Islam in Liberalism
Joseph Massad’s Desiring Arabs (UCP, 2007) was an intellectual/literary history that sought out links between Orientalism and representations of sex and desire, rebutting in the meantime Western efforts to impose categories of heterosexual/homosexual where (in Islam) no such subjectivities exist. His new book broadens the purview to show us what Islam has become in today’s world, attending fully to the multiplication of meanings of "Islam.” Islam in Liberalism is an intellectual/political history, enabling us to understand that history in terms of how Islam operated as a category within western liberalism; another way to phrase this is to say that Massad underscores how the anxieties about what Europe constituted--despotism, intolerance, misogyny, homophobia--have gotten projected onto Islam. It is, he avers, only through this projection that Europe could emerge as democratic, tolerant, gynophilic, and hemophilic--in short, Islam-free. But in fact Islam has been there since the birth of Europe. Liberalism has been the weapon of choice since the late 18th century against the "internal” and "external” others of Europe. Massad’s brilliant critique of anti-Muslim sexual politics in Desiring Arabs is now broadened provocatively to include NGOs, international organizations, and therapeutic programs. He moves from consideration of the meanings of "democracy” (and the ideological assumption that "Islam” is not compatible with democracy) through chapters on women in Islam, sexuality and/in Islam, psychoanalytic interpretations of Islamic themes, and the more recent development of the idea of "Abrahamic religions” among those valorizing an inter-faith agenda. Overall, Massad sets this book up as a biting critique of the sort of liberalism Euro-American propagated and brought as "good news” to an unenlightened Islam.
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Abrahamic activists Africa AHDR Al-Kassim al-Kawakibi American anti-Semitism Arab and Muslim Arab world argued arguments Beirut Benslama British Cairo caliphate century Christian cites citizenship civil claim colonial contemporary context critical culture democracy democratic Derrida Desiring Arabs discourse Egypt Egyptian emergence English epistemology Euro-American Europe feminism feminist French Freud Gay International gender global homosexuality human rights Huntington Ibid identified identity imperial insist intellectual Islam Islamists Jacques Derrida Jewish Jews Joseph Massad language lesbian Middle East modern Moses and Monotheism Muslim women Muslim world Najmabadi neoliberal NGOs nineteenth non-European norms Orientalist Ottoman Ottoman Empire Palestinian policies political Princeton produce psychoanalysis Puar queer question Qurʾan racial religion religious resistance role Safouan scholars secular Semites sexual Shariʿa social Soviet Talal Asad term theory Third World tion tradition transformation translation United University Press violence Western liberal women’s rights York Zionism ʿAbd