Contemporary Islamic thinkers are often studied sociologically rather than as theologians. There are many accessible introductions to Christian theologians, but very few such studies of Islamic thinkers. This book, and this series, seeks to change this situation: offering new introductions to influential Islamic thinkers and engaging, at the level of ideas, with the rich depths of contemporary Islamic theology. 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.
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.
'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