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Can Islam Be French?: Pluralism and Pragmatism in a Secularist State (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics)

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Can Islam Be French? is an anthropological examination of how Muslims are responding to the conditions of life in France. Following up on his book Why the French Don't Like Headscarves, John Bowen turns his attention away from the perspectives of French non-Muslims to focus on those of the country's Muslims themselves. Bowen asks not the usual question--how well are Muslims integrating in France?--but, rather, how do French Muslims think about Islam? In particular, Bowen examines how French Muslims are fashioning new Islamic institutions and developing new ways of reasoning and teaching. He looks at some of the quite distinct ways in which mosques have connected with broader social and political forces, how Islamic educational entrepreneurs have fashioned niches for new forms of schooling, and how major Islamic public actors have set out a specifically French approach to religious norms. All of these efforts have provoked sharp responses in France and from overseas centers of Islamic scholarship, so Bowen also looks closely at debates over how--and how far--Muslims should adapt their religious traditions to these new social conditions. He argues that the particular ways in which Muslims have settled in France, and in which France governs religions, have created incentives for Muslims to develop new, pragmatic ways of thinking about religious issues in French society.

Book News Annotation:

The question posed by Bowen (Washington U.) in the title of this book is expanded within as the following: "Can Islam become a workable reality for Muslims who wish to live fulfilling social and religious lives in France?" Investigating this question, Bowen interviewed Islamic scholars, educators, and public figures living in France who he argues are trying to configure a set of teachings, norms, and institutions that will provide a positive answer to that question. He describes the deliberations among this population with regards to education, involvement with interest-bearing loans, proprieties of marriage and divorce, the wearing of religious dress, and other issues, while also addressing the more overarching questions of whether norms should differ by region and change over time and the distance scholars may move from specific scriptural injunctions to general principles that can be inferred from scripture. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

"John Bowen has written one of the most insightful books on Islam in France. He has done extensive field research in the sensitive suburbs of Paris and inside little-known Islamic institutions that are shaping the future of the religion in France. Bowen admirably shows how French Muslims are struggling not for minority status or multiculturalism, but for value pluralism, conciliating the secular Republican tradition while asserting a new faith community."--Olivier Roy, European University Institute, Florence

"Through a rich ethnography of normative practices such as pedagogies and legal reasonings, John Bowen has produced a rare and invaluable analysis of the making of a French Islam that owes as much to French legal and political constraints as to Muslims' engagement with the Islamic tradition. A required reading for scholars interested in religion and religious minorities in secularist states."--Malika Zeghal, University of Chicago

"Can Islam Be French? is utterly fascinating and engagingly written. Together with his previous book, Why the French Don't Like Headscarves, John Bowen has produced an unparalleled oeuvre on Islam in France."--Paul Silverstein, Reed College

Synopsis:

Can Islam Be French? is an anthropological examination of how Muslims are responding to the conditions of life in France. Following up on his book Why the French Don't Like Headscarves, John Bowen turns his attention away from the perspectives of French non-Muslims to focus on those of the country's Muslims themselves. Bowen asks not the usual question--how well are Muslims integrating in France?--but, rather, how do French Muslims think about Islam? In particular, Bowen examines how French Muslims are fashioning new Islamic institutions and developing new ways of reasoning and teaching. He looks at some of the quite distinct ways in which mosques have connected with broader social and political forces, how Islamic educational entrepreneurs have fashioned niches for new forms of schooling, and how major Islamic public actors have set out a specifically French approach to religious norms. All of these efforts have provoked sharp responses in France and from overseas centers of Islamic scholarship, so Bowen also looks closely at debates over how--and how far--Muslims should adapt their religious traditions to these new social conditions. He argues that the particular ways in which Muslims have settled in France, and in which France governs religions, have created incentives for Muslims to develop new, pragmatic ways of thinking about religious issues in French society.

About the Author

John R. Bowen is the Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. His books include "Why the French Don't Like Headscarves" (Princeton) and "Islam, Law and Equality in Indonesia".

