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The double scripture: explaining diversity and conflict in Muslim perceptions and practices in relation to the Qur'an
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A distinction can be made in historical and contemporary contexts between two basic Muslim religious approaches to the Qur’an: One approach involves notions of the Qur’an as a source of information on the ”inner world” of a divine agent, God. This approach plays out in fields such as theological discourse, dogma and legal thought. From reading the text one can make inferences about the mind of a superhuman agent, his intentions, wishes and demands. The other approach relates to ritual practices. The Qur’an, or rather physical copies of the text, moments of recitation, or excerpts are considered as vehicles or containers of contagious power and blessings and sources for aesthetic experience. Physical copies of the book are also objects circumscribed by detailed, elaborate and explicit rules concerning contact and use.

My suggestion is that one way of explaining why these two main approaches occur as distinct, how they operate and intersect in both ideology and practice is through employing the notion of human functionally specialised mental systems of cognition. Two such systems will be noted: ”theory of mind” and a contagion system. Both have been the focus of much research into human cognition outside the area of Islamic studies and religious studies in general. The two diverse ways of relating to the Qur’an can from this perspective be explored as particular religious exploitations and by-products of these functionally specialised possibly pan-human mental systems, themselves evolved to solve problems in domains quite different than that of religious beliefs and practices.

In the paper I will argue with the help of a set of examples relating to the Qur’an that these systems, since they are distinct and functionally independent of one another, may at times come into conflict and give rise to contradictions between ideology and practice. Such contradictions would not make sense if one assumes a coherent doctrine on the Qur’an as a basis on which individual Muslims relate to the scripture. However, they become understandable if viewed from the perspective of distinct mental systems operating in different situations and on the basis of different cues, and of one system overriding the other in particular circumstances. A few predictions and suggestions for further research will be put forward.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keyword [en]
Islam, Qur'an, Cognitive science of religion
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Humanities, Study of Religions
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-36047OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-36047DiVA: diva2:734090
Conference
22nd annual SHARP conference: "Religions of the book", Antwerp, Belgium, September 17-21, 2014
Available from: 2014-07-14 Created: 2014-07-14 Last updated: 2014-11-20Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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