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    Societal dynamics in China's recent past: a scoping review of the research literature
    Gao, J (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2022-06-17)
    In the past four or so decades, a significant amount of research efforts has been made to analyse the constant and rapid social change taking place in China and the driving dynamics behind the process, resulting in a rich literature on a wide range of issues and aspects related to China’s recent transformations. However, most of such literature is closely related to the research attentions to either political or policy changes and processes or spontaneous and impermanent societal reactions, if not protests and resistances, to changing socio-economic and -political conditions. What has not been sufficiently analysed is how the majority of the population has reacted to the many changes in society over a longer period of time, the inadequacy of which has restricted our understanding of Chinese society, its dynamics and its changing trend to the standpoints of elitists and their opponents. This analytical article seeks to review the existing literature on China’s recent social change and its dynamics, with a focus on the main analytical problems in the literature. To deal with the latter problems, this review is to suggest looking at social changes and dynamics from a stance of competitive social repositionings among the population.
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    Inclusivism and Exclusivism among Muslims Today between Theological and Social Dimensions
    Saeed, A (RSIS: Singapore, 2021)
    Inclusivist views about people of other religions or no religion (non-Muslims) are crucial for harmonious interreligious relations in societies that are becoming increasingly diverse. However, in the case of Islam, achieving this is fraught with challenges. Within the Islamic tradition, there are long-held theologically exclusivist views about other religions, such as salvation is only available through Islam and religions other than Islam are invalid. These positions can be referred to as theologically exclusivist and are often difficult to challenge due to their pervasiveness and because they are generally considered key Muslim beliefs. The paper highlights some attempts made by a number of contemporary Muslim thinkers to adopt theologically inclusivist views that challenge such theologically exclusivist positions. However, their views are still seen as too radical for mainstream Muslims and are thus often marginalised. This paper argues that the challenges that theological inclusivists face should not prevent us from adopting inclusivist views about people of other religions or no religion. The emphasis then is on addressing negative ideas about people of other religions that have developed in the Islamic tradition, such as the inequality of non-Muslims to Muslims, and developing positive ideas, such as the equality of all people. Here the focus is on social inclusivism which appears to be a more feasible project. Such a shift from theological inclusivism to social inclusivism is likely to lead to better relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.
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    Has recentralisation improved equality? Primary care infrastructure development in China
    Tan, X ; Yu, L (Wiley Open Access, 2022-05-09)
    Since the early 2000s, the Chinese Government has undertaken a series of recentralisation efforts. In social policy areas, such efforts are targeted at greater equalisation and inclusiveness. These developments raise a critical question: has recentralisation improved equality? This study explores this question through the lens of primary care infrastructure development, an essential aspect of healthcare reforms that has received limited attention in the academic literature. Based on an analysis of health yearbooks (2004–2016), other government documents and fieldwork interviews, we find that, despite recentralisation efforts, the financing for primary care infrastructure development has remained highly decentralised. Provincial governments act as important intermediaries, reflected by their discretionary power in managing central targets and fundraising behaviour to leverage available resources for outcomes that align with local priorities. Despite an overall capacity increase in primary care infrastructure, significant inequality has remained, which contradicts the central governmentʼs intent to improve equality through recentralisation.
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    Ayatollah Yusuf Sanei's Contribution to the Discourse of Women's Rights
    Akbar, A (MDPI, 2021-07-01)
    Ayatollah Yusef Sanei was a prominent contemporary Shia scholar whose particular methodological approach led him to issue some of the most progressive Shia fatwas on the subject of women’s rights. However, the ideas he expressed in the last decades of his life have scarcely been addressed in the English language scholarship. This article explores Sanei’s broader jurisprudential approach and how he applied it to analyzing and often challenging traditional Shia rulings related to gender issues. The article first differentiates Sanei’s approach towards jurisprudence from established methodologies, particularly in relation to his consideration of the Sunna as secondary to the Qurʾān, his rejection of the practice of using consensus as an independent basis of legal rulings, his idea that Sharia rulings may change over time, and his strong emphasis on the Qurʾān’s messages of justice and human dignity. The article illuminates how this combination led Sanei to challenge traditional ideas about men’s authority over women, a fixed socio-political role for women, and men’s superiority in the areas of divorce rights, testimony and worth in blood money (dīya), while concurring with earlier scholars on the unequal division of inheritance. Notwithstanding this latter exception, the article demonstrates that Sanei drew upon jurisprudential approaches in arguing in favor of equality between men and women in many areas.
