Most popular on Closer this week
- Gezichtssluiers in Debat
- Op zoek naar de profeet Mohammed – De overleveringen via Al-Zuhri door Nicolet Boekhoff-Van der Voort
- Jessica Stern – Terror, Rape and Shame
- Minister Donner as Mufti: New developments in the Dutch ‘burqa debates’ by Annelies Moors
Feature: Competing Utopias
A Tunisian Girl /????? ??????: Being on a Death List
Yesterday I was in the staffroom writing some texts, when a colleague of mine greeted me in a hurry and informed me that he was in la ‘Manuba’ University and that he knew that the “Salafis” occupying the university for months now, have just announced that I was on their death lists and he asked me to be very careful. I was not surprised at all as many other bloggers , human rights activists, journalists went through the same experience, either for denouncing obscurantism and extremism or for criticizing the new government. Many of them had been badly beaten and assaulted like was the case three days ago for Professors Hamadi Redissi and Zied Krichene who were present in Nessma TV trial and who like hundreds of people attending just expressed their refusal to such a breach of one of the basic human rights that is freedom of speech. (see previous post in French).
There is a dramatic video made by Egyptian activists that has been circulating online lately. In it, actors play the roles of some of the major protagonists of the Egyptian uprising and its aftermath: Hosni Mubarak, the military, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists, the liberals, and of course the courageous activists who took to the streets a year ago and toppled a “Pharaoh”.
The narrative shows the military turning the political players against each other: the Salafist against the activist, the Muslim Brother against the Salafist, the liberal against the Islamists and so on. Later, the politicians do nothing as the military beats the activist: they are too busy with ballot boxes, and finish by fighting each other for an empty throne. The video ends with the words, “All of you sold Egypt.”
This book is mainly about the problem of freedom in Islam. I argue that Islam, at its very core, is a religion that liberated the individual from the bond of the tribe and similar collective bodies. But I also show how the initial impetus of the faith was partly overshadowed as a result of some early theological controversies, and, moreover, political decisions. This also means that some of those early debates can be reopened, and coercive elements in Islamic law and culture can be reformed. And I am saying all these within a particularly Turkish outlook, as I explain the little known history of “Muslim liberalism” that emerged in the late Ottoman Empire and modern-day Turkey.
King Mohammed VI responded quickly to a pro-democracy movement last year with a new constitution and snap elections. The Justice and Development Party, known as the PJD, won the most votes in November. Now, Moroccans ask: How will this popular Islamist party govern?
We can clearly state that within Muslim communities in various places, a particular process is taking place. This process is vocally opposed by a certain number of Muslims, but not by a comparable number that, for instance, opposed the above mentioned controversies. This process is what I call a globalization of intolerance; something which is surely new in the history of Muslim communities around the world.
In Iraq this past summer, I was part of a discussion/friendly debate with a group of people centered around the question “Do Muslims and Christians worship/pray to/talk about the same God?”
The Islamists have, in fact, changed: They are more middle-class “bourgeois,” and they benefited from the liberalization of local economies during the last decades of the 20th century, especially in countries with no oil rent. The Islamists have also drawn lessons from the failure of ideological regimes and from the success of Turkey’s AKP party. They are no longer advocating jihad and understand geostrategic constraints, such as the need to maintain peace, even a cold one, with Israel. Realism is the starting point of political wisdom.
In spite of these birth pains, Muslim intellectuals greeted the ‘Islamization of Knowledge’ Project with considerable enthusiasm. Soon other scholars, such as Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and activists like the British-Pakistani Ziauddin Sardar also began weighing in. In Malaysia the project received the backing of the rising political star Anwar Ibrahim, the former firebrand student leader turned government minister and — some whispered — a possible successor of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The viability of ‘Islamization of Knowledge’ seemed further assured as the project also began tasking institutional form: In the United States in the shape of Ismai’l al-Faruqi’s International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and in Malaysia by the establishment of the earlier-mentioned ISTAC, founded in 1987 by Syed Naquib al-Attas, but since then incorporated into the International Islamic University Malaysia.
Akeel Bilgrami’s article, “Secularism: Its Content and Context,” is an important and welcome contribution on a topic that has acquired momentum with the renaissance of the public role of religions, in democratic and non-democratic societies alike. Bilgrami clarifies in a penetrating and lucid way, three fundamental ideas on secularism: first, that it is “a stance to be taken about religion”; second, that it is not an indication of the form of government or the liberal nature of a regime; and third, that the context is a crucial factor in issues concerning the relationship between politics and religion. The first two arguments are intertwined and pertain to the identity and function of secularism, while the latter brings us directly to the role of religion in the public sphere, a theme that has become pivotal in contemporary democratic theory. Since I have no strong disagreement with Bilgrami’s arguments, what I would like to do in what follows is propose some specifications and exemplifications that may enrich or complete them.
Yet, these days the Salafis pop up as you read about Egypt, Indonesia, and even France. It’s a movement with global reach, certainly, but at the same time very diverse – from apolitical, world-refusing born-agains, to al-Qaeda-emulating Jihadi-Salafis. In “Whence the Salafis?” I explained the cyclical nature of conservative revivalism in Islamic history. Now it’s time to look at the sociology of Salafism. This will also lead me to remark on how sacred texts are read – a theme that runs throughout my work.
