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Secularism Confronts Islam - Olivier Roy

Secularism Confronts Islam

By: Olivier Roy, George Holoch (Translator)

Hardcover Published: 20th July 2007
ISBN: 9780231141024
Number Of Pages: 144
For Ages: 22+ years old

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The denunciation of fundamentalism in France, embodied in the law against the veil and the deportation of imams, has shifted into a systematic attack on all Muslims and Islam. This hostility is rooted in the belief that Islam cannot be integrated into French& mdash;and, consequently, secular and liberal-society. However, as Olivier Roy makes clear in this book, Muslim intellectuals have made it possible for Muslims to live concretely in a secularized world while maintaining the identity of a "true believer." They have formulated a language that recognizes two spaces: that of religion and that of secular society.

Western society is unable to recognize this process, Roy argues, because of a cultural bias that assumes religious practice is embedded within a specific, traditional culture that must be either erased entirely or forced to coexist in a neutral, multicultural space. Instead, Roy shows that new forms of religiosity, such as Islamic fundamentalism and Christian evangelicalism, have come to thrive in post-traditional, secular contexts precisely because they remain detached from any cultural background.

In recognizing this, Roy recasts the debate concerning Islam and democracy. Analyzing the French case in particular, in which the tension between Islam and the conception of Western secularism is exacerbated, Roy makes important distinctions between Arab and non-Arab Muslims, hegemony and tolerance, and the role of the "umma" and the sharia in Muslim religious life. He pits Muslim religious revivalism against similar movements in the West, such as evangelical Protestantism and Jehovah's Witnesses, and refutes the myth of a single "Muslim community" by detailing different groups and their inability to overcome their differences.

Roy's rare portrait of the realities of immigrant Muslim life offers a necessary alternative to the popular specter of an "Islamic threat." Supporting his arguments with his extensive research on Islamic history, sociology, and politics, Roy brilliantly demonstrates the limits of our understanding of contemporary Islamic religious practice in the West and the role of Islam as a screen onto which Western societies project their own identity crisis.

Industry Reviews

"A work of sustained deconstruction, [Roy] takes apart the myths, cliches and prejudices which characterise the current conversation about Islam." -- The Economist "[A] brilliant little book." -- Philip H. Gordon, Foreign Affairs "A remarkable book: articulate, original, lucid, without a paragraph that fails to contain an interesting thought." -- Claire Belinski, New York Sun "[A] valuable little monograph." -- Martin Levin, Globe & Mail "Roy provides a useful corrective to the interpretation of Islamism." -- John Gray, Harper's "This superb book is a welcome contribution to political science, sociology, religious studies--and statecraft... Essential." -- Choice "[A] cogent work." -- Middle East Journal

Prefacep. vii
Introduction: Laicite and the Identity of Francep. 1
French Laicite and Islam: Which Is the Exception?p. 13
Islam and Secularizationp. 37
The Crisis of the Secular State and the New Forms of Religiosityp. 65
De Facto Secularizationp. 91
Notesp. 103
Indexp. 117
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780231141024
ISBN-10: 0231141025
Audience: Professional
For Ages: 22+ years old
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 144
Published: 20th July 2007
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.0 x 14.0  x 1.5
Weight (kg): 0.28

Earn 255 Qantas Points
on this Book