This issue of Hawliy?t may well be described with one heading: challenge. Indeed, all of the articles collected herein express past, present or future challenges for thinking, dwelling, and effective change. The variety is in the themes, periods, and disciplines under consideration. The reader is thus invited to consider freethinking in the Abbasid era, a nineteenth century attempt to rebuild the Egyptian state, the questioning of power relations through art, the current Lebanese media crisis, Islam and peace-seeking and the building of reconciliation through a precise espousal of mourning. This variety is there to show the wealth of present and past possibilities open to facing the challenges to thinking and action at all social, political, intellectual, and artistic levels. Our hope is for the reader to realize that all such challenges may be dealt with in a plethora of ways and that the avenues leading to freedom and autonomy may be difficult but never entirely blocked by ideologies.