The politics of representing Islam
The British Museum’s Pilgrimage – WSJ.com
Professor Nasser D. Khalili, who has amassed what is almost certainly the greatest collection of Islamic art in existence, and whose foundation has lent many of the key exhibits for this show, hopes that it will emphasize what Islam has in common with other religious traditions. “People ask why I, an Iranian Jew, should promote the culture of Islam,” he says. “I say ‘It’s because they are my cousins.’ And we must all learn from it: Christians, too, as well as the other Abrahamic religions.”
“The city is as old as eternity, but still young, and it has never ceased to exist. Its days and nights have been long; it has survived its rulers and commoners. These are its houses and dwellings, but where are their former residents and the people who visited them? These are its palaces and chambers of court, but where are the Hamdanid princes and their poets? They have all passed away, but the city is still here. City of wonders! It endures. Its kings fall; they disappear, but its destruction has not been ordered”.
Symbolic stamps—and reactions to them—also provide an entry point to analyze a culture’s priorities and hang-ups. I try to find a different design each time I purchase stamps and was delighted to discover Eid stamps this past November. According to USPS, the stamp “honors two of the most important festivals in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.” The stamp says Eid Mubarak, which is the greeting shared among Muslims on those days, roughly translating to “have a blessed festival.”
A Belgian professor of sociology and researcher on Islam Felice Dassetto is calling on rich Muslim countries to assist in establishing Islamic theological schools and faculties in Europe to overcome the gap in intellectual leadership of European Muslims.
“One of the major problems Muslims in Europe face, except perhaps for UK, is the absence of religious intellectual leadership,” said Dassetto who teaches sociology in the university of Leuven and has published three books on Islam.
Space: To boldly go where no man or woman has gone before
The Battle for Public Space: Squares and Streets of the Egyptian Revolution
Space is never something that people simply use; we make meaning out of space through how we use it. And Egypt’s revolution has seen a transformation in public space. That it is no longer surprising to see public walls adorned with political graffiti—even those of Cairo’s Supreme Court or administrative Mogamma building—speaks powerfully to this geographic transformation and to public space both as a site and an instrument of revolutionary struggle.
The new documentary, according to Kumar, illustrates Kashmiris recounting “how their freedom is conceded and replaced by fear and institutionalized oppression… The film contains heart-wrenching stories of the effects of brutality and terror by Indian armed forces and militants alike.”
The documentary is culled from football filmed during the making of Inshallah, Football
Support Diversity in Anthropology Blogs | Anthropology Report
Female bloggers are especially subjected to mistreatement, in posted comment streams and personal messages. This can be amplified whenever a female blogger talks about issues of gender or race, but can occur at any time–just look through the comment stream for Barbara J. King’s article on the so-called Paleo-Diet (and see King’s comment on the Kate Clancy post, referenced below).
I’ve highlighted below some recent calls and examples of this mistreatment, beginning with Kate Clancy’s call for support, Krystal D’Costa’s stance, and the example from Barbara J. King. I also include a recent article by Laurie Essig on Gingrich-and-race: again check the vitriol in the comment section.
Please take a look at these articles. Support diversity in anthropology blogs and elsewhere.
But then, I noticed something.
The kids who came over to play were only from certain households. Other kids never came by, or were explicitly told to stay away by the kids in the household where we were renting. I didn’t know this was happening at first…but I slowly started figuring things out. Certain kids would approach me and ask about baseball when I wasn’t at our house, and I thought it was strange that they never actually came over…until the whole mystery started to make more sense. I also remember some kids hanging out on the edge of the yard, leaning on the wall watching us play. I’d ask them if they wanted to play, but they would politely refuse every time. Why didn’t they every want to actually play?
I was the first person in my department to actively engage with social media and digital research methods to conduct my PhD research. I was unable to undertake fieldwork in the traditional sense; spending a period overseas conducting interviews and collecting data, as part of my Geography PhD at KCL. While I had made several trips to a number of institutions, I had to look at different ways to contact and communicate with a large number of globally dispersed actors.
When I finished reading Talal Asad’s essay, “The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam,” I turned back to the front page and wrote in big, capital letters across it, “What is at stake are the conditions of the possible questions it is possible to ask” and “DISCURSIVE TRADITION.” That is the basic take away, those two things. But I’ll go into at least a little more depth for everyone’s benefit.
This comprehensive collection examines a broad spectrum of Islamic governance during colonial and postcolonial eras. The book pays special attention to the ongoing battles over the codification of Islamic education, religious authority, law and practice while outlining the similarities and differences in British, French and Portuguese colonial rule in Islamic regions. Using a shared conceptual framework the contributors to this volume analyze the nature of regulation in different historical periods and geographical areas. From Africa and the Middle East to Asia and Europe, Colonial and Post-Colonial Governance of Islam opens up new vistas for research in Islamic studies
Since outright hatred and discrimination of people because of their race is no longer socially acceptable in our post Civil-Rights era, many argue racism no longer exists. But sociologists suggest that racism simply changed, becoming more implicit and indirect.
