Theory, Culture and Society 24 (2):1-19 (2007)
AbstractA global transformation of modes of religious authority has been taking place at an increasing pace in recent years. The social and political implications of the growing dominance of neo-scripturalist discourses on Islam have been particularly noticeable after 11 September 2001. This evolution of religiosity, which is mediated by mass media and new media technology, creates the conditions of existence of a post-Weberian and post-Durkheimian order. In this new social context, legitimacy can be more easily disconnected from the institutionalized framework of religious and political authority. Both in Muslim countries and in Western democracies, the attempt by Islamic activists to make the Shari’a relevant in contemporary settings creates new opportunities and challenges for legal pluralism. At the same time, the multiplication of Muslim voices claiming to be able to interpret the sacred texts, particularly in virtual communities, creates an increasingly inchoate ‘noise’ about Islamic orthodoxy. In the context of an exponential increase in the global possibilities for religious identification and expression, the growth of neo-scripturalist interpretations of Islam reflects a quest for parsimony and stability.
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