The technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object produced.
Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Hegemonic Western discourses placed Islam within Orientalist frameworks, relegating it to a set of practices opposed to progress and modernity and denigrated as to the negative Other within an East/West binary. In reality, the confrontation of Egypt and Iran with modernity did not produce a march from the old to the new and usher in liberal secularism, but rather, resulted in a negotiation and complex interaction between religious orthodoxy and modern capitalist forces. Gregory Starrett's concept of putting Islam to work refers to the process by which traditional ritual and orthodoxy is reformulated, fed to society and remolded into modern popular culture to facilitate political projects. Religion, Starrett argues, is a tool utilized by institutions to aid political enterprises, and is a vigorous and active participant in the processes of modernization. This paper shows the means by which religion was functionalized to suit modern aims, thus reveals that the categories of sacred and secular, traditional and progressive are not mutually exclusive and oppositional, but symbiotically intertwined.
[...] Clearly, the act of “putting Islam to work” whether executed by a political organization opposition to secular authority or by governments - effect a synthesis of and and constitutes a complex layering of new socio-political forces and the religious doctrine. The discursive strategies behind the application and interpretation of Islam wire it firmly within a contemporary world. The functionalization of religion is a political project that goes hand-in-hand with a strategy of attaining mass appeal - Islam's deployment of mass communication tools and its appeal to popular culture testifies to this. [...]
[...] The sense of an obligation to carry out Islamic education (“During my generation, Islamic education was something obvious.”) suggests the naturalization of a social order, depicting the family as a social unit, a bastion of culture, a means of safeguarding and preserving the religious practices that benefit the political and social order. The child's act of imitation of her parents reflects the process of religious socialization is taking place a process where she adopts socially accepted practices. The family like other social units including schools and community clubs are interlocking sites of religious socialization, essential means of “putting Islam to work”. [...]
[...] Both writers depict religion as functionalized as a pillar upholding a social order. On the other end of the spectrum, Fischer's argument stands in direct antithesis to both Mitchell and Starrett: they argue that religion underpins the state by containing the radicalism of youth; Fischer posits that religion destabilized the Pahlavi state and stimulated the radicalism of youth by highlighting of the disjuncture between the religious ideal and current political reality. There was growing realization of the paradox that the one hand there is a faith in Islam as guide for a just society; people have been unfairly dispossessed and thus there is no just society” (Fischer doctrines of tawhid (unity) clashed with madrasah scholars' “alienation [ ] of being led into an educational cul-de-sac” (Fischer 86) amidst poor occupational prospects. [...]
[...] Cambridge: Harvard University Press Mitchell, Timothy. Appearance of Order”. Colonizing Egypt. Berkeley: University of California Press Starrett, Gregory. “Learning About “Growing Up: Four Stories”. Putting Islam to Work. London: University of California Press, 1998. [...]
[...] The versatility of Islam The technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object produced. Walter Benjamin, Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” Hegemonic Western discourses placed Islam within Orientalist frameworks, relegating it to a set of practices opposed to progress and modernity and denigrated as to the negative within an East/West binary. [...]
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