I am author of, most recently, Contemporary Turkey in Conflict: Ethnicity, Islam and Politics (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). Below are a number of reviews of my books, both authored, edited, and co-edited. These various book reviews have been published in journals including, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, International Affairs, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations, Journal of Islamic Studies and Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. For a list of key publications since 2015 visit the publications page.
Contemporary Turkey in Conflict: Ethnicity, Islam and Politics, 2016
‘Tahir Abbas, now a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Department of Government in the London School of Economics and formerly a sociology professor at Fatih University in Istanbul, utilizes his experiences and insights on Turkish society in this new book. The overall theme of the study is that Turkish society is not able to escape the ‘lure of authoritarianism’ (p. xi). This work covers numerous contemporary issues, including minority rights and the Kurdish conflict as well the Gezi Park occupation protests and their aftermath. It also makes references to a history punctuated by conflicts and clashes between the center and periphery. At its core, the book is an inquiry into changes in Turkish society which, Abbas contends, is a composite of post-Islamism and post-Kemalism … The question of who should read this book is rather a difficult one. Scholars and researchers who already have a high level of knowledge about Turkey may benefit from this book’, Turkish Studies. [Review in full].
‘In Contemporary Turkey in Conflict, Tahir Abbas diligently analyses the complex dynamics between ethnicity, nationalism and Islam in relation to neo-liberalism and conservatism. His original emphasis is on how issues of political trust and social capital have impacted citizenship and identity in Turkey since the rise of AKP, and to what extent the ethnic, religious and cultural dimensions of Turkish identity have changed … [He] provides a historically-conscious analysis of Turkish politics [and] explains the complex nature of Turkish politics through the lens of ‘exceptionalism’—due to Islam’s paradoxical relations with ethnicity and nationalism. In particular, for Abbas, the ‘historical and political formation of the Turkish nation is rather different than western European conceptualizations’. Therefore, the complex ‘ethnic and racial tensions that exist in Turkey’—such as the Kurdish issue—are less well understood (p. 55) … Abbas advances his arguments based on Turkish exceptionalism […] arising from a unique combination of ethnic nationalism and Islamism’, International Affairs. [Review in full].
‘Tahir Abbas surveys some of the major ideas and actors of contemporary Turkish politics and examines the social and economic transformation of the country. Ideal as a reference for understanding state-society relations in Turkey, Abbas’ witty and penetrating analysis of Turkish politics is unique. This is a remarkable and a brilliant book’, M. Hakan Yavuz, University of Utah.
‘Tahir Abbas’ study of contemporary Turkey systematically explores the nuances of ethnic relations and social conflict in the current epoch. It is an inspired sociological, political science and socio-historical contribution to existing research on this complex, fraught and multi-layered nation’, Ferhat Kentel, İstanbul Şehir University.
Islamic Radicalism and Multicultural Politics: the British Experience, 2011
‘Much of the commentary on Islam today is shrill and one-dimensional which further widens the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims. Because Tahir Abbas’ Islamic Radicalism and Multicultural Politics is reasoned, scholarly and aims to provide historical context it is a powerful corrective. Being both British and Muslim allows him to present us with a truly insider’s account’, Professor Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University.
‘In the face of so many superficial denunciations of radical Islam in Britain, Tahir Abbas provides an account that is both broad in its historical coverage and profound in its social analysis. In his sweep of several centuries of South Asian Islamic thinking, Abbas includes the conflicts engendered by British colonialism, and the complex processes of immigration and settlement in Britain. He is especially good in his own speciality, the patterns of inequality in education and in the labour market, through which he shows how the global growth in radical thinking can articulate with domestic social disparities. Here is a distinctive voice entering the debate’, John R. Bowen, Washington University in St. Louis.
‘Terrorist incidents have created controversy about Islam and Muslims, and British Muslims have been part of this debate. Media and lay people take a very superficial view and blame Islam and Muslims for radicalisation. This book is an in-depth study of the causes of radicalisation of a section of British Muslims. It is a very useful study indeed and all those who want to understand this complex phenomenon should read the book: Dr Abbas has done a good job!’, Dr Asghar Ali Engineer, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, India.
