And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses

Publication Year



This is a substantially expanded edition of the author's seminal work "The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses: A Contemporary Case Study". Beginning with the case study of a Muslim basketball player who refused to stand up while the American national anthem was playing, the author documents the disintegration of the Islamic juristic tradition, and the prevalence of authoritarianism in contemporary Muslim discourses. The author analyzes the rise of what he describes as puritan and despotic trends in modern Islam, and asserts that such trends nullify the richness and diversity of the Islamic tradition. By declaring themselves the true soldiers of God and the defenders of religion, Muslim puritan movements are able to degrade women, eradicate critical thinking, and empty Islam of its moral content. In effect, the author argues, the selfdeclared protectors of Islam become its despots and oppressors who suppress the dynamism and vigor of the Islamic message. Anchoring himself in the rich Islamic jurisprudential tradition, the author argues for upholding the authoritativeness of the religious text without succumbing to authoritarian methodologies of interpretation. Ultimately, the author asserts that in order to respect the integrity of the Divine laws it is necessary to adopt rigorous analytical methodologies of interpretation, and to reinvestigate the place of morality in modern Islam.

Table of Contents

1 The Short Legacy of a Short Book: Justification and Confession
2 The Problem of Authority: An Anecdotal Experience
3 The Text and Authority: A Case Study
4 The Case Study: The Fatwa
5 The Construction of the Authoritarian
6 Publication Afterthoughts
7 Appendix
8 Glossary of Terms
9 Works Cited
10 Index


This short, brilliant, and timely book distinguishes between the authoritative and authoritarian in Islamic discourses. . . a brilliant use of the traditions of Islamic jurisprudence in arguing for an anti-authoritarian and anti-elitist position in Islamic hermeneutics. . .. Extensive footnotes and bibliography; HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for upper-division undergraduates and above. (L.H. Mamiya, Vassar College CHOICE)

Over all, the book is informative, educational, and interesting. (Muhammad Tahir Mansoori Islamic Studies)

…provocative, brave, and compelling…The book highly recommended for all interested in Islamic law and contemporary Muslim progressive thought… (Andrew Rippin, University of Victoria, Canada Religious Studies Review)

Scholars of all legal, religious, and historical persuasions are urged to read this text, for it offers a multi-layered, painless introduction to the crux of a contemporary legal power struggle. (D.A. Spellberg, University of Texas at Austin CHOICE)

Rev. ed. of: The authoritative and authoritarian in Islamic discourses. 1997.
University Press of America
Lanham, MD, and Oxford
Cloth: 0761820833; paper: 0761820841