Islam in a Post-Secular Society: Religion, Secularity and the Antagonism of Recalcitrant Faith

ISLAM IN A POST-SECULAR SOCIETY
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 Islam In A Post Secular Society
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354
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ISLAM IN A POST-SECULAR SOCIETY – Book Sample

Contents – ISLAM IN A POST-SECULAR SOCIETY

  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Professing Islam in a Post-Secular Society 1 Introduction 1
  • On the Contemporary Possibility of Witnessing and Professing 3 The Post-Secular Society 6
  • What Does It Mean to Profess Islam? 15
  • Witnessing in Islam: On the Tradition of Radical Praxis 17 New Religion as Return of the Old 19
  • Witnessing in the Time of War 22
  • “Perfected Religion”: A Problematic Conception 27 Fear of Philosophical Blasphemy 39
  • Adversity in Post-Secular Europe 43
  • The Dialectics of Martyrdom: Death as Witnessing and Professing 43
  • Witnessing against Islam: The Case of Theo van Gogh 54
  • Je ne suis pas Charlie et je ne suis pas avec les terroristes 75
  • Finding a Common Language 90
  • 13th Century Witnessing: Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik al-Kamil 90
  • Different Francis, Same Mission: Witnessing with and for Muslims 103
  • Translation Proviso: Can We Witness and Confess in the Same Language? 114
  • Cognitive-Instrumental Reason, Moral-Practical Reason and Aesthetic-Expressive Reason in Religion 116
  • Translation Dangers 118
  • Secular Entrenchment 127
  • Witnessing and Professing in Prophetic and Positive Religions 135 Affirmation and Negativity: Marx 135
  • ivity: Lenin   140
  • irmation and Negativity: Horkheimer and Adorno  143
  • Confronting the Post-Secular Condition 147 Prophetic and Priestly Religion 151
  • After Auschwitz: Islam in Europe 159 Violence and the Post-Secular 160 Violence and the State 161
  • Freud’s Unbehagen mit Marx 164
  • Witnessing and Professing in a Nietzschian Age of Nihilism  169 Witnessing and Professing after Auschwitz: Theodor Adorno’s Poetics  180
  • History and Metaphysics after Auschwitz 182 Ethics after Auschwitz 187
  • Witnessing the Messianic: The Case of the Martyr Walter Benjamin 190
  • The Place for Theology 191
  • Messiah, Messianic and the Historian 194 Benjamin’s Critique of Progress: Witnessing History as Barbarity 199
  • Post-Secularity and Its Discontents: The Barbaric Revolt against Barbarism 202
  • Absolutivity 204
  • Authoritarian Absolutes, Heteronomy, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria 207
  • Humanistic Absolutes 219
  • isis: Same Problem, Different Manifestation 222 American and Euro-Jihādis 239
  • Hegel, War and Individualism 241 isis and Western Alienation 246 Internationalism 248
  • Seeking Heaven at the Barrel of a Gun 251 Material Poverty or Poverty of Being? 256 Genealogy of Terror 260
  • Symbolic Message 266
  • Reign of Terror: Bourgeois and Muslim 268 The Perverse Dialectic of Apology 271 Hypocritical Apologetics and the Recovery of the Prophetic 275
  • contents ix
  • 7 The Globalized Post-Secular Society and the Future of Islam 282
  • From the West to the Rest 282
  • Theocracy as a Response to the Globalized Post-Secular Society 288
  • Post-Secular Solidarity: A Proposal for an Intra-religious Constitutionalism 303
  • Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Constitution Building: Modern Slavery 307
  • Conclusion 313
  • Bibliography 315
  • Index 329

Finding a Common Language

In today’s post-secular society, the struggle to find a common language by which peoples of Islamic faith and secular citizens of the West can enter into a discourse remains frustrated. The post-metaphysical language through which democratic deliberation realizes itself fails to penetrate the theologically satu-rated language of Islam.

The de-legitimization of religious language, especially its appeal to, and rootedness in, divine revelation, bars language that is cement-ed in autonomous reason from interacting on an equal footing. However, if we look in the distant past, in an age where religious violence was much greater than it is today, when the antagonisms between Christendom and the dar al-Islam were at their zenith, we find not only potential for inter-religious discourse, but an unlikely and therefore powerful example of what inter-religious discourse can entail.

Yet, we cannot be satisfied to triumphantly cite the example of the interactions of the Catholic St. Francis of Assisi and the Muslim Sultan Malik al-Kamil as if the example itself mysteriously provides a way for discourse between civilizations and cultures.

 We must ask, what are the conditions under which such a fruitful discourse is made possible. What did St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan Malik al-Kamil share that served as the basis for their inter-faith discourse?

13th Century Witnessing: Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik al-Kamil

In light of the present condition, where western powers remain deaf to the Muslim world’s concerns, and where fear of the “other” is a stronger impulse than the willingness to engage in a friendly discussion, we can look to the past in a future orientated remembrance of a historical event that occurred in the 13th century between a living Catholic saint and an enlightened Islamic ruler: the Italian St. Francis of Assisi and the Ayyubid Sultan and nephew of the famous Muslim Amir Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb (Saladin), Malik al-Kamil.

The example that this encounter has provided is one that has been thoroughly neglected, systematically written out of history (by the church), and/or con-veniently forgotten by those whose interest it was to forget the ecumenical nature of Christianity and Islam.1 However, in our age, where the religious passion of one of the discourse partners (the West) has abated, and the other is still open for discussions but is leery about the sincerity of their partner, we need clear precedents of individuals of courage, individuals of moral clarity, and individuals of deep faith to engage in an intense and respectful discourse. Although most of the history of the West and the Muslim world has been antagonistic, every now and then a small breakthrough occurs. In the year 1219 ce, in the midst of the Fifth Crusade, which was taking place in the northern Egyptian city of Damietta, Francis of Assisi arrived in the Crusader camp to preach the love and peace of God.

However, he was resoundingly rejected by his co-religionists, who saw no use for Francis. They were motivated out of greed and lust for war, not the weakness of peace and prayer.2

 After pleading with the Crusader Cardinal for permission, Francis and his companion Illuminato eventually crossed the battle lines that separated the Crusaders from the Muslims and with the prayerfulness of a living saint, walked into the camp of the adversary.3

One would assume that he’d be met with complete hostility considering that his fellow Christians had invaded Muslim lands and where slaughtering the inhabitants mercilessly; a practice that had been going one for over two hundred years when Saint Francis arrived in Egypt.

Indeed, Fran-cis himself witnessed some of the most appalling acts that harkened back to the trauma of his days as a young soldier: the Crusaders mutilated captured Muslim soldiers. According to his biographer, the Crusaders ‘cut off the hapless Muslim’s noses, lips and ears and then gouged out one of each man’s eyes. Thus hideously mutilated, the victims were sent back to their own side.’4

 In light of such brutality, the behavior of the Muslim army was surprising to Francis and his companion. After a brief moment of suspicion, the soldiers of Islam (mujahideen) were most welcoming, hospitable, and eager to hear from what they surmised to be a holy man from Christendom.5 Without shrinking away from his Christian faith, Francis explained to the Muslim soldiers that he was a “follower of Jesus” and requested that he be taken to the Sultan.6

 This was an act of tremendous courage and faith, as the Sultan had been thoroughly demonized by the Christians authorities for years. In Europe, his image was one of systematic violence, a devilish Saracen, a living anti-Christ, who would

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