The right of Muslim schoolgirls in France to wear the veil (hijab) raises questions concerning the meaning of the veil for Muslim women. The debate about Muslim dress codes and whether Islam belongs in Europe has become a critical issue. The debate that began about the veil in Islam has evolved into a large discussion about Islam itself: as a religion, the Islamic movement in France and the relationship between Islam and fundamentalism. The purpose of this article is to examine some definitions of the hijab and its meaning in the context of the Qur’an, and to analyse some of the understandings of the hijab, as articulated in the late twentieth century by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. It also explores the nature of Muslim reactions in France as well as their tensions with the surrounding society, as a result of the French ban on wearing the veil in public schools.
Religious and Political Aspects
Mehrunnisa Ahmad Ali, Nashwa Salem, Béchir Oueslati, Marie Andrew and Lisa Quirke
Representations of Islam in Ontario's social studies textbooks portray a dehistoricized view of a religion that is disconnected from other monotheistic religions. The varied and complex socio-political and ideological locations of Muslims in historical and current contexts are reduced to simplistic, often negative depictions, either as irrational aggressors or victims of poverty and underdevelopment. More nuanced, historically grounded, and multifaceted representations are called for, in order to promote a more inclusive society in Ontario.
Muslim Youth Challenge Nativist and Closed Notions of Austrian Identity
The Austrian Muslim Youth was founded in 1996 by young Muslims of different ethnic backgrounds and has become the largest multi-ethnic, co-educational, German-speaking youth organization in Austria today. Since its inception, it has presented the concept of an ‘Austrian Muslim identity’ as a key philosophy. In this article, I ask how the idea of this identity was negotiated. I suggest that this concept is not reinforcing nativist notions. Rather, the formation of an Austrian Muslim identity can be seen as an attempt to create safe spaces to empower young Muslims to live their religion while fully participating in Austrian society. Hence, this concept speaks to two audiences simultaneously, challenging nativist notions and offering young Muslims ways to see themselves as possessing multiple and hybrid identities.
Reading Muslim Masculinities through Muslim Femininities in Ms. Marvel
Shenila S. Khoja-Moolji and Alyssa D. Niccolini
In this article we examine the production and operation of the character, Kamala Khan, a Muslim American-Pakistani superheroine of the Ms. Marvel comic series, to glean what this reveals about Islam and Muslims, with particular attention to representations of Muslim masculinities. We argue that Ms. Marvel's invitation to visualize Muslim girls as superheroes is framed by a desire to interrupt rampant Islamophobia and xenophobia, yet, in order to produce such a disruption it relies on, and (re)produces, stereotypical conceptualizations of Muslim masculinities as mirrored in men who are conservative, prone to irrational rage, pre-modern, anachronistic, and even bestial. However, as the series progresses we notice the emergence of representations of complex and complicated Muslim masculinities that cast doubt on these tired, hackneyed ones, thus making way for a comic to undertake the pedagogical work of resistance. We see this graphic novel, like the shape-shifting Kamala herself, as wielding potentially dynamic and transformative power in social imaginaries.
Signs of Hope
Guat Kwee See
Over the last fifty years, Muslims and Christians have never talked so much with each other, according to Jean Claude Basset. However, he writes that it is mainly a small elite group of scholars who are doing the talking Ismail Faruqi described Muslim-Christian dialogue as a 'failure, a struggling desperately to survive', and in vain, with no visible results. He argued that Muslim-Christian dialogue has mostly been led by Christians; Muslims as 'invited guests' have thus not been free to speak being obligated to their 'hosts'. Furthermore, participant Muslims are often selected by Church authorities, rather than elected or appointed by their communities. Although a good number of dialogues have been organized at the international level with the support of religious organizations, they claim little impact beyond more local initiatives, have not prevented mistrust and conflicts from occurring, and have offered little help in healing wounds and restoring peace.
