Special Issue "Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 January 2022) | Viewed by 5917

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Meena Sharify-Funk
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Religion and Culture Department, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5, Canada
Interests: contemporary Islamic and Sufi thought and identity; women and Islam
Dr. Rory Dickson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Religion and Culture, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, MB R3B 2E9, Canada
Interests: Sufism; contemporary Islam

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

After a brief introductory article by the Guest Editors, this Special Issue of Religions opens with Dr. Besnik Sinani exploring the question of an emerging post-Salafism in Saudi Arabia, as leading Salafi thinkers seek to reform Salafism in light of recent political and sectarian developments in the Middle East. Following this, we turn to global traditionalist Sunni responses to Salafi critiques, or what Dr. Jason Idriss Sparkes refers to as “Traditional Islam”, with a particular focus on Morocco’s role in this contemporary Islamic movement. Both “post-Salafism” and “Traditional Islam” are, in some respects, responses to the global rise of Islamophobia. For Muslims in majority non-Muslim contexts, such as China, India, America, and Europe, questions of identity are often framed by anti-Muslim policies and politics. Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, Dr. Sanobar Umar, and Shweta Desai offer a case study of how Islamophobia functions online and in person in India, within the context of a growing Hindu nationalism. Some contemporary expressions of Islam also seek to draw the boundaries between Muslims and non-Muslims more starkly. Dr. Chaiwat Satha-Anand provides a study of what he calls “restrictive Islam” in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, where Muslims have had to negotiate purist perspectives and political realities, especially during recent pandemic years. In addition, the establishment of global Shi’a networks represents another example of attempts to reclaim Islam from both rival claimants and detractors, as Dr. Sahir Dewji outlines in his work on the Nizari Isma’ili community’s efforts to promote a pluralistic, cosmopolitan Islam. We conclude this Special Issue with Dr. Natasha Bakht’s exploration of the politics of veiling in liberal democracies in North America and Europe. Bakht foregrounds the voices of women who wear the face veil as a form of religious agency in contexts that are frequently oppositional to their embodied expression of Islamic practice. Together, these articles offer insights into some of the key issues and controversies shaping contemporary Muslim thought and identity in diverse global contexts.

Dr. Meena Sharify-Funk
Dr. Rory Dickson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • authority
  • ethics
  • Islamophobia
  • Jihadism
  • gender
  • race
  • reform
  • revival
  • Salafism
  • Sufism
  • tradition

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Introduction: Special Issue on Contemporary Muslim Identity and Thought
Religions 2022, 13(4), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040373 - 18 Apr 2022
Viewed by 518
Abstract
Contemporary Muslim identity and thought include a remarkable diversity of trajectory, orientation, and debate [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity)

