News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Blogging the Secular Revolution in Islam

Friday, July 28, 2006

Blogging the Secular Revolution in Islam

One of my main theses concerning Islam and what will happen to it in the modern world is that secularization will level the more violent strains of Islam. This process will resemble what has occurred to Xtianity in the west.

While the leveling process leads to a form of nihilism, this nihilism might be the crucible through which the world must pass to gain a properly remade sense of self and its relationship to the world. ...

The sociological evidence for my thesis in regard to Islam has been based on idenitfying parallels between Xtianity and Islam and an assumption that the secularizing processes that have demythologized Xtianity will do the same to Islam.

Part of this leveling process is the creation of a Public. Following Kierkegaard's work on the Public--in combination with Habermas--I have vaguely perceived that Islam, in encountering the political and spiritual crises promulgated by western rationalization and consumerizing will eventually face the same types of social and cultural pheneomena as western societies.

Marc Lynch's blog, based on his new book about Aran media, presents data and conclusions that bear on some of my own conclusions--as hazy and ill-defined as they are.

Lynch focuses on the social and political dimensions of this new Islamic public. Contrary to western perception, he shows how politically diverse and critical many Arab media outlets are.

Perhaps more importantly--at least in a socio-cultural and ethical context--the effects of secularization can be seen in the following description. Describing popular culture and western-style consumerism, a reviewer quotes Lynch as saying:

"What really seems to be driving social change is reality TV and music videos," Lynch says..... "If Americans saw how sexy these music video clips by singers like Haifa Wehbi or Elissa get, they'd be shocked. These music videos and reality TV shows can be really sexually bold and show women in all kinds of strong roles.... They've become incredibly popular in the last few years. Those shows and videos offer all kinds of alternatives to the Islamist project and let young Arabs really engage with a more open pop culture."
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1 comment:

bhupinder singh said...

I doubt that the process of secularization will level the more violent strains of Islam.

I would like to share a few thoughts from the Indian experience where this correlation does not hold (in this case a virulent majoritarian movement called Hindutva aka Hindu fascism has increasingly come to the forefront.)

After Independence from Britain in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister and most of the intelligentsia believe that economic process of modernization will lead to the change in the mindset and secularization will lead to secularism.

However, while the process of secularization have proceeded at an aritmetical progression, communal/ xenophobic/ ethnic movements have grown in geometrical progression.

For example, since 1991 when India opened up for foreign invenstemnt under a leo- liberal regime (which subsequenltly has continued even though the ruling parties have changed), the political and social movements that have gained credence are those based on majoritarian Hindu sentiments. The others are those based on caste.

I am personally not a believer in Eastern exceptionalism, but I think generalizing from the Western experience may not be accurate in this case, at least not in the short run.