The journal > Year 9 N.18 December 2013

Religions on a Tightrope, between Secularism and Ideology

Year 9 N.18 December 2013



‘I do not Love what Fades’

This is an excerpt from the leading article of Oasis no.18. Click here to buy the issue and read the full text.

Angelo Scola


Atheism at the End of the Line

Faith and Civilization /1. The Humanist idea has gradually been imposing itself in various stages, the last of which is atheistic humanism. Its victories have led to a bitter defeat, however. Without a transcendent point of reference, it is impossible to answer the most radical of questions: why is it good that man should exist?

Rémi Brague

Secularization Has Run Dry: Toward a New Humanism?

Faith and Civilisation /2. If we are to understand secularization, we need to go back to its origins and retrace its historical unfolding up to the present-day crisis. Looking beyond all the stereotypes, secularization is opening the door to radical questions about the need for a new universality.

Francesco Botturi

Today’s Man: a Modest and Wandering Alchemist

Immanence in movement. The financial crisis lifted the lid on the void left behind by techno-nihilistic secularisation: in the phantasmagorical world created by expelling God, reality turns out to be deprived of its depth. And once again in need of that deposit of meaning which religions are.

Mauro Magatti

The Republic of Watchmen

Creative transgression. The French case of young people meeting to ‘keep watch’ is the expression of a reaction to a libertarian liberalism that has become despotic: the desire for freedom and, perhaps, a new humanistic civilisation. Something new wants to exist.

Henri Hude

How Islamists (do not) Change when they Come into Power

Brotherhoods and parties. Contrary to the commonplace that Muslim societies ought to become secular in order to become democratic, it is democracy that is forcing the movements with a religious reference to make a choice: either accept the autonomy of politics or fail.

Olivier Roy

‘We and They are the Same Thing’

Iraq. Najaf, the capital of the Shias, has generated and generates men of science and letters who have sought and seek to assure coexistence between the various components of Islam within the framework of a civic state. And to surround the blind violence of religious extremists with tolerance.

Jawad al-Khoei

Where Islamists distinguish politics from preaching

Morocco. The process of secularisation, set in motion by nationalist intellectuals, involved first the monarchy and then the Islamist movement: its political integration has implied a moderation that has undermined the totalitarian vision of Islam. But to what extent?

Hassan Rachik

The Seeds of Failure in the Utopia of a Caliphate

Egypt. A central factor in the Muslim Brothers’ defeat can be traced to their foreign policy: their ambitious pan-Islamic project left no room for national interests. The army and part of the civil service and population could not accept this.

Tewfik Aclimandos

If Jihad is Fought in the Bazaars

Turkey. In the State founded by Atatürk we are witnessing today a ‘return of God’ in the public sphere – the unforeseen outcome of three factors: democratisation, the mutual fertilisation of secular and Islamic voices, and surprising economic growth.

Hakan Yavuz

The Dissident Alliance Against Theocracy

Iran. Secularism appears as a cultural force that seeks to guarantee the freedom of republican action as opposed to divine sovereignty. Despite this, or rather because of the thirty-five years of theocracy, today it pervades the ordinary lives of the Iranian people, who are disappointed by the revolution and searching for new pathways.

Ramin Jahanbegloo

A hand outstretvhed to terror

Nigeria. Boko Haram has tormented this African country which, although it experienced a cruel civil war, had not seen such systematic terrorism in action. The Islamic matrix of this phenomenon cannot be ignored and calls on those who govern to have a new responsibility.

John Onaiyekan


Faith: hearing and seeing

Rather than dwelling upon the opposition between faith and positivistic scientism, Ratzinger emphasises the margins of uncertainty and doubt that concern both the believers and the non-believer. Not only can the most authentic Christians, such as Thérèse of Lisieux, be assailed at certain moments by anxiety and doubt, but atheists or agnostics, as well, cannot prohibit themselves for asking whether their vision of the world is the only one possible and whether there is something more.

Massimo Borghesi

Being Established to Understand

Excerpts from Lumen Fidei, the first encyclical letter of Pope Francis (nn. 23-26, 29-30).

H.H. Pope Francis

The temptation of ‘Yet perhaps it is true’

In the modern world both those who believe and those who do not believe contemporaneously live the experiences of doubt and of faith: for the former faith makes itself present against doubt; for the latter, through it. In the search for the ultimate meaning of life, doubt can become a place of communication beyond every stockade.

John Esposito, Joseph Ratzinger

Prophecy is fulfilled, it's reason time

The most surprising feature of The Reconstruction is the enthusiastic celebration of the perennial movement of the Self, in its exterior and interior dimensions. The endorsement of the changing and the empirical is said to be so characteristic of Islam as to be found in all its most authentic cultural expressions, from...

