Zaman Wins 2013 British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize

Dec. 12, 2013

Modern Islamic Thought cover
Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Robert H. Niehaus '77 Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Religion, has been awarded the 2013 British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize in Middle Eastern Studies for his book, Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age: Religious Authority and Internal Criticism (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

The judge’s report described Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age as “an extremely interesting and well-written book, offering valuable insights on vital areas of modern Islamic thought. Its strength comes from its highlighting the often neglected, but very dynamic, interaction between the two main centres of Islamic learning (the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East), and also from the way debates which flared up at the beginning of the twentieth century still remain relevant today. It focuses on ‘internal criticisms’ within the traditional body of Islamic scholarship in the centres of learning in the two regions, with a particular focus on the Deoband School and al-Azhar. … This book represents a tour de force in modern Islamic intellectual history: meticulously researched, well-written, packed with insights. I have seen few books of its calibre in recent times, and have no hesitation in recommending it for the prize.” 

Two other members of the NES faculty have won this Prize. Michael A. Cook, Class of 1943 University Professor of Near Eastern Studies, won in 2002 for Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2000), and Patricia Crone, Visiting Lecturer with the rank of Professor in Near Eastern Studies, won in 2005 for Medieval Islamic Political Thought (Edinburgh University Press, 2004). Two books by NES alumni have also done well in the competition. Charity in Islamic Societies (Cambridge University Press, 2008) by Amy Singer (Ph.D. 1989) was awarded Honourable Mention in 2009, and Marriage, Money and Divorce in Medieval Islamic Society (Cambridge University Press, 2005) by Yossef Rapoport (Ph.D. 2002) was short-listed for the award in 2006.

 “The [British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book] Prize was founded thanks to an endowment of the Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah Foundation. … The prize is awarded for the best scholarly work on the Middle East each year.”