February 24, 2017
Iran gives the World Award for Book of the Year to Mohammad Hashim Kamali’s The Middle Path of Moderation
by Simon Reichley
The Middle Path Of Moderation by Mohammad Hashim Kamali has been awarded one of Iran’s most prestigious literary prizes, the World Award for Book of the Year. The award was founded in 1993 and charged with “introducing worthwhile international books, and honoring their authors, editors, and translators for elevating the general knowledge and culture, and developing public scholarship/readership with the Islamic and Iranian written heritage.”
Hashim Kamali is an Afghan scholar of Islamic law and jurisprudence, currently working in Malaysia as the CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS). He has previously written on issues of freedom of expression, economic liberty, and social justice in the context of Islamic law, or Shari’ah. His prize-winning study, published by Oxford University Press in 2015, is a scholarly examination of the Islamic concept of wasaṭiyyah, or moderation. In it, Kamali argues that wasaṭiyyah is a crucial principle of governance and diplomacy, and attempts to begin “an open dialogue against a now-decades long formulation of the arguably destructive Huntingtonian ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis as well as the public rhetoric of fear.”
The book sounds like an important corrective to the increasingly histrionic tone of debate in the United States. It’s a shame that it’s being honored not here, but in a country the psychotic regime in Washington has moved quickly and decisively to isolate and antagonize.
In 2014, Steve Bannon, who served in the Navy during the Iranian hostage crisis, said, “We’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.” It is a curious fact that the “fascists” of Bannon’s formulation are making pointed gestures towards an open and moderate society at the same time that our own country is defunding its cultural institutions, eliminating protections for vulnerable children, standing idly by as Jews, Muslims, and other minorities are terrorized and assaulted, and working tirelessly towards the active destruction of our shared natural resources. Also, promising to randomly assault sovereign nations. Makes you think.
More food for thought: check out what Iran has to say about the books honored by the World Award for Book of the Year.
Books are worthy of being considered as the most brilliant symbol of cultural dynamism. Hence, the venerable status of pen and the sublime rank of writing are to be glorified not merely by authorities but through public witnesses throughout the world… Laying stress on the inestimable blend of Islamic and Iranian cultures, the Islamic Republic of Iran feels obliged to uphold the lofty realm of pen, and to support men of thought. To fulfill this end, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has inaugurated “The Award for Book of the Year” in 1983, and “The World Award for Book of the Year of the I.R.I” in 1993, aiming at selecting and introducing worthwhile international books, and honoring their authors, editors, and translators for elevating the general knowledge and culture, and developing public scholarship/readership with the Islamic and Iranian written heritage.
This is what our president has to say about books:
“No, I wouldn’t say. I mean…”
Does this travel ban work both ways? Asking for a friend.
Simon Reichley is assistant to the publishers and office manager at Melville House.