Contemporary Thought in the Muslim World: Trends, Themes, and Issues, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Contemporary Thought in the Muslim World

Trends, Themes, and Issues, 1st Edition

By Carool Kersten


230 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780415855082
pub: 2019-07-08
SAVE ~$7.99
Available for pre-order
Hardback: 9780415855075
pub: 2019-07-08
SAVE ~$30.00
Available for pre-order

FREE Standard Shipping!


This book presents an intellectual history of today’s Muslim world, surveying contemporary Muslim thinking in its various manifestations, addressing a variety of themes that impact on the lives of present-day Muslims.

Focusing on the period from roughly the late 1960s to the first decade of the twenty-first century, the book is global in its approach and offers an overview of different strands of thought and trends in the development of new ideas, distinguishing between traditional, reactionary, and progressive approaches. It presents a variety of themes and issues including: The continuing relevance of the legacy of traditional Islamic learning as well as the use of reason; the centrality of the Qur’an; the spiritual concerns of contemporary Muslims; political thought regarding secularity, statehood, and governance; legal and ethical debates; related current issues like human rights, gender equality, and religious plurality; as well as globalization, ecology and the environment, bioethics, and life sciences.

An alternative account of Islam and the Muslim world today, counterbalancing narratives that emphasise politics and confrontations with the West, this book is an essential resource for students and scholars of Islam.


‘Carool Kersten offers us a much-needed compass through the wide landscape of contemporary Muslim thought addressing some of the burning intellectual, ethical, legal and political issues of the Muslim world, from the Middle East, to North and South Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania. The complex, varied and nuanced picture he depicts is a valuable service to the growing field of contemporary Islamic intellectual history.’ – Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Qatar

‘Carool Kersten captures a breathtakingly vast canvas of Islamic thought in a brilliant, effortless and digestible manner in this book. Encompassing philosophy, theology, history, politics and ethic, among other subjects, Kersten provides a lucid reading of especially the contemporary debates and intellectuals who are earnestly engaged with the construction and critique of Muslim thought. Readers, especially students, will greatly profit from both the historical details and the contours of ideas generated by an array of modern thinkers hailing from different geographical locations, which is also the strength of the book. The author dissects the critical debates and offers the reader a valuable and informative read.’ – Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Notre Dame, USA

‘In this timely book Carool Kersten treats us to the most comprehensive and accessible investigation of contemporary Islamic thought ever written. The book explores the social and political relevance of Islamically inflected, contemporary intellectual thought, its ambivalent interfacing with the discourse of secularity, its feeding into citizenship claims, and its ingraining into movements of democratization, along with its exposure to repression by state authorities. A profound familiarity with distant and diverse parts of the Muslim intellectual multiverse is matched by their contextualization in global currents of contemporary thought. Carool Kersten disentangles the often dazzling complexity of contemporary Islamic intellectual life. He guides us through the maze thanks to a critical reappraisal of the lopsided conceptual toolkit that we have inherited from two centuries of orientalist and post-orientalist taxonomies.’ – Armando Salvatore, Barbara and Patrick Keenan Chair in Interfaith Studies and Professor of Global Religious Studies, McGill University, Canada

Table of Contents


1 The Problem of Taxonomy

2 Philosophies of Knowledge

3 Scripture

4 Spiritual Dimensions of Contemporary Muslim Thought

5 Islam and Politics

6 Shariʿa

7 Dealing with Difference and Plurality

8 Issues of the Twenty-first Century

About the Author

Carool Kersten is Reader in the Study of Islam and the Muslim World at King's College London, UK. His previous publications include A History of Islam in Indonesia (2017) and Cosmopolitans and Heretics: New Muslim Intellectuals and the Study of Islam (2013).

About the Series

Contemporary Thought in the Islamic World

Contemporary Thought in the Islamic World promotes new directions in scholarship in the study of Islamic thinking. Muslim scholars of today challenge deeply ingrained dichotomies and binaries. New ideas have stimulated an upcoming generation of progressive Muslim thinkers and scholars of Islam to radically rethink the ways in which immediate and emergent issues affecting the contemporary Islamic world are to be assessed. This series aims to take the field beyond the usual historical-philological and social science-driven approaches, and to insert the study of Islam and the Muslim world into far wider multi-disciplinary inquiries on religion and religiosity in an increasingly interconnected world.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Islam / General
RELIGION / Islam / History
RELIGION / Islam / Law
RELIGION / Islam / Rituals & Practice
RELIGION / Islam / Shi'a
RELIGION / Islam / Koran & Sacred Writings
RELIGION / Islam / Sufi