“Is it possible for Muslims to be represented as Muslims?”

Talal Asad wrote an essay on the physical presence of Muslims in Europe but their absence within civilization there.  Europe’s history is by no means straightforward.  The nuances of laws, legalizations under technicalities, and odd regulations on government funding make studying religious groups (who legally cannot be “counted” for statistics) a tight and narrow task.  European Muslims, as well as other minorities, are essentially asked to disrobe from their history and take on a European lens of living.  Europe wants a unity, a “oneness” that erupts out of similar-minded thinking and therefore religion.  Without explicitly encouraging one religion over another or connecting state and religion, the government funds and enacts laws that encourage this “oneness.”  Even if it looks beneficial to the Muslim minority or other religious group, it in its core is self-seeking to Europe’s centralized interest.

Asad wrote on the term “minority.”  I found it very interesting, as we use the word often in class.  “The political inclusion of minorities,” Asad said, “has meant the acceptance of groups formed by specific (often conflicting historical narratives, and the embodied memories, feelings, desires that the narratives have helped to shape” (Asad, p 21).  Therefore, minority groups are rooted in history.  They are not “the outcasts” of society or the random collection of like-minded individuals.  “In that sense,” Asad goes on, “are no different from majorities, who are also historically constituted groups.  The fact that they are usually small tin number is an accidental feature…Minorities are defined as minorities by structures of ruling power” (Asad, p 21).  This reading made me rethink the origins of minority groups and how to therefore respect them at an even greater level.  Minorities are coincidentally small, but their voice hold the historical importance of a majority’s.  I think that notion would greatly influence the way minority groups are seen in today’s society, especially in America.

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Michaela Stock, Hope College 2020

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