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Religion and Society

“Not an Era of Change, but a Change of era”

Research Project realized thank to the Contribution of Fondazione Cariplo

“Not an era of change, but a change of era.” This is how Pope Francis, in November 2015 in Florence, described the current historical situation: a profound change that disrupts many aspects of Western societies.



The Oasis Foundation took up the challenge contained in the speech of Holy Father by launching, on May 30th, a new project, with the goal of analyzing this historic turning point, with particular emphasis, as per its mission, on the evolution of Islam and the Muslim presence in Europe. According to some images that depict a Muslim world rooted in its immutable traditions, speaking of change may seem inappropriate. To the contrary, Islam is currently passing through a great change, not only from the outside, as a result of contact with the West, but also from within.


The French sociologist, Leila Babès, who headlined the first workshop of the project in Milan, affirmed that “what is happening today is not a clash of civilizations, but a clash within Islam itself.” Therefore, on the one hand it is necessary to measure these changes on a sociological and political level and, on the other hand, to verify the extent to which these changes have been internalized on the level of thought, especially religious thought. In this context, even the development of contemporary Salafism can be seen as a way – albeit paradoxical – of relating to the ongoing change.



Since 2004, Oasis studies and promotes the mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims and in this new project it sees the opportunity to further the research on what Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan and founding President of Oasis, called “hybridization of civilizations.”



The project, realized with the contribution of the Cariplo Foundation, is articulated around two axis: “Islam in migration” and “the conflict of discourses and interpretation.” Under the scientific direction of the Foundation, the research is carried out by a team of four researchers and enriched by the participation of international experts. The contents of the project will be shared though the foundation’s website and social network profiles.



The work and the public conferences will be held in Milan throughout 2016; the second seminary is scheduled for September 22 and 23, and will feature Felice Dassetto, emeritus professor of Sociology of Religions at the Catholic University of Leuven, and Jorgen Nielsen, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Copenhagen. The third meeting, scheduled for November 2, will see the participation of Joas Wagemakers, professor of Islamic studies at Utrecht University. A public conference chaired by Cardinal Scola in November will close the activities.



For further information on the Foundation and the project:,, @fondazioneoasis