The West is looking for a single interlocutor, but authority in Islam is decentralized

This article was published in Oasis 25. Read the table of contents

Last update: 2022-04-22 08:57:13



In Search of a Leader, Martino Diez




The Qur’an as a Political Programme, Asma Afsaruddin

The Islamists appropriate the sacred texts in order to construct their own concept of theo-democratic government and divine sovereignty. They ignore the various a-political interpretations that can be found in the oldest sources.


How the Shi‘ite Clergy Entered Politics, Rainer Brunner

Shia Islam saw the role of the ulama grow uninterruptedly until a real hierarchy, dominated by the marja'iyya, was created. After the Khomeinist revolution, this institution entered into competition with the office of the Supreme Iranian Leader. Today, it is at a crossroads.


The Sufis’ Soft Power, Souad al-Hakim

Friendship with God is the source of sanctity and, therefore, of true authority. In the mystical texts, it is compared to the trunk of a tree with many branches: each one produces a force that is transformed into a real form of leadership.


Fatwas as a Weapon against Fanaticism, Ridwan Al-Sayyid

In a world where forms of extremism are spreading, governments cannot deal with the problem of religious violence solely through security measures: it is in their interest to have strong religious institutions capable of carrying out a reform.


Does al-Azhar Speak for All Sunnis?, Michele Brignone

The Egyptian mosque-university is often called "the highest Sunny authority". However prestigious it may be, it cannot in reality claim that absolute leadership that is attributed to it in the West. It is nevertheless presenting itself as the leader of Islam's renewal.


The Unpublished Text on Islam’s Reform, Salah Fadl

An Egyptian intellectual has prepared a document for al-Azhar on the renewal of religious discourse, a highly debated subject in Egypt. The text tackles sensitive issues and, partly for this reason, has not been made public.


Saudi Ulama, Guardians of Change, Raihan Ismail

Exported to the world thanks to the kingdom's huge resources, Wahhabism has had to cope with the modernization that has not only thrown its founding pact with the Saudi sovereigns into crisis but also generated conflict in the religious establishment.


Muslim Authority meets Europe. And Changes, Abdessamad Belhaj

Various Western countries' institutions are struggling to find interlocutors from amongst an ever-increasing number of organizations, mosques and imams. Whilst the leadership's fragmentation is problematic for the European powers, it is nevertheless a resource for its actors.





The Twelve “Keepers” of the Qur’an, Martino Diez

The Imam as Divine Proof, Passages from al-Kulaynī

The most important collection of Shi'ite hadīths insists on the need for an infallible guide inspired by God. This cannot consist solely in the Qur'an, the object of divergent interpretations: a "Keeper" is needed, just as the sense organs need a heart.


Theology-Fiction: Prophesying the Umma to Come, Martino Diez

The Erosion of Sharia, Passages by al-Juwaynī

A theologian from around the year 1000 imagines an Islamic world that no longer has a caliph or independent jurists and in which only the Islamic law's worship-related precepts and family-law rules are kept alive. An academic exercise that has become reality.





“Unmasking the Peddlers of Illusions about the Afterlife”, Pope Francis

Excerpts from Pope Francis' speeches in Cairo.





Wanted: a German Islam, Rolla Scolari

There is a debate in Europe about the need to train imams locally. The spread of ideas opposing integration and the growing force of forms of radicalism are giving cause for concern. We went to visit the centres of Islamic Theology set up in Germany. 





The Caliphate’s Metamorphosis, Chiara Pellegrino

The history of a political idea that has dominated the Islamic imagination for 14 centuries.


The ‘Alawis’ Forgotten Past, Martino Diez

With the war in Syria, interest in the Assad family's religious group is growing.


Salafism: the History of a Misunderstanding, Rocio Daga Portillo

The genesis of a movement that is also increasingly present in Europe.


If Global Doesn’t Rhyme with Universal, Michele Brignone

Islam adapts to the most disparate of contexts, giving birth to various models of civility.


The Third Way of the Qur’anic Jesus, Rolla Scolari

Mary's son can connect the three great monotheistic religions.


If a Comedy Explains More than a Theological Conference Does, Emma Neri

When films anticipate the debate in the Islamic world and the West.





Year 13 No. 25 September 2017


Rolla Scolari

Scientific Editor
Martino Diez 

Managing Editor
Michele Brignone

Editorial staff
Chiara Pellegrino


Editorial Consultants
Rifaat Bader - Marco Bardazzi - Bernardo Cervellera - Camille Eid - Rafic Greiche - Claudio Lurati

Graphic Design and Layout 
Massimiliano Frangi

English translation
Catharine de Rienzo - Costanza Raimondi

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