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The events of 1860 constitute a turning point in the modern history of Lebanon. In the space of a few weeks between the end of May and the middle of June, Maronite and Druze communities clashed in Mount Lebanon in a struggle to see which community would control, and define, a stretch of mountainous territory at the center of complicated Eastern Question politics.1 The Druzes carried the day. Every major Maronite town within reach of the Druzes was pillaged, its population either massacred or forced to flee. In July, Damascene Muslims rioted to protest deteriorating economic conditions, targeting and massacring several hundred of the city's Christian population. Although the reasons for the fighting in Mount Lebanon and the riot in Damascus were quite different, the Ottoman, local, and European reactions inevitably conflated both events.2 Following the restoration of order, the conflict of 1860 was the subject, effectively, of an Ottoman government mandate of silence—a desire to forget the events and proceed with administering the newly constituted Mutasarrifiyya of Mount Lebanon. At the same time, however, the sectarian violence prompted an outpouring of local memories that the Ottoman government could neither control nor suppress.
Recent contributions to the study of ethnic conflict, which attempt to explain why and under what circumstances members of ethnic groups, or communities,1 mobilize and engage in violence, include several works that are inspired by the “security dilemma”—a basic concept of the realist tradition of international theory.2 Barry Posen, for instance, argues that ethnic groups behave like sovereign states in the international system and are influenced by their proximity to other, similar groups in the same way that states are affected by their neighbors. Because security is the primary concern of these communities, each tries to enhance its security by strengthening its position. The actions the community takes, however, trigger the response of other groups, whose members intrinsically view it as offensive, regardless of its motives. A paradox thus emerges, as “what one does to enhance one's own security causes reactions that, in the end, can make one less secure.”3
On the night of 9–10 July 1980, several hundred active-duty and retired Iranian paratroopers made their way to the Nuzhih air-force base near the city of Hamadan to initiate a coup d'état against Iran's fledgling Islamic regime. The Iranian government had learned of the plot, and many of the paratroopers were arrested as they arrived at the base. Several hundred additional participants in the plot were arrested in the following days. Those arrested were soon put on trial, and many were executed. Fearing that other military personnel were linked to the plot or sympathized with it, the government carried out an extensive purge of the armed forces in the following months. Hundreds of other participants in the plot were never apprehended, however, and many continued to plot against the Islamic regime, though they never again posed a serious threat to it.
In the post-revolutionary decades, the Iranian economy has undergone significant transitions. This paper is a study of the changes in the pattern of occupational and labor stratification in the Iranian economy in these years. This is a sufficiently long time, permitting the identification of decisive structural shifts in the Iranian economy and its labor force. For the purpose of this study, we propose two periods in the post-revolutionary years. The first period comprises the years of fervent search for a populist Islamic utopia, which began with the 1979 revolution and came to an end by 1986, when the burden of the war with Iraq and the glut in the world oil market made the populist project practically defunct. The death of Ayatollah Khomeini in June 1989 marked the beginning of the second period, one that is characterized by a move toward “economic restructuring” à la the International Monetary Fund–World Bank, aiming for a general liberalization of economic activities, including foreign-exchange realignment, decontrolling of prices, reduction of subsidies, and privatization of nationalized enterprises.
Fiscal accounts are meant to show how much and where the government spends public funds or commits a country's resources to future payments. Information from government accounts is essential for evaluating government policies and programs in terms of their contribution to addressing social and economic needs and their impact on macro-economic performance. But there is a common problem in published fiscal data that must be addressed before they can be put to use: governments typically have some expenditures and debts that are not reflected in their official accounts. The extent of concealment varies across countries and activities, and the users of fiscal information need to be sensitive to the causes and consequences of such variation. Middle Eastern countries have their own share of hidden spending and liability, and some—such as Iran, Turkey, Morocco, Syria, and the Persian Gulf countries—stand out among nations in the scope and size of fiscal activities that they keep off their budgets. In this paper, we examine the case of Iran, where huge public funds are appropriated and redistributed outside the formal budget. The case is instructive because it shows the wide range and size of hidden government expenditures and commitments that affect the public. It also displays the dire consequences that lack of proper government accounting and reporting can bring to a country.