Research

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Article
Morocco as a Hub of Globalised Traditional Islam
Religions 2022, 13(5), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050392 - 24 Apr 2022
Viewed by 617
Abstract
Muslims on every continent have responded in a great variety of ways to the challenges of colonial modernity. Yet, it is also possible to examine broader currents within this diversity. Fundamentalism, modernism, and traditionalism are global currents which also overlap with other religions, [...] Read more.
Muslims on every continent have responded in a great variety of ways to the challenges of colonial modernity. Yet, it is also possible to examine broader currents within this diversity. Fundamentalism, modernism, and traditionalism are global currents which also overlap with other religions, such as Christianity or Hinduism. However, these contested and unstable categories only loosely designate internally diverse currents comprised of complex sub-currents as well as countercurrents. Fundamentalism, for example, has been used to designate various Wahhabi or Salafi movements. Modernism can refer to liberal, progressive, and even postmodern Islamic movements. Traditionalism generally refers to those movements which claim continuity with classical lineages, especially in jurisprudence (fiqh), doctrine (‘aqîda), and spirituality (tasawwuf). Muslims associated with this current generally identify as Traditional rather than Traditionalist. Traditional Islam is a global community whose participants adhere to several Sunni and Shia lineages and share a common discourse, network, and aesthetics. These participants typically depict fundamentalism as too rigid and literalist, and modernism as too eager to capitulate to Western ideologies and prone to unorthodox interpretations of Islam. However, rather than hostility and conflict with the West, Traditional Muslims tend to promote peaceful inter-civilisational dialogue, based on shared values in terms of spirituality, ethics, and indeed geopolitical stability. Morocco has emerged as a hub of Traditional Islam, along with other countries such as Jordan. It is pursuing an official policy to reinforce its reputation as the centre of a Western Islamic tradition that converges around the following four central elements: (1) veneration of the Prophet Muḥammad’s descendants (sharifism); (2) Maliki fiqh; (3) Ash’ari ‘aqîda; (4) Junaydi tasawwuf. This article examines how Morocco is actively engaged in shaping the regional and global Traditional Islamic community. It also proposes a decolonial world-systems analysis of how Traditional Islamic discourse relates to the lived experiences of Muslims in places such as Morocco. Based on this analysis, this article concludes that a credibility problem impedes efforts by Traditional Muslims to defend the unique ways of being, knowing, and behaving developed by Muslims against the ongoing genocidal threat of colonial modernity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity)
Article
“Fight, Die, and If Required Kill”: Hindu Nationalism, Misinformation, and Islamophobia in India
Religions 2022, 13(5), 380; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050380 - 20 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 727
Abstract
This article provides a deep dive into several recent cases of majoritarian hate speech and violence perpetrated against Muslims in India. We first provide an introduction to Hindutva as a social movement in India, followed by an examination of three case studies in [...] Read more.
This article provides a deep dive into several recent cases of majoritarian hate speech and violence perpetrated against Muslims in India. We first provide an introduction to Hindutva as a social movement in India, followed by an examination of three case studies in which Islamophobic hate speech circulated on social media, as well as several instances of anti-Muslim violence. These case studies—the Delhi riots, the Love Jihad conspiracy theory, and anti-Muslim disinformation related to the COVID pandemic—show that Hindu nationalism in India codes the Muslim minority in the country as particularly dangerous and untrustworthy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity)
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Article
Getting to Know the Other: Niqab-Wearing Women in Liberal Democracies
Religions 2022, 13(4), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040361 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 528
Abstract
Governments around the world have gone to great lengths to discourage and prohibit wearing of the niqab, often relying on the justification that this form of Muslim women’s dress represents and produces the oppression of women. Setting aside that these prohibitions are themselves [...] Read more.
Governments around the world have gone to great lengths to discourage and prohibit wearing of the niqab, often relying on the justification that this form of Muslim women’s dress represents and produces the oppression of women. Setting aside that these prohibitions are themselves detrimental to women’s equality, this article focuses on the voices of women who wear the niqab or face veil. I describe and analyze how women explain their decision to wear the niqab based on interviews in seven liberal democracies. For most women, the primary motivation for wearing the niqab is religious, though supplementary reasons are also offered. The niqab is an embodied practice that represents a personal spiritual journey. Women’s explanations for why and when they wear the niqab suggest a complex intermingling of doctrinal knowledge and practical lived experience that negotiates religion day to day. Women often pair their religious agency with a sophisticated rights-based framework to justify their sartorial choices. Women refute the idea that the niqab makes them submissive. Their empowered interpretations of their religion and their conviction to lead a life that is different from most, in countries with pervasive anti-Muslim racism, suggest a great deal of independence and courage. This research offers nuance to the depiction of women who are typically portrayed monotonously, dispelling inaccurate stereotypes used to support discriminatory decision making about niqab-wearing women. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity)
Article
