Making Islam Work

Islamic Authority among Muslims in Western Europe


The development of Islamic landscapes in Europe, is first and foremost related to Islamic authority. Religious authority relies on persuasiveness and deals with issues of truth, authenticity, legitimacy, trust, and ethics with reference to religious matters. This study argues that Islamic authority-making among European Muslims is a social and relational practice that is much broader and versatile than theological proficiency and personal status. It can also be conferred to objects, activities, and events. The book explores various ways in which Islamic authority is being constituted among Muslims in Western Europe with a particular focus on the role of ‘ordinary’ Muslims.

This book is available in its entirety in Open Access.
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Thijl Sunier, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, is Professor (em.) of Anthropology of Religion. He has published on Islam in Europe, Islamic movements, and Islam and digitisation. He is chairman of the Netherlands Inter-University School for Islamic Studies and executive editor of the Journal of Muslims in Europe.
Preface and Acknowledgement
Notes on Transliteration

 1 Islamic Authority: Themes, Stakes, and Foci
 2 Assessing Islamic Authority
 3 Islamic Authority-Making: Processes, Actors, and Contexts
 4 Chapters and Cases

1 The Religious Broker: Networks, Reciprocity, and Intermediary Power
 1 Introduction
 2 What Is a Religious Broker?
 3 Religious Brokerage in the City of Rotterdam. A Historical Case
 4 The Emergence of Religious Brokers
 5 The Dissolution of Religious Brokers
 6 Conclusions

2 The Politics of Imam Training: The Domestication of Islam in Europe
 1 Introduction
 2 The Quest for Imams
 3 Training Initiatives in Europe
 4 Assessing Imam Training in Europe: What Is at Stake?
 5 The Politics of Imam Training: Conclusions

3 Authoritative Pedagogics: The Sohbet
 1 Introduction
 2 Hizmet
 3 Sohbet as ‘Sensational Form’ and a Site of Devotional Practice
 4 Sohbet in Practice
 5 Hizmet as a ‘Way of Life’
 6 Gender
 7 Conclusions

4 Alternative Authorities: Authority-Making from Below
 1 Introduction
 2 Authority-Making from Below, Ethics, Senses of Space and the Production of Locality
 3 Cases
 4 Conclusions

5 Seeking Authentic Listening Experiences in Shi’ism: Online and Offline Intersections of Majlis Practices
Aleeha Zahra Ali and Thijl Sunier
 1 Introduction
 2 Shi’a Muslims, Mobility and Story of Karbala
 3 Majlis: Sermon and Ritual
 4 Theorising the Majlis
 5 Digitisation and Shi’ism
 6 Authority and Authentication
 7 Transnational Authority
 8 Listening as a Practice of Authentication
 9 Who Sits at the Minbar? Ulama, Zakirin, Public Speakers
 10 The Scholar and the Listeners: Case Study
 11 Conclusions

6 Branding Islam: Imagination and Claims-Making
 1 Introduction
 2 Cases
 3 Conclusions

 1 Reprise
 2 Cross-Overs, Connections, Entanglements, and Conceptual Threads
 3 Reflections
 4 What Else?

This book is of immediate interest for an academic readership in the field of anthropology, sociology, political science, history, religious studies, and theology. It is written for senior scholars, postdoc- and PhD-students, and Master-students in these areas. The book is also relevant for a broader readership interested in Islam and Muslims in Europe.
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