside the concurrent rise of political Islam and reactionary state policies in India, Sufism has been championed as an “acceptable” form of Islam from neoliberal perspectives within India and the Western world. Sufism is noted as an arena of spiritual/religious practice that highlights musical routes to the Divine. Among Chishti Sufis of South Asia, that musical pathway is <i>qawwali</i>, a song form that been in circulation for over seven centuries, and which continues to maintain a vibrant sonic presence on the subcontinent, both in its ritual usage among Sufis and more broadly in related folk and popular iterations. This paper asks, what happens to qawwali as a song form when it circulates in diaspora? While prominent musicians such as the Sabri Brothers and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan exposed audiences in the West to the sounds of qawwali, in recent years, non-hereditary groups of musicians based in the US and UK have begun to perform songs from the qawwali repertoire. In the traditional setting, textual meaning is paramount; this paper asks, how can performers transmute the affective capacity of qawwali in settings where semantic forms of communication may be lost? How do sonic and metaphorical voices lend themselves to the circulation of sound-centered meaning? Through a discussion of the Sufi sublime, this paper considers ways sonic materials stitch together the diverse cloth of the South Asian community in diaspora.
    • Qohelet and the Marks of Modernity: Reading Ecclesiastes with Matthew Arnold and Charles Taylor

      Jennie Grillo (MDPI AG, 2016-06-01)
      The biblical book of Ecclesiastes is often claimed as a harbinger of modernity. In this essay, I compare Ecclesiastes with two overlapping constructions of modernity, taken from Matthew Arnold and Charles Taylor, focusing especially on Taylor’s motifs of inwardness, narrativity, meaninglessness, and ordinary life. I suggest that the likeness to modernity in Ecclesiastes is a complex bundle of emphases held in tension, which remains hospitable to pre-modern understandings and commitments.
    • Quaker Prophetic Language in the Seventeenth Century: A Cross-Disciplinary Case Study

      Judith Roads (MDPI AG, 2018-07-01)
      This paper explores three themes: (i) a short, empirical research account of the linguistic realization of seventeenth-century Quaker prophecy using digital corpus-based tools; (ii) a practical description of how those tools can be used in interdisciplinary research such as the prophecy study; and (iii) a reflective section that considers the advantages, potential richness but also challenges of embarking on an integrated piece of research that straddles established academic disciplines. The ‘prophecy’ analysis comments on the nature of prophecy from a linguistic perspective. It includes positive and negative connotations observed in the data contrasted with non-Quaker texts (including the Bible), and also how Quaker prophetic style changed during the second half of the seventeenth century. The secondary purpose of the paper is to demonstrate the value of departing from traditional, well-established approaches in a discipline such as religion. Quaker studies scholars are familiar with the exercise of grappling with unfamiliar approaches, concepts and specialist vocabulary in order to learn about new insights that they might not otherwise encounter. The present quantitative-based study of Quaker prophesying is a fresh attempt to bring new life to this aspect of historical Quaker writings.
    • Quilting the Sermon: Homiletical Insights from Harriet Powers

      Donyelle McCray (MDPI AG, 2018-02-01)
      Sermons come in a variety of forms. For Harriet Powers, an African American artist and former slave who lived from 1837–1910, sermons took the form of quilts. Unlike most quilts crafted during her lifetime, Powers’ quilts told biblical stories, recounted legends, and carried messages of divine judgement and hope. This article offers a brief account of her life, a description of her quilts, and a reflection on her spirituality. Rather than approaching her quilts solely as folk art, this essay places them in the African American preaching tradition.
    • Qurrat al-ʿAyn, the Maiden of the Kaʿba: On the <i>Themenophany</i> Inspiring Ibn ʿArabī’s <i>Tarjumān</i>

      Pablo Beneito (MDPI AG, 2021-02-01)
      Qurrat al-ʿAyn is the name of the enigmatic Maiden who appeared alongside Ibn ʿArabī when he was inspired to recite the four verses that open <i>The Interpreter of Desires</i>, as he was wandering around the Kaʿba. In this article, through the analysis of the passage in which she is mentioned, the identity of the Maiden is explored from various perspectives typical of the author’s theo-anthropo-cosmovision, characterised by his concept of theophany (<i>tajallī</i>) or divine self-revelation, resorting especially to both the analysis of the lexical inter-reference in the roots of the Arabic terms used by Ibn ʿArabī in his <i>Tarjumān al-ashwāq</i>, as well as the study of the symbolism characteristic of the Arabic alphanumeric system. Furthermore, the article proposes that the kaleidoscopic structure of this collection of odes, studied here for the first time, is the result of a <i>themenophany</i> of the Kaʿba: the <i>Tarjumān</i> has been ‘‘inspired’’ by/on the Kaʿba itself, so that in a sense it is a <i>bibliophany</i> of the so-called House of God, to whose geometry—four corners, six faces, seven ritual turns, eight vertices—its structural conception corresponds. The symbolism of Arabic geomancy in relation to the structure of the <i>Tarjumān</i> is also considered.
    • Qur’anic Educational Philosophy: Foundational Principles of Education in Islam’s Holiest Text