Lluís Samper Rasero and Jordi Garreta Bochaca
Textbooks are basic elements that shape the school curriculum. Despite the democratization and decentralization of the Spanish educational system, a certain ideological inertia and bias with respect to their contents and focus persists. The study presented here is based on an empirical analysis of the contents of 264 books used at the primary (6-11 years), secondary (12-14 years) and baccalaureate (15-16 years) levels. The results point to the existence of an "unstated" curriculum, where only brief mention of Islam, Arabs and Muslims, and their presence in Spain predominate. These are usually accompanied by images - for cognitive support - that serve to maintain an exotic, anti-modern, anti-Western and, in other words, an "Orientalist" image of this group.
Localized globalization and battles over a cultural Islam
Johannes Gerrit de Kruijf
Contemporary cultural processes, comprising tendencies toward transformation and reproduction, are inevitably affected by the (re)formative force of globalization. Increased mobility and intensified interconnectedness have expanded our ability to recreate culture, enforce a redefinition of social realities, and transform power structures. Globalization has thus also had an effect on religious realms. Religious concepts, practices, and organizations everywhere are increasingly subject to transnational forces. This article looks at the intersection of these forces and the local powers that determine religious developments by analyzing contemporary Indo-Guyanese Islam as a manifestation of this connection. Rather than stressing globalization's universalizing propensities, it investigates how local conditions determine the relationship between growing interconnectedness and the development of Muslim faith, practice, and collectivity. It is argued that globalization stirs opposing processes of deculturalization and reculturalization in Guyana because of the economic, social, religious, political, and historical context in which local Muslims consume the fruits of transnationalization.
Studies on Religious Anti-syncretism in the Western Rhodopes, Bulgaria
This essay questions the thesis of the supposed syncretic nature of the religion of Bulgarian-speaking Muslims, an idea still espoused in Bulgarian ethnography and popular among the Rhodope Christian population. It examines the Muslim motivations for attending Christian holy places in the Rhodopes, particularly the Monastery of St George in Hadzhidimovo, to gather evidence from the actual participants. It shows that the local Muslims and Christians offer incompatible interpretations of the Muslim practice. Furthermore, it takes into account Muslim and Christian testimonies on how Muslims behave in the monastery of St George, and how their gestures are interpreted by both groups. Although the Muslim narratives betray a rather anti-syncretic attitude to Christianity, the Christians sometimes tend to see them as actual crypto-Christians. In my conclusions I stake out a position in the recent polemic between Glenn Bowman and Robert Hayden concerning the specificity of interactions between dissenters at sacred shrines.
Contextual Identities among Muslims from Western Macedonia in Everyday Practices and Narratives
Muslims have been present in the Republic of Macedonia for more than five hundred years, yet they remain constantly under discussion. Contemporary Muslims negotiate various ethnic or national identifications and differently evaluate their past. Moreover, while many Macedonian Muslims migrate to Western Europe and thus engage in transnational practices, many of them are trying to place themselves between what they conceive of as 'modern-European' and 'religious-traditional'. In this essay I present some of the everyday practices and narratives in which Muslims from the western part of the Republic of Macedonia discuss their religious identities. Based on my ethnographic fieldwork, I describe vernacular perspectives on 'Muslim identity' in relation to nationality, ethnicity, gender and local tradition, and I analyse the ways in which different modes of identifications are being performed and presented. By illustrating various contexts in which Muslim belonging is being emphasised and labelled by social actors, I envisage its symbolic meanings in perspective of local and global hegemonies.
Its Consequences for Secularism
All too often, the question of Muslim minorities in Europe and America is discussedsolely in socioeconomic terms or with a simplistic focus on the Islamicreligion and its purported incompatibility with democracy. This article focusesinstead on the secularism of Western host societies as a major factor in the integrationof Muslim minorities. It compares French and American secularismand argues that while French-style secularism has contributed to present tensionsbetween French Muslims and the French state, American secularism hasfacilitated the integration of Muslims in the United States—even after 9/11.