‘A remarkable book, well researched, comprehensive in its coverage and highly relevant to contemporary British political concerns’, John Rex, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, Warwick University.
‘Sociologist Tahir Abbas’ Islamic Radicalism and Multicultural Politics is a fine addition to his earlier series of works on the theme of Muslim Britain and multiculturalism … This is a comprehensive study of the Muslim minority in Britain, the politics of communitarianism, and British government policies since the post-war Muslim migration … The book is an exciting read, and provides an informative glimpse into Islam’s history, its organizational structure, and the various strands of its radical character. The author is himself a British Muslim (though currently teaching in Turkey), which makes his voice distinctive and adds strength to his arguments. Overall, this is a thoughtful, well-written account by a distinguished scholar in his field. The work is distinct in its clear description of the complex relationship between secular liberal Britain and militant Muslim Britain. The author has successfully constructed a coherent narrative on British multiculturalism and Islamic radicalism … It should be read by anyone seeking to acquire a deeper understanding of Muslim Britain, Islamic radicalism, and multicultural policy’, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism. [Review in full].
‘Tahir Abbas has been exploring the relationship between British Islam, multiculturalism and Islamic radicalism for more than a decade. In this new publication he develops further some of the ideas found within his 2007 edited volume Islamic political radicalism, making five central arguments. First, he suggests that contemporary Islamic radicalism can be traced to strands of early Muslim history (chapters 1 and 2). Second, he argues that post-war Muslim migration to Britain has given rise to significant Muslim social, economic and cultural capital, even though the majority of the British-Muslim population still live in marginalized inner-city communities (chapters 3 and 4). Third, he notes that, as a result of persistent ‘orientalism’, British Muslims have continued to be presented as a cultural ‘other’ (chapter 5). Fourth, he questions the nature and future of British multiculturalism and the apparent shift from an advocacy of diversity to an increasing call for assimilation as a means of achieving community cohesion (chapter 6). And fifth, Abbas locates contemporary Islamist politics in the UK in experiences of Islamophobia (especially post the Salman Rushdie affair and post-9/11 and -7/7), social exclusion, and arguments premised on the so-called ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis and the allied assertion that a clear Muslim identity somehow contradicts Muslim ‘loyalty’ to Britain (chapters 7 and 8). …[T]his book provides a valuable resource for all who are interested in the future of urban multiculturalism in Britain, in the pathways that British Islam may take in the next generation, and in the ways in which these two questions intertwine and affect us all’, Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations. [Review in full].
‘Being an original research, written in a lucid, coherent and consistent style, the description being captivating and fascinating, Islamic Radicalism and Multicultural Politics, on the whole, is an incredible and remarkable contribution to the study of religion, race and ethnicity in modern Britain. The book will prove much useful and helpful uniformly to the students and scholars, who are working in the fields of ethnic studies, political science, Islamic studies and sociology’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. [Review in full].
… ‘[I]n the face of endemic public mis-representation of Islam in general, and Islamism in particular, this book makes a welcome effort to change perceptions … I am always searching for books that I can recommend to sociologists who want to develop their teaching in this area. In some respects, Islamic Radicalism fits that bill. The chapter on the history of the political strand of Islam is particularly succinct and useful. Abbas then covers post-war immigration, education, employment, Islamophobia in the media, arguments over multiculturalism, Muslims’ global political identities and crime/terror. With its meticulous referencing, the book contains masses of information which would help both academics and students find their way into this extremely important field’, Network: Magazine of the British Sociological Association.
‘Overall the book is a must read not only for those interested in British Muslims, but it enlightens any reader about the problems and reasons for radicalization of Muslims in West. The young author must be congratulated for this serious academic effort, as he goes beyond the conventional discourse on Muslims in the West and offers many valuable insights that can help policy makers, academics, politicians, and students to understand the pristine picture of Muslims without any prejudice and bias’, Journal of Islamic State Practices in International Law.
