By Amyn B. Sajoo
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Extra resources for A Companion to Muslim Cultures
Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life. London, 2007 Partridge, Christopher, ‘Religion and Popular Culture’, in Linda Woodhead, et al, ed. Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, 2nd ed. New York, 2001, pp. 489–521. , ed. Muslim Modernities: Expressions of the Civil Imagination. London, 2008. Saliba, George. Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance. Cambridge, MA, 2007. Sen, Amartya. Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny. New York and London, 2006.
How does this square with the secular idea of the state, in which diverse identities and cultures co-exist? Is the presence of public religion a barrier to political modernity? This chapter will discuss the nature of the relationship among the sharia, the state and the individual Muslim today, mindful of what history tells us about the lived experience of Islamic societies. We will see how the interface of sacred and secular drives the quest for a civic pluralism that can accommodate the legitimate aspirations of all citizens.
In this pluralist environment, religious markers became a vital aspect of the way identity was formed. To designate a practice as ‘normative’ or proper was one way of marking religious identity in relation to other traditions. When Muslims were challenged in this regard, their practices were tested against principles drawn from the Quran or the Prophet’s practice (Sunna). If there was no authorised source to be found, then authorities deemed such practices non-Islamic. The upshot was that all practices within the Muslim religious environment had to be rooted either in the Quran or the Sunna.