Talal Asad (born April 1932) is an anthropologist at the CUNY Graduate Center.Read about Talal Asad in Wikipedia
I'm not criticizing how people experience what they might call spirituality. I am interested in looking critically at something else - at how people use their language to articulate theories about something they call religion, to say, for example, that "in Islam religion and politics necessarily go together," or to insist that "violence has no place in religion," to universalize it.
The notion of "humanity" as a form of transcendence derives, I think, from the conviction that intellectuality possesses an absolute power, from the demand that our best behavior depends on our ability to think abstractly, in terms of a universal rule, about something called humanity, that we need to understand humanity abstractly so that we can act responsibly towards those who represent it.
Certainly in order to understand the natural world one needs clarity, logic, and the capacity for theory building. But that understanding tends to improve because and to the extent that it is provisional, hypothetical, when it looks for disconfirmation in the particular rather than final proof as a universal.
Believers are often thought of as people who have some kind of private conviction or repudiation of something, whereas "the faithful" refers to a relationship, which was also incidentally the earlier sense of "faith" in premodern, preliberal Christianity. This is not to say, incidentally, that "faith" refers simply to external behavior as opposed to internal belief but that it refers to an act.
I do not think there is such a thing as a "clash of civilizations. " When I say that Muslims as Muslims cannot be represented in the West, I was being ironic, and also referring to the fact that ninety percent of the time when people talk about "the problem of Muslims" in the West, it is to complain about the fact that Muslims have not "integrated. "
Agency has become a catch word. In a way, this intoxication with ‘agency’ is the product of liberal individualism. The ability of individuals to fashion themselves, to change their live, is given ideological priority over the relation within which they themselves are actually formed, situated, and sustained.