noahwagner — May 4, 2016, 2:53 pm

Preface

(View as pdf here)

I conceive of this blog as responding to three questions about Muslim communities and religious traditions, which roughly correspond to the three segments into which the course was divided. (1) What ways of knowing God are possible? (2) What is the role of context in Islamic religious traditions? (3) In what senses are Muslim identities politicized in the contemporary world? These considerations are all closely intertwined with one another, and the work of answering each individual question simultaneously demands and provides insights related to the other two questions; reflections on each of these considerations can be found woven throughout my six blog posts.

Ways of knowing God

Islam is often understood as constituting two oppositional approaches that have long existed in tension with one another: the legalistic and the spiritualistic. These approaches reflect two ostensibly oppositional ways of forging a relationship with, and reaching an understanding of, God. I sought to explore these two interpretations in my artwork, but I also sought to show that they are not the totality of ways to understand Islam: many alternative conceptions exist – within, outside of, and offering reconciliation between the dichotomous approaches of legality and spirituality.

Legalistic interpretations posit “legal codes and pietistic norms” as a primary means of knowing God (Asani In Praise of Muhammad: Sindi and Urdu Poems). These are largely derived from the Quran, sunnah, and hadith. In including a Quran verse in my blog post “Islamic Conceptions of Righteousness,” I sought to clarify the central importance of Quranic verses for knowing God and understanding the conduct God demands from Muslims; just as al-Ghazali does in laying down “External Rules of Quran Recitation,” a legalistic approach suggests that one need only cite a Quranic verse or a hadith, as well as offer some brief commentary elucidating its tafsir, or outward meaning (Renard), in order to drive home a point or even render a position as objective Islamic fact, lying beyond the point of controversy.

A spiritualist approach to Islam is understood to oppose each of these preconceived notions about religion. Spiritualist Islam focuses on ta’wil, or the mystical, personal, inner meaning of scripture (Renard). Sufi spiritualism in particular suggests that one can attain experiential knowledge of God through intimate personal encounter, possible only by subsuming one’s ego into love of God. Many followers of Sufi traditions discuss, in art and poetry, experiences of being intoxicated with God’s love and beauty as a result of this immanent interaction with the Divine (discussed in Renard’s 7 Doors to Islam: “Painting and the Decorative Arts”). I was particularly interested in the ways in which Sufi Muslims have been persecuted under charges of heresy, and the resulting tendency in Sufi literature to subvert this paradigm and refer to legalist, hierarchical conceptions of Islam as consisting of little more than blasphemy and infidelity, while characterizing their own spiritual practice as rebellious. I questioned this dichotomy as one produced by political contexts rather than innate conceptual incompatibilities between spiritual and legalist orientations, and I instead sought to bridge the divide.

With this aim in mind, expressions of understanding and reverence for Allah that predominate in the Islamic religious tradition can instead be viewed as transcending the spirituality/legality dichotomy, calling into question the analytical usefulness of this dichotomy. Creating the works of art found on this blog helped me grasp the ways in which acts such as ritual performance, artistic creation, and righteous conduct can be considered as distinct ways of knowing and worshipping God, as each demands the simultaneous emphasis of both legalistic and spiritualistic elements of Islam.

Annual participation in the ta’ziyeh rituals during the month of Muharram is a prime example of the ways in which ritual practice transcends the legal/spiritual dichotomy. In a legalist sense, Shiites might understand the ta’ziyeh as part of their religious obligation to uphold the leadership of the Imams, in particular Ali and Husayn. Yet at the same time, participation in the ta’ziyeh necessitates entering a state of liminality, in which one conceives of the Muharram commemoration outside of space and time, so that one is simultaneously engaging in and remembering Husayn’s martyrdom – in creating and annihilating Husayn for my piece “The Remembrance,” a puppet alternative to the passion plays and the street processions, I felt myself playing this liminal role, and it seemed to me that this profoundly experiential understanding of the martyrdom goes hand in hand with a spiritualist Islam. Beyond the ta’ziyeh, more commonplace rituals such as the five daily prayers most Muslims observe also fit this description. Although Muslims may be responding to legalistic agreements between God and Muhammad during the mi’raj and following guidelines such as those set forth by Al-Ghazali during acts of prayer, they are also inevitably participating in a deeply spiritual act that implies the possibility of knowing some semblance of God through ritual and experience, rather than through scholarly and juridical study.

