Islamic Modernities in World Society. The Rise, Spread and Fragmentation of a Hegemonic Idea

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Dietrich Jung


University of Southern Denmark


DKK 1,022,000




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How to be "authentically" modern? This book project explores the multiplicity of answers provided by Muslims. In eight case studies, it describes the history of specifically Islamic projects of modernity as an inherent part of an emerging world society. These projects relate to ideas of citizenship, consumerism, educational and moral cultivation, entrepreneurship, political institutions, and scientific knowledge. The core argument of the book is that since the nineteenth century we can observe the rise, spread and fragmentation of the idea that attachment to Islamic traditions bestows projects of Muslim modernities with cultural authenticity. Thus, the book aims at a novel synthesis of social theory and the study of modern Islam.


The purpose of this project is to put an end to the fruitless debate about the (in)compatibility of Islam and modernity. Apparently, in a century of scholarship on Islam this has been the central puzzle to solve. In oscillating between two contradictory concepts of "true Islam" - either that it is intrinsically hostile or principally compatible with modern culture - this debate has gone full circle. Against this background the book offers a change of perspective. It seizes to question the modern nature of Muslim life, and rather analyses specifically Islamic projects of modernity as historically contingent attempts to meet the challenges of modernity.


I have conducted research on modern Islam for more than twenty years. The data collection for this book is completed and the material comprises a host of secondary and primary sources. The primary sources consist of Arabic texts by Islamic reformers as well as Muslim intellectuals writing in English, French, German, and Nordic languages. In addition, I dispose over various field work data from Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Syria, and Turkey. Even more important, the book is inspired by impressions from many years of non-structured participant observations. I have worked and lived in Muslim majority and minority countries such as Algeria, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the UAE, and Yemen.

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