Secularism Confronts Islam by Olivier RoySecularism Confronts Islam by Olivier Roy

Secularism Confronts Islam

byOlivier RoyTranslated byGeorge Holoch

Paperback | August 31, 2009

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The denunciation of fundamentalism in France, embodied in the law against the veil and the deportation of imams, has shifted into a systematic attack on all Muslims and Islam. This hostility is rooted in the belief that Islam cannot be integrated into French?and, consequently, secular and liberal-society. However, as Olivier Roy makes clear in this book, Muslim intellectuals have made it possible for Muslims to live concretely in a secularized world while maintaining the identity of a "true believer." They have formulated a language that recognizes two spaces: that of religion and that of secular society.

Western society is unable to recognize this process, Roy argues, because of a cultural bias that assumes religious practice is embedded within a specific, traditional culture that must be either erased entirely or forced to coexist in a neutral, multicultural space. Instead, Roy shows that new forms of religiosity, such as Islamic fundamentalism and Christian evangelicalism, have come to thrive in post-traditional, secular contexts precisely because they remain detached from any cultural background.

In recognizing this, Roy recasts the debate concerning Islam and democracy. Analyzing the French case in particular, in which the tension between Islam and the conception of Western secularism is exacerbated, Roy makes important distinctions between Arab and non-Arab Muslims, hegemony and tolerance, and the role of the umma and the sharia in Muslim religious life. He pits Muslim religious revivalism against similar movements in the West, such as evangelical Protestantism and Jehovah's Witnesses, and refutes the myth of a single "Muslim community" by detailing different groups and their inability to overcome their differences.

Roy's rare portrait of the realities of immigrant Muslim life offers a necessary alternative to the popular specter of an "Islamic threat." Supporting his arguments with his extensive research on Islamic history, sociology, and politics, Roy brilliantly demonstrates the limits of our understanding of contemporary Islamic religious practice in the West and the role of Islam as a screen onto which Western societies project their own identity crisis.

Olivier Roy is research director at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and lectures at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and the Institut d'Études Politiques (IEP) in Paris. His books with Columbia University Press include The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East; Globalized Islam; and, wi...
Title:Secularism Confronts IslamFormat:PaperbackDimensions:144 pagesPublished:August 31, 2009Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231141033

ISBN - 13:9780231141031

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction: Laïcité and the Identity of France1. French Laïcité and Islam: Which Is the Exception?2. Islam and Secularization3. The Crisis of the Secular State and the New Forms of Religiosity4. De Facto SecularizationNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

Rich in theoretical analysis.