      Brady Stimpson; Isaac Calvert (MDPI AG, 2021-01-01)
      This study enumerates the principles of education explicitly taught in the text of the Qur’an. As Islam’s only undisputed source of infallible divine direction, the educational principles contained therein constitute a divinely-sanctioned pedagogy. In recent years, much has been said in academic circles about the dangers of essentializing Islam. If academia is to reframe its questions about Islamic educational philosophy to account for its many interpretations, however, a greater understanding of the common text being interpreted, namely, the Qur’an, is essential. Understanding Islamic education in the context of its most central text is lacking, though, as few studies have provided a thorough textual analysis of educational philosophy within the Qur’an itself. To this end, we undertook a systematic linguistic analysis of the Qur’an in its entirety in both the original Arabic and various English translations. From these analyses, we found three main themes, including: first, independent, inferential reasoning; second, orthopractic teleology; and third, memorization and the spoken word. The unique contribution of this article is to provide a strong foundation of strictly Qur’anic educational philosophy upon which further hermeneutical research can investigate how that philosophy has been interpreted and practiced by Islam’s various denominations throughout its rich history.
    • Qur’anic Interpretation and the Problem of Literalism: Ibn Rushd and the Enlightenment Project in the Islamic World

      Chryssi Sidiropoulou (MDPI AG, 2015-09-01)
      This article examines the claim that Ibn Rushd of Cordoba (“Averroës,” 12th century B.C.) is a precursor of the Enlightenment and a source of inspiration for the emancipation of contemporary Islamic societies. The paper critically discusses the fascination that Ibn Rushd has exercised on several thinkers, from Ernest Renan to Salman Rushdie, and highlights the problem of literalism in Qur’anic interpretation. Based on Ibn Rushd’s Decisive Treatise (Fasl al-maqāl), the paper investigates Ibn Rushd’s proposed division of (Muslim) society into three distinct classes. The main question here is whether there is a substantial link between the people of the Muslim community, given the three distinct kinds of assent (tasdīq) introduced by Ibn Rushd. I argue that if such a link cannot be supplied, then it is hard to see in Ibn Rushd an enlightened social model for today’s Muslim societies. Furthermore, that the great majority of people are prevented from having any contact with non-literal interpretation of the Scripture and non-revealed ways of thinking. The latter position, though, does not seem to bring Ibn Rushd close to the Enlightenment. My analysis of religious language is inspired by Wittgenstein’s position that the meaning of a term cannot be detached from its use. I suggest that given the different lives of people belonging to Ibn Rushd’s different classes, the terms they use can mean quite different things. This argument in fact weakens Ibn Rushd’s association with the Enlightenment.
    • Race, Disability and COVID-19: A DisCrit Analysis of Theological Education

      Barbara A. Fears (MDPI AG, 2021-01-01)
      The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has generated public debate and private discussion about systemic racism in contemporary U.S. society and the ill preparedness and misdirected focus of clergy responding to this crisis. Later research will reveal reasons trained clergy called denominational offices, requesting assistance to address the needs of patients and parishioners, and initiated lawsuits demanding to gather for worship against medical advice and government mandates. While theological educators cannot anticipate every emergency awaiting graduates, U.S. history records national crises (i.e., hurricanes, mass shootings, BLM protests, etc.) that repeat. Practical theology course offerings, course content and course assignments, therefore, should be designed to prepare students to lead in anticipation of personal and communal tragedies. As professors introduce students to theory/theorists, we must also create space for the development of critical consciousness about and praxis for: problem solving, advocacy, race relations, relationship building, crisis management, identity politics, privilege, implicit curriculums and race-based disparities in health care, policing, religion, education, etc. Critical Race Theorists assert that this nation’s colonial past still plagues contemporary behaviors, employing the framework of Disability Studies and CRT (Dis/Crit), I analyze theological education to address what has been identified as racial paterfamilias in the institution, which may explain our colonial/capitalist response to COVID-19.
    • Race, Ethnicity, and the Functional Use of Religion When Faced with Imminent Death

