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40 Year-Old Classic Remains Influential: Sadiq Jalal al-Azm’s ‘The Critique of Religious Thought’

For over 40 years now, Sadiq Jalal al-Azm’s “Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini” (“Critique of Religious Thought”) has been one of the most controversial and influential books about the role of religion in Arab politics. Originally published in 1969 by Dar Al Talia and reprinted in 2009 by the same publisher, al-Azm’s work has been cited in countless articles and books about Arab politics and, according to the Qatari weekly, Al Raya, more than 1500 pages have been written about it.

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Our Current Issue

Al Nakba at 67: Generations of Catastrophes

By: 
Elie Chalala

I rarely passed on an Al Nakba remembrance, an event which was pivotal in forming my political and moral consciousness during my early days in Beirut and in my academic diaspora. Nowadays, I reserve my aggravation for those intellectual cowards who saw nothing in Al Nakba except a shelter to hide from their shameful silence on one of the most horrific “Nakbas” in modern Arab history.

I rarely passed on an Al Nakba remembrance, an event which was pivotal in forming my political and moral consciousness during my early days in Beirut and in my academic diaspora. Nowadays, I reserve my aggravation for those intellectual cowards who saw nothing in Al Nakba except a shelter to hide from their shameful silence on one of the most horrific “Nakbas” in modern Arab history.

As 20th Century Begins, British ‘Orientalism’ Tool of Colonialism

By: 
By D.W. Aossey

Long writes the book in a scholarly manner, but redeems it with a depth of insight and information on these fascinating personalities at a very important time in Middle Eastern history. Certainly, most will find “Reading Arabia” worth a look.

Reading Arabia: British Orientalism in the Age of Mass Publication 1880 –1930
By Andrew C. Long
Syracuse University Press, 2014. 264 pp.

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Orientalism’s Children: “Voices from the Threshold”

By: 
By Angele Ellis

Nearly 11 years ago, an automobile accident on a dusty Jordanian road cut Susan Atefat-Peckham’s life and work short. The Iranian American poet, memoirist and Full bright Scholar now takes her rightful place among the likes of Gregorgy Orfalea and Sharif Elmusa with her “Talking Through the Door.” The anthology transports readers to various eras and exotic locales, going back to Ibn Hazm’s 10th-century Cordoba, the Lebanon of World War I, pre-revolutionary Iran as well as 1950s and 60s Ohio. “Readers will find that these works carry with them a power and promise so life-affirming that Lisa Suhair Majaj describes them as ‘sustenance.’”

Talking Through the Door: An Anthology of Contemporary Middle Eastern American Writing
Edited by Susan Atefat-Peckham
With a Foreword by Lisa SuheirMajaj
Syracuse University Press, 2014, pp.  244

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Assia Djebar (1936-2015)

Second Title: 
Home in France; Heart in Algeria
By: 
Elie Chalala

The remarkable Assia Djebar has proven almost as controversial in death as in life. Some argued that the writer, who focused on the very human concerns of women, could not be a feminist. Other issues of contention included the Algerian author’s choice to write in French, the language of her country’s former colonizers. Certainly, her induction into the prestigious French Academy as an “immortal,” or life-long member, created controversy, with many critics overlooking the fact that the writer used “the language of the colonizer to document its savagery and some of its bloody memories.” In death, as in life, it appears that Djebar will continue to challenge her critics and provide topics of lively debate. Read more about her life and final journey back to Algeria in the following article.

Assia Djebar has been a problematic for some Arab intellectuals, both when she became an "immortal" or a life-long member of the prestigious French Academy, and when her name was frequently mentioned as a Nobel Prize contender. Her recent death on February 6 proved no exception.  As her body lay in one of Paris’ hospitals, the same questions arose:  Why were her works not translated enough into Arabic, while her novels were translated into scores of other languages? A valid question.

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