Monday, June 13, 2011

Charles