Honour, Violence, Women and Islam (co-edited, with MM Idriss), 2010 (published in paperback in 2011)
‘This is a very useful volume inasmuch as it demonstrates the complexities involved in so-called crimes of honour and discusses these sensitive issues from a variety of perspectives: the lack of due diligence and legal and cultural punishments, the notion of human rights, ideas of such violence as a problem of the other as against a frequent occurrence in the lives of receiving countries. It makes a very significant contribution to the literature on violence against women, both in Islam and globally, and suggests policies and reforms that should be employed in combating honour-related violence. It is a valuable source of information for everyone interested in this area’, Religion and Human Rights. [Review in full].
‘As an edited collection (essentially a series of essays) this text is essential reading for anybody with an interest in this area. It is an eclectic mix which explores the concept from a multi-cultural, multi-dimensional and international perspective. One of the main strengths of the book is its appeal to a wide audience. Students, practitioners and academics alike, will find this book invaluable reading. On a more theoretical level, feminists, criminologists and sociologists alike will find this an informative read providing an overview of the problem of HRV. This book is essential reading to those involved in the construction and (re)formulation of social policy and legal issues’, Internet Journal of Criminology. [Review in full].
‘The volume provides comprehensive research findings on and analyses of HBV. Most of the essays contain detailed theoretical arguments as well as some empirical research. The volume targets not only academics and specialists in the field of HBV and gender studies but also activists, policy makers and government officials’, Social & Legal Studies. [Review in full].
‘In a world where myths are intertwined with truths, and objectivity gives way to subjective and elaborate narratives that are meant not to analyse but to shock, Honour, Violence, Women and Islam, a scholarly attempt to address questions of honour-related violence, is a truly exceptional publication…To realise these goals, the volume draws upon an extensive variety of qualitative research, as well as the expertise of practitioners from various backgrounds: lawyers, sociologists and criminologists, journalists, human rights activists and Islamic theologians. In such a multi-disciplinary manner, the authors explore unique features of honour-related violence and thus offer a truly in-depth analysis of the phenomenon…Honour, Violence, Women and Islam is among the first complete guides to honour-related violence, and undoubtedly represents a valuable source of information and point of reference for everyone interested in this area of study – postgraduates and academics interested in this area of study, social workers dealing with honour related violence and policy makers alike. It is suitable for anyone seeking a broader picture of the sociological and legal contexts of crimes of honour’, In-Spire: journal of law, politics and societies. [Review in full].
‘Most, if not all, of the essays contained in this volume point to an urgent need to address the problem of violence against women in concrete form, whether through advocacy or law enforcement. Immigrant women form a particularly vulnerable group. The overall tenor of the book is that regardless of one’s view of state power, the state has a moral obligation to protect its citizens that trumps cultural and/or religious justifications of violence. How this intervention is theorized or legitimized, from the perspective of many contributing authors, is significantly less important than that government and law enforcement agencies act swiftly and humanely to protect victims of violence. Tolerance for religious practices and freedoms should not include tolerance of gender violence and tyranny’, Journal of Law and Religion. [Read in full].
Islamic Political Radicalism: A European Experience (ed.), 2007
‘A relevant read, especially in the current political climate’, Regeneration & Renewal.
‘Islamic Political Radicalism is a refreshing change… an outstanding contribution’, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences.
‘Islamic Political Radicalism is a wide-ranging and intellectually challenging addition to the literature that has mushroomed since 9/11 … All in all, there is no doubt about this book’s topical significance and its relevance in the current climate. There is much in it that should be of interest and value to scholars in a range of disciplines, to policy-makers and, indeed, those socially and politically engaged in various communities, here in Britain and elsewhere’, Journal of Islamic Studies.
‘Tahir Abass’s [sic] edited volume Islamic Political Radicalism: A European Perspective makes an important and timely intervention on Islamic radicalism and, to be more specific, on Britain after the July 2005 London attacks…The book’s primary contribution is in transcending the orientalist tendency to focus on Islamic theology as the source of radical Islam, instead approaching the debate from the perspective of political economy, history, and international politics…By employing historical and social scientific analyses, the book allows for a grounded understanding of the experiences of radical segments of Europe’s Muslim population in a human and humanistic way’, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.
