Friday, May 15, 2009

Can Secularism Save the Islamic World?

Book review by Christian C. Sahner of Dan Diner, Lost in the Sacred: Why the Muslim World Stood Still (Princeton, 2009):

What the Muslim world needs is not Western-style secularization that stresses the privatization of religion, but a form of authentic faith at ease with modernity

For the past fifty years, Western Europe has been gripped by secularization, a process where society is separated into “discrete spheres of inner and outer, private and public, holy and profane.” Now imagine a world where the prevailing cultural momentum moves in the opposite direction; where instead of delimiting the sacred, the sacred is allowed to spill out into the streets, sometimes creating a mess. This is the portrait Dan Diner paints of the Muslim world in his new book, Lost in the Sacred: Why the Muslim World Stood Still.

Lost in the Sacred, first published in German in 2005 and appearing in English translation earlier this spring, attributes the crisis of the Middle East to an “overflow of the sacred.” For Diner, “the sacred” is not a strictly religious category; it refers to “the burning omnipresence of transcendence in all areas of life.” Drawing examples from modern-day Baghdad, Istanbul at the time of Suleiman the Magnificent, and Medina under Mohammad, Diner shows how divinity permeates spaces that the Western tradition never sees as “sacred”: from language and financial transactions, to conceptions of political authority and the home. MORE HERE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess the first thing to understand is what religion is really all about, especially in the completely secularized "culture" of the west---every minute fraction of which, including ALL of its religion, is patterned by the reductionist ideology of scientism/secularism.

Plus the West altogether is largely responsible for the situation described in this essay---and book.