A new exhibition offers a powerful new perspective on Islam's relationship with the supernaturalby Sameer Rahim / October 24, 2016 / Leave a comment
It is one of the most important questions of our age: how should we go about studying other cultures? And can we make value judgements about them? Take, for example, the ever-topical subject of Islam. Since 9/11, there has been an avalanche of articles, books and analysis—of variable quality—telling us what Muslims actually believe. Usually the commentators quote from normative traditional sources: the Quran, stories about the Prophet, sharia regulations. The logic is: if it says it in their holy books, they must believe it. It’s as if religion were a computer programme that believers download and whose instructions they passively obey. This view is far from confined to non-Muslims. Many current authority figures in the religion, especially those who like seeing their faces on television, feel the same way, except rather than deploring it, they encourage Muslims to “download” the truth (preferably from their own websites). For both sides, the definition of what it means to be a Muslim is defined by what is most conservative.