Religion, Religiousness, and Narrative: Decoding Women's Practices in Senegalese Islamic Reform

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Martin Riesebrodt argues that his theory of religion can help explain religion's enduring power in the contemporary globalizing and secularizing world. Although he emphasizes the necessity of objective categories for theorizing religion's purpose, adherents’ narratives about their religious practices reveal lived relationships between ideal‐typical liturgical texts (which help comprise religion) and their appropriations of them for navigating rapidly changing social contexts (religiousness). The validity of Riesebrodt's approach for explaining religion in empirical settings is demonstrated by using ethnographic interviews of Muslim reformist women in Dakar, Senegal. These female adherents’ discourses on the practices of veiling, prayer, and preaching the uniqueness of God highlight the ways religion's directives operate in a dialectical relationship with a religiousness that encompasses their dual efforts to achieve closeness to God and overtly critique other Muslim groups, contemporary urban life, and the state.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sociology Department, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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