Islam between Culture and politics


Shahzada Rahim
January 17, 2019

Islam is both cultural and faith system but not a political ideology (Politicization). The politicization of Islam in past decades had created a distinction between Islam as religion and cultural system and the use of Islamic cultural symbols for the political purpose gave rise to resurgent Islamism. Basically, Political Islam comes out of the crisis of situations: it is both crises of meaning and structure. On the other hand, Islam has been pushed into conflict between socio-cultural structures and culture fragmentations. Though, there is an inter-cultural structure of communication but there is a political dissociation on a large scale of the non-Western from Western Culture even indigenous culture. It is a crystal-clear fact that the combination of civilizational unity and cultural diversity is the hall mark of Islam. Islam is a cultural system rather Political System. The Creation of “Islamicate” as Pax-Islamica in Arabia was all aimed at uniting the warring Arab tribes but today it is being used for exactly opposite purposes: disunity and fragmentation. Basically, it is political Islam as an ideology that oscillates Islam between culture and politics. It is nothing but the Politicization of Islamic cultural objects and symbols. The pseudo-Islamists want to establish a prototype “Khilafa” (Islamic State) by acting as Homo Politicus (A man of Politics) and Homo Religious (A man of religion). In contrast, it is the Muslim predicament with modernity that causes trouble in Islam. For Instance, the Islamization of Knowledge claimed by the Islamists is totally opposed to that of “Anthropologization of Knowledge” along the line of classical Sociology of knowledge once established by Karl Mannheim. What Mannheim argued: “Knowledge is neither abstract nor detached from the social conditions for it evolves out of condition of being”. But the Islamist staunchly rejects the notion of “Cultural Relativism” (denies both subjectivity and objectivity of Knowledge). They are neo- Absolutist. In reality, the Political Islam has directly linked with the predicament. Though the Islamists do embark on the concept of semi-modernity, which refers to the Islamization of modernity, which means adoption of its material achievements while furiously rejecting the cultural underpinning. They have a radical formula that aimed at decoupling modern knowledge from its links to cultural modernity: it links to the primacy of reason and of course to secularity. The values of modernity are dDemocracy, plurality and human rights.

But the Islamist staunchly rejects the notion of “Cultural Relativism” (denies both subjectivity and objectivity of Knowledge). They are neo- Absolutist

Basically, the Islamists call their anti-Western hysteria a resistance against Western universalism and indigenous pluralism (they are rejecting both). Moreover, there is trouble in their understanding of cultural modernity and diversity as they claim they belong to Western values. As an illustration, there must be made a clear distinction between the instruments of modernity (science and technology) and value- based cultural worldview of cultural modernity and diversity. In his philosophical discourse of modernity Jurgen Habermas refers to the key events, which contributed in the establishment of the European project of modernity such as Renaissance, the Reformation of religion, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution.

It was the above-mentioned events that contributed in the rationalization of the European worldview of knowledge, culture and science. According to Habermas, the core idea of cultural modernity is the “Principle of Subjectivity” because of two reasons:Firstly, Man shapes his own destiny through reason and rationality. Secondly, this makes the religious faith reflective in all aspects whether culture or ethics.

Moreover, Habermas subjectivity has four connotations: Individual being part of collectivism, right to criticism, anatomy of action, and idealistic philosophy itself as a self-conscious idea. What Kant said “Human reason is the only idea referred to and it can’t be stopped “. Until and unless religion is reformed through subjective reason, there would be always a misconception that revolts against Western hegemony .

In a nut shell, it is the inner Islamic pendulum between culture and politics that is fueling resurgent Islamism by rejecting indigenous cultures and customs by referring to them as the Western ideals and value . Indigenous cultures are part of our collective identity and they cannot be renounced either by religion or by cults.

The writer is a postgraduate student with keen interest of writing on history, geopolitics, Current affairs, and International political economy

Published in Daily Times, January 17th 2019.



Categories: Asia, Islam, Pakistan

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