As a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, Anna Hager will look at Islamist and Salafi attitudes towards Coptic Egyptians in post-revolutionary Egypt (2011-2013). Egypt has always been a key center of Islamism, and has experienced various developments in this field. Following the revolution of January 25, 2011, Islamism in Egypt seemed to have experienced a new stage, when a number of Islamist and Salafi actors established political parties and tried to appear as pragmatic and inclusive political contenders. In this context, their previously intolerant attitude towards Coptic Egyptians, seemed to change, and raised questions about the possibilities of them considering Copts equal citizens. Through this research project, Anna Hager aims to further investigate a key outcome of her Ph.D. thesis: the pragmatic attitude of Islamist and Salafi actors towards Copts in the context of the video “The Innocence of Muslims,” which prevented violent backlashes against the Christian communities in Egypt.
Anna Hager earned her Ph.D. in the field of Arabic Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria, on the subject of (Arab) Christian-Muslim relations in the context of the video “The Innocence of Muslims” (produced by extremist Copts in the U.S.) in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories (September 2012). From September 2014 to May 2015 she received a grant from the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research to carry out research in Beirut, Cairo, Jerusalem and Amman.
Previously, she completed a Master’s degree in Islamic Studies at the University of Vienna, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Iranian Studies at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, in Paris, and a Bachelor’s degree at the Sorbonne University, in Paris. In addition to her native languages French and German, Anna Hager is proficient in Arabic, Persian and Dari, and spent a little time learning Urdu.
Areas: Modern Near East, Eastern Christianity, Islam, Islamism
Daniel Lav’s research centers on the doctrines and intellectual history of the modern Salafi school of Islam and its medieval forerunners. At the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia he will conduct an inquiry into the Salafi doctrine known as “allegiance and disavowal” (al-wala’ wa’l-bara’), understood by Salafis as the obligation to demonstrate allegiance to God and to other believers, and to disavow other objects of worship and unbelievers. Variously interpreted by different currents of Salafism, the doctrine, like other major tenets of Salafi theology, has clear roots in the writings of the medieval polymath Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328 C.E.), where it intersects with other central features of Ibn Taymiyya’s thought, such as his theory of divine love, his theology of faith, and his doctrine of monolatry (tawhid al-uluhiyya). Later, Wahhabi scholars further developed and concretized these themes in the context of conflict with local Arabian opponents, the Ottomans, and the Khedivate of Egypt. Finally, Lav will trace the doctrine as it has been elaborated in the modern Salafi movement, including both quietest and radical interpretations. In addition to providing an account of the intellectual history of this doctrine, the research aims to relate the topic to the contemporary literature on political theology and to describe how modern Salafis deploy the doctrine to contest such distinctive features of modernity as the nation state and the delineation of a secularized and autonomous sphere of politics.
Lav received his B.A. in French Literature at the University of Chicago, and wrote his M.A. and Ph.D. theses at the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His M.A. thesis, on Ibn Taymiyya’s theology of faith and its role in modern intra-Salafi disputes, was subsequently published in book form as Radical Islam and the Revival of Medieval Theology (Cambridge, 2012). His Ph.D. thesis traces the relation between Ibn Taymiyya’s theology and the modern doctrine of hakimiyya (theonomy), and drawing on a wide range of sources in Arabic and Urdu, reexamines such topics as the relation between Abu ‘l-A`la Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb, ijtihad and taqlid in pre-modern jurisprudence, and the origins of Wahhabi doctrine. Lav is the recipient of a Yad HaNadiv Rothschild Fellowship, and over the course of his studies received the Nathan Rotenstreich scholarship, among other grants and awards. He is fluent or proficient in English, French, Arabic, and Hebrew, reads in Urdu, German, and Spanish, and has studied Farsi.
Areas: Salafism, Medieval Islamic Theology, Political Theology