      Ryan A. Smith (MDPI AG, 2020-09-01)
      This article uses religious coping theory to theorize about how and why race and ethnic groups on death row frame religious last statements at the moment of imminent death. Unique data (N = 269) drawn from death row inmates in Texas between December 1982 and April 2016 reveal uniformity in the dominance that black, white, and Hispanic inmates assign to relational forms of expressions that draw them closer to God and expressions that facilitate spiritual intimacy with others, over self-focused expressions that represent efforts to gain control over the imminent death experience or signal a transformed life. There is a hierarchy of preferred religious coping methods that changes for each group following the implementation of a new policy allowing the family and friends of murder victims (co-victims) to witness the execution of inmates. It is concluded that race and ethnic groups differ in the premium they place on preferred religious coping strategies when faced with imminent death, and a change in social context, such as the sudden presence of co-victims at executions, increases the religious content of last statements for all groups.
    • Racializing the Good Muslim: Muslim White Adjacency and Black Muslim Activism in South Africa

      Rhea Rahman (MDPI AG, 2021-01-01)
      Founded in Birmingham, England in 1984, Islamic Relief is today the world’s largest and most-recognized Western-based Islamically-inspired non-governmental organization. Framed by an analysis of processes of racialization, I argue that Islamic Relief operationalizes not a singular, but <i>multiple</i> Muslim humanitarianisms. I examine what I suggest are competing racial projects of distinct <i>humanitarianisms</i> with regards to HIV and AIDS, health, and wellness. I consider the racial implications of British state-based soft-power interventions that seek to de-radicalize Muslims towards appropriately ‘moderate’ perspectives on gender and sexuality. In South Africa, I argue that Black Muslim staff embrace grassroots efforts aimed towards addressing the material and social conditions of their community, with a focus on economic self-determination and self-sufficiency. I claim that the orientation of these Black Muslim grassroots initiatives denotes a humanitarianism of another kind that challenges the material and ethical implications of a humanitarianism framed within a logic of global white supremacy, and that is conditioned by racial capitalism.
    • Racism as Delusion: A Buddhist Perspective

      David R. Loy (MDPI AG, 2021-08-01)
      The powerful novel <i>Ceremony</i> by Leslie Marmon Silko combines several uncomfortable truths from the perspective of a young Native American who has returned home after World War II: the theft of Native American land, the manipulations that set poor whites against poor Indians (among others) and the effects of these lies on the hearts of white people, who tried and still try to fill up their hollowness with money, technology and patriotic war. However, as Silko emphasizes, the lies do not work. Not only have we white folk been fooling ourselves, but we also know that we have been fooling ourselves, and the consequences of our self-deceptions continue to haunt all of us. This essay is an attempt to say more about how that collective delusion functions—in particular, to understand the emptiness that patriotism never quite fills up, the hollowness that wealth and consumerism cannot glut. In order to do this, I will offer a (not “the”) Buddhist perspective, so we begin with some basic Buddhist teachings, which are quite different from the Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, Muslim) traditions more familiar to most of us.
    • Radical Succession: Hagiography, Reform, and Franciscan Identity in the Convent of the Abbess Juana de la Cruz (1481–1534)

      Pablo Acosta-García (MDPI AG, 2021-03-01)
      In this article, I study in depth the first <i>vita</i> of the Franciscan Tertiary abbess Juana de la Cruz (<i>Vida y fin de la bienaventurada virgen sancta Juana de la Cruz</i>, written c. 1534), examining it as a chronicle that narrativizes the origins and reform of a specific religious community in the Castile of the Catholic Monarchs. I argue that <i>Vida y fin</i> constitutes an account that was collectively written inside the walls of the enclosure that can help us understand themes, motifs, and symbolic Franciscan elements that were essential for the self-definition of its original textual community. I first discuss the narrative of the convent’s foundation and then examine the penitential identity of the community, highlighting the inspiration that Juana’s hagiography takes from the infancy of Caterina da Siena, as described in the <i>Legenda maior</i> by Raimondo da Capua, and analyzing to what extent the represented penitential practices related to the <i>imitatio Christi</i> reflect a Franciscan Tertiary identity in opposition to a Dominican one. Finally, I address the passages in which the hagiographer(s) discuss(es) the sense of belonging to the Franciscan order rather than the Dominicans, and the mystical figure of Francesco d’Assisi as a founder, guide, and exemplar.
    • Rainmakers for the Cosmopolitan Empire: A Historical and Religious Study of 18th Century Tibetan Rainmaking Rituals in the Qing Dynasty

