As a global religion, Christianity is also an African religion, and increasingly so. During the twentieth century, the number of Christians in Africa rose from an estimated 10 million to 350 million, a dramatic increase from less than 10 percent to nearly 50 percent of the continent's population. Within the predominantly Muslim region of North Africa, ancient Christian communities survive including the Coptic Church, the Ethiopian Church, and the Nubian Church. During the twentieth century, substantial and widespread Christian commitment was generated by new forms of African Christianity that have been variously identified as African independent, indigenous, or initiated churches. Revitalizing traditional African culture, these local innovations in Christianity have also responded to global forces—conquest, colonization, capitalism, and urbanization—while participating actively in the twentieth-century transatlantic expansion of intensely experiential forms of Christianity. This article briefly recalls the history of Christian formations in Africa before focusing on two forces in that history—intercultural translation and economic exchange—that continue to operate in African Christian responses to the challenges of globalization.
Karen McCarthy Brown
The product of an early and involuntary globalization of African culture, Haitian Vodou is arguably the most misunderstood and maligned world religion. The reasons for this are not so much theological as they are historical and political. The historical reasons are rooted in Haiti's revolution. Haitian Vodou was born from the interaction of groups of people brought to Haiti to work as slaves, people who had been taken from several areas in West and Central Africa. Vodou, whether in Haiti or in diaspora communities in New York, Miami, New Orleans, and Montreal, is still characterized, more often than not, as a primitive religion involved in magic. In an attempt to undermine this persisting consensus about the nature of Haitian Vodou, this article examines one of Vodou's most misunderstood aspects, the manufacture of charms, or wanga. It also discusses the charm called mare djol, the function of the wanga in healing practices, the ethics of wanga, and the belief that all healing is about the healing of relationships.
This article explores how American journalists cover religion in Europe, where issues of faith and church-state relations lead to differing interpretations of religio-ethnic news events, by analyzing U.S. newspaper coverage of the anti-Islamic Dutch MP Geert Wilders. A focus on Geert Wilders incorporates both the Netherlands and Britain into the analysis but also Europe more generally given that the case prompted a wider discussion of immigration and the place of Islam in European societies. After discussing the differing roles and perceptions of religion in the United States and Europe, the article considers the differing models of integration for immigrants on the two continents and demonstrates how this has played out in news coverage of Islam. An examination of the reporting of the Geert Wilders case shows how Islam in Europe is represented through a conflict frame that incorporates a discourse of immigration, cultural incompatibility, identity, liberalism, and freedom.
Jane I. Smith
Muslims who live in regions such as Europe and the United States that are outside the sphere of dominant Islamic culture face a steady array of choices. Underlying the lifestyle decisions of many American Muslims is what is often posed as a fundamental choice between being first an American or first a Muslim. Muslims who currently make their home in the United States represent a great number of movements and identities—immigrant and indigenous, Sunni and Shi'i, conservative and liberal, orthodox and heterodox. Over the last three decades, the number of Muslims in the United States has grown from fewer than half a million to an estimated six million. American Muslims can be clustered into three general groups, although this is not to suggest that they necessarily live or operate discretely: Muslims who are recent immigrants or children of immigrant families, including students; African Americans; and other Americans who have converted to Islam. This article describes Islamic communities, converts to Islam, mosques, and Islamic organizations in the United States.
Anglican relations with Islam and with Muslims are rooted in the long history of Christian contact with the world of Islam. There has been mutual recognition and cooperation during the millet system of the Ottoman times, but also hostility and conflict. Anglicans have sought to strengthen the ancient Oriental churches in Islamic lands through assistance of various kinds, without proselytizing. At their best, they have tried to serve their Muslim neighbours through education and medical work, whilst also seeking to understand Muslim cultural, literary, and spiritual traditions. In particular, Anglican witness has focused on translating and making available the Bible in Muslim languages. This chapter maps out the variety of approaches adopted and to outline what has been fruitful as well as to acknowledge the mistakes and to learn from them in order to work towards a common understanding of and commitment to fundamental freedoms, including that of belief in our world today.
