Offering an understanding of the role of religion in the Islamic world, this book sets out to show that Islam covers a multitude of forms and practices which are woven into daily existence in complex and sometimes almost invisible ways. The author draws on his own fieldwork in cities, villages and tribal communities of the region to explore a variety of social worlds, all claiming Islamic affiliation: the feudal aristocracy of northern Lebanon, the working-class Sufi brotherhoods of Egypt, and the new bourgeoisies of Algeria and Morocco. He describes how, in each one, Islam evolves in relation to shifting social, political, economic and class structures. The impact of colonialism is also discussed, and reformist and radical Islamic movements are analyzed in relation to changes in Middle Eastern society as a whole.
Michael Gilsenan is David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies at New York University.
An anthropologist's introduction; the men of learning and authority; the community of suffering and the world reversed; the operations of grace; miracles and worldly power - lords and sheikhs in North Lebanon; sheikhs and the inner secrets; everywhere and nowhere - forms of Islam in North Africa; forming and transforming space; the sacred in the city; the world turned inside out - forms of Islam in Egypt; Islamic signs and interrogations; afterword - a way of walking.