      Hanung Kim (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
      Although Tibetan rainmaking rituals speak of important aspects of both history and religion, scholars thus far have paid only biased attention to the rituals and performative aspects rather than the abundant textual materials available. To address that issue, this article analyzes a single textual manual on Tibetan rainmaking rituals to learn the significance of rainmaking in late Imperial Chinese history. The article begins with a historical overview of the importance of Tibetan rainmaking activities for the polities of China proper and clearly demonstrates the potential for studying these ritual activities using textual analysis. Then it focuses on one Tibetan rainmaking manual from the 18th century and its author, Sumpa Khenpo, to illustrate that potential. In addition to the author’s autobiographical accounts of the prominence of weather rituals in the Inner Asian territory of Qing China, a detailed outline of Sumpa Khenpo’s rainmaking manual indicates that the developmental aspects of popular weather rituals closely agreed with the successful dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism in regions where Tibetan Buddhist clerics were active. As an indicator of late Imperial Chinese history, this function of Tibetan rainmaking rituals is a good barometer of the successful operation of a cosmopolitan empire, a facilitator of which was Tibetan Buddhism, in the 18th century during the High Qing era.
    • “Rather More than One-Third Had No Jewish Blood”: American Progressivism and German-Jewish Cosmopolitanism at the New School for Social Research, 1933–1939

      Daniel Bessner (MDPI AG, 2012-03-01)
      The New School for Social Research’s University in Exile accepted more German and European exiled intellectuals than any other American institution of higher education. This paper argues that transnational, cosmopolitan ideological and interest-based affinities shared by left-leaning American progressives and German-Jewish intellectuals enabled the predominantly Jewish University in Exile to become a vibrant intellectual space accepted by the community of largely anti-Semitic American academics. These affinities also illuminate why, despite the fact that the émigrés’ exile was in large part the result of National Socialist hatred of Jews, Alvin Johnson (the founder of the University in Exile) and the faculty members that comprised it seldom discussed the University’s Jewish demographics. The Jewish faculty members ignored the relationship between their ethnicity and exile because to focus on it would have been to admit that the cosmopolitan project they had embraced in Central Europe had failed. Johnson ignored the faculty’s Jewish heritage for two reasons. First, he endorsed a cosmopolitan American nationalism. Second, he understood that the generally anti-Semitic community of American academics would have rejected the University in Exile if he stressed the faculty’s Jewishness. In ignoring the University in Exile’s Jewish demographics, Johnson and the University’s faculty successfully adhered to a strategy designed to foster the exiles’ entrance into the American intellectual community. Thus, while cosmopolitanism failed in Germany and Central Europe, the exiles’ later influence on the American academy indicates that it partially succeeded in the United States.
    • Rational Shari’ah: Ahmad Qabel’s Reformist Approach

      Forough Jahanbakhsh (MDPI AG, 2020-12-01)
      This article introduces the late Ahmad Qabel (1958–2012), a new figure among contemporary Iranian religious reformers. Qabel, a progressive <i>mujtahid</i>, proposed the creative theory of <i>Shari’at-e ’Aqlani</i> in order to reform stagnant <i>Shari’ah</i> rules and align the application of legal norms and precepts with the space-time considerations of modern life. Critical of the superficiality of traditional jurists, who led into abeyance the progressive rational praxis within classical Shi’i theology and jurisprudence, Qabel revived and employed these rational principles in his novel method of <i>ijtihad</i>. This paper has four sections: first, there will be a short biographical sketch of Ahmad Qabel. The second section surveys the trajectory of the development of Shi’i <i>fiqh</i> in order to set the backdrop for Qabel’s arguments. Then, I will discuss some of the major rational principles which constitute the heart of Qabel’s methodology. In the last section, the practical results of Qabel’s <i>Shari’at-e ’Aqlani</i> are presented through some of his unconventional <i>fatwas</i>, which, though solidly based within the Shari’ah, took on controversial topics such as women’s rights, religious minorities, <i>jihad</i>, and Islamic government.
    • Rationality and Ethics between Western and Islamic Tradition

