Explaining the Global Religious Revival

Talal Asad

in Powers

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780823231560
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235537 | DOI:

Series: The Future of the Religious Past

Explaining the Global Religious Revival

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This chapter discusses several explanations of so-called world-wide religious revival: religion as a response to acute economic and sociological problems, the need to find a new cultural identity, and the need for reassurance in a time of rapid change and instability. The author connects these hypotheses to the world of Islam in current Egypt, arguing that political Islam in Egypt is inconceivable without the formation of the nation-state and its ambitions, and that reinterpretations of Islam are a major factor. The chapter concludes that there is no unitary phenomenon to be explained. “Religion”—even “fundamentalist religion”—is not a homogeneous phenomenon. The disparate phenomena that we group together as “a world-wide religious revival” deal with questions about morality, politics, faith, and spirituality that lead in very different directions. They do not express a single movement, a single sensibility, a single existential orientation. Perhaps they share only this: a rejection of the self-assured promises of secularism linked up with the ideal of rationalist progress.

Keywords: Egypt; Islam; religious revival; nation-state; religion; morality; politics; spirituality; secularism; faith

Chapter.  7398 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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