The literary, visual, and architectural arts also suggest a possibility of bridging this divide. Because the Quran is the word of God, it becomes a religious obligation to render it and its message as beautifully as possible. Thus, calligraphy and Quran recitation take on certain elements that are almost transactional, demanding that the participant satisfy precise rules of tajwid (Rasmussen). Yet they also demand an intense experiential encounter with the word of God, and participation in these rituals is expected to elicit murmurs, weeping, and other intensely bodily experiences that suggest the intrinsic importance of spirituality in abiding by the legalistic requirements of calligraphy and recitation (Nelson). In memorizing “Andak Andak” and in writing my own poem (found in my blog post “Self and Selflessness,”) I found similarly that adhering to conventions of Sufi poetry, learning proper Persian pronunciation, and emulating the respective styles of Rumi and Abd ur-Ra’uf offered me a form of spiritual, experiential understanding precisely through ritualistic, rule-conforming mimicry and fulfillment of obligation. 

The importance of context

My blog posts also forced me to consider the centrality of a cultural studies approach in understanding how a religion generally equated with a single Prophet and the scriptural text revealed to him can manifest in so many variegated and complex ways. The Iranian ta’ziyeh’s unique fusion of narrative garden recitation with Muharram processions provides a prime example of this, which I examine in “The Remembrance,” an exploration of what the ta’ziyeh might look like if it had instead fused with traditions of puppet theatre. It is worth noting here that the existence of the Muharram observances is itself contextually contingent: it rests on a long history of Shiite oppression and resilience that is itself a consequence of politics (Daffarty).

I also explore the distinct interpretations the veil carries in different contexts, particularly in my piece “The Imperialist Gaze.” Muslim feminists understand that the veil’s “political meaning has varied over time”: it has constituted an oppressive source of exclusion from public life, a haven of protection from the male gaze, and – most recently – a symbol of resistance to Western imperialism, each perspective particularly salient in its own context within Islamic history (Weber 143). As Weber points out, Western feminists often fall into a trap of orientalism: they fail to grasp the depth and complexity of these meanings because they cannot fully bear witness to a context outside of their own, and they erroneously apply Western notions of public and private spheres, seclusion and suffrage, to non-Western contexts.

Lastly, I examined the ways in which context influences expressions of reverence and devotion, particularly in relation to oneself, God, and the Prophet. Ali Asani’s “In Praise of Muhammad” demonstrates that local literary forms are of central importance in determining how Muslims conceptualize these relationships. For instance, Sindhi poetry of modern-day southern Pakistan draws heavily from the tradition of the virahini, the bride or bride-to-be longing from her beloved, from whom she is separated. For this reason, the passionate, all-consuming adoration for the Beloved expressed in the poetry of Abd ur-Ra’uf differ significantly from the pleas for intercession found in the Urud na’ts, which in turn differ from the matter-of-fact, quasi-transactional approach taken in Legends of the Swahili. Similarly, Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s unique conception of the self as khudi, or agent of creation, breaks with conceptions of ego, or nafs, in Sufi works such as Conference of the Birds as a result of the intellectual context in which Iqbal’s ideas developed. In my blog post “Self and Selflessness,” I further explored these contrasting conceptions of relationships with self, God, and Muhammad by attempting to reconcile competing approaches, but it is of equal importance to note that orientations towards the self and the Divine vary because of their distinct cultural origins and influences. 

The contemporary politicization of Muslim identity

As the previous section has shown, Islam is always already embedded in cultural, political, and sociohistorical context, and these contexts profoundly shape the ways in which Islamic religious traditions are conceptualized and practiced. From the first Caliphates to the Saudi dynasty to the War on Terror, power and resources are of pivotal importance in understanding how historical forces shape our understanding of Islam.

Our contemporary context particularly merits our focus, for it has led many outsiders to profoundly misunderstand and hyper-generalize concerning Islam, so that many non-Muslims today treat a declaration of religious faith or cultural heritage as having totalizing effects on an individual’s personhood, politics, and ethics. In effect, contemporary Muslims in the eyes of the West have been reduced to their Muslim identity, and this identity has in turn been inaccurately associated with religious fundamentalism and consequently criminalized.

