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The World of Islam: Culture, Religion, and Politics

Historical surveys and current discussions surrounding religion, culture, and politics in Muslim settings

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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EP.3--Religion: The Pre-Islamic Environment II (Christianity, Zoroastrianism)

This episode of the World of Islam continues looking into the world in which the religion of Islam would eventually develop. We will take a brief look at Christianity and Zoroastrianism in the Near East of late antiquity.

20mins

11 Sep 2011

Rank #1

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EP.16--Culture: Cheb Hasni and the Birth and Death of Love Rai

This episode presents some of the major Rai singers of the 1990's. We encounter Cheb Mami, Cheb Sahraoui, Chebba Fadela, Chebba Zahouania, Cheb Nasro, and Cheb Bilal. We pay particular attention to Cheb Hasni who was considered the King of Love Rai and who was assassinated in Oran during the Civil War of the 1990's. The episode contains musical excerpts from the singers above in addition to short selections from Cheb El Hindi and Cheb Abbes. Sources and further reading: Daoudi, B. & Miliani H. L'aventure du Raï Drewett, M & Cloonan, M. Popular Music Censorship in Africa Plastino, G. Mediterranean Mosaic: Popular Music and Global Sounds Schade-Poulsen, M. Men and Popular Music in Algeria: The Social Significance of Raï Virolle, M. La chanson Raï : De l'Algérie profonde à la scène internationale

43mins

19 Oct 2012

Rank #2

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EP.15--Culture: Cheb Khaled and the Transformation of Rai Music

We continue looking at Rai Music. This episode presents the career of Khaled Hadj Brahim as emblematic in the way Pop-Rai develops from the 1970's to today. Cheb Khaled is arguably the best Rai singer of his generation. His impact on the direction and the success of this musical style cannot be underestimated. He is known as the King of Rai.Sources and further reading: Daoudi, B. & Miliani H. L'aventure du Raï Drewett, M & Cloonan, M. Popular Music Censorship in Africa Plastino, G. Mediterranean Mosaic: Popular Music and Global Sounds Schade-Poulsen, M. Men and Popular Music in Algeria: The Social Significance of Raï Virolle, M. La chanson Raï : De l'Algérie profonde à la scène internationale

39mins

14 Oct 2012

Rank #3

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EP.5--Religion: Approaching Muhammad (Challenges; Sources: Qur'an, Hadith, Sira)

In this episode of the World of Islam, we continue our survey of the history of Islamic thought, by looking at some of the difficulties inherent in approaching the life and career of Muhammad. We consider what Muslim sources tell a modern historian about the Prophet of Islam. Facebook: Like The World of Islam Podcast Facebook page Sources and Recommended Readings: Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Jonathan A.C. Brown Muhammad (Past Masters) by Michael Cook Images of Muhammad: Narratives of the Prophet in Islam Across the Centuries by Tarif Khalidi The Life of Muhammad by I. Ishaq Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters by Omid Safi The Cambridge Companion to Muhammad (Cambridge Companions to Religion) by Jonathan E. Brockopp Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam by Fred M. Donner

28mins

27 Sep 2011

Rank #4

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EP.4--Religion: The Pre-Islamic Environment III (Arabia)

This episode of the World of Islam provides a short introduction to Arabia on the eve of the movement of Muhammad. Among other things, we discuss the problem of sources for the modern historian, the characteristics of Arab life, the religious perspectives of the Arabs, and the relation of Arabia to the two major empires of the time.

21mins

19 Sep 2011

Rank #5

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EP.22--History: Abu Bakr, Umar, and the Arab Conquests

After Muhammad's death in 632 CE, the question of the leadership of the community will prove to be a serious challenge for Muhammad's followers. Nevertheless, within a few decades, the Arab armies will be in control of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, North Africa, Spain, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent, and will establish a large empire. Sources and Further Reading:The History of al-TabariThe Venture of Islam         by Marshall G.S. HodgsonThe Early Islamic Conquests       by  Fred M. Donner

20mins

8 Aug 2013

Rank #6

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EP.30--Religion: Early Theological Debates in Islam

This episode starts introducing some early theological debates within Islam. What can these debates tell us about early Islam?  And how should we look at the relation between "orthodox" views and "heretical" ones?

15mins

21 Dec 2013

Rank #7

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EP.26--History: The First Radicals of Islam?

