Normative and Religious Diversity in Moroccan Islam

Central to this research strand is the analysis of normative and religious diversity in Moroccan Islam. The study of Islamic movements and Islamic networking has contributed in recent years to a better understanding of the increasing influence of Islamic activism throughout the Islamic world. This is the sphere of law that has been identified as the most appropriate for accessing the social field in which variation in Islam finds expression. The research examines the mobilizing and framing strategies that reflect Islamic diversity in the Souss region in south-west Morocco. Such dynamics have even accelerated in the context of their embedding in transnational developments. Domestic and transnational debates on the concept of Moroccan Islam and its relationship to various strands of political or transnational Islamic activism merge into one another.

Isawa members intervening in local disputes during their annual trance dancing rituals (2003, left); respected fuqaha (Islamic experts) (postcard, right)

Landmarks or cornerstones structuring the time frame of this discourse include the emergence of Salafiyya activities in rural Morocco in 1999; the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States, 16 May 2003 in Casablanca, and 28 April 2011 in Marrakech; the reconciliation process in Morocco following the enthronement of King Mohammad VI (IER, January 2004 – December 2005), which addressed grievances from the ‘Years of Lead’ (1960s–1980s); the emergence of the Arab Spring (December 2010) in Morocco in the form of the 20 February Movement (2011); and the installation of a new government under the lead of the Islamic party PJD after national elections in November 2011. The emergence of Daesh, the militant jihadi Islamist movement that proclaimed an Islamic state and worldwide caliphate in 2014, attracting adherents from all parts of the world including Morocco, and the turbulence that has seized the MENA region in recent years have intensified inter-Islamic debates on normativity. The reverberations of these events in the rural periphery are analysed with respect to their interaction with state and global governance institutions.

Sidi Ahmed ou Moussa annual pilgrimage (2003, left); village mosque in the Souss (2004, right)


2013 ‘Religious Subtleties in Disputing: spatiotemporal inscriptions of faith in the nomosphere in rural Morocco’, in: Benda-Beckmann, Franz von, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, Martin Ramstedt and Bertram Turner (eds.) Religion in Dispute: Pervasiveness of Religious Normativity in Disputing Processes. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 55-73.

2011 ‘Salafiyya Activism in the Moroccan Souss: Legal Framing, Demand for Justice and Social Integration of an Islamic Movement’, in: Werner Zips and Weilenmann, Markus (eds.): The Governance of Legal Pluralism. Empirical Studies from Africa and Beyond, Berlin et al.: Lit Verlag/Transaction publishers, 35-60.

2008 ‘Islamic Activism and Anti-Terrorism Legislation in Morocco’, in: Julia Eckert (ed.): The Social life of Anti-terrorism Laws. The War on Terror and the Classifications of the «Dangerous Other», Bielefeld: transcript, 163–191.

2007 ‘Imposing new concepts of order in rural Morocco: Violence and transnational challenges to local order’, in: Keebet von Benda-Beckmann and Pirie, Fernanda (eds.): Order and disorder: Anthropological perspectives, Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 90–111.

2007 ‘Islamic Activism and Anti-Terrorism Legislation in Morocco’, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Working Papers No. 91 (23 pp.).

2006 ‘Lokales Ethos und doktrinaler Islam in Südwest-Marokko’, in: Annette Hornbacher (ed.) Ethik, Ethos, Ethnos. Aspekte und Probleme interkultureller Ethik, Bielefeld: transcript, 333–365.

2006 ‘The legal arena as a battlefield: Salafiyya legal intervention and local response in rural Morocco’, in: Hans-Jörg Albrecht, Simon, Jan, Rezaei, Hassan, Rohne, Holger-Christoph and Kiza, Ernesto (eds.): Conflicts and Conflict Resolution in Middle Eastern Societies – Between Tradition and Modernity, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 169–185.

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