AbstractIn Geneologies of Religion, Talal Asad explores how religion as a historical category emerged in the West and has come to be applied as a universal concept.
The idea that religion has undergone a radical change since the Christian Reformation—from totalitarian and socially repressive to private and relatively benign—is a familiar part of the story of secularization. It is often invokved to explain and justify the liberal politics and world view of modernity. And it leads to the view that "politicized religions" threaten both reason and liberty. Asad's essays explore and question all these assumptions. He argues that "religion" is a construction of European modernity, a construction that authorizes—for Westerners and non-Westerners alike—particular forms of "history making."
Brenner, Louis. “Histories of Religion in Africa.” Journal of Religion in Africa 30, no. 2 (January 1, 2000): 143–67.
Abstract"In four brief chapters," writes Clifford Geertz in his preface, "I have attempted both to lay out a general framework for the comparative analysis of religion and to apply it to a study of the development of a supposedly single creed, Islam, in two quite contrasting civilizations, the Indonesian and the Moroccan."
Mr. Geertz begins his argument by outlining the problem conceptually and providing an overview of the two countries. He then traces the evolution of their classical religious styles which, with disparate settings and unique histories, produced strikingly different spiritual climates. So in Morocco, the Islamic conception of life came to mean activism, moralism, and intense individuality, while in Indonesia the same concept emphasized aestheticism, inwardness, and the radical dissolution of personality. In order to assess the significance of these interesting developments, Mr. Geertz sets forth a series of theoretical observations concerning the social role of religion.
Lewis, I. M. “Introduction.” In Islam in Tropical Africa, edited by I. M. Lewis, 2nd ed., 1–98. Bloomington: International African Institute in association with Indiana University Press, 1980.
AbstractFirst published in 1980, this second edition of Islam in Tropical Africa presents specialist studies of the history and sociology of Muslim communities in Africa south of the Sahara. The studies cover an extensive and range of time and place, and include consideration of particular aspects of Muslim belief and practice in regions such as Senegal and Somalia. The second edition includes an updated introduction which draws attention to the ways in which differently organized traditional cultures and social systems had reacted and adapted to Muslim influence in the field of politics, law and ritual in the second half of the twentieth century. This book will be of interest to those studying Islam, African studies and ethnography.
Sanneh, Lamin O. “Translatability in Islam and in Christianity in Africa: A Thematic Approach.” In Religion in Africa: Experience and Expression, edited by Thomas D. Blakely, Dennis L. Thomson, and Walter E. A. van Beek. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1994.
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