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Religious Authority in Islam (3/3)

25-318 | Tuesday, 3:30 p.m. | 126
Panel Chair: Patrick Franke

Continuing earlier efforts to explore the phenomenon of religious authority in Islam, the panel brings together a number of papers elucidating this phenomenon from two different perspectives. Whereas some of them are based on social research and try to understand the phenomenon through direct observation in a given milieu, others based on textual evidence aim to trace historical developments and societal debates revolving about religious authority in specific contexts. All of them have the common goal to refine and revise the terminology for the description of social processes related to religious authority within the world of Islamic norms and symbols. For activating such a process of refinement and revision of terminology, it is necessary to bring the theoretical languages of the social studies and the categorizations of the social milieus studied into relation with each other. It is this purpose which we are pursuing in our panel.

Adela Taleb

Reconstructing religious authority? Muslim Youth in Europe II

“Muslim-ness” functions as a significant gateway to societal interaction for an increasing number of young people across Europe. This paper will outline strategies of young Muslims to actively engage in civil society and the various ways in which participation in norm-setting processes is enacted (Asad: 1996). In this regard, questions of religious authority and claims to representation play a crucial role and need to be analysed in relation to their socio-cultural context. By looking at individuals and organisations on the local as well as the pan-European level, we outline mechanisms and structures that contribute to the (re-)construction of authority with regard to Muslim Youth in Europe. The paper will address the following questions: What notions of authority are negotiated and which new approaches to authority formation are developed? What kind of knowledge is generated and how is it being transmitted?

Necati Alkan

Religious Authority in Nusayri Alawism

In this talk we shall, firstly, examine what religious authority in the Nusayri Alawi faith means and how it was passed among the founders of the sect. Secondly we will look at religious authority among the different subsects. A second aspect to be dealt with, albeit not religious, is secular authority among the Alawis that is important in the context of the Ottoman State of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Danijel Cubelic

We Need to Talk: Saudi contemporary art as a new space for critique

The kingdom of Saudi-Arabia has become home to one of the Middle East's pioneering art movements. Founded in 2003, the Edge of Arabia initiative connects more than 30 young artists from Saudi-Arabia and showcases their work in a series of much-publicized exhibitions from Jeddah to Istanbul and London. By positioning themselves as a voice of Saudi-Arabia’s „Generation in Waiting“ and seeking an active role in the conversation on the kingdom's social challenges, the group's artists are carving out new spaces for debates. The artists look at issues such as the ban on women driving, the radical transformation of Mecca, Saudi religious heritage and Islamic values while carefully curating their image as pious citizens – gently questioning the country’s status quo without seeking direct confrontation with religious authorities. Taking their 2012 Jeddah exhibition We Need to Talk as a starting point, the paper wants to explore how Edge of Arabia artists are working with Islamic narratives and material culture to give legitimacy to their concerns and negotiate an emancipatory space to open up discussions on pressing social issues.