Prize Winners 2007

The books on the shortlist were:

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  • Sons of Sinbad: The Photographs, selected and introduced by William Facey, Yacoub al-Hijji and Grace Pundyk (Arabian Publishing). This is an evocative supplement to Alan Villiers' classic Sons of Sinbad. A thorough introduction presents photographs in which you can positively smell the sea.
    •Also by Arabian Publishing - The Arab Chest by Sheila Unwin describes with infectious enthusiasm the history and types of the subject of its title.
    Arab Representations of the Occident: East-West Encounters in Arabic Fiction by Rasheed El-Enany (Routledge)
    Modern Arabic Literature by Paul Starkey (Edinburgh University Press)
    Warring Souls by Roxanne Varzi (Duke University Press)
    The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq by Patrick Cockburn (Verso);
    The Secret History of Al-Qa'ida by Abdul Bari Atwan (Saqi Books).
    The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah by Michael Axworthy (I B Tauris)
    Islam, Christianity and Tradition by Ian Netton (Edinburgh University Press)

As in every year so far the Judges Panel decided that the award should be split. They came to the following conclusion:

Two works should be awarded a prize of £1000 each:

  • Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law: Theory and Practice from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century by Ruud Peters - our speaker this evening - published by Cambridge University Press. To quote our reviewer, "This book... about punishment in Islamic law.. is very interesting and enlightening, as it concentrates not only on theory, as so many earlier books on Islamic law have done, but... also provides extensive documentation on actual legal cases... Peters demonstrates an impressive mastery of his subject."
    The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity by Christopher Baumer (I B Tauris). Again I quote: "Baumer... is a scholar to his fingertips... He combines in the most impressive way a solid knowledge of the complex past of the Nestorian church, a sensitivity to its theological, spritual and mystical heritage, and an inexhaustible fascination with how that heritage fares in today's world from Syria to India and from Cyprus to the USA... This is an inspired work of synthesis, but it also contains much original research."

Two works should be awarded top prizes of £4000 each:

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  • Islam and the Moral Economy: The Challenge of Capitalism by Charles Tripp (Cambridge University Press). This is an outstanding work of world-class scholarship that will certainly enhance understanding of the Middle East among a wider readership in the English speaking world. Charles Tripp surveys the ways in which Islamic thinkers have grappled with the imaginative and material universe of capitalism over the last two hundred years. He argues with considerable cogency, sympathy and elegance that the Islamic tradition gives a distinctive idiom and colour to a set of responses that otherwise operate with the same grammar and on the same conceptual basis as other non-Islamic responses to capitalism.
    Image "book prize august 07 018.jpg"Islamic Calligraphy by Sheila Blair (Edinburgh University Press). This must be the best book ever written about Islamic calligraphy. Its author has carefully judged it to meet the demands not only of anyone interested in Arabic writing, but also of specialists. The Judges Panel agreed with our reviewer that this is a work of profound erudition and insight. And we took our decision in full realisation of the fact that Sheila Blair had won a prize once before (in 1999 for Islamic Inscriptions (Edinburgh University Press)).