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Prof. Dr. M. Mojaheddi at International Workshop on Islamic Peace Ethics

International Workshop on Islamic Peace Ethics Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence in Contemporary Islamic Thought; 15-17 October 2015; Institute for Theology and Peace (ithf) Hamburg, Germany

News vom 15.10.2015

Abstract of the presentation:

Religion-Based Justifications of Peace and Violence:A Post-Secular Critique of Culturalist Approaches

Prof. Dr. Mohammad Mahdi Mojahedi

From a post-secular perspective beyond the religious-secular dichotomy, this paper investigates the post-Islamist stance towards the relationship between Islam and violence/peace. The leading argument that will be examined here suggests that the post-Islamist discourse on peace and violence suffers from ‘the poverty of culturalism.’ In other words, whereas violence and peace are chiefly political phenomena (de-/legitimized in religious-majority societies retrospectively in religious terms), post-Islamists tend to explain them so as if they are ‘caused’ by certain readings of a religion. They tacitly or explicitly hold that Muslim perpetrators of violent acts would not carry them out absent a reading of Islam legitimating them. In so doing, they reduce politics to culture, culture to religiosity, religiosity to religious knowledge, and religious knowledge to scholarly interpretations of religious core texts. Thus understood, culturalism signifies different degrees of committing all or some of the following reductionist fallacies: Cultural determinism, religionism, religious cognitivism, and interpretative textualism. Furthermore, by reinstating textualism, religionism, and culturalism—which are the constitutive elements of post-Islamism shared simultaneously also by both Islamist and orientalist ideologies—the post-Islamist project ironically fuels Islamist zealotry and orientalism, which it wishes to extinguish and overcome. Poor and futile at all analytical, explanatory, normative, and emancipatory levels, culturalism has tripped the post-Islamist discourse into a trap of self-destruction through a mechanism in which a reified notion of culture not only de-politicizes the question of peace or violence, but also self-destructively bolsters equally its Islamist and orientalist rivals. At a heuristic level of analysis, the idea of a necessary shift will be examined—i.e., a post-secular shift in order to re-politicize the question of peace/violence and transform it to a question about the conditions of peace/violence in Muslim-majority societies. The main conjecture suggests that this shift requires post-Islamists to revise their chief strategy of defusing violence-provoking readings, and generating peaceful interpretations, of Islam. It seems that it will be more constructive if they seek to explore those socio-political and politico-economic conditions, under which peace-promoting or violence-provoking ‘readings of Islam’/‘Muslim forms of life’ appear to be more appealing to wider segments of Muslim-majority societies. Partly context-specific and partly global, those conditions are seldom theological or cultural.

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