      Michele Mangini (MDPI AG, 2018-10-01)
      In the contemporary legal and political debate a large space is taken by the concept of ‘reasonableness’ as a multifaceted notion. Its plasticity makes it very adaptable to the variety of problems that is called on to solve. Its philosophical underpinnings are located in the tradition of Western thought. On the one hand, we have the modern tradition, including the Kantian and the Humean views and, on the other, the Aristotelian–Thomistic tradition, proposing a different and competing conception of reasonableness. Insofar as the latter tradition proposes an idea relying on perfectionist considerations, I want to inquire into the Islamic tradition of reason and rationality in order to find whether it is closer to the first or to the second model. Concepts such as ‘ijitihad’, ‘maqasid’ and ‘maslaha’, I shall argue, find their better explanation if interpreted along the Aristotelian perfectionist tradition rather than along its competitor. If this move is well-founded, some important consequences for the understanding of contemporary Islamic culture may derive. My basic assumption is that those Islamic concepts (and a few others) embed a religious and cultural core of tension to ‘human development’ that can nicely dovetail with Aristotelian rationality and ethics of virtues.
    • Ratzinger on Evolution and Evil: A Christological and Mariological Answer to the Problem of Suffering and Death in Creation

      Matthew J. Ramage (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
      This article argues that a compelling way to address the presence of suffering and death across evolutionary history lies in the thought of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. By situating human evolution within the broader divine plan for man’s salvation through the cross of Jesus, Ratzinger is able to show that the presence of natural evils in this world is not incompatible with God’s goodness but on the contrary is an eminent means by which the love of God is made manifest. Exploring Christ’s <i>kenosis</i> and the sinless suffering of the Blessed Virgin, it is argued that suffering properly embraced is the raw material for love and thus essential for true human flourishing in this life. The real problem for man, it is contended, is not having to suffer and die, but <i>how</i> to suffer and die well. Finally, it is suggested that the full Christian answer to the problem of suffering connected with evolution nevertheless lies in the eschatogical hope for a new heaven and new earth, where man—and all creation with him—will undergo a definitive “evolutionary leap” of “transubstantiation” in Christ.
    • Re-Building Coal Country: A Church/University Partnership

      Carl Milofsky; Brandn Green (MDPI AG, 2016-06-01)
      This paper describes a developing partnership between a church-based service learning center and a university initiative to build a field station in a low-income community in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania. It is a case study of how secular and religious institutions have been collaborating to achieve the shared goal of improving social conditions in specific communities. The theoretical focus of the paper is on how a change from a “glass is half empty” to a “glass is half full” perception of the community opens new possibilities for change. This paper concentrates on the story of one partnership as a case study demonstrating current trends in service learning both within universities and within the Catholic Church in America. Analysis centers on the basic question of why the project had symbolic power for both partners and on the institutional processes within both organizations that helped the partnership grow. We use the framework of Assets-Based Community Development (ABCD), also known as the “strengths perspective”, to conceptualize the contrast.
    • Re-Defining the Villain in <i>A Song of Ice and Fire</i> from the Aspect of Totemism

      Emrah Öztürk (MDPI AG, 2020-07-01)
      The confrontation between good and evil is one of the essential aspects of the fantasy genre. In George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novel series <i>A Song of Ice and Fire</i> (ASOIAF, 1996–2011), he approaches this conception from a critical point of view. Whilst Martin creates deep and challenging characters in his novels, he introduces the White Walkers to the audience as almost one-dimensional, classic antagonists. It can therefore be questioned whether this contradicts his approach towards the medieval ethos. In order to answer this question, I will approach the narration from the aspect of totemism, and will use totemic signs and values for my analysis. Firstly, I will establish a relationship between totemism and the Old Gods. Conceptions such as ‘sacred totem animal’, ‘totem as an emblem’, ‘restriction of incestuous intercourse’, and ‘spirits’ will be useful for comprehending the Old Gods. Furthermore, I will try to analyze the narration with the elements of totemism. Lastly, in the light of this examination, I will try to explain what theWhite Walkers represent within the narration.
    • Re-Enchanting Political Theology

      Jeremy H. Kidwell (MDPI AG, 2019-09-01)
      For this Special Issue which confronts the ways in which the question of pluralism represents both haunting and promise within modern political theology, I explore the presence of pluralism in the context of the environmental crisis and religious responses to issues such as climate change. Following Jason Ā. Josephson-Storm, I suggest that models of disenchantment are misleading—to quote Latour, “we have never been modern.” In engagement with a range of neo-vitalist scholars of enchantment including Rosi Braidotti, Karen Barad, Isabelle Stengers, Jane Bennett and William Connolly, I explore the possibility of a kind of critical-theory cosmopolitics around the concept of “enchantment” as a possible site for multi-religious political theology collaborations and argue that this is a promising post-secular frame for the establishment of cosmopolitical collaborations across quite profound kinds of difference.