The Governor, the Cow-Head, and the Thrashing Pillows: Negotiated “Restrictive Islam” in Early Twenty-First Century Southeast Asia?
Religions 2022, 13(4), 353; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040353 - 13 Apr 2022
Viewed by 513
Abstract
There are obviously several ways to explore the issue of Islamic radicalism in Southeast Asia. Instead of focusing on explicit violence such as those carried out by jihadi groups or those associated with them, this research article chooses to examine three empirical cases [...] Read more.
There are obviously several ways to explore the issue of Islamic radicalism in Southeast Asia. Instead of focusing on explicit violence such as those carried out by jihadi groups or those associated with them, this research article chooses to examine three empirical cases of Muslims’ expression of “restrictive Islam” that have taken place in the public sphere in both majority and minority Muslim contexts of Southeast Asia. They are: Muslims’ calling for the removal of an elected Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta on account of blasphemy in Indonesia; Muslims’ cow head protest to intimidate Hindus in Malaysia; and some Muslims’ thrashing of pillows at a hospital for COVID-19 patients as an expression of vehement faith-based refusal and protest in Buddhist Thailand against health protocols issued by Thai officials in the current fight against the pandemic in Southern Thailand. This article argues that the “restrictive” lives that some Muslims lead in Southeast Asia today have to assume a negotiated form that is a mixture of “high artificiality”, recently adopted from a version of purist Islam they claim to be authentic, and the “pure normality” resulting from a combination of political reality informed by existing forms of governance in these countries and the legacy of how historical Islam arrived in this land. The result is that the “restrictive Islam” espoused by many Southeast Asian Muslims could not be overly “extreme” or “radical” but tends to appear in a somewhat “negotiated” form. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity)
Article
Post-Salafism: Religious Revisionism in Contemporary Saudi Arabia
Religions 2022, 13(4), 340; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040340 - 10 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1250
Abstract
This article seeks to identify the driving factors, features, and significance of the transformation of Salafism in contemporary Muslim societies, a development labeled ‘post-Salafism’. Throughout the 20th century, Salafism grew into a global religious movement, with distinctive local characteristics. Its post-Salafi transformations have [...] Read more.
This article seeks to identify the driving factors, features, and significance of the transformation of Salafism in contemporary Muslim societies, a development labeled ‘post-Salafism’. Throughout the 20th century, Salafism grew into a global religious movement, with distinctive local characteristics. Its post-Salafi transformations have likewise been diverse and reflect local conditions. ‘Post-Salafism’ is a term employed congruently to point at the fragmentation of Salafi religious authority; the emergence of Salafi alliances with other Muslim groups, which challenge Salafi conceptions of doctrinal superiority; in Salafi softening of sectarian rhetoric as a way of distancing from militant groups; in Salafi “indigenization”; and in social and political transformations that overlap with post-Islamism. Post-Salafism refers additionally to debates within Salafi circles, reflective of emerging internal doctrinal contradictions. Since the founding of Saudi Arabia in 1932, the kingdom has played a unique role in promoting, financing, and building the institutional network of global Salafism. The transformation of Saudi Salafism, therefore, resulting from changes in government policy, public pressure, and internal revisionism, will effect Salafism globally, pointing at a transformative moment in Muslim religious thought and authority structures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity)
Article
Aga Khan IV and Contemporary Isma‘ili Identity: Pluralist Vision and Rooted Cosmopolitanism
Religions 2022, 13(4), 289; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040289 - 27 Mar 2022
Viewed by 641
Abstract
Cosmopolitan engagement and pluralism are consistent themes that run through the Isma‘ili community’s history and continue to be an integral characteristic of the community’s identity. The present Isma‘ili Imam, Karim Aga Khan IV, has been lauded as a champion of pluralism and recognized [...] Read more.
Cosmopolitan engagement and pluralism are consistent themes that run through the Isma‘ili community’s history and continue to be an integral characteristic of the community’s identity. The present Isma‘ili Imam, Karim Aga Khan IV, has been lauded as a champion of pluralism and recognized for his commitment to cosmopolitan ethics which feature prominently in his discourses to both Isma‘ili adherents and other communities. Although the Isma‘ilis have faced vilification and massacres in the course of history, this Muslim minority community has come to be recognized for its endeavors in the area of pluralism and bridge-building under the leadership of Aga Khan IV. The Imam offers religious and worldly guidance from his residence in France, where he has established a Secretariat that includes a number of departments that steer the various communal (jama‘ati) institutions as well as his non-denominational Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). This non-denominational organization established by Aga Khan IV has emerged as a world leading non-governmental organization providing a number of programs toward improving the quality of life of Muslims and others across the globe. Through his institutions, Aga Khan IV stresses the need for a healthy pluralism that is supported by dialogue and engagement with diversity. One such institution is the Global Centre for Pluralism based in Ottawa, Canada—an international research institution whose activities are underpinned by the Imam’s ethico-religious interpretation of the Islamic faith and commitment to civil society. Aga Khan IV’s discourse of pluralism and cosmopolitan ethics has placed his community at the forefront of engagement with an increasingly diverse world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity)
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