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In: Journal of Religion in Africa


The paper explores two opposing yet simultaneous forces of aesthetics as transformative and constitutive force of Muslim identity politics, religiosity and cultural style in Cape Town The ethnography focuses on Muslim artists in Cape Town, namely Thania Petersen and twin brothers Hasan and Husain Essop, whose artworks embody a ‘social drama’ of a lived experience of Muslims’ ongoing individual and collective active engagement with and appropriation of the plurality of competing discourses that are religious and secular, local and global. The discussion unpacks the ways in which the artworks of Petersen and the Essop brothers serve as a transformative force and as a politic of authenticity to Muslim identity, religiosity, and cultural style. The paper offers an appreciative but critical reading of Talal Asad’s idea of an anthropology of Islam. Taking into consideration the incommensurable diversity and internal contradiction that could be conceived as Islamic discursive traditions, this paper argues that the aesthetics of Muslimness is what inspires coherence within and across diverse, contradictory Islamic traditions.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
In: Journal of Religion in Africa