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Muslim Worldviews and Everyday Lives
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Muslim Worldviews and Everyday Lives [Kindle Edition]

El-Sayed el-Aswad

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Book Description

el-Aswad introduces the concepts of worldviews/cosmologies of Muslims, explaining that the different types of worldviews are not constructed solely by religious scholars or intellectual elite, but are latent in Islamic tradition, embedded in popular imagination, and triggered through people's everyday interaction in various countries and communities. He draws from a number of sources including in-depth interviews and participant observation as well as government documents and oral history. Through the perspectives of ethno-cosmology, emic interpretation of sacred tradition, modernity, folklore, geography, dream, imagination, hybridity, and identity transformation, he examines how culturally and religiously constructed images of the world influence the daily actions of people in various Muslim communities. The worldviews of Sunnis, Shi'as, and Sufis are covered in turn, and Muslims in the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, and suburban Detroit are the focus. el-Aswad also discusses the effects of Western attempts at imposing its essentially secular worldview through the process of globalization and how cyberspace has promoted connectivity among Muslim communities and, especially in the United States, opened up unlimited options and new possibilities.

Editorial Reviews


This is a rich and comprehensive book that poses questions to contemporary studies on religion in general and Islam in particular. The ethnographic approach and focus on ordinary Muslims illustrated through informants’ practice and perceptions of the world presents Islam as a lived religion that must be understood in local contexts informed by global processes. The book shows how worldviews inform and are informed by practice, and is a valuable comment on how Islam and Muslims are being studied and perceived today; and it highlights the need to rethink methods and understandings found among some scholars as well as journalists. It further illustrates the need to study religion as, to a large extent, being created, understood, reformulated and practiced by ordinary people in connection to their daily life, disregarding what established religious scholars or acknowledged ideologues consider as being true religious belief or practice. (Middle East Media and Book Reviews Online)

Muslim Worldviews and Everyday Lives is not going to be the final word on Islam as a global civilization, but it provides the worthwhile service of introducing how anthropologists and others might conceive of Islam (and by extension other cultural systems) as more than local, or as local and global at the same time. (Anthropology Review Database)

This close look at Muslim worldviews argues for the importance of an overarching, universal worldview shared by Muslims in coexistence with local worldviews specific to particular societies, sects, and practices. Its cross-cultural approach makes it a wide-ranging and comprehensive work, while its ethnographic approach brings the importance of the local into salience. It is well written and readable and will be of interest to scholars of the Middle East and Islam, and religious and phenomenological studies, as well as serving as a useful introductory text to Muslim worldviews. (Amy Evrard, Gettysburg College)

This book’s approach is both novel and significant. El-Aswad rightly observes that Western scholarly and media attention to Islam represents it primarily as a political identity, obscuring both the religion’s internal diversity and its capacity to structure worldviews. As a treatment of the phenomenology of Muslim societies, devoted to understanding ‘the way ordinary people imagine their social world’ through ‘images, stories and legends,’ this book is a valuable and overdue corrective to such simplifying tendencies. Its cross-cultural, multi-sited analysis holds considerable promise for student readers and for scholars of the Muslim world. (Bruce Whitehouse, Lehigh University)

About the Author

el-Sayed el-Aswad is professor of anthropology and chair of the Department of Sociology at the United Arab Emirates University.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2178 KB
  • Print Length: 248 pages
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press (July 13, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008MLNTQ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,850,608 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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