This is why my three most recent blog posts, each in some way tied to this phenomenon, all depict Islam and Muslims in a collective sense – multiple scarves, each in a different state in a process of falling apart (“The Imperialist Gaze”); multiple posters of the Iranian Revolution, each communicating a message about Islam, imperialism, and modernity with slightly distinct contents and tones (“Avant-Garde”); multiple icons of self-assertion among Muslims and people of color, each arising to raise a fist of resistance and solidarity in its own context (“Listen To the Whole Story”). The collective nature of these pieces suggests that practicing Islam, particularly in the twenty-first century postcolonial world, constitutes a profoundly social and political experience.

This is true in two senses. The first is involuntary and oppressive, as individuals like Changez find themselves lumped together with those who hijacked planes on September 11th, 2001, and architects like Avcioglu find themselves reduced to minarets. The second offers a counterweight through forms of solace and solidarity, as Muslims seek understanding within communities of fellow Muslims. I found this in the embrace of Islam among black jazz musicians such as John Coltrane that Aidi describes, as well as the “pharaohism” of Akhenaton and the “religioethnic pride” among the Asian and Afro-Caribbean members of Fun-Da-Mental (Swedenburg). This experience of a collective, solidaristic Muslim experience is encapsulated in the observation from Grabar that “self-recognition within the Muslim tradition” is “primarily auditory and social.”

I hope that by bringing the sociopolitical realities of Muslim identity to light through artistic renderings of varied contexts and experiences, I will lead people to consider the personal and collective meanings of Islam for Muslims in different times and places – and, above all, to resist the tendency to reduce complex, varied individuals and societies to a monolithic Muslim faith.

noahwagner — May 3, 2016, 7:40 pm

Week 13: “Listen To the Whole Story”

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist depicts Changez repeatedly asserting a notion of himself, his beliefs, and his homeland on his own terms, despite the frequent misunderstanding and betrayal he faces from a white Western audience – including but not limited to Erica, his employers and co-workers at Underwood Sampson, and the interviewer to whom the novel is addressed.

I noted similar themes in Aidi, Swedenburg, Avcioglu, Grabar, and Nader. To be a Muslim hip-hop artist who does not obscure the religious aspect of one’s identity is to be positioned “versus Islamophobia,” to put it Swedenburg aptly terms it – to make oneself a “human Gaza strip” as Natcha Atlas describes himself. To be a Muslim architect is to be repeatedly reduced to a designer of minarets – a signifier “adopted as the universal symbol of Islamic architecture” according to Grabar. The result, as Avcioglu describes it, is that cultures are reduced “to the homogeneous stance of a visible sign such as a minaret” despite the fact that “there exist in the Muslim countries both old and new mosques without minarets and domes. The dome and minarets outlined in Changez’s hair in many ways resemble a crown: at times a source of pride and at other times a thorny burden, but one that at all times marks its wearer.

Through this piece, I suggest that existing as a Muslim – and as a person of color – necessitates constantly asserting and explaining oneself, and that these continual efforts are acts of resistance. This can manifest through expressions of pride and solidarity among Afro-Caribbean and Asian Muslims alike (as it does for Fun-Da-Mental); through the construction of “aesthetically non-conformist, modernizing mosques,” with or without domes and minarets (as Avcioglu suggests); or through the nuanced critique of the West that Changez offers.

These acts of self-assertion in their varied forms together take shape as a “revolt against inferiority,” as Aidi puts it (illustrated here through John Coltrane’s integration of Islam and jazz into his black identity): an attempt to escape from the presuppositions and archetypes that have been ascribed to a colonized Other. In a sense, the term “punk Islam” becomes redundant, for to be a proud, political, solidaristic Muslim is an act of resistance to hegemonic Western secular authority.

noahwagner — , 7:39 pm

Week 11: “Avant-Garde”

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The panel from Persepolis that I have centered in this work stood out to me as posing a dichotomy that many consider essential to understanding the modern world – a dichotomy I wish to call into question. When Marjane ponders the veil, she sets her inner religious convictions in contrast to her family’s “modern and avant-garde” lifestyle. This implies that to be religious is to be something other than modern, that faith and tradition go hand-in-hand and that they are imposed to that which is experimental, innovative, or a challenge to tradition.

