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vimothy
16-04-2009, 08:15 PM
A final paradox is that the reformation of Islam as a mere religion is carried out not only by believers who want to secularise their religion (that is, moderate Muslims), but also by the very ones who deny any delinking of religion, state and society. To be provocative, I would say that the in-depth secularisation of Islam is being achieved by people who are denying the very concept of secularism. 'Secular' Muslims are not the actors of secularisation, because they are not involved in the process of reforming or shaping the community. The real secularists are the Islamists and neofundamentalists, because they want to bridge the gap between religion and a secularised society by exacerbating the religious dimension, over-stretching it to the extent that it cannot become a habitus by being embedded in a real culture. This over-stretching of religion, after a period of paroxysmal parousia (for example, the Islamic revolution of Iran, or any given jihad), necessarily leads to a new schism: politics is the ultimate dimension of any religious state, and the death of jihad waged out of a concrete strategy, nation or social fabric. What resurfaces is politics, in the case of Iran, but also religion as a multifaceted practice, hence the heterogeneous dimension of Islamic revivalism. redefining Islam as a 'pure' religion and leaves politics to work alone.

Islam is experiencing secularisation, but in the name of fundamentalism. It is a bit confusing for everybody, which is quite logical so far as religion is concerned and so long as God will let humans speak on his behalf. Secularisation is the unexpected but logical destiny of any mediator of a religious fundamentalism that happens to be taken seriously by a whole nation or society, from Martin Luther to Ruhollah Khomeinni.

-- Olivier Roy, Globalized Islam

crackerjack
16-04-2009, 08:36 PM
It is a bit confusing for everybody,

Or maybe everybody else knows what they mean by secularisation and this fella has just thought himself in knots.

vimothy
16-04-2009, 08:37 PM
I think he means the same thing. Assuming, that is, I don't have the same problem...

Agent Nucleus
17-04-2009, 01:23 AM
it sounds like he means secularization in the postmodern/globalist sense of Western cultural values and media influencing Islamic culture, but with the basic religious and political institutions remaining intact. If this doesn't backfire I'll be surprised.

scottdisco
17-04-2009, 01:51 AM
The real secularists are the Islamists and neofundamentalists, because they want to bridge the gap between religion and a secularised society by exacerbating the religious dimension, over-stretching it to the extent that it cannot become a habitus

we can infer good points overall from this (but see my semantic discussion below), as we must hope that sanity prevails and more and more people see the moral bankruptcy and political illiteracy of the radical Islamist (etc) message.

however, with one eye on what Crackerjack said, true that.

they're not really "real secularists", are they.

Mullah Omar and Maajid Nawaz --> some distance.

Shalom Lappin had a good talk at the SOAS Euston Manifesto conference in May '07, on multiculturalism, democracy; using the Amish in the USA as an example to discuss cultural difference and political identity.
someone asked him a question about the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (that was far too kind to the Brotherhood) and Lappin owned them in reply.

vimothy
17-04-2009, 01:54 AM
It's not supposed to be a strategy!

Roy means 'secularisation' as in the shift from a purely religious identity to one that is more, well, secular: "the disenchantment of the world", in Weber's phrase. This implies the separation of religion from culture, i.e. religion as 'mere' religion, not dominant source of cultural norms. One secularising force within Islam today is the project of a universal Islam, namely, an Islam that is dis-embedded from specific cultures or societies. It is an Islam that is austere, yes, and not something of which I am a great fan. But by its very nature an Islam that is universal is Islam as 'mere' religion and hence secularising in effect if not intent. Cf. the Christian fundamentalists known as the Lutherans.

Here's another perspective, from a review of Ed Hussein's The Islamist:


Husain mentions his family’s connection to a Sufi-type religious figure from Bangladesh. He describes all the positive personal qualities that the revered figure embodied and the high esteem Husain’s community held him in. The image is of a non-political religious outlook that esteems family values and communal stability... But Husain’s description leaves out the vital details that help explain the gaps that Islamists step into.