To appreciate the significance of the reform movement represented by the books selected for this survey, one needs the sharply contrasting background of Islamic thought in Iran from the mid-1960s to the end of 1980s, the period perceptively surveyed by Mehrzad Boroujerdi in Iranian Intellectuals and the West. Boroujerdi shows that the moral indignation against Westernization in Iran pre-dated the outburst of revolution in 1979 by a few decades, beginning as a series of nativistic protests that gradually cohered in the shape of an Islamic ideology. The mythical construction of the West was not exclusively or primarily a religious affair. It was, rather, a fairly general indigenous or nativistic response to Western cultural domination in which Islam played a varying and fluctuating role before the revolutionary crescendo of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The essence of this nativistic cultural response was what Boroujerdi analyzes as Occidentalism, or, borrowing a phrase from Edward Said's Syrian critic Sadiq al-עAzm, as “Orientalism in reverse.”
The period 1955–62 was a particularly productive one for the eminent Italian Orientalist Alessandro Bausani (1921–88), professor of Islamic studies at Rome University. His Italian translation of the Qurءan, which appeared in 1955, was soon followed by a trilogy of works, each of which testifies to the depth and scope of his encyclopedic knowledge of and love for all things Iranian: Persia Religiosa (Milan, 1959), Storia della Letteratura Persiana (Milan, 1960), and I Persiani (Florence, 1962). The last, a concise history of Iran that many consider complementary to Persia Religiosa, was translated into German as Die Perser (Stuttgart, 1965) and into English as The Persians (London, 1971) within a decade of its release. It seems strange, then, that Persia Religiosa, which forty years after it was first published is still the only work in a Western language that treats the history of religions in Iran in a comprehensive manner (p. vii), should not have been translated earlier. Perhaps some of Bausani's innovative, avant-garde insights meant that scholars of Iran downplayed the book's significance at the time.
The Taqdima of Ibn Abi Hatim was meant to serve as an introduction to his biographical dictionary of hadith transmitters, Kitab al-Jarh wa-l-taעdil. Dickinson argues that the primary purpose of this introduction was to show that hadith criticism as practiced by Ibn Abi Hatim began early and was used continuously up to his own time. In this way, he defended the practice and its techniques against its detractors. Dickinson also highlights the general principles and methods of the hadith critics of Ibn Abi Hatim's time.
Studies on the social history of the ulama are generally scarce for the medieval Islamic period, which makes one welcome any new study to tackle this overlooked subject. Surveying ulama (both hadith and fiqh scholars) of different Sunni madhhabs for the 11th and 12th centuries, Ephrat analyzes considerable data in the biographical dictionaries to provide patterns that characterize the ulama who lived in Baghdad, migrated there, passed through the city in their travels, or were attached to teaching positions in madrasas there. The inquiry yields interesting insights into the relative powers of different madhhabs. One notes the preponderant role of Hanafis and Shafiעis in the formation of rival madrasas in the second half of the 11th century and how the Hanbalis, mortal enemies of kalām—which preoccupied Muעtazilis and Ashעaris over issues such as the concept of divine unity, attributes (al-ṣifāt), and justice—were latecomers to this institution in the 12th century, having chosen earlier to use mosques and private houses to disseminate hadith teaching. The Hanbalis' emphasis on educational routine on ascetic example and public exhortation gave them little need for the forum of the academy.
The Qurءan contains numerous verses dealing with the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. Some exhort the Muslims to summon the non-Muslims to Islam through peaceful discussions (e.g., Q16:125), whereas others instruct them to fight the unbelievers unconditionally (e.g., Q2:216, Q9:5). In the chapters on jihad, Muslim jurists resolved these contradictions by claiming that these verses were the expression of successive stages in the policy of the early Muslim community with regard to the non-Muslims. According to this theory, the verses instructing the Muslims to summon the unbelievers to Islam by peaceful means are the oldest. Those permitting the Muslims to fight the unbelievers because they have been wronged and expelled from their homes (Q22:39–40), revealed immediately after the Hijra, mark a turning point, after which defensive warfare was allowed. The final stage, according to traditional Muslim exegesis, began at a later but unspecified date and was inaugurated by verses unconditionally ordering the believers to wage war on the non-Muslims (e.g., Q2:216, Q9:5). These last verses, often called “Sword Verses,” were regarded as having abrogated all previous revelations on the subject of the relations with the unbelievers.
One of the two key principles of the Muעtazila was the emphasis on the omnibenevolence and justice of God (עadl). Among the issues that this raised was that of the origin of evil. That is, where does pain and suffering come from? For the Muעtazila, the principle of עadl demands that humans have freedom of choice and so have the ability to create evil, pain, and suffering. However, there is suffering, such as that caused by nature or illness, that is not the responsibility of humans and must be created by God. For this reason, even this suffering, although it appears bad, must be good because it comes from God. Heemskerk explores how עAbd al-Jabbar (d. 1024), a very important Muעtazili theologian, developed this theodicy by arguing that pain is divine assistance and that either here or in the hereafter the afflicted person will be compensated.
