This means that trends are likely to move more and more toward an Islamization of individuals within the context of a global, de-territorialized ummah. This applies to both pietistic movements and radical, political forms of Islam, according to Roy. Islam is not immune to trends found across all other religions, such as individualization. In this interview, Olivier Roy shares some of his observations, as well as developments in his analysis, with the readers of Religioscope. Religioscope — Your book states that secularization has been proceeding at the same time as the revival of religion. Could you please explain why those two apparently contradictory trends should be seen as convergent?
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This means that trends are likely to move more and more toward an Islamization of individuals within the context of a global, de-territorialized ummah. This applies to both pietistic movements and radical, political forms of Islam, according to Roy. Islam is not immune to trends found across all other religions, such as individualization.
In this interview, Olivier Roy shares some of his observations, as well as developments in his analysis, with the readers of Religioscope.
Religioscope — Your book states that secularization has been proceeding at the same time as the revival of religion. Could you please explain why those two apparently contradictory trends should be seen as convergent?
When they are involved in politics, it is only to embed values in the law abortion, gay marriage, sharia, adultery, etc. Islamists who were pushing for the creation of an Islamic state are giving way to neo-fundamentalists who tend to concentrate on individuals and shun purely political issues. The ummah they are addressing is a transnational one, or even a virtual one, through the Internet. Religioscope — Islam has now a permanent presence in the religious landscape of Western countries.
Do you think that a globalized Islam will actually also favour the rise of an American Islam, of a European Islam, and so on? Global Islam is a deculturated Islam. To some extent, it is a Western Islam, not in the sense that it has become more liberal, but that it is based on individuals who voluntarily join a faith community. Hence the success of Salafism among second-generation Muslims in the West, because it gives some value to their sense of deculturation and uprootedness by refusing to identify Islam with the pristine cultures of their parents; it thus allows them to be Western, even through denial.
Religioscope — At an operational level, what should be the practical consequences for Western governments looking for appropriate ways to deal with Islam? They should avoid any sort of religious engineering, but play on the diversity of Islamic religious revivalism by making room for Islam and treating it on an equal footing with other religions. In fact, the management of Islam should be delinked from the issue of immigration and multiculturalism.
Islam should be treated merely as a religion, and not as the expression of ethnic minority groups. Religioscope — Your book often mentions the role of the Internet: there is a whole chapter on that topic. The Internet can clearly be seen as a facilitator of those developments that you analyse. Olivier Roy — The Internet is a perfect tool to create an abstract and virtual community of believers delinked from any specific country and culture.
Moreover, the Internet allows an individual to speak on an equal footing with others. There is no hierarchy of knowledge. The Internet also allows the creation of window institutions: for instance, some websites provide fatwa for people who request them, but there is by definition no compulsory implementation. Religioscope — The original French edition of your book was published two years ago. Since the English edition is not just a translation, but an updated version of the book, what has changed over the past two years?
Do the developments confirm your original analysis, or have you had to revise some of your assessments? Olivier Roy — Recent terrorist actions have confirmed what I said about the de-territorialization and Westernization of the radicals, but I updated the book to give some more input. The new factor is, of course, the US intervention in Iraq: it shows that the lack of connection between the Middle East crisis and the globalization of Islam is not perceived by Western political actors, who still consider that the roots of Islamic radicalization are to be found in the Middle East.
But what is going on in Iraq has confirmed my view that Islam is not the dominant factor in Middle East politics: Islamist and secularists are no longer fighting each other, but joining forces in a coalition that is primarily nationalist, from the Gaza Strip to Fallujah. Al Qaeda, on the other hand, is a supra-national movement whose first target is the USA, not the local Muslim regimes.
The interview was conducted online in November Olivier Roy was interviewed by Jean-Francois Mayer. A revised and updated version of this work has now been published in English. Share this article. Share on Facebook Share. Share on Twitter Tweet. Share on Pinterest Share. Share on LinkedIn Share. Share on Digg Share. Send email Mail. About Religioscope Launched in January , Religioscope is an independent website about religions in today's world.
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Globalized Islam – Interview with Olivier Roy
Fear is often based on simplifying or even inventing the dangers that surround the frightened. Working from this premise, Olivier Roy's career as one of the west's most knowledgeable scholars of "Islam in practice" has been devoted to combating its demonisation. By laying out the multiplicity of different forms of Muslim behaviour he has always aimed to show there is no single Islam just as there is no single Christianity. In The Failure of Political Islam he argued provocatively in the early s that Islamist movements were running out of revolutionary steam. They would either become normal political parties, as has subsequently happened in Jordan and Turkey, or they would lead to a kind of individual neo-fundamentalism. Islamists would drop out of the political arena, preferring to become "born-again Muslims" and concentrate on social, ethical, and lifestyle issues rather than on political change or the creation of an Islamic state. His new book provides one of the best and most detailed snapshots of "real existing Islam" currently available.
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Add to Cart. The spread of Islam around the globe has blurred the connection between a religion, a specific society, and a territory. One-third of the world's Muslims now live as members of a minority. At the heart of this development is, on the one hand, the voluntary settlement of Muslims in Western societies and, on the other, the pervasiveness and influence of Western cultural models and social norms.