Martino Diez

The eternal secret of the ego

In the thought of Muhammad Iqbal there emerges a fundamental provocation: equipped with new categories and experiences, the world of Islam is called to engage in a work of ‘reconstruction’ of its religious thought which is much more than a mere accommodation to modernity.

Muhammad Iqbal


Can a Country be emptied of its People?

Syria. After the Pope’s appeal, something has happened. If nothing else, it has spurred us to look at the hellishness of the war by considering all its implications. First of all, the refugee issue, an emergency that is becoming increasingly out of control. And the theme of the minorities and their ‘protection’.

Marialaura Conte

A Three-Cent Life

Michel Kilo, a historic dissident in exile in Paris, is waiting for the war to end so that he can return home. Convinced that the original democratic drive is still alive in the majority of Syrians, he hopes in Assad’s fall. And, therefore, in the beginning of that freedom for which he has been fighting since he was young.

Marialaura Conte, Martino Diez

“Damascus will Go Back to Being a World Centre”

Neither a loyalist nor an opponent, but simply on the people’s side: this is how Maria Saadeh, a young MP who rejects all the foreign interference and denounces the regime’s mistakes, describes herself. Nevertheless, only President Assad can, in her opinion, allow Syria to become a pluralist civic state.

Marialaura Conte, Michele Brignone

The Realistic Way of the Ideal

Contents not available yet. Buy the hard copy issue or subscribe to read all the articles.

Martino Diez

A Mysterious Light in the Shadows

Contents not available yet. Buy the hard copy issue or subscribe to read all the articles.

François Mourad


"Let's wait for tomorrow to up sticks"

Total self-giving. The sacrifice of the seven monks of Tibhirine has not ceased to shine forth: ‘a Cistercian wreck in the ocean of Islam’, they chose to remain in an Algeria tormented by violence, bearing witness to the possibility of an existential dialogue with Muslims, capable, that is to say, of bearing upon everyday life and eternity.

Sr.M. Augusta Trecari O.C.S.O.

The forbidden Fruits of Mount Lebanon

Orthodoxy and violence. Retrieved in order to face up to the crusades, jihad ideology was manipulated by Sunni governors for their own political success: ‘holy war’ became a means by which to counter minorities who were seen as a danger for Islamic unity. The fanaticism that sprang from this has never been extinguished.

Suleiman Ali Mourad

The Nail of the Cross in the Diadem-Helmet

Faith and politics. The anniversary of the Edict of Constantine is a privileged opportunity to understand the radical novelty of that act and to explore its implications for relations between the state and the citizens, yesterday and today. But also to approach a ‘personal’ reading of the much discussed Emperor.

Francesco Braschi

But When does Life in a Mother’s Womb Begin?

Bioethics. Reference has been made to a ‘holy alliance’ between Christians and Muslims against abortion. In reality, there are differences. For the Catholic Magisterium one should distinguish between direct abortion, which is never licit, and indirect abortion. For the scholars of Islam therapeutic abortion can be acceptable but only before the ensoulement.

Paola Bernardini

Book Reviews

The Cassette Player Against the West

Le Désenchantement du monde Gallimard, Paris 1985 Un monde désenchanté? L’Atelier, Paris 2004

Jean Duchesne

If Politics Absorbs Theology

Critica della teologia politica. Da Agostino a Peterson: la fine dell’era costantiniana

Michele Brignone

The Liberal Ditch between Hadîth and Qur’an

L’Islam, La liberté, la laïcité and Le Crime de la tribu des « Il nous a été rapporté », edited by Dominique Avon and Amin Elias, with Adbellatif Idrissi

Martino Diez

Diary of a Journey and of Arab Encounters

Passion arabe, 2011-2013

Ines Peta

When Maronites Discovered Europe

Histoire du Patrimoine Arabe des Maronites, vol. 2, Les Auteurs Maronites sous les Ottomans, tome 1 (1510-1760)

Samir-Khalil Samir

Multiculturalism in Flesh and Blood

The wall that separates Jews and Muslims, like the line that passes between ‘the faithful’ and ‘infidels’, has always been particularly generous in providing points of departure for cinema. From films which are more charged with hope and prospects to those which are more utopian and on to those which are pure shipwrecks of despair.

Emma Neri


Syria Before and After

The destruction of the minaret of the great mosque of Aleppo in April of this year made headlines news. This architectonic complex was on the site of the agora of the Hellenistic city, not far from the famous Citadel. Previously a Christian cathedral, it had been transformed into a mosque during the Umayyad age, rounda...

Editorial staff

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