Some of Husain’s omissions can be found between the lines of his writing. He mentions that despite his primary school teacher’s personal appeals, his parents were against sending him to a mixed-sex school, and instead enrolled him in a sub par boys’ secondary school.

This doesn’t sound like the biggest deal in the world, but rigid ideas about sex and free mixing dominate the concerns of many Muslim families in Britain. Outlooks that are explained to children as being based on religion make it difficult for Muslim youth to interact with their peers in conditions that are considered normal by wider society. Later in the book, Husain explains how male and female members of Hizb ut Tahrir effectively went on dates and the group developed a new theology that removed the stigma from such interaction. But he fails to see how Hizb ut Tahrir was attracting followers by sanctifying something forbidden by the stifling mores of the “traditional” outlook he sees as providing the answer.

This “traditional” outlook is in general terms shared by most (if not all) immigrant Muslim communities. Husain comes from a Bengali family background, but the cultural outlook he describes is shared by Pakistanis, Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Somalis and Nigerians. That’s not to say all these cultures are exactly the same, but in the main they exhibit large measures of racism (often against each other), sexism, tribalism and a quietist approach to dealing with the outside world that fail to meet the challenges their children experience in reconciling their backgrounds with their everyday lives.

In a depressingly high frequency of cases, these “traditional” outlooks result in harmful and exploitative practices....

Islamism addresses the questionable “traditional” practices of the families its raw recruits come from. This is a large part of its appeal. If you find yourself in a lecture hall where young Muslims are told the way of life they struggled to follow is actually itself “un-Islamic”, you will be able to hear the collective intake of air and the surprised mumblings of the crowd.

This is what Husain doesn’t provide in his book; the context of Islamist appeal.

scottdisco
17-04-2009, 01:56 AM
great post Vim!

vimothy
17-04-2009, 02:05 AM
Yeah, just to reiterate, I'm not, I hope you all understand, advocating fundamentalism and/or Islamism, nor am I trying to suggest that it is a progressive force in any way (obviously, it is not). However, Islamic fundamentalism addresses itself to modernity. It separates Islam from specific cultures. And the process is directly analogous to the Christian reformation, the secularisation of the west, and the Biblical literalists who drove it -- so we have a precedent.

I thought it was an interesting observation, anyway.

padraig (u.s.)
17-04-2009, 03:03 AM
It's not supposed to be a strategy!

Roy means 'secularisation' as in the shift from a purely religious identity to one that is more, well, secular: "the disenchantment of the world", in Weber's phrase. This implies the separation of religion from culture, i.e. religion as 'mere' religion, not dominant source of cultural norms. One secularising force within Islam today is the project of a universal Islam, namely, an Islam that is dis-embedded from specific cultures or societies. It is an Islam that is austere, yes, and not something of which I am a great fan. But by its very nature an Islam that is universal is Islam as 'mere' religion and hence secularising in effect if not intent. Cf. the Christian fundamentalists known as the Lutherans.

Here's another perspective, from a review of Ed Hussein's The Islamist:

this sounds uncannily like a description of my dad, who is Modern Orthodox & a fervant, fervant Zionist (he & his family - 2nd wife & my step-siblings - lived in a West Bank settlement for many years). in this case the religious Zionists would be those "disenchanted of the world", the project a greater Eretz Yisrael (& the goal of Israel as a religious rather than secular state), a Judaism which is disconnected from, I guess, Diaspora or sabra roots & unified in pursuit of those political goals, as well as a Judaism with much of it's spiritual/mystical energy redirected towards pragmatic, earthly matters.

I'm not saying they're exactly the same of course.

also isn't that review from Abu M? not by Exum himself but by that Pashtun British guy who posts intermittently?

vimothy
17-04-2009, 03:44 AM
Yeah, it's by the guy who posts as Londonstani (and who has his own particular axe to grind with Ed Hussein, but whatevs).

Pardon my ignorance -- Is "Modern Orthodox" equivalent to born again/evangelical Christian?

