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2021

The Question of Otherness in Classical Islam

Argument: How did Muslims represent the other? Here is a questioning overloaded with history, memory and narrative Islamic identity difficult to decode. Fourteen long centuries of conquests and defeats, inclusion and exclusion, tolerance and intolerance. Understanding the normative and sociological relationship of Islam to its medieval and contemporary otherness necessarily implies the interrogation of the immense theological and legal corpus of the classical age. In this context, the exploration not only of the text but also of the context is essential. For, from the birth of the last monotheistic religion in Arabia, through the expansion of the empire and the golden age oscillating between Baghdad and Cordoba, to the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, the perception of non-Islamic otherness went through several phases. However, the Arab-Muslim mechanism of memory transmission privileges first and foremost the collective consciousness of belonging to the Islamic community. This makes the interweaving of the normative corpus, the social realities and the modus vivendi of dealing with the other, as well as the imaginary representations of the latter, difficult to discern.

Lecture given in the framework of the webinar “Islam and Otherness – Focus Lebanon” held on 13 April 2021 in opening of the 3rd International Congress of the PLURIEL network.

Argument : Comment les musulmans se représentaient-ils l’autre? Voici un questionnement surchargé d’histoire, de mémoire et d’identité islamique narrative difficile à décoder. Quatorze longs siècles riches de conquêtes et de défaites, d’inclusion et d’exclusion, de tolérance et d’intolérance. Comprendre le rapport normatif et sociologique de l’islam vis-à-vis de ses altérités médiévales et contemporaines, implique nécessairement l’interrogation de l’immense corpus théologique et juridique à l’âge classique. Dans ce cadre, l’exploration non seulement du texte mais aussi du contexte s’impose. Car, depuis la naissance de la dernière religion monothéiste en Arabie, en passant par l’expansion de l’empire et l’âge d’or oscillant entre Bagdad et Cordoue, jusqu’à l’établissement de l’empire ottoman; la perception de l’altérité non islamique est passée par plusieurs phases. Or, le mécanisme arabo-musulman de la transmission mémorielle, privilégie en premier lieu la conscience collective de l’appartenance à la communauté islamique. Ceci, rend les imbrications entre le corpus normatif, les réalités sociales et le modus vivendi de la gestion de l’autre, ainsi que les représentations imaginaires de celui-ci difficiles à discerner.

Conférence donnée dans le cadre du webinaire “Islam et altérité – Focus Liban” qui s’est tenu le 13 avril 2021 en ouverture du 3è congrès international du réseau PLURIEL.

Resource of the author(s) on PLURIEL Website

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