Workshop “Bureaucratization of Islam in Muslim States and Societies” — Bielefeld (Allemagne), Université de Bielefeld, 23-24/10/2014

The umma today encompasses a constellation of social, political, and governmental organizations that both unite and differentiate Muslims along national, sectarian, philosophical, and jurisprudential lines. Some of these organizations are means of state management of religion?a government may establish a ministry of religious affairs to manage or manipulate religious practice, propagation, and education. Others are international organizations that aim to strengthen transnational Muslim solidarity and compete with governments and local authorities to define and promote a particular conception of ?true? Islam. Still others fall in the middle of this spectrum and must negotiate a semiofficial position in which they must both earn government support and cultivate popular legitimacy as a genuinely Islamic (and not merely administrative) institution. These structures have arisen throughout the Muslim world, both in Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority states, and both in states that are hostile or friendly vis-à-vis Islam and religion in general. Despite this varied landscape, these structures are all manifestations of the bureaucratization of Islam, a major trend in the Muslim world and the subject of this workshop.

The workshop will proceed with a broad understanding of bureaucratization of Islam, which we define as the process by which governments, organizations, or any of the other entities described above monitor, systematize, or control Islamic education, appointment of Islamic religious personnel (e.g. imams, qadis), publication of Islamic texts, and interpretation of Islamic law and scripture. Bureaucratization of Islam may occur as part of a larger process of expanding state control, but it may also occur in response to or even against such expansion. Even though ?bureaucratization? is conventionally understood as a state-driven process, this workshop will also take it to refer to the range of transformations religious communities and institutions undergo in the face of expanding government bureaucracy and control. Turkey?s Presidency of Religious Affairs, Egypt?s Ministry of Religious Endowments, the European Council for Fatwa and Research, the International Union for Muslim Scholars, the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Kazakhstan, and the China Islamic Association are thus all manifestations of bureaucratization of Islam.

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