The events in Seattle surrounding—or more accurately, opposing—the meeting of the World Trade Organization in the fall of 1999 constituted a symbolic beginning of the targeting of the global. Seattle 1999 amplified a strong switch away from the adage, “think globally, act locally.” Similar protests against globalization and capitalism took place in other parts of the world, but Seattle 1999 constitutes a symbolic representation of a major turn in the general and diffuse conceptions of globalization and globality. Since Seattle, the rallying cry appears to be that global action is required to confront perceived exploiters of the deprived, the poor, the oppressed, and so on; or that “localization” can only be achieved globally. And this is precisely one point where religion becomes particularly salient. Fundamentalism provides some fertile ground for the exploration of anti-global religious movements and trends. This article examines anti-global movements, religion and economic globalization, and the impact of globalization on “local” religion.
Saad Ibrahim and Richard C. Martin
Islam is often identified as the religion of Arabs, and Arabs are commonly assumed to be Muslims. Today, the majority of Muslims live east of Karachi, Pakistan—far from Arab lands. For all that, the Arabs and the Arabic language have played an enormously important role in Islamic societies. At the same time, Islam has transformed Arab society, a fact that becomes apparent when one considers pre-Islamic and non-Muslim Arab religions. In modern times, non-Muslim Arab minorities, predominantly Christians, have shared a common language, culture, and political fortunes with Arab Muslims. Thus Islam evolved as a global religion following the Arab Muslim conquests of large parts of North Africa and West Asia in the seventh and eighth centuries. This enabled the Arabic language, as the medium of scripture, worship, theological, and juristic discourse to attain global importance well beyond the ethnic and geographic borders of Arab society. This article discusses the history and globalization of Arab Islamic societies.
Worship and its practices occupy a central place in every religious tradition, from Christianity and Judaism to Buddhism and Hinduism. Understanding aesthetics in religion requires paying attention to the role of the human body and its artistry in devotional acts, such as the use of paintings and sculptures as aids to prayer and meditative practices. Artistic means are employed in communal worshiping traditions; sacred rituals involve artistic expressions such as dance, song, poetry, story, images, and symbolic acts. This article examines artistry and aesthetics in modern and postmodern liturgy and worship practices of the world’s religious traditions. It first looks at scholarly sources that provide evidence on the aesthetic dimensions of liturgy. It then discusses the history of worship, whether communal or individual, in a cultural context, along with the concept of worship as verbal and non-verbal performance. It also considers the “art” of leading a worshiping community and concludes with a discussion of improvisation in religious worship.
John Hilary Martin
Indigenous societies are affected by globalization in two ways: the forces of the global economy and culture that come into their traditional homes and their own out-migration to new pluralistic settings, including urban centers and foreign lands. In the case of the Australian aboriginals in the outback, their communities become remittance economies that are similar but also different from other indigenous remittance economies in small Pacific island states such as Tonga. Though some have migrated to Australia's cities, for cultural reasons Australian aboriginals are strongly disinclined to leave their own local areas, and when they have left their local region, they have not left the landmass of Australia in any significant numbers. A major factor in this reluctance to leave is a culturally religious one: the notion of the Dreaming. The Dreaming is a powerful factor in the culture of all Australian aboriginals and has religious roots. The cultural values of the family, the Elders, and the land with its Dreaming are still largely in place in traditional outback communities.
Farid El Asri and Nadia Fadil
This chapter offers a comprehensive overview of the literature on Islam in Belgium since the early 1980s. It argues that this interdisciplinary field of study is largely typified by a concern with integration. This concern is expressed through two central themes that emerge as privileged tropes in the literature: the question of the social and economic integration of Muslims and that of their compliance with liberal and secular understandings of citizenship. While the first trope approaches Muslims as an underprivileged working class that needs to be included through education and labour, the second trope regards Muslims as a religious minority and examines the extent to which they comply with dominant forms of citizenship that are defined in liberal and secular terms. The authors show how these different tropes are unevenly distributed across the linguistic frontiers but they also nuance the omnipresence of this concern by referring to studies that disregard this exclusive focus on integration.