Colin Turner started writing Islam Without Allah as a biography of Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, the highly influential Shiעi scholar of the Safavid era. However, on deciding that not enough primary material was available for a book-length study, he decided to extend the topic and place Majlisi's life and thought within the broader context of the “victory of the exoteric over the esoteric” (p. viii). The book is evidence of continuing interest in Shiעi Islam and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the environment within which Majlisi's thought developed.
This book represents a breakthrough in Fatimid research. Brett challenges the prevalent approach that the Fatimids were a minority heretic sect on the fringes of Islam. To date, scholars have interpreted Fatimid history in terms of success and failure of their political and religious doctrine. This view is the outcome of the huge gap between the meager traces left of the Fatimids in Egypt's history following almost two hundred years of rule and the high aspirations set up in the doctrinal “platform” of the Ismaעili mission, which aimed toward universal fulfillment of the true faith and just rule. Brett, in contrast, suggests that Fatimid secular and religious history must be examined in terms of its impact on Islamic civilization and on Christian Europe of the Middle Ages. From this point of view, the appearance of the Fatimids in the 10th century was a major event.
Sometimes the writing of history seems to float free of its grounding in archaeological and documentary data, offering (albeit necessary) abstractions when we require detailed and concrete records. This is not, however, the case in the volume under review. In Negotiating Cultures, the reader enjoys a coherent perspective on textual data in all their complexity and meticulously rendered: the discovery of a lost document in the Archives of the Crown of Aragon (Barcelona); edition and translation of texts; dating; identification of names of places and personalities; and all kinds of complementary tasks that lead to a historical contextualization and analytical study.
The Safavid period (1501–1736) boasts a rich and diverse body of chronicles that range from universal histories to general and dynastic ones. The scarcity of secondary literature on Safavid historical writing and the transformation of historiographical traditions poses fundamental challenges to historians of this period. Despite these obstacles, Sholeh Quinn has managed to produce a work of great value that fills a void in the field of Persian historical writing.
Rothschild and Early Jewish Colonization analyzes the Jewish settlements of late-19th-century Ottoman Palestine within a consideration of colonialism. Focused on the 1880s, the volume examines Zionism using a comparative approach. Employing archival sources, Aaronsohn provides a detailed overview of the administration of the colonies by the Baron Edmond de Rothschild. The volume sets the settlements as an idealist endeavor supported by a patron who did not have explicit exploitative intentions. The discussion of the administration seeks to redefine the significance of Baron Rothschild in Zionism, as well as to bring forward the complexities of the Jewish colonial endeavor in Palestine and its lasting implications for Zionism.
Writing a historical dictionary of a country is a difficult task. The author encounters fundamental questions in defining the scope of the academic enterprise and faces hard choices in setting its boundaries and goals. Subsequently, the author has to make careful decisions about entries that should be included and others that should be discarded. For example, what makes a certain event more or less important, and on what basis should this judgment be made? Similarly, who should be recognized? Should the author consider a person's fame, contributions, or a mixture of both factors?
Kashmir and Neighbours is a remarkable book for its detailed and in-depth knowledge of various facets of the Kashmir problem in both its narrower Kashmiri and larger, Subcontinental context. The sweeping analysis covers history, religion, ethnography, society, and politics. Of the fourteen chapters, two deal with the northeastern insurgency problem in India and that of Sikhs, Bengalis, and Tamils. The author demonstrates a high degree of sensitivity and understanding of all the nuances of the peoples of the Subcontinent. Innumerable books have been published on Kashmir in the past fifty years, with a surge in output since the revolt in Kashmir from 1989 onward. Yet this book is original. The author's familiarity with the peoples of the Subcontinent and his knowledge of Hinduism and Islam and of the related Hindi and Urdu languages, which he uses often (with translations), appears to be that of a desi (native) rather than a farangi (foreigner).
Shirin Ebadi has earned her fame in Iran and internationally the hard way—by fighting tenaciously for what she believes in and paying the price for combating injustice. The price? Harassment by the Islamic Republic's ruling clerics, culminating in charges that she collaborated in preparing videotape cassettes to reveal the involvement of conservative officials in terrorism. This charge, and the guilty verdict against her in July 2000, resulted in a jail sentence and a five-year suspension of her professional rights and privileges as an attorney.
Palestine 1948 is an interesting yet odd work of scholarship, of some value to specialists who are already familiar with the literature and controversies on the subject, and almost useless for anyone seeking an introduction to the topic or guidance for further study.