In January of 2013, mere days after I began work there, Islamic Relief Worldwide collaborated with the University of Manchester’s Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) to hold a conference on Islam and Conflict Transformation. The timing of the conference was reflected in the papers presented – memories of the attacks on Washington and New York in 2001 and the London bombings of 2005 had receded to the background of discussions, while the Arab “spring” had injected optimism and renewed interest into the study of Islam and the politics of the Middle East. Papers presented discussed the social dynamics of the Arab uprisings themselves and challenged the audience to consider the transformational facets of Islam in light of current events – whether constitutional governance or ijtihad.
A special edition of Peace Review emerged from that conference, and is now available via Taylor & Francis, which I had the privilege of editing along with my HCRI colleague, Prof. Tim Jacoby. We have written an Introduction to the Symposium together.
This Journal in 2015, however, faced a very different reality to January 2013. Events in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Yemen have overtaken us and now provide a preconfigured backdrop to any discussion that contains the words ‘Islam’ and ‘conflict’ – whether we are focusing on its transformation or not. The experience of editing this edition highlighted these changes to me with a sadness I had not expected. Triggered in part by the number of submissions that sought to position their contributions as reminders of the transformative role of Islam in conflict and its importance of building peace, often directly referencing how infrequently this view is heard within public discourse.
The positivity of the experience came through with a focus on the “transformational” facets of religious faith and practice in conflict, and I believe that the selection has managed to offer something more sanguine.
Article topics cover diverse topics including discussion of Classical Islamic Law, de-radicalisation in Egypt, interfaith conflict transformation in Kenya, the position of women in peacebuilding in the Middle East, the potential for Islamic Leadership in Thailand, and Turkish Ethnopolitics.
The Journal is currently through paid/subscribed access only.