Political Islam and Masculinity: Muslim Men in Australia
POLITICAL ISLAM AND MASCULINITY – Book Sample
Introduction: The Question of Muslim Masculinities
In the ﬁrst decade of the twenty-ﬁrst century, Muslims across Western nations had inhabited an often hostile social climate characterized by extensive levels of scrutiny, surveillance, and pressure. Muslims have been cast simultaneously as “at risk” of radicalization and as a threat to enlightenment values, freedom, and democracy. Young Muslim men in particular have been portrayed as potential “home-grown” terrorists, criminal thugs, and misogynistic oppressors and as a problem that must be solved.
The “question of Muslim identity” and more speciﬁcally, Muslim masculinities, political loyalty and action has become the central pivot around which debate has focused for the place of Islam in the West and the adequacy of state policies on citizenship and multiculturalism.
Despite the centrality of young, Western-born Muslim men to these questions they remain poorly under- stood. Even less understood is the relationship between social inﬂuences shaping Muslim men and the cultural, political, and intellectual trajectories of Islam in Western contexts.
This book addresses the questions related to why young Muslim men often from very similar social backgrounds are pursuing such dramatically different political paths in the name of Islam. This is at the fore of international debates about citizenship and Muslim minorities and in the current international political context is a task that has more urgency than ever.
Australia is a seemingly unlikely, yet extremely pertinent focal point for examining these issues in greater depth. In contrast to the European experience, Australia is considered an exemplar of multiculturalism in practice, with the world’s strongest multicultural policies1 and highest quality of life.2 Yet more importantly, Australian Muslim men are very often at the fore- front of contesting the cultural, political, and intellectual dimensions of Islam through their actions, very often with international implications.
At one end of the political spectrum, Australian Muslim men have become key players in the international jihadist movement. With up to 200 Australian men having fought in Syria and Iraq, Australia, alongside Belgium, has the highest per capita foreign contribution to the violence.3 At least two 18-year-old Australian men have become suicide bombers in the conﬂict, while others have been linked with atrocities and the execution of captured prisoners while ﬁghting in Syria and Iraq.
As of late 2014, at least 20 young Australian men had been killed in the ﬁghting.4 Other young men have been at the center of international incidents, such as when a group of at least 50 Lebanese Australian Muslim men attacked a group of Shi’ite Muslim Americans from Dearborn on the Hajj pilgrimage in 2013, threatening to rape females in the group and assaulting males.5 Similar sectarian conﬂict has occurred within Australia with shops ﬁrebombed and houses sprayed with bullets in Sydney.
In the past decade, over 30 Australian Muslim men have been arrested for plotting acts of terrorism within Australia, including plans to bomb crowded sports stadiums, nuclear facilities, and even storm Australian military bases with semi-automatic weapons.
On September 23, 2014, Numan Haider, an 18-year-old man of Afghan background, though raised in Australia, apparently responded to a call from Islamic State Iraq and Sham (ISIS) movement leaders to carry out attacks in Western nations, attempting to murder two police ofﬁcers with a knife in the Melbourne suburb of Endeavour Hills. A black ISIS ﬂag was allegedly found on his person.6
By way of strong contrast, other young Australian Muslim men, many of whom grew up in the same suburbs, attended the same mosques and whose families have even associated, have sought political action, and to steer the intellectual and cultural development of Islam in profoundly different directions.
These men have condemned violence and made active intellectual contributions through fusing Islamic and Western culture and practice. Media contributors have, through their presence in the media space, bro- ken down barriers to the development of mutual understanding and respect between Muslims and non-Muslims. Other cultural actors such as Australian Muslim hip-hop groups, comedians, and artists have achieved international recognition, touring the world and playing to sold out audiences from Edinburgh to Dubai, from New York to Jakarta. Other young men are making vitally important economic contributions beneﬁting both Australian Muslims and the wider community.
