Coming together to honor and discuss Michael Cook's recently published book, Ancient Religions, Modern Politics, are the author and several distinguished colleagues. We invite you to join this debate about the reasons why Islam plays a larger role in contemporary politics than other religions.
Is there something about the Islamic heritage that makes Muslims more likely than adherents of other faiths to invoke it in their political life? If so, what is it? Ancient Religions, Modern Politics seeks to answer these questions by examining the roles of Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity in modern political life, placing special emphasis on the relevance—or irrelevance—of their heritages to today’s social and political concerns.
Michael Cook takes an in-depth, comparative look at political identity, social values, attitudes to warfare, views about the role of religion in various cultural domains, and conceptions of the polity. In all these fields he finds that the Islamic heritage offers richer resources for those engaged in current politics than either the Hindu or the Christian heritages. A sweeping comparative analysis by one of the world’s leading scholars of premodern Islam, Ancient Religions, Modern Politics sheds important light on the relationship between the foundational texts of these three great religious traditions and the politics of their followers today.
Michael Cook is Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. He is the author of Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought and A Brief History of the Human Race, among other books. He is also the general editor of The New Cambridge History of Islam.
Panelists: Mark Beissinger is Professor of Politics and Director of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies; Jack Tannous is Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University; Kanchan Chandra is Visiting Research Scholar at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies; Kevan Harris is Postdoctoral Research Associate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University.