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    Fādil Al-Samarra’ī’s Contribution to Literary and Rhetorical Exegesis of the Qur’an
    Abdullah, AS (MDPI AG, 2022-02-01)
    This article explores and assesses Fādil al-Samarrā’ī’s contribution to literary and rhetorical Qur’anic exegesis, especially regarding the rhetorical inimitability of the Qur’an. The article looks at how al-Samarrā’ī approaches the Qur’anic text to reveal its miraculous expressional secrets and its rhetorical inimitability with mere Arabic linguistic tools while giving contexts high priority in his analyses and interpretations. Al-Samarrā’ī was able to reach the semantics and purposes of the Qur’an based on the Qur’anic language itself, relying on its sentence structure and order, as well as on the structures, significance, and special meanings of words (which distinguish them from their synonyms), and how all of it relates to the purposes and objectives of the Qur’an. Al-Samarrā’ī sought to use morphology, semantics, and syntax to reach the purposes of the Holy Qur’an and discover its miraculous and inimitable eloquence. To achieve this, al-Samarrā’ī relied on the rich and vast literature on the subject. Guided by the intellectual language and empirical questions of his time, his tremendous effort and contribution to the literature has helped to demystify this complex subject.
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    Freedom of Religion: The Contribution of Contemporary Iranian Reformist Scholars
    Akbar, A (MDPI, 2021-06-01)
    This article examines a specific line of thinking shared by several contemporary reformist Iranian religious scholars who present arguments in favor of freedom of religion. Focusing on the ideas of five prominent reformist Iranian scholars—Abdolkarim Soroush (b.1945), Muhammad Mujtahed Shabestari (b.1936), Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari (b.1950), Mohsen Kadivar (b.1959), and Ahmad Qabel (d.2012)—the article argues that these thinkers’ defense of freedom of religion is based not only on their interpretations of the Qurʾān and historical Islamic sources, but also philosophical arguments in which concepts from the fields of epistemology and hermeneutics are deployed. As the article demonstrates, some of these scholars connect the notion of freedom of religion to political arguments supporting religious tolerance, or the view that, in order to guarantee religious freedom, the state must be neutral towards the religious orientation of its citizens.
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    English language education in China is being challenged as against Chinese culture
    Lin, D (Asia Institute, University of Melbourne, 2021-08-16)
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    Reproducing Indonesia’s Illiberal Legalism amid COVID-19: Public Health Crisis as a Means of Accumulation
    A'yun, RQ ; Mudhoffir, AM (Asian Law Centre, Melbourne Law School, 2022-03-21)
    While many nations have struggled to find the best strategies for controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, the government of Indonesia has shown little interest in it. This is evident from Indonesia’s messy handling of the outbreak, which continues to worsen the public health crisis. However, under the framework of disorder that constitutes Indonesia’s illiberal political-legal system, where the rule of law is largely absent, the crisis is a means to the accumulation of wealth and power. Instead of seriously containing the outbreak, the government tends to make decisions that maintain crisis, as this can create wider opportunities to extend state power and facilitate rent-seeking interests. The issuance of highly contentious regulations—which pose serious threats to human rights, extend state power, and undermine notable post-1998 institutional reforms—in the middle of the pandemic is an example of this tendency. Among these regulations are the Presidential Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) on Covid-19, the Coal and Mineral Mining Law, the Constitutional Court Law, and the Omnibus Job Creation Law. The way these regulations were issued shows disregard for the principles of law-making process, such as transparency and public participation, and accentuates the illiberalism within Indonesia’s political-legal system. As such, Indonesia’s messy handling of the pandemic is not simply due to lack of leadership and institutional capacity; nor is it a result of democratic decline, as many have argued. Rather, it is an outcome of the longstanding illiberal political-legal system in which exploiting public health crises for predatory interests is inevitable.