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Part One: Trajectories 1

Chapter One: Islam and the Republic 3

Chapter Two: Fashioning the French Islamic Landscape 15

Migration Pathways 16

Residence and Boundaries 19

Religion Rising 21

Authorities 24

State Responses 25

Where to Sacrifice? 27

Where to Pray? 29

Distinctive Features 32

Part Two: Spaces 35

Chapter Three: Mosques Facing Outward 37

In the Unruly Suburbs (Clichy-sous-Bois) 37

Inside the Networks (Saint-Denis) 44

The Work of an Everyday Imam (Lyon) 51

Mosques and Social Divisions 58

Chapter Four: Shaping Knowledge to France 63

Rules, Schools, Principles 63

Hichem El Arafa's CERSI 66

The Science of Hadith 75

The Objectives of Scripture 81

Chapter Five: Differentiating Schools 85

Dimensions of Pedagogical Difference 85

Hichem's View 86

The Great Mosque of Paris 87

Teaching the "Middle Way" 89

Teaching the Four Traditions 92

Objectives and Imam M"lik 95

Foregrounding God's Objectives 96

What Nullifies Prayer--for a Maliki 100

When May a Judge Pronounce a Divorce? 102

Practical Training in an Islamic Ambiance 105

The Future 105

Institute of Useful Knowledge 106

Chapter Six: Can an Islamic School Be Republican? 110

Dhaou Meskine's Success School 111

A Teacher's Trajectory 112

School as Symbol 115

How to Teach a Secular Curriculum in a Muslim School 117

Civics and Gay Couples 118

Religion versus Culture 120

Evolution and Islam? 121

An Islamic Ambiance 124

Muslim Family Camp 125

Arrest 129

Part Three: Debates 133

Chapter Seven: Should There Be an Islam for Europe? 135

Thinking about Riba 137

Different Rules for Different Lands? 143

Confrontations in the Mosque 149

The Transnational Islamic Sphere 153

Chapter Eight: Negotiating across Realms of Justification 157

Between Hal"l and the Hôtel de Ville 158

Why the "Halal" Marriage? 162

Convergence I: From Islam to the Secular 165

The Objectives of Halal Rules for Food 169

Convergence II: From French Civil Law toward

Islamic Practices 173

Chapter Nine: Islamic Spheres in Republican Space 179

Do Religion-Based Associations Impede Integration? 180

Return to School 182

A National Islamic Sphere at Le Bourget 185

On Priorities and Values 188

The Primacy of Secularism 188

"Assimilation Defects" 191

Toward a Pragmatics of Convergence 196

Notes 199

Bibliography 217

Index 227

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691132839
Subtitle:
Pluralism and Pragmatism in a Secularist State
Author:
Bowen, John R.
Author:
Bowen, John Richard
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
Islam -- France.
Subject:
Muslims -- France.
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Islamic Studies
Subject:
Anthropology
Subject:
Middle Eastern Studies
Subject:
Political Science and International Relations
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
anthropology;cultural anthropology
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics
Publication Date:
November 2009
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
7 halftones.
Pages:
248
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 17 oz

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Sociology » Islamic Studies
Reference » Science Reference » General

Can Islam Be French?: Pluralism and Pragmatism in a Secularist State (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics) New Hardcover
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$55.20 In Stock
Product details 248 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691132839 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "John Bowen has written one of the most insightful books on Islam in France. He has done extensive field research in the sensitive suburbs of Paris and inside little-known Islamic institutions that are shaping the future of the religion in France. Bowen admirably shows how French Muslims are struggling not for minority status or multiculturalism, but for value pluralism, conciliating the secular Republican tradition while asserting a new faith community."--Olivier Roy, European University Institute, Florence

"Through a rich ethnography of normative practices such as pedagogies and legal reasonings, John Bowen has produced a rare and invaluable analysis of the making of a French Islam that owes as much to French legal and political constraints as to Muslims' engagement with the Islamic tradition. A required reading for scholars interested in religion and religious minorities in secularist states."--Malika Zeghal, University of Chicago

"Can Islam Be French? is utterly fascinating and engagingly written. Together with his previous book, Why the French Don't Like Headscarves, John Bowen has produced an unparalleled oeuvre on Islam in France."--Paul Silverstein, Reed College

"Synopsis" by , Can Islam Be French? is an anthropological examination of how Muslims are responding to the conditions of life in France. Following up on his book Why the French Don't Like Headscarves, John Bowen turns his attention away from the perspectives of French non-Muslims to focus on those of the country's Muslims themselves. Bowen asks not the usual question--how well are Muslims integrating in France?--but, rather, how do French Muslims think about Islam? In particular, Bowen examines how French Muslims are fashioning new Islamic institutions and developing new ways of reasoning and teaching. He looks at some of the quite distinct ways in which mosques have connected with broader social and political forces, how Islamic educational entrepreneurs have fashioned niches for new forms of schooling, and how major Islamic public actors have set out a specifically French approach to religious norms. All of these efforts have provoked sharp responses in France and from overseas centers of Islamic scholarship, so Bowen also looks closely at debates over how--and how far--Muslims should adapt their religious traditions to these new social conditions. He argues that the particular ways in which Muslims have settled in France, and in which France governs religions, have created incentives for Muslims to develop new, pragmatic ways of thinking about religious issues in French society.
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