Ways of Being Religious

Attached Files

File Maalouf, Amin – In the Name of Identity Violence and the Need to Belong 2003.pdf (3.775 MB)
1. Read the work In the Name of Identity in the attachment.
2. Read book review “Violence in the Name of Identity” http://www.csustan.edu/honors/documents/journals/entries/Boudreau.pdf

Our study of “Ways of Being Religious” has studied the different types of world religions, comparative anthropology of world religions, new religious movements in the contemporary society. All that we learned will prepare us for understanding of this work, In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong. Meanwhile, this work will serve as a case study, in which we will exercise our synthesis of what we learned throughout the semester.

We will take two week to study In the Name of Identity. This work is written by Paris-based Lebanonese author Amin Maalouf. In a meditative tone, Maalouf explores “why so many people commit crimes nowadays in the name of religious, ethnic, national or some other kind of identity” (9) and reflects his role, as a immigrant and minority, in the context of modernism and globalization. Due to his identity, a Christian Arabic French, his reflection of his own experience not only highlights the conflicts between the Middle East and the West, but also the tension in the unprecedented contemporary social conditions of modernism and globalization.

The book is divided into five parts: My Identity, My Allegiance; Modernity and “the Other”; the Age of the Global Tribes; Taming the Panther; Epilogue. In the first part, Maalouf presents the crisis of identity and violence caused by the need to belong. Then he further untangles how Muslims as “the Others”–the outsiders of both the West and modernity–encountered modernity. Starting with the inquiry, “Why has the Christian West..produced societies that respect freedom of expression, whereas the Muslim world..now look like a stronghold of fanaticism?” he criticizes the popular inference of determinism of religion, that is, Christianity brought forth modernity in the West while Islam was blamed for the failure of the progress toward modernity. He goes on to suggest that it was the Western ill intention–“the West doesn’t want the rest of the world to be like it; it just wants them to obey it”–prevented Islamic society from progressing to modernity. While Muslims, as “the Other,” suffered humiliation and fear with the rise of the West, Maalouf is positive to modernization and globalization. To embrace this new age without violence, he proposes several ideas, one of which is to ask the Western Europeans to learn more than three languages, one of which should be non-Western. He dreams of a world “where the need for spirituality will no longer be associated with the need to belong” but be a free choice (96).
After reading Maalouf’s work, I hope that you can get inspiration from it and reflect on what American society is, how you identify yourself in American society, and what conflicts caused by identity would be, particularly religious identity.

Two to three typed pages will be required; (double spaced, or 1.5 spacing; no fancy fonts; no cover page; put your name in upper left corner first name first; put the topic title in the centre). The substance as well as the manner of organization and expression of the information and ideas will be evaluated. In other words, the content, as well as the style and grammar of the paper, will be graded.
The work, In the Name of Identity, discusses the crisis of identity, particularly the Islamic religious identity when the Arabic countries encountered the Western world. In your paper, please firstly present the author’s point of why Islam was always associated with violence and of why Islam could not realize modernity in their societies, and secondly show your critical response to the author’s arguments.

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