Muslim Britain: Communities under Pressure (ed.), 2005
‘A wide-ranging and invaluable guide to the highly complex and diverse nature of British Muslims from South Asia. Those wishing to get to the heart of Muslim communities should read this book.’, Professor Ziauddin Sardar, author of Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim.
‘Plunged into a post-Rushdie and now post-September 11 world British Muslims have had to face urgent issues of Islamophobia, gender, identity and media representation. Dr Tahir Abbas’ excellent collection has brought together some of the leading authorities to help make sense of these issues in a rapidly changing and even threatening world’, Professor Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldum Chair of Islamic Studies and Professor of International Relations, American University, Washington DC, USA.
‘This volume is a rich and stimulating contribution. It should be read by all, within Islamic communites and without’, Fred Halliday, Professor of International Relations, LSE, author of ’100 Myths About the Middle East’, ‘Islam and the Myth of Confrontation’, and ‘Arabs in Exile: Yemeni Migrants in Urban Britain’. . ‘We are at an important moment in the process of integration between British society and its Muslim communities. The events of 11 September 2001 focused attention on questions which had been simmering but only very carefully placed into the public debate. With increasing vitality, this process has come into the open, often in surprising and usually in surprisingly constructive ways. This collection of papers is a major contribution to that debate and will help move it forward’, Jorgen S. Nielsen, Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Birmingham.
‘This essential collection is a highly welcome and important contribution to the subject’, Professor Steven Vertovec, Professor of Transnational Anthropology, University of Oxford and Director of the ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society.
‘The book is a valuable contribution to the vital question of how best to ensure the successful incorporation of British Muslims into the values of a liberal democracy’, Political Studies Review.
‘Tahir Abbas is to be commended for his edited collection of essays about Muslim life in Britain post 9/11…This book is required reading for those of us interested in the broader question of what it means to be human in the modern world’, Comparative Islamic Studies.
‘The breadth of subject matter, variety of expertise and insightful analysis are the qualities that impressed me about this book. Particular credit should be given to the editor, Tahir Abbas for managing to squeeze quite a lot in, bringing together a varied collection of essays and managing to make sense of them so that the flow from one part to the next is natural and seamless’, openDemocracy Ltd.
The Education of British South Asians: Ethnicity, Capital and Class Structure, 2004
‘Tahir Abbas sets out to explore variation in the educational performance of South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and East Africans) in the city of Birmingham in relation to both ethnicity and capital. He defines capital as ‘a function of the individual’s or group’s ability to generate, maintain and cultivate the “resources” that help to mobilise social and economic advancement, which include information, knowledge and networks, and social class’ (p. 1). The book draws on quite extensive fieldwork conducted over a 3 year period involving interviews with South Asian school pupils and parents together with surveys of college students and interviews and surveys with teachers … Abbas consistently finds that social class combined with ethnicity and cultural and social capital is a major factor in explaining differences in the educational performance of South Asians. He argues that particular Indian communities (mainly Hindu, Sikh and East African Asian) are able to take advantage of existing opportunity structures. ‘As well as occupying higher social positions in mainstream society, they are also able to send their children to schools that are selective and feepaying through the realisation of economic, cultural and social capital’ (p. 142). They adopt a range of strategies in order to ensure greater educational success of their children. This includes becoming actively engaged in the schooling of their children and in many cases steering their children’s choices of subjects at GCSE and higher education level. In contrast, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis tend to live in ‘inner-city areas, enter local schools where resources are limited and the infrastructures of schools do not permit the same degree of access to educational and ultimately occupational opportunity’ (p. 137). Although they may be inclined to proceed with selective schooling, ‘they did not possess the social and economic capital required’ (p. 57) … Gender emerges as an important theme in relation to student experiences, but as Abbas’s analysis implies, it needs to be read in its articulation with class and other social factors … Tahir Abbas has presented a readable book that will make a useful contribution to the literature. It provides evidence for what is often assumed knowledge about South Asian communities, such as the extent of parents’ involvement in their children’s educational ‘choices’ and how this varies among the different Asian communities. More importantly, it reminds us of the continued significance of social class in the educational experiences of schoolchildren in England’, International Journal of Lifelong Education. [Read in full]