The Paradoxes of the Re-Islamization of Muslim Societies

Weapons4-300x200 Oliver Roy in The Immanent Frame:

[M]odern forms of religiosity tend to stress individual faith and choices over conformity to any sort of institutionalized Islam. The old motto “in Islam, no separation between religion (din) and worldly issues (dunya)” already turned a long time ago from an academic statement to mere wishful thinking, but it has been definitively undermined by the Arab Spring. What we see, more than secularization, is a deconstruction of Islam, torn between some sort of a cultural identity (there could be, in this sense, “atheist Muslims”), a faith that could be shared only by born-again believers (Salafis) in the confines of self-centered faith communities, or a “horizon of meaning” where references to sharia are more virtual than real.

The recasting of religious norms as values helps also to promote an interfaith coalition of religious conservatives that could unite around specific causes—opposition to same-sex marriage, for instance. It is interesting to see how, in Western Europe, for example, secular populists tend to stress more and more the Christian identity of Europe, while many Muslim conservatives try to forge an alliance of believers to defend shared values. In so doing, many of them tend to adopt an evangelical Protestant agenda, fighting abortion and Darwinism, both issues that have never been relevant in traditional Islamic debates. In this sense, modern neo-fundamentalists are trying to recast Islam as a kind of Western-compatible religious conservatism, a fact that is obvious in Turkey, where, in 2004, the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, tried to promote an anti-adultery law that defined adultery not in terms of sharia but by reference to the modern Western family (a monogamous marriage of a man and a woman with equal rights and duties, thus making the custom of polygamy, not uncommon among traditional AK local cadres, although illegal since 1926, more clearly a crime). Islam is thus part of the recasting of a religious global market disconnected from local cultures.