South Beirut has recently become a vibrant leisure destination with a plethora of cafes and restaurants that cater to the young, fashionable, and pious. What effects have these establishments had on the moral norms, spatial practices, and urban experiences of this Lebanese community? From the diverse voices of young Shi'i Muslims searching for places to hang out, to the Hezbollah officials who want this media-savvy generation to be more politically involved, to the religious leaders worried that Lebanese youth are losing their moral compasses, Leisurely Islam provides a sophisticated and original look at leisure in the Lebanese capital. What makes a cafe morally appropriate? How do people negotiate morality in relation to different places? And under what circumstances might a pious Muslim go to a cafe that serves alcohol? Lara Deeb and Mona Harb highlight tensions and complexities exacerbated by the presence of multiple religious authorities, a fraught sectarian political context, class mobility, and a generation that takes religion for granted but wants to have fun.
The authors elucidate the political, economic, religious, and social changes that have taken place since 2000, and examine leisure's influence on Lebanese sociopolitical and urban situations. Asserting that morality and geography cannot be fully understood in isolation from one another, Leisurely Islam offers a colorful new understanding of the most powerful community in Lebanon today.
Lara Deeb is associate professor of anthropology at Scripps College and the author of An Enchanted Modern (Princeton). Mona Harb is associate professor of urban studies and politics at the American University of Beirut and the author of Le Hezbollah a Beyrouth.
List of Figures vii Preface and Acknowledgments ix Note on Language xiii Introduction: Exploring Leisure, Morality, and Geography in South Beirut 1 1New Leisure in South Beirut 35 2Producing Islamic Fun: Hizbullah, Fadlallah, and the Entrepreneurs 66 3Mapping Leisure and Cafe Styles 102 4Flexible Morality, Respectful Choices, Smaller Transgressions 135 5Comforting Territory, New Urban Experiences, and the Moral City 176 6Good Taste, Leisure's Moral Spaces, and Sociopolitical Change in Lebanon 208 Appendix: Quoted Figures and Characters 223 Notes 227 Glossary 261 References 263 Index 277