One way to think of it might be to say that in pre-secular societies the distinction between believers and non-believers (an essential distinction to fundamentalists) is not as significant because religion and culture and not separate, which is to say, they are the same thing.

padraig (u.s.)
17-04-2009, 04:03 PM
Pardon my ignorance -- Is "Modern Orthodox" equivalent to born again/evangelical Christian?

nah. it's Orthodox Jews who are devout/strictly observant of all the laws & traditions etc. but who also engage with the secular world - serving in the Army, having secular jobs outside of Orthodox communities, trying to mix secular moral values with traditional religious ones, etc. vs. those who focus exclusively on study & prayer & only engage with the outside secular world for basic necessities. there's also all kinds of shades within both. like some Modern Orthodox are very secular in how they live their lives but extremely traditional in, say, their interpretation of Talmudic law or whatever. or vice versa. I'm no expert either, I was raised secular.

Anyway Modern Orthodox & religious Zionism aren't the same thing but they're heavily linked, as with my dad. Unlike the traditional Orthodox - where they won't serve in the army - these are exacly the kinds of Orthodox Jews who are militantly right wing & hardnosed pragmatic about it, who make it a point to serve, who live in settlements, who believe in a greater Eretz Yisrael as described in the bible. It's essentially a fusion IMO of the worst of sabra Ashkenazi chauvinism (my dad is well racist against the Arabs & also the Ethiopian immigrants) & fundamentalist Orthodox Judaism.

vimothy
17-04-2009, 06:34 PM
Gotcha -- so when people talk about the increasing number of Orthodox Jews in the IDF, these are the peeps to whom they refer?

They way that modernity seems to be associated with increasing'religiosity' (to use a phrase from the social sciences) is pretty interesting. I read a really cool book last year about the religious revival and that most secular of continents, Europe -- God's Continent: Christianity, Islam and Europe's Religious Crisis (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gods-Continent-Christianity-Europes-Religious/dp/019531395X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239989589&sr=1-1), by Philip Jenkins. It's highly recommended, particularly if you've ever been exposed to the trope that Europe is about to go down in the flames of Islamism. Or even, if like me, you tend to believe the worst about religion by default.

padraig (u.s.)
17-04-2009, 07:19 PM
Gotcha -- so when people talk about the increasing number of Orthodox Jews in the IDF, these are the peeps to whom they refer?

I would assume so yeah. This isn't a new division tho tbc, it predates Zionism, which as you probably know was/is itself a rather uneasy meeting of the secular & the religious. a shotgun wedding, really. well, a Mauser wedding more like, even if the original Zionists didn't know it at the time.

anyway, the bad news with these dudes is that unlike their parents/grandparents they're willing to get out of the temple/yeshiva & go enforce their nutty (even by Zionist standards) beliefs & on the other side of it they're not tempered by the secular Zionists, yunno, secularism. anyway, that's my half-assed take on it.


They way that modernity seems to be associated with increasing'religiosity' (to use a phrase from the social sciences) is pretty interesting...Or even, if like me, you tend to believe the worst about religion by default.

we don't really have the "go down to Islamic masses" trope (the Latino masses trope, on the other hand...), but what we do have in abundance are megachurches (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megachurch), which are pretty much the epitomy of religiosity I reckon.

& I definitely tend to believe the worst about religion - tho tbf I tend to believe the worst about most things involving people.

vimothy
17-04-2009, 07:23 PM
Yeah, agreed on the mega-churches thing. Born again Christianity epitomises the de-cultured, dis-embedded religiosity of the modern world. My sister is a born again Christian, and my Dad's family are Irish Catholics. After my sister's cringe inducing wedding, my Granny asked me, "you don't believe in that stuff, do you?" No, I said. "Thank God!" What about you Granny, don't you believe in it? "Och, no. We're Catholic."

I think the point with the evangelicals and religiosity more generally is that you have explicitly state your membership in the community. It's not enough to have been born in a nominally Christian (or whatever) country. In and of themselves, they are the last people you would describe as secular, but the mere fact of their existence presupposes secularism.