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Religious transformations in the Gulf

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The Ibn Khaldon Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at Qatar University conducted a symposium entitled “Where is the Gulf going to, intellectually? A reading in the Transformations of the Gulf Intellectual Scene”, on February 17-18.

While taking part as a panelist in discussing a religious transformation-related topic, I came across five questions to be analysed during the symposium.

These relate mainly with regard to the scale of transformations in the Gulf pattern-based religious thinking and their aspects.

To what extent the Gulf religious awareness is interlinked with traditional religious sources and what are the implications from it.

What are the priorities observed pertaining to a religious cognitive search in the region and also what is the nature of religious identities conflict at the current stage?

The other questions related to the consequences surmised for the Gulf religious approaches, and which mode of these will be the dominant hereafter?

And finally, what is the perspective expected from the politico-religious relation in the future of the Gulf communities?

In my humble point of view, hierarchically, there is a difference between religious thinking and religious thought and the second is a consequence of the first.

Apparently, religious thinking is all about tools, mindfulness and circumstantial of the place and time, and by adding it to the word 'religious’, we are talking about the matter of textuality.

QU-picture-newsroomm-14 (1)
QU-picture-newsroomm-14 (1)

Meanwhile, there were slow-reactive religious transformations that interacted at some time according to power and society.

In the second decade of the 20th century, religious thought had generally been influenced by some movements and theories, including socialism, theory of social justice and revolution, Sahwa movement (awakening movement), in addition to some Islamist movements. Nevertheless, following the Juhayman incident and the Iranian Revolution, the Islamic discourse had been manifested in the so-called Islamisation, with the prevalence of some conventional Salafi approaches featured for their correlation and variance with some revival movements.

Primarily, Salafism and Janisim are not doctrinally associated with the Sunni denomination, but also with other doctrines in the Gulf region or it might have some interrelation and interconnection between Ibadi sect and Imamate.

Today, two approaches have remarkably emerged due to openness to the world, which are the horizontally oriented Islamisation approach and the vertically oriented Humanisation approach.

Each of these has its own techniques in dealing with Islam knowledge-based sources, either at the level of tool or at the level of text. When talking about the text, there is the public discourse that has implicitly placed the historic Ijtihads (independent reasoning) within the religious theological text. Since those Islamist trends have dealt with the textuality differently, religious awareness is no longer linked to what relies beyond the text but substantially the text itself.

It has been noticed that the collective mind of the current generation is no longer concerned with the interpretational theological dialectics as much about Allah Almighty and his existence, which accordingly have formalised new ideologies such as Deism and Unknownism.

At the current time, the religious discourse is facing two approaches. These are modernism and Intellectualism, both of which are triggered by certain factors.

There are some new unavoidable movements overlapping the traditional ones within the context of the Islamic ideology.

The demographic change in the Gulf area has created the so-called religious pluralism along with Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions.

Irrespective they have been there; they become now part of the demographic composition, which might see a rise due to naturalisation.

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