- Ian Markham, Virginia Theological Seminary, USA and Suendam Birinci Pirim
This book introduces to the English-speaking world the leading modern Islamic thinker Said Nursi (1878-1960) - who has some nine million followers in modern day Turkey and around the world. After an opening chapter that provides an overview of his life, the next four chapters outline the theology of Nursi on God, the Qur'an, the West and Politics. The final section provides an invaluable resource of readings from Nursi's most important writings.
Providing an introduction to a major form of Islam which is committed to non-violence, dialogue and constructive relationships with the West, this is the first student textbook to introduce a contemporary Islamic theologian in a systematic way.
Contents: Introduction; Life and times of Said Nursi (1878–1960); The concepts of God and the Qur'an; Said Nursi and spirituality; Nursi's approach to disagreement and pluralism; Readings. Extracts from the Writings of Said Nursi: Part 1 Belief: Differences between the believer and the non-believer; The four channels; The universe as a book; The supreme sign; God's unity; God has no partner; Divine oneness and works; There is no god but God. Part 2 Prophethood: The need for prophets; Foundations of prophethood; Muhammad the Prophet; Revelation and philosophy; Humanity, particles and the divine. Part 3 Life after Death and Resurrection: The 10th word; Benefits of resurrection; The concept of bodily resurrection; Creation and resurrection; Divine name of ever-living; Death as 'bounty' and the timing of the Last Judgment; Divine unity and humanity. Part 4 Justice and Worship: Centrality of the divine name; Human tendencies that need justice; The nature and purpose of the worship of God; The importance of daily prayer; The Damascus sermon; Further readings; Glossary; Index.
About the Author: The Very Rev Ian Markham is Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary and Professor of Theology and Ethics. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including: Understanding Christian Doctrine, (Blackwell 2007), A World Religions Reader, Second edition (Blackwell, 2000), Do Morals Matter? (Blackwell, 2006), Globalization, Ethics and Islam (2005), A Theology of Engagement (Blackwell, 2004), September 11: Religious Perspectives and Consequences (2002), Theological Liberalism (2002), Encountering Religion (Blackwell, 1998), and Truth and the Reality of God (1998). He is a priest in the Episcopal Church.
Suendam Birinci Pirim is a PhD candidate through Hartford Seminary's joint doctoral program with the University of Exeter in England. Her area of study is comparative theologies with a focus on Christianity and Islam. She is the book review editor of the Muslim World (published by Wiley-Blackwell) and has published in Reviews in Religion and Theology. She was involved in the Wabash Center's grant to Hartford Seminary on 'Pedagogies of Interfaith Dialogue'. She has taught graduate courses on different aspects of Islam and interfaith dialogue and worked with various organizations in the US orchestrating and participating in dialogue projects. She is a Muslim.
Reviews: 'This invaluable and important book should increase Western understanding of Islam considerably, and enable readers to study a modern Muslim theologian at first hand.'
Keith Ward, University of Oxford, UK
'Birinci and Markham have provided an invaluable service in this collection of primary texts and a commentary on Said Nursi, one of the greatest Muslim theologians of the modern period. This book will serve interfaith scholarship as well as those studying Islam. Most importantly, this book details a face of Islam that fails to hit the headlines: non-violent and socially-engaged.'
Gavin D'Costa, University of Bristol, UK
' … a fascinating rendition of the life and thought of this important 20th century Muslim theologian. They present Nursi's perspectives on God and scripture, spirituality and pluralism, with sensitivity, appreciation and a keen persuasion of the importance of his original contributions to Islamic perceptions of the world of nature and the realm of the divine.'
Jane Smith, Harvard Divinity School, USA
'Readers will be able to acquaint themselves directly with Nursi’s mode of argumentation, which depends heavily on parables and imagined conversations between a believer and a sceptic.' Journal of Shi’a Islamic Studies
View Ian S. Markham's profile page on the Virginia Theological Seminary website
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