This episode discusses what could be described with some reservations as the first sectarian group to rise within Islam. The Kharijites are often presented as a radical and violent group that terrorized the early community. What do we make of this image? This short introduction to the Kharijites gives some initial guidance in trying to answer this question. Sources and Additional Readings:Kitab al-milal wal-nihal          by al-Shahrastani    Les schismes dans l'Islam      by Henri Laoust

12mins

30 Sep 2013

Rank #8

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Ep.51-Al-Farabi and his Philosophy

Al-Farabi (d.950) was one of the most important philosophers of the world of early Islam. This episode briefly introduces part of his contribution to metaphysics and political philosophy. Sources and further readings:A History of Islamic Philosophy           by Majid FakhryIslamic Philosophy A-Z                          by Peter S. GroffIslamic Philosophy: an Introduction   by Oliver LeamanThe Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy   Edited by P. Adamson/R.C. Taylor

10mins

28 Jul 2015

Rank #9

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EP.6--Religion: Sira I "Muhammad in Mecca"

This episode of the podcast presents a summary of what the traditional sira tells us about Muhammad's life in Mecca, including his early life, the start of his mission as a prophet, and the difficulties he encounters in this environment.Twitter:Follow The World of Islam Podcast on Twitter Facebook: Like The World of Islam Podcast Facebook page Sources and Recommended Readings: Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Jonathan A.C. Brown Muhammad (Past Masters) by Michael Cook Images of Muhammad: Narratives of the Prophet in Islam Across the Centuries by Tarif Khalidi The Life of Muhammad by I. Ishaq Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters by Omid Safi The Cambridge Companion to Muhammad (Cambridge Companions to Religion) by Jonathan E. Brockopp Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam by Fred M. Donner

25mins

11 Oct 2011

Rank #10

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EP.34--Religion: Introduction to Islamic Law

What is Sharia? What is Fiqh? Is there a relation between law and theology?

10mins

3 Mar 2014

Rank #11

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EP.32--Religion: The Created Qur'an

Today, we take a brief look at the important theological debate in early Islam over whether the Qur'an was created in history or rather eternal and uncreated. In our presentation, we discuss important contextual elements and encounter the early Abbasid Caliphs, the Rationalist Mu'tazilite theologians, and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.

17mins

22 Jan 2014

Rank #12

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EP.31--Religion: Leadership, Faith, and Free Will

This episode elaborates on three early theological debates in early Islam, namely the leadership of the religious community, the relation of sinful actions to faith, and free will vs. determinism. Among other things, we encounter the Murji'a, the Jabriyya, the Qadariyya, and the Mu`tazila.

18mins

10 Jan 2014

Rank #13

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EP.49-Philosophy in Early Islamic Contexts

This episode discusses the interaction with Greek philosophy in the early Islamic period. We encounter Plotinus, Neoplatonism, and the important Christian translators of Greek knowledge to Arabic which opened the door to the rise of major Muslim philosophers in later times.   Sources and further readings:A History of Islamic Philosophy           by Majid FakhryIslamic Philosophy A-Z                          by Peter S. GroffIslamic Philosophy: an Introduction   by Oliver Leaman The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy   Edited by P. Adamson/R.C. Taylor  

7mins

12 Jun 2015

Rank #14

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EP.8--Religion: Controversial Elements in the Sira of Muhammad

Episode 8 of the World of Islam Podcast takes a look at some seemingly controversial elements contained in the Sira literature. The elements that are briefly discussed include the so-called Satanic Verses, the marriages of Muhammad to Aisha and Zaynab, the assassination of some poets, and the fate of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza in Medina.

27mins

26 Dec 2011

Rank #15

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EP.35--Religion: Law in Early Islam

This episode introduces the early frames of Islamic lawbefore its more sophisticated stages. We discuss, among other things, law inthe Qur'an and the early conceptions of Sunna and Ra'y.

12mins

21 Mar 2014

Rank #16

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EP.39--Religion: Hadith and Sunna

Hadith reports attributing sayings and actions to Muhammad came to play a major role in the shaping of the religion of Islam. This episode will discuss some of the classifications of Hadith that Muslim scholars came to adopt after the success of what can be termed the Hadith movement.

12mins

7 Jun 2014

Rank #17

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EP.43--Religion: Jihad, War, and Peace

What exactly is Jihad? This episode discusses the traditional doctrine of Jihad that Muslim Jurists developed and takes a brief look at related issues of conflict, peace, and pluralism in the Qur'an and some premodern Muslim legal discourses.

22mins

6 Sep 2014

Rank #18

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EP.27--History: Husayn, Ibn al-Zubayr, and the Second Civil War

This episode highlights another round of internal strife within the early community (680-692). Umayyad rule is challenged from many corners. The grandson of Muhammad, Husayn and a number of his followers are massacred at Karbala, the Kharijites dominate central Arabia, and Abdullah Ibn al-Zubayr establishes himself as a serious alternative to the Umayyads.

8mins

22 Oct 2013

Rank #19

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EP.48--Religion: The Sufi Worldview

Today's episode seeks to present a general picture of the Sufi worldview. Some of the questions we briefly deal with include: How do Sufis interpret revelation? And what is the Sufi "Way" or "Path" (tariqa)? We also encounter the terms kashf, haqiqa, maqamat, and ahwal.

12mins

3 Feb 2015

Rank #20