Did popular understanding at the time of the Iranian Revolution mirror young Marjane’s conception of the divide between religion and modernity? To answer this question, I returned to Ram and Chelkowski, both of whom examine political posters and graphic arts at the time of the Iranian Revolution. I see these posters as significant in many ways. For one, the Islamic Republican Party issued a significant portion of the posters, so that they reflect the message the Party sought to express – the message it found most compelling and inspiring for those whose support the new regime required. The posters are thus additionally crucial for their role in shaping popular understanding of the Revolution. Thirdly and finally, these iconographies give us a sense of what Marjane herself might have experienced as part of her visual life as a young girl.

Ram argues that the posters bridged the divide between sacred and profane, modern and traditional, national and international: in this piece, I included three matches to reflect these dichotomies and the reconciliation they find in the posters. I set these matches along some of the posters Ram includes in his article, and some he does not – most of those that I added were similarly issued by the Islamic Republican Party, particularly for the celebration of May Day. The Islamic Republican Party’s engagement with International Workers Day is particularly significant for its evocation of contemporary, international struggle within industrial capitalism. The holiday offers a celebration and a call for the empowerment of the workers worldwide who make possible our modern, technology-driven world.

Even if this period in the Islamic Republican Party’s iconography was a brief “honeymoon of the politically progressive and fundamentalist groups,” as Chelkowski notes, the conservative clerics’ decision to deploy these images and presume a receptive audience for them suggests something about the public mood at the time. Such an embrace of this approach to modernity, and its depiction of modern industrial workers, suggests the central importance of a global, anti-imperialist struggle and a nationalist assertion of dignity to the Revolution, clarifying that the movement was about far more than religious practice, and that the sacred and secular, the national and international, were not necessarily as starkly distinguished at the time as Marjane Satrapi retrospectively illustrates them to be.

noahwagner — , 7:38 pm

Week 10: “The Imperialist Gaze”

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“Unveiling Scheherazade” led me to think deeply about the notion that “gaze” need not be patriarchal in order to be objectifying and oppressive: there is not only a male gaze, but also a Western imperialist gaze. As Weber demonstrated, Western feminists impose this gaze on Muslim communities to depict them as inferior, as “behind,” as anti-feminist. For this reason, I chose to construct a panopticon in which Muslim women are reduced to their veils, and are subjected to surveillance and critique.

Bentham originated the notion of the panopticon as a penitentiary in which a single, central guard is able to monitor all the prisoners simultaneously without their knowledge, resulting in a pervasive sense of being watched. Foucault further developed this idea, arguing that modern institutions from schools to factories are effectively panoptic: individuals constantly perceive themselves as being monitored to prevent deviation from a preconceived path. Today, the surveillance and criminalization of Muslims – as anti-feminists, as un-American, or as threats to global safety – echoes this conception, and for this reason I constructed a modern-day panopticon in which cameras, phones, and webcams are set up to monitor the activity of Muslim women. Monitoring and critique under the Western imperialist gaze does not only come from the likes of FBI agents who tailed the architect; it also comes from the orientalist feminists who claim to stand in solidarity with their sisters outside the West.

Weber writes that under feminist orientalism, Islam is viewed as monolithic, static, and inevitably patriarchal, and the veil is understood to be inherently oppressive. These misconceptions resulted from narrow, Eurocentric definitions of feminism and of women’s advancement, which rely heavily on Western constructs that have been illogically extrapolated to the world outside the West. Nasr writes that the notion of a territorial nation-state and the phenomenon of nationalism are both Western imports, transported to the Middle East through colonialism – even though, as Esposito suggests, nationalism spread in the Muslim world as an anti-imperialist force. The same is true of feminism. The veil, Weber argues, is layered with distinct meanings originating in varied perspective: it can imply piety, patriarchal submission, or anti-imperialist resistance, along with countless other contextually contingent interpretations that lie beyond the superficial gaze of a Western, non-Muslim observer. My use of an Arizona Iced Tea carton, a laundry detergent, and other locally found objects are intended to illustrate this very notion: when Western feminists analyze Muslim women in non-Western societies, they are analyzing a version of these women they have constructed out of their own, Western, ideological materials. The result is that even as we surveil, monitor, and critique, we inevitably misunderstand.

noahwagner — March 22, 2016, 4:31 am

Week 4: “Self and Selflessness”

O Lord, cure my afflicted heart.

It grows weak in the absence of the beloved.