In “Portraying Tiger Woods: Characterizations of a ‘Black’ Athlete in a ‘White’ Sport,” Andrew Billings discusses how race plays a role in sports commentators’ evaluations of golfers, and particularly in how they describe and comment upon Tiger Woods. A content analysis of 37.5 hours of coverage of golf tournaments between April and August of 2001 by CBS, NBC, and ABC, during which 2,989 evaluative comments occurred, revealed patterns in how sportscasters described Tiger Woods compared to other golfers. When he was losing, Woods was more likely than other golfers in the same position to be described as lacking composure or concentration, of “self-destructing,” and of lacking control over his emotions. Overall, Billings found that the types of language other students have found to be applied to Black athletes were applied to Woods only when he was losing. When he was doing well, commentators did not significantly stereotype Woods.
The study is interesting in light of a video sent in by Jason Eastman. This Wall Street Journal segment discusses the results of a study that investigated how media depictions of college quarterbacks’ performances.
Welcome to the Middle East Channel Editors Vlog, or possibly MECTV, or the MEC-VLOG or — if I get my way — Aardvark TV! We’re working on it. Whatever the name, I’m thrilled to announce the pilot episode of what we hope will be a weekly video blog hosted by me on the Middle East Channel. Hey, it worked for Justin Bieber, right?
On 11 January, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. This law effectively prohibits Palestinian residents of the 1967 Occupied Territories, who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel or to residents of East Jerusalem, from entering into Israel for the purpose of family unification. This law was amended in 2007, further prohibiting the entry of spouses who are citizens of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq.
In De ideologie van de PVV gaat De Ruiter, verbonden aan de Universiteit van Tilburg, in op het PVV-gedachtegoed zoals verwoord door PVV-Kamerlid Martin Bosma in zijn De schijn-élite van de valse munters, dat in 2010 verscheen. Helder analyserend legt De Ruiter uit dat het PVV-denken sterk zwart-wit is en zich op een vijftal thema’s richt: het christendom, de islam, joden en Israël, de linkse partijen en immigratie en multiculturaliteit. Daarnaast besteedt De Ruiter aandacht aan de wording van de PVV als politieke beweging, en de manier waarop Martin Bosma omgaat met cijfers en feiten. In een verhaal dat dit boek afsluit verwoordt De Ruiter zijn zorg over wat er gebeurt als uitsluiting in een samenleving regel wordt.
Afgelopen week meldde zich weer een besmet persoon in de ziekenboeg van het kabinet: staatssecretaris De Krom. Hij heeft aangegeven dat er consequenties zouden zijn voor mensen die geen Nederlands spreken en aan het loket van de gemeente aankloppen voor een uitkering, hiermee reagerend op het initiatiefvoorstel van de VVD. Nu is de inburgering altijd een onderwerp voor een debat, zeker met dit rechtse kabinet, maar de vraag die mij steeds parten speelt, hebben die mensen dit weleens meegemaakt, onderzocht van dichtbij?
Moslima’s toestaan om een boerka te dragen leidt heus niet tot fundamentalisme. Politicoloog Jonathan Laurence adviseert Europese beleidsmakers: laat islamitische gebruiken, kledingvoorschriften en scholen laten voor wat ze zijn. Het ontbreekt de islam nu vooral aan maatschappelijke erkenning.
Holy Wars neemt de kijker mee in de wereld van twee verschillende fundamentalistische gelovigen. Meer dan drie jaar volgt de film de Christelijke zendeling Aaron Taylor en de radicale Khalid Kelly, een Ier die zich tot de Islam heeft bekeerd.
Vanaf vandaag vindt u op deze website regelmatig een interview met een persoon die ‘iets’ met compassie heeft. Deze week is onze gast: Jan Jaap de Ruiter, arabist aan de Universiteit van Tilburg.
Het Leven van Mohammed (The Life of Muhammad) is een uitvoerige en historisch onderbouwde driedelige BBC-serie, die nu door de NTR in Nederland wordt uitgezonden. Presentator Rageh Omaar reist in de voetsporen van de stichter van de islam en vertelt het verhaal van zijn leven. Het is tegelijkertijd het verhaal van het ontstaan van één van de grootste religies ter wereld. De serie werd vorig jaar door de BBC uitgezonden en zorgde nog vóór uitzending voor ophef. De Iraanse regering protesteerde fel tegen de uitzendingen, omdat ze zouden zijn bedoeld om de islam te besmeuren. Dat is zeker niet het geval, hoewel controversiële onderwerpen niet worden geschuwd.
Even vooraf: dit boek biedt meer dan de titel De islam in China suggereert. De schrijfster Marie-Hélène De Spiegeleer (1936), reisbegeleidster sinds 1986, geeft ook een beeld van de islam op zich: inhoud, symbolen, rituelen, militaire expansie in Azië, kunst, handel, Zijderoute. Ze geeft ook een beknopt schematisch overzicht van de Chinese geschiedenis en parallel daarmee van de gebeurtenissen in andere culturen in de rest van de wereld.