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Five Observations on Muslimism

SLAVICA JAKELIĆ

As I mentioned in my intro to Cevik’s lecture on Muslimism, the project itself represents a significant step in our better understanding of the ways in which Islam, or rather, Muslims in concrete historical and sociological contexts, engage various institutions of modern life.

The book is interested in the agentic capacities of religion and religious actors. In this regard, the book is not identical with, but is nonetheless representative of, the multiple/vernacular/contending modernities perspectives: it considers the ways in which religion transforms modernity as much as modernity affects and transforms religion.

This is both my reflection on Cevik’s argument and my caution about the possible comparative approaches to various ‘new religious orthodoxies’: Cevik is rightly careful about the future developments of Muslimism, as they depend on various factors (political, economic, religious). On my reading, this cautious approach also ought to be taken with any comparisons between Muslimists and, say, Pentecostals in Latin America or US Evangelicals. Any comparative work in this area needs to be alert to the possible simplifications and repetitions of the old subtraction narratives about the ultimate victory of the secularizing impetus in modernity: for example, the view that the more individualistic theological stance noted in Muslimism will ultimately result in the rejection of the communal identity.

There is a great difference between hybridity Cevik discusses (as conducive of political and religious creativity and spaces of pluralism) and the hybridity that Olivier Roy, for example, identifies (as a source of radicalism). Hence my question to Cevik; to what extent the forms of hybridity she identifies are dependent on a particular narrative of Turkish national identity?

One final question: Islam makes a strong emphasis on social justice. Could the ideals of social justice as construed in Islamic thought be used as a critique of Muslimism and, if so, how?

Slavica Jakelić is Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Thought at Christ College at Valparaiso University. Her scholarly interests and publications center on religion and identity, the relationship of religious and secular humanisms, Christianity in global perspective, interreligious dialogue, and conflict resolution. Jakelić is a co-editor of two volumes, The Future of the Study of Religion and Crossing Boundaries: From Syria to Slovakia, a co-editor of The Hedgehog Review’s issue “After Secularization,” and, most recently, the author of Collectivistic Religions: Religion, Choice, and Identity in Late Modernity (2010). She is currently working on a book entitled The Practice of Religious and Secular Humanisms.

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