- 文化人類学 (ISSN:13490648)
- vol.79, no.4, pp.417-428, 2015-03-31 (Released:2017-04-03)
The aim of this paper is to shed light on a new approach to examining the Islamic revival in modern societies. This approach is often articulated by means of what I identify as the "critiques of secularism," insofar as it encompasses a wide range of criticism for secular societies. The Islamic revival has attracted the attention of many social scientists, since it contradicts the idea that modernization is accompanied by secularization. Some scholars make sense of the Islamic revival by studying the rise and growth of certain elements of modernity in Islamic societies. In the process, they tend to engage in the 'objectification of Islam' and thereupon establish some kind of relationship between the simultaneous historical processes of modernity and Islamic revival. Their approaches open a line of inquiry for comparative research, often pursued as a form of "multiple modernities." In contrast, the "critiques of secularism" approach reveals the problems of the "multiple modernities" theory, and inquires other aspects of Islamic revival through the West/Islam binary. Asad and his followers inquire into the problem of why we tend to see Islamic revival as a strange political development. Asad argued that in trying to define religion and its difference with other realms of religious societies, one is not only engaging in a theoretical question, but also simultaneously grappling with the political agenda of 'secularism,' eventually marking out a conceptual distinction between politics and religion. Secularism as an ideal concept often determines an anthropologist's work, so we must conspicuously describe how Islam is a mix of religion and otherwise related sociopolitical realms. In an interesting way, therefore, they problematize the asymmetry inherent in the binary of the West (as liberal secularism) and Islam, and by juxtaposing the West and Islam, criticize Western assumptions about liberalism and secularism. As a remedy to the incongruent binary, they use two distinct concepts for comparing Islam with the West symmetrically: Islamic discursive traditions and their practices of self-cultivation are contrasted with the beliefs and practices of secularism. Thus, their conceptual apparatus, which is inclusive of diverse beliefs and practices, urges us to rethink our assumptions about modern liberal secularism as well as about Islam. Mahmood and Hirschkind also admit that modern developments of Islamic revival in Cairo can be comprehended only by ethnographically describing specific aspects of pious Muslims' everyday activities. The critiques of secularism proffer a novel approach to exploring the phenomenon of modern Islamic revival movements. That is a major contribution to the disciplines of anthropology and Islamic studies, which we must appreciate appropriately to harness deep insights into modern societies. At the same time, one must not disregard how such ethnographies may be criticized by other intellectual perspectives. In other words, we must recognize what may become invisible in the wake of new insights, while committing coherently to various critiques of secularism and the attendant binary.