Last update: 2019-03-27 10:44:22
For today’s Muslims, websites constitute a form of religious authority. Indeed, it is to these that they turn for informed opinions regarding their lives as believers. The content of the questions they ask these portals clearly demonstrates that what is driving them is a normative vision of religion and a constant fear of breaking “the rules.” It also indicates, however, that the things that really concern Muslims are not the issues in which the media are normally interested.
Most studies on Islam remain hostages to debate structured around dichotomies such as Islam and democracy, Islam and modernity, Islam and secularism, Islam and pluralism, Islam and women and so on. The underlying question in this debate is why has Islam not evolved in the same way as Christianity? Why has it not freed itself of its primitive nature, which manifests in the exaltation of violence, non-acceptance of the other, rejection of freedoms and debasement of reason’s role?
The studies referred to concentrate on the religious, political and cultural elite and do not take the ordinary Muslim’s human dimension into consideration. If this approach might once have been necessary in the context of Islamic societies, in that of contemporary Western societies it constitutes a cognitive ideology that is incapable of analysing and understanding the presence—for the first time in history—of millions of Muslims at the centre of European culture.
Nowadays, ordinary Muslims constitute the first “space” in which efforts are being made to harmonize Islam with the West. Formerly lacking visibility, these ordinary Muslims are now within the reach of scientific research thanks to the aid of technology since this stores and disseminates the questions they are asking about the relationship between their faith and the reality in which they are living. Formulated in what is technically called fatwa (fatwā), these questions and their answers are nowadays available on many websites that, for these Muslims, are taking on the function of religious authorities in Europe.
The increasingly important role attributed to these sites by Muslims in the West allows one to leave the realm of the abstract, the theological, the political and the ideological to one side and understand the nature of the Islamic presence on the Old Continent by asking new questions.
To cite this article
Wael Farouq, “Fatwas: Mirrors of Islamic Religiosity in Europe”, Oasis, year XIV, n. 28, December 2018, pp. 70-86.
Wael Farouq, “Fatwas: Mirrors of Islamic Religiosity in Europe”, Oasis [online], published on 27th March 2019, URL: https://www.oasiscenter.eu/en/fatwa-mirror-of-islam-in-europe.