Thursday 19 September 2013

A Crisis of Religious authority in the Muslim World

An important article by Hatem Bazian of Zaytuna College on Religious authority in the Muslim World, signalling the problems faced by traditional authority figures:
Current events in Egypt, Syria and Tunisia - and before that in Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey - point to a great struggle between religious authorities and state powers. At play are various claimants to religious authority; states in pre- and post-colonial and pre- and post-nationalist periods; and the role of religious authorities in existing monarchies. [...] The scholars, despite being included, and contributing to unfolding events, have collectively been dragged into the political arena, an area they are ill-prepared or ill-qualified to respond to in clear and meaningful ways. And referencing classical texts only complicates the matter - for it brings history into the contemporary struggle without the prerequisite knowledge needed to examine the past. In this manner, the past becomes a tool for asserting claims to the contemporary.

His discussion ties in with the upcoming volume of essays, which  Susanne Olsson and I have edited, and which is due to appear later this year under the title Alternative Islamic Discourses and Religious Authority.