Book Excerpt! Modern Things on Trial (prologue)

By tracing the evolution of ‘laissez-faire Salafism’ in response to consumer concerns about the religious status of new commodities and technologies, Halevi positions Islam’s modern reformation as driven more by materialist than ideational forces. This is a highly original rethinking of the old question of religion and modernity by looking at the material transformations—the ‘modern things’—that Muslims acquired from the industrializing West.

~ Nile Green, Ibn Khaldun Endowed Chair in World History, University of California, Los Angeles

In Modern Things on Trial: Islam’s Global and Material Reformation in the Age of Rida, 1865–1935, Leor Halevi tells the story of the Islamic trials of technological and commercial innovations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Religious values and practices began to shift as new technology was introduced to Islamic communities in the midst of global exchange under European imperial rule, causing a point of conflict. In this prologue to the book, Halevi illustrates how technology was introduced and gives a brief background on his research.

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