"Islam in Scholarship and Education" AQ Issue in Print

Ashley Thorne

How should American scholars talk about Islam? Is Islam compatible with Western values? Does academe have a role to play in influencing moderation to replace radicalism? The spring 2011 issue (vol. 24, no. 1) of our quarterly journal Academic Questions, now in print and online, looks at the ways Islam and higher education interact today.

NAS members have already received printed copies of this issue in the mail. If you are a member and would like to read journal articles online, email nasonweb@nas.org with “AQ access” in the subject line. We’ll email you a unique link which you can use to set up your online AQ account. If you are not a member of NAS, please join us! We welcome everyone who agrees with our principles. Membership is renewable annually and includes a one-year subscription to Academic Questions in print and online.

Here are the featured articles from the “Islam in Scholarship and Education” issue (there are also additional reviews and poetry not listed here). Two of them (“Islamo-Correctness at Hartford Seminary” by Andrew Bieszad and “Islamic Schools and American Civic Culture” by Zuhdi Jasser) are available free at www.nas.org.

Reforming Scholarship on Islam: An Interview with Ibn Warraq
Carol Iannone, National Association of Scholars
Ibn Warraq, a visiting fellow at the Center for Law and Counterterrorism and the author of seven books about Islam, including Why I Am Not a Muslim(1995) and Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s “Orientalism” (2007), discusses the roots and consequences of the absence of rigorous scholarship on the Koran in American universities today. In a conversation with AQ editor-at-large Carol Iannone that touches on his upbringing and life’s work, Prof. Warraq argues for “an enlightenment rather than a reformation” in which the Koran receives the same kind of scholarly critique that has been applied to the Bible.

Islamic Schools and American Civic Culture
M. Zuhdi Jasser, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, explores a troubling component of the charter school movement—publicly funded charter schools organized with a separatist focus, specifically those with an Islamic orientation. He takes a closer look at the network of primary and secondary charter schools operating under the aegis of a shadowy Islamist Turkish nationalist and warns that many such schools, along with their private counterparts, are propagating ideas and beliefs hostile to American principles.

Blurring the Line between Mosque and State: Public Education in the Twin Cities
Katherine Kersten, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Katherine Kersten, a columnist for the Star Tribune (Minneapolis), continues the thread introduced by Dr. Jasser. Documenting events at a K–10 charter school near St. Paul and two publicly funded community colleges in the Twin Cities, Ms. Kersten reveals how far daily matters have crossed over into Islamic practice. She suggests how moderate Islam can be overtaken by radicalism, particularly when cowardly administrators make concessions to extreme student demands. She also shows that exposing and resisting such attempts can be effective.

Islamo-Correctness at Hartford Seminary 
Andrew Bieszad
Andrew Bieszad, who graduated with a master’s degree in Islamic studies from Hartford Seminary in May 2010, recounts his often harrowing experience as a student at the now secular “interfaith seminary,” where the Koran is not subject to critical analysis but is taught according to Islamic orthodoxy, and Muslims are permitted shocking leeway in their verbal interactions with non-Muslim students and in promoting their faith on campus.

The Terrorist War against Islam: Clarifying Academic Confusions
Stephen Schwartz, Center for Islamic Pluralism
Stephen Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism and author of more than a dozen books on political and religious radicalism, untangles the confusing terminology used to describe radical Islam today. Most important, he clarifies the history and differences between Salafism, the movement dedicated to the example of the first generations of Muslims and to ameliorative reform, and Wahhabism, the violent and coercive Saudi-sponsored jihadist movement behind 9/11—terms incorrectly used by journalists and academics as synonymous.

Sexual Ethics: Princeton’s Peculiar Double Standard
Russell K. Nieli, James Madison Program, Princeton UniversityA frequent AQ contributor, Russell K. Nieli dissects a recent decision made by the Princeton University administration to deny the Anscombe Society, a traditionalist student organization, a campus center to promote chastity and abstinence. Meanwhile, a center has been created for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, who, it is claimed, have been marginalized. Nieli shows that at Princeton it is the traditionalist students who have been marginalized.

Gain the World and Lose Our Souls?
Daniel E. Ritchie, Bethel University
In his review essay of Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, by Martha C. Nussbaum, Daniel E. Ritchie reveals the flaws and hypocrisy in Nussbaum’s shallow definition of “world citizenship” and her claim that educational institutions around the globe aren’t trying hard enough to persuade students to become “citizens of the world.” An English professor and founding director of the humanities program at BethelUniversity, Ritchie reminds us of the true nature of citizenship in a democracy and reexamines the purpose of a humanities education. He makes the case that the humanities may fare best in church-related institutions.

The Face of Ambition: A Harvard Grad Reviews The Social Network 
Brian Bolduc, National Review
Brian Bolduc, a new graduate of Harvard University, offers an insider’s opinion of the most celebrated film of 2010, The Social Network, which focuses on Jeffrey Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook while a Harvard undergraduate.

Rescuing Literature: The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers at Sixteen David J. Rothman, Western State College of Colorado

As this issue’s guest columnist for “Books, Articles, and Items of Academic Interest,” frequent AQ contributor David J. Rothman provides an honest evaluation of the sixteen-year history of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers, founded as a rational, scholarly alternative to the Modern Language Association. 

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