"You Follow the Path of the Shaitan; We Try to Follow the Righteous Path": Negotiating Evil in the Identity Construction of Young Moroccan-Dutch Muslims

in Coping with Evil in Religion and Culture
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This article analyzes how images of evil are used by Muslim young people to categorize the other and to define themselves. The concept of evil plays a role in the construction of a Muslim identity and therefore widens the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims. This contribution will also show how young Muslims change this concept in order to close the gap between themselves and non-Muslims. This article sees Islam as a complete repertoire of activities, a type of toolbox containing practices (such as prayer and fasting, the wearing of a headscarf) and beliefs (such as in Shaitan [the devil], taghut [tyrant or false god], kafir (unbeliever), dajjal [liar, anti-Christ] and evil) and experiences. Most Muslims see evil as coming from outside. Every Muslim is born neither good nor evil and has the possibility of reaching perfection. At the same time, "evil" is not a clearly defined element of the Muslim repertoire but something that has to be negotiated. This means that "evil" is part of the identity politics of young Muslims: the negotiations about the definition and interpretation of ideas, practices and experiences that constitute a certain identity. Distinctive for Muslim identities or Muslim politics is the reference to experiences, beliefs, practices, symbols, and traditions that constitute "Islam."

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