Tuesday, October 07, 2003

That "Islamic Reformation"

This is the sort of random, potentially silly thought for which blogs are often known. Anyway, I was thinking of the Jonathan Berkey lecture I mentioned below, and his comments near the end about the changing criteria for religious leadership in the Islamic world as people who would have formerly been considered amateurs can now inspire large followings. I have in the past tended to dismiss all the media commentary about the need for an "Islamic Reformation," which clearly superimposes on Islamic history a Christian metanarrative which simply doesn't fit.

But then it struck me, could there be an odd connection after all? After all, weren't many leading Protestants people who were not exactly high-ranking clergy yet achieved religious leadership by claiming to return to an ideal golden age in the past? And didn't this take place in an environment shaped by new technologies and the formation of modern nation-states? And finally, wasn't it in many ways fundamentally conservative? Or at least, that's what I remember from my undergraduate Women's History course...

This cretainly isn't what the media has in mind, and I'm not sure making such a comparison has any deep scholarly value, but I'd still be curious in finding out what people like Ideofact and Amy Lamboley think about the subject. It's definitely been ages since I've paid attention to the relevant European history.


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