Religion and the Public Sphere In Senegal: The Evolution of a Project of Modernity

Souleymane Bachir Diagne

in Crediting God

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780823233199
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823233212 | DOI:
Religion and the Public               Sphere In Senegal: The Evolution of a Project of Modernity

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This chapter brings back a leitmotif connecting all of the preceding chapters, namely, the role of axial religions (in this case Christianity and Islam) in building a project of alternative modernity. This is motivated by the achievement of a “religious secularism” or a “spiritualist socialism” that keeps at equal distance both from “exclusivist humanism” and from fundamentalism. As seen in the previous chapters, here too the drive behind a religious secularism or a spiritual modernization is the drive to social justice. A second feature of this religious secularism is its emphasis on the ontological or cosmic element of religion, that is, religion is not a matter of belief but of being. Finally, the third crucial element of religious secularism turns on the invention of a so-called “Sufism of action.” Sufism has sometimes been identified as the “good” element of Islamic civilization because it is purportedly “mystical” and not “militant.” The chapter rejects this interpretation of Sufism, which rather ought to be understood as an attempt to bring together the contemplative and the active lives (in this way, undoing the premodern distinction of these two in distinct social orders) in order to orient religion toward the task of transforming the world (not escaping it) in the direction of social justice. This practical Sufism is characterized by its inbuilt hospitality to a plurality of ways of worshipping God.

Keywords: alternative modernity; humanism; fundamentalism; religious secularism; Sufism

Chapter.  5866 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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