Review of R. Michael Feener, Islam in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives
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Islam in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, edited by R. Michael Feener, walks a careful line between a generalized study of world Islam and specific analysis of Islam in unique geopolitical settings. This is both its shortcoming and its success, and raises the thorny philosophical problem of how to conduct comparative religion, a question addressed by the editor in the introductory essay but largely ignored in subsequent chapters except to remark that Islam manifests itself differently from country to country. The challenges for such a text are twofold. First, how to account for the vast diversity of Islam as a faith tradition in the contemporary world; and second, if contemporary Islam is best understood through a comparative intrareligious analysis, what does this say about any effort to engage in interreligious comparison?
The first challenge – of providing an adequate account of the complexities of world Islam – is gallantly if unevenly attempted. The chapters of the text...