“I belong to no religion. My religion is love”: Sufism, Religious Studies, and Love

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By now you’ve probably heard about the theme for next year’s American Academy of Religion (AAR) annual meeting, revolutionary love, and the controversy surrounding it.  Some of my colleagues, Russell McCutcheon and Merinda Simmons, have written about it, and the Bulletin for the Study of Religion is posting a series of responses.

Revolutionary love, or any kind of love, has not been considered the purview or state of being of all people.  Scholars have played an important role in using ideas about love to reassert feelings of estrangement, difference, and exclusion.  Europeans in the 18th and 19th century used love and its connection to Sufism to create distinctions between Western civilization, European culture, colonial society, and the Islamic tradition.  More recently, both Muslims and non-Muslims have used the idea of Sufism and its connection to love to distinguish between authentic and inauthentic Muslims. By uncritically adopting the theme of Revolutionary Love and positing love as universal, the AAR has overlooked how “love” has been and continues to be used to construct “the West” through the exclusion of Muslims. Continue reading

Religious Terror

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Dana Grant is a senior pursuing a Liberal Arts degree through New College. She is interested in the development of the self and the acquisition of knowledge, and how they affect people’s daily lives as well as the world as a whole. This post was originally written for Dr. Ramey’s course, REL 321: Religion and Identity in South Asia.

For quite some time now there has been increasing tension in Myanmar between groups that identify as Buddhist and Muslim. According to New York Times’ “Myanmar Policy’s Message to Muslims: Get Out” by Jane Perlez, Myanmar’s new policy, the Rakhine Action Plan, is causing thousands of people who identify as Rohingyas – a persecuted Muslim minority group – to flee the country with the ultimate goal of reaching Malaysia. The policy is forcing the Rohingyas to prove their families have lived in Malaysia for over 60 years (most do not have this type of documentation) to qualify for a second class citizenship or be placed in holding camps awaiting deportation. This policy is only one of Myanmar’s government many steps in marginalizing and segregating the Rohingyas.

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What Makes A Terrorist?

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Katie Fortin, a native of northern Vermont, is in her senior year of undergrad at the University of Alabama. She is currently working towards a degree in English with a minor in Religious Studies.

When you hear the word “terrorist” what do you think? You probably imagine a dark skinned Middle Eastern man. But why is that? Why don’t we picture someone like Timothy McVeigh, a white American, who was responsible for the Oklahoma City Bombings of 1995, the largest domestic terrorism act until 9/11? For me, the answer lies in a couple of questions we’ve discussed in a multitude of the courses I’ve taken through the Religious Studies Department: Who gets to tell a story? And what effect does that have on our society?

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