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Martijn de Koning

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."


Jacqueline Borsje

This contribution describes what is understood by evil, as perceived within Irish medieval texts, both by the authors and by the groups described in the texts. It attempts to include the points of view of possible audiences or readers of the texts as well. The definition of evil employed here thus covers multi form aspects of evil as found in these texts. These manifestations of evil are represented by various kinds of perceived danger, ranging from bodily to spiritual harm. The coping strategies discussed here refer to the belief in the power of words as a form of postulated protection.


Marthinus L. Daneel

The main focus of this contribution is the exorcism work of the Zimbabwean bishops Nyasha and Kiyai Zawa as they combat evil caused by wizardry and spirit possession. They confront practicing wizards (sorcerers and witches) and the spirits that induce such activities in their “holy places,” where they use Christian symbols of deliverance and liberation against the backdrop of beliefs in magic. These bishops help people to cope with evil through the all important interrelations between the healing prophet and patients—many of whom are self-confessed wizards. Their counseling sessions help the afflicted wizards and witches (varoyi) and provide a genuine opportunity for rehabilitation in society via membership in “churches of reconciliation.”