chapter  6
24 Pages

Muslim Society and State

The Politics of Public Space

This chapter discusses ways in which participation in transnational networks has affected the ways in which Muslim women perceive their agency in local social milieus. Their testimony suggests the possible emergence of what might be called a 'transnational civic Islam' a new interpretive community that embraces both the ideal of a transnational Muslim community and a cosmopolitan ethos of citizenship and social responsibility. Political identity and the very nature of public space in Muslim lands are contested subjects, with some individuals and social groups tending to define themselves in secular, nationalistic terms, and others defining their identity and agency in relation to the Muslim Ummah. Religious legitimation of policy options is vital in Muslim public discourse, with 'authoritative' religious interpreters playing a mediating role between state and society. Civic Islam or civil society in Islam reconceptualizes the individual as active in a public sphere that has flexible borders.