I am Ilyse R. Morgenstein Fuerst and, yes, that whole bit after the R. is my surname. I’m an assistant professor of religion and the current director of Middle East studies at the University of Vermont. I’m also the co-chair of the Study of Islam Unit at the American Academy of Religion, the editor of the Islam section for Religion Compass, and on various editorial and advisory boards for Islamic studies journals and projects. Generally speaking, my published work addresses South Asian Islam, theories and history of religion, and the racialization of Islam. My first book, Indian Muslim Minorities and the 1857 Rebellion, was published by I.B. Tauris in 2017. I’m working on other projects, mostly around boundaries of the study of Islam, memorialization of Islamic history in South Asia, and histories of Islamophobia and the racialization of Muslims.
Early modern English literature, sonnet sequences, seventeenth-century poetry, sectarian poetics, early modern cartography
I work on race, gender, sexuality, politics, and American minority religions. My current project, Women and Children Last: Sex, Abuse, and American Minority Religions, looks at how Americans code religious difference as sexual danger. The next one’s on the ways contemporary American whiteness is (or feels) threatened by Muslims and Islam. I’m also an expert in creative and innovative pedagogy and a syllabus design nerd.
Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code prohibits insulting the Prophet and carries a mandatory death penalty. This law was passed based on a claim of ijma‘ (consensus among Islamic scholars) that such an offense is subject to a hadd (divinely fixed) punishment. Nearly half of those charged under this statute crimes of hadd are Christians, who make up only about four percent of Pakistan’s population. Yet there is no consensus among Islamic scholars on the death penalty for non-Muslims who insult the Prophet. Some early Islamic scholars held there was no punishment at all in such cases, and most said it was a ta‘zir offense, i.e., subject to discretionary punishment or none at all. Under Islamic law, whether and how ta‘zir punishment is applied depends on the interests of the common good (maslaha). Pakistan’s application of Section 295-C to non-Muslims promotes harm: mob violence, disrespect for the law, oppression of minorities and the poor, and damage to Islam’s reputation. Moreover, such cases are adjudicated by judges who have no expertise in Islamic law or the interpretive tools of Islamic jurisprudence needed to mitigate the statute’s harm. Therefore, applying this section to non-Muslims contradicts Islamic law. Under Islamic law and from a policy perspective, the only relevant question is whether enforcing Section 295-C against non-Muslims promotes the common good. Because it clearly does not, the government of Pakistan should immediately stop doing so and pardon those accused or convicted under it. Muslim religious leaders should make it clear that Islam does not require the death of non-Muslims who insult the Prophet and that the true way to show love for him is not mob violence, but dignified behavior, patience, and wisdom.
Islamic world, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Islamic world, Middle Eastern history
Minoru Takano 高野実 is a PhD candidate of the department of Asian Studies, the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver (Supervisor: Prof. Bruce Rusk). He studies the literary movements of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Li Dongyang 李東陽 (1447-1529) of Chaling School 茶陵派, Ming Neoclassicism 前後七子/復古派/古文辭派, and issues of archaism, authorship, and musicality of poetry.