Skip to main content
view shopping cart

Religious Knowledge, Authority, and Charisma

This item is only available through the the University of Utah Press secure online store. Please note, this online store is unrelated to the shopping cart on our site. If you wish to make a purchase from this store, items must be paid for separately and will ship separately from items in your shopping cart.

Continue Go Back

Add to Cart View cart

Copyright: 2013
Trim: 6 x 9
Pages: 288 pp.



Religious Knowledge, Authority, and Charisma

Islamic and Jewish Perspectives

Edited by Daphna Ephrat and Meir Hatina

Foreword by Dale F. Eickelman

Utah Series in Turkish and Islamic Studies

Middle East Studies

The issue of religious authority has long fascinated and ignited scholars across a range of disciplines: history, anthropology, the sociology of religion, and political science. Religious Knowledge, Authority, and Charisma juxtaposes religious leadership in premodern and modern Islam with examples from the Judaic tradition. By illustrating various iterations of authority in numerous historical and cultural contexts, this volume offers fresh insights into the nature of institutions of learning and other systems of establishing and disseminating authority, the mechanisms for cultivating committed adherents, and the processes by which religious leadership is polarized and fragmented.

Contributors tease out the sources and types of authority that emerged out of the Sunni and Shiʾi milieu and the evolution of Muslim elites who served as formulators and disseminators of knowledge and practice. Comparative insights are provided by the examination of ideological and historical developments among Jewish sages who inculcated similar modes of authority from within their traditions. The rigorous exploration of the dynamic interface of knowledge and power in Islam and Judaism serves to highlight a number of present tensions common to both religions. By intertwining a historical span that traces trajectories of continuity and change, integrative discussion of cross-sectional themes, and comparative perspectives, this volume makes a distinct contribution.

Daphna Ephrat is associate professor of Islamic history in the Department of History, Philosophy, and Jewish Studies at the Open University of Israel. She is the author of A Learned Society in a Period of Transition and Spiritual Wayfarers, Leaders in Piety, and coauthor of the Israeli Open University series Introduction to Islam.

Meir Hatina is associate professor in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and director of the Levtzion Center for Islamic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of ʿUlamaʾ, Politics and the Public Sphere (The University of Utah Press, 2010), editor of Guardians of Faith in Modern Times, and coeditor of The Muslim Brethren: A Religious Vision in a Changing Reality.


Camilla Adang, Tel Aviv University
Eli Alshech, Hebrew University
Muhammad al-Atawneh, Ben Gurion University
Meir Ben Shahar, Hebrew University and Yad Ben Zvi Institute
Jonathan P. Berkey, Davidson College, North Carolina
Gerald J. Blidstein, Ben Gurion University
Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College
Maribel Fierro, Centre of Human and Social Sciences, Higher Council for Scientific Research, Spain
Haim Gertner, Yad Vashem Institute
Nimrod Hurvitz, Ben Gurion University
Ehud Krinis, Center for Advanced Jewish Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Nissim Leon, Bar-Ilan University
Meir Litvak, Alliance Center for Iranian Studies, Tel Aviv University
Ksenia Svetlova, Hebrew University
Itzchak Weismann, Jewish-Arab Center, University of Haifa
Michael Winter, Tel Aviv University

Table of Contents:

A Note on Transliteration, Dates, and Periodization
Foreword by Dale F. Eickelman
Introduction ~ Daphna Ephrat and Meir Hatina

PART I. Constructions of Religious Leadership in the Formative Period

Overview by Maribel Fierro

1. Authority within the Hanbali Madhhab: The Case of al-Barbahari ~ Nimrod Hurvitz

2. Restoring the Prophet’s Authority, Rejecting Taqlid: Ibn Hazm’s “Epistle to the One Who Shouts from Afar” ~ Camilla Adang

3. Succession of the Prophets: Shiʿi Theoretical and Practical Solutions ~ Ehud Krinis

4. Oral Torah: Ideology and History in the Epistle of Sherira Gaon ~ Gerald J. Blidstein

PART II. Centralization and Diffusion of Authority in the Middle Period

Overview by Jonathan P. Berkey

5. Spiritual Heirs of the Prophet: Sufi Masters in a Period of Sunni Revitalization ~ 
Daphna Ephrat

6. ʿUlamaʾ of Damascus and Ottoman ʿUlamaʾ: Career Patterns and Types of Authority ~ Michael Winter

7. Books, Commentators, and the Democratization of Knowledge in the Geonic Period ~ Meir Ben Shahar

PART III. Knowledge and Leadership: Modern Constructions

Overview by Itzchak Weismann

8. The Rise of a Charismatic Mujahid: The Salafi-Jihadi Quest for Authority ~ Eli Alshech

9. Martyrs as Preachers: Altruistic Death and Moral Authority ~ Meir Hatina

10. The New Media and Islamic Activism: The Case of ʿAmr Khalid ~ Ksenia Svetlova

11. Charisma and Politics in the Evolution of Modern Shiʿi Leadership ~ Meir Litvak

12. In Search of Religious Authority: The International Union of Muslim Scholars ~ Muhammad al-Atawneh

13. Maggid or Prediger?: Knowledge and Religious Leadership in Nineteenth-Century Eastern European Jewry ~ Haim Gertner

14. The Religious Career Opportunities of Lay Preachers: A Study of Folk Preaching in the Haredi Teshuva Movement ~ Nissim Leon


Praise and Reviews:

“Makes a significant contribution to scholarship across several disciplines, including Islamic studies and Jewish studies, of course, but also history, anthropology, the sociology of religion, and political science.”
—Patrick D. Gaffney, University of Notre Dame

“Offers exceptional insight to the historical development of knowledge and power within the religions of the Middle East.”
—Association of Mormon Letters

“A rich, innovative collection. It encompasses almost all centuries of Islamic history and many different regions, Sunnite and Shi’ite traditions, and introduces challenging comparisons with Judaism. A significant contribution.”
—Uri M. Kupferschmidt, University of Haifa (Israel)

you wish to report:

Select the collections to add or remove from your search