Based on an unparalleled depth of engagement and quality of sources, the project examines exemplars of Muslim political activity from opposite ends of the political spectrum in the Australian context during and shortly after the 9/11 decade. The project draws these exemplars together for comparison, identifying key similarities and differences in the social inﬂuences shaping their political activity.
The project considers the dimensions of the contesaning of Islam, the key forms of capital possessed by the different political actors and how this shapes their “matrix of dispositions” to act in a particular way. In doing so, the project reveals unprecedented insights into how young observant Muslim men, often from the same suburbs, eth- nic, and cultural backgrounds, of the same proximate age whose families are often acquainted, choose such divergent political paths and impact their local, national, and the international environment.
Layout of the Book
Chapter 1 provides an overview of the key arguments about Muslim political action in Western contexts and focuses in particular, upon its limitations, including a failure to engage adequately with Muslim masculinities and a limited engagement with the concept of Political Islam. This chapter proposes an alternate theoretical and methodological approach based on the approach of Pierre Bourdieu in his “Theory of Practice” and Manuel Castells’ identity typologies in “The Power of Identity.”
This approach both frames an important set of new questions that may be asked about Muslim men as political actors and the research approach to answer them.
Chapter 2 provides the necessary social, demographic, and political con- text for an examination of case studies, serving to broadly sketch the ﬁeld of political power and the position of Australian-born Muslim men within the overlapping ﬁelds of Australian governmental power, Victorian (state) governmental power, and the ﬁeld of Muslim institutional politics.
This chapter emphasizes the importance of understanding Australian-born Muslim men in the context of signiﬁcant power relationships and aids signiﬁcantly in understanding the social location of exemplars.
Chapter 3 introduces the ﬁrst in-depth case study; Muslim hip-hop group “The Brothahood.” Composed of ﬁve Australian-born Muslim men, the group displays a project identity, utilizing the inherently political medium of hip-hop to challenge negative representations of Australian Muslims and to simultaneously promote self-esteem and pride amongst Muslim listeners.
This case study is a key example of young Australian Muslim men involved in constructing a positive space for Islam in an Australian multicultural context through political engagement.
Chapter 4 examines prominent Muslim public intellectual and academic Waleed Aly. Aly has emerged over the past decade as one of Australia’s most prominent (and youngest) intellectuals, with a vast body of work pub- lished across national and international media as well as legal and literary journals. Aly reveals a project identity in displaying what Barbara Misztal considers the core characteristics of a public intellectual: civic creativity and civil courage,7 challenging negative representations, and the imposition of state power upon Australian Muslims. This exemplar is a valuable example…
Political Islam and Masculinity: A New Approach
In the 9/11 decade (2001–2011) and beyond, questions about Muslim identity have come to the fore of social-scientiﬁc research, particularly in Western multicultural contexts. Indeed, as British Sociologist Naser Meer claims, “the emergence of public Muslim identities” has become “one of the most pressing sociological and political concerns of the day.”1
In an era characterized by the “war on terror,” national government preoccupations with radicalization and “home-grown” terrorism and challenges to state policies of multiculturalism, a vast body of scholarly literature from a broad spectrum of disciplines has sought to increase understandings about how Western Muslims understand themselves and their place in the world. An increasing body of literature is examining young Muslims born and raised in Western contexts, their inﬂuences and how they choose to express themselves.
Whilst these have made an important contribution to greater understanding, few studies delve into great depth, seeking to understand how these social inﬂu- ences interact and are internalized to inﬂuence political action. This chapter outlines the key approaches taken in contemporary literature and makes the case for a new approach, grounded in the theoretical paradigms developed by Pierre Bourdieu and Manuel Castells. This necessitates an innovative approach to the study of Muslim political action.
Identity, Power, Masculinities, and Political Islam
The dominant scholarly paradigm for examining Muslims over the past decade has been the concept of “identity.” This book is located in the context of contemporary studies of Western and Australian Muslim identity and now seeks to identify the strengths and weaknesses of respective approaches to the topic.
To read more about the Political Islam And Masculinity book Click the download button below to get it for free