While I sleep, I cannot rest: relentlessly I toss about with longing for him.

I am weary with need for the beloved.

 

O Generous One, send the master to me.

         Let me bow before him, that he may bow before you.

Let him tend to me, that he may cleanse me of my ailments.

Then for him I shall travel to the farthest temple.

With him I shall ascend ever-closer to the heavenly sphere where we might dwell together.

I shall spend all my days toiling for his happiness; I shall lay down my life for his betterment.

The “rebel” steed Noah says, “Grant us a place in paradise.”

Here, I explore reverence for Mohammed, which I saw expressed in two ways: through discussion of his divine deeds (with minimal relation to, or mention of, the narrator), and through romantic expressions (which, by definition, heavily involve the speaker). I synthesized these approaches by narrating an event from The Miracles of Mohammed in the style of Abd ur-Ra’uf.

The mir’aj was particularly fruitful subject matter because it provides crucial insight into the relationship between devotional love and the self. Rumi asserts that Muhammad could encounter God only once he had subsumed his ego to the Divine, ensuring there is just one ego (God’s) in God’s presence. Abd ur-Ra’uf’s approach can be interpreted as the antithesis of this selflessness, for it is focused intimately on the self’s experience and desires. In his longing for Muhammad and for God, Abd ur-Ra’uf does not surrender himself wholly to the interests of his beloved: rather, his poems are simultaneous vows of self-sacrifice and pleas for his beloved to meet his own needs. He offers Muhammad a “complaint”: “But for you I have no other support” (Asani, In Praise 167). He seeks comfort, and cries, “[H]earing his grievances, console him!” – as if giving an order (Asani 164). He begs his beloved, “[B]e my health!” and states that, “If the beloved comes to my house, then all pains and afflictions will be cured,” without mentioning any other benefits to the Prophet’s presence, implying that being “cured” is a central motivator in his longing for the Prophet (Asani 166).

I saw this dichotomy paralleled in depictions of the buraq. Whereas in some versions of the mir’aj story, the buraq is a silent, obedient object of Muhammad and Gabriel’s plans, in Knappert’s Myths and Legends of the Swahili Buraki is independent and strong-willed. Despite being reprimanded by Gabriel for refusing to carry Muhammad, Buraki insists, “I will only let you mount me if you guarantee me Paradise” (Knappert 75). Abd ur-Ra’uf, too, makes this demand, writing: “The ‘sinful one’ Abd ur-Ra’uf says, ‘Grant me a place in paradise.’” (Asani 166). I chose to write from the perspective of the virahini as if she were also the buraq, reinforcing the commingling of self-interested demand and selfless sacrifice in both archetypes; I also reiterated the pleas for paradise made by Abd ur-Ra’uf and Buraki. My unconventional substitution of half-horse for human aligns with the tradition of Abdu ur-Ra’uf, the “rebel,” the “sinful one.”

Perhaps the reconciling moment in this dialectic of self-interest and selflessness is, as Sufi tradition would suggest, love. It is here that the satisfaction of the beloved’s interest is in the admirer’s self-interest, and vice versa; it is here that neither of the two egos disappears, for they instead arrive at something greater than their original selves. This resolution means that both Rumi and Abd ur-Ra’uf can be right: one’s love of the Divine transcends the atomistic ego, subsuming it into something far greater.

noahwagner — , 4:29 am

Week 5: “The Remembrance”

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The tradition of “ta’ziyeh” touches upon many crucial elements for the study of Muslim communities, and in my piece “The Remembrance” I seek to break from traditional commemoration of Husayn’s martyrdom in ways that shed light on several such themes.

Shia communities sometimes define themselves in terms of persecution and violence that have historically affected Shi’i Muslims (Daftary 169-171). This self-perception is embodied in ceremonies such as Iranian passion plays commemorating Husayn’s martyrdom, in which the oppressor’s merciless brutality is depicted in stark contrast to Husayn’s self-sacrifice in the name of God. To illustrate this, I borrowed from Picasso’s depictions of war’s senseless treatment of innocent victims in Guernica. Like Picasso, I painted Husayn in monochrome (with the addition of green, traditionally used to mark the ahl al-bayt), and I portrayed his face with dual expressions of suffering and death – evoking the sort of anguish that makes Guernica timeless and that leads many ta’ziyeh participants to beat their chests in sorrow.

The ta’ziyeh, like Guernica, marks a universalistic paying of respects to the toll taken by horrific injustice, one through which viewers can relate, learn, and mourn as if those killed were their own relatives. In this vein, I seek to explore the notion of liminality, that which allows participants to transcend space and time, so that they are simultaneously participating in Husyan’s martyrdom at Karbala and commemorating the event in the present (Chelkowski 26). It is for this reason that I represented Husayn’s face in two distinct states, without a clear chronology. Perhaps his closed eyes and lips indicate solemn acceptance of impending death, while his wide eyes and open mouth suggest immense pain upon dying. Perhaps the closed eyes represent the attainment of divine reward after death. Perhaps both are true. What is important is that viewers overlay their own interpretations, as they must turn the puppet to view each face and thus participate in the narrative they themselves construct.

Lastly, “The Remembrance” suggests the importance of context for Islam by imagining an alternative world in which different religious-cultural fusions emerged.. In India and Pakistan, “ta’ziyeh” refers to replicas of Husayn’s tomb that are carried through the streets in funeral processions during the month of Muharram (Chelkowski 3). In Iran, however, this practice was fused with narrative garden recitations, creating a new form of theatre also called “ta’ziyeh” (Chelkowski 3-4). Similarly, traditions of puppetry have long existed in Egypt, sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, India, and China. My piece seeks to imagine an alternative “ta’ziyeh” – a tradition of remembrance that might have taken root had Islam interacted differently with cultural influences.

My piece demonstrates what might have been if these themes were developed differently, underscoring the importance of understanding Islam as culturally embedded. In a sense, the piece explores liminality in another sense: it offers what Schubel calls the “subjunctive” or “what if” stage of understanding, allowing simultaneous exploration of universalistic “root paradigms” and particularistic contextual factors in the construction of Islam.

noahwagner — , 4:23 am

Week 7: Islamic Conceptions of Righteousness

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In her recounting of The Beggars’ Strike, Amanita Sow Fall repeatedly draws into sharp contrast the values certain Muslim characters see embodied in Islam (such as Sagar Diouf and Serigne Birama) and the actions and beliefs of other Muslim characters (such as Mour Ndiaye and Keba Dabo). I hoped to shed further light on this dichotomy by illustrating the thought process of an individual like Keba, who identifies as a Muslim, and juxtaposing it with a Quranic verse of central importance.

Perhaps most interesting about the verse are the specifications it provides regarding who should be considered righteous. I wrote in bold one particularly salient example, which suggests that giving money “to those who ask” is more righteous than not doing so, or than only supporting those who refrain from asking. This verse stands in direct opposition to the arguments made by characters such as Keba, who speaks disparagingly of those who ask for money, saying, “[T]hey accost you, they attack you, they jump out at you!” (Sow Fall 15). He claims that their requests “cause continual disturbance to their neighbors” and indicate that they have lost “all sense of shame” (Sow Fall).

The first time Keba’s disgust with giving alms is mentioned, however, it lacks the self-assuredness that these later statements reflect. Rather, his ambivalence is clearly exposed, as he ponders “the remorse he felt when he conformed to the principle he had laid down never to give alms to beggars, a principle that was not inspired by meanness or churlishness, but simply because he was shocked to see human beings – however poor they might be – diminishing their own dignity by sponging on others in such a disgraceful, shameless fashion” (Sow Fall 2).

The discomfort and, above all, “remorse” Keba experiences when confronted with poverty and beggars suggests an underlying sense that Keba himself feels he has behaved inconsistently. His particular emphasis on a perceived affront that the Quran itself endorses – asking for money further highlights potential contradictions in his religious reasoning. What I hoped to illustrate in my pen-and-ink drawing was the cognitive dissonance a person with this mentality might experience as he engages with certain Islamic teachings, but not others, and then confronts appeals to morality that do not align with his own code of ethics.

While examining the influence of Islam on ethical codes, it is imperative to maintain a cultural studies approach, and recognize that a particular individual’s interpretation of Islam is rooted in political, socioeconomic, and cultural context. In the case of The Beggars’ Strike, for instance, it is more important to inquire as to what factors resulted in this particular understanding of Islam than to attempt to categorize it as “orthodox” or “heterodox,” “moral” or “immoral.”