Do Muslims Belong in the West?

In this discussion, Talal Asad identifies the problematic ways in which the presence of Muslim communities in Western contexts has been characterized in response to outbreaks of violence such as the recent events in Paris. Asad argues that many of the critiques to which Muslims are subjected, namely their dependence on transcendent forces, also inhabit the intellectual assumptions of secular and atheist commentators.  He further expresses the need to examine Islam as a “tradition” in order to avoid precisely the types of sweeping generalizations and focus instead on the complexities and particularities of the various ways in which Islam is lived. The inability to historicize Islam as a tradition has played into the calls for a “reform” of the religion and resulted in the inability to confront the underlying causes of the recent eruptions of violence. This interview was conducted in New York on 17 January 2015. It was later transcribed for publication. Click here

 

UK Riots: The Need for Religion

The recent riots that took the whole of the UK by surprise was not simply a race riot. Yes, Duggan was black and there are strong correlations between race and class but skin colour had nothing to do with the looting. Some of the worst violence happened in majority-white-neighbourhoods like Croydon. There is something deeper that caused this havoc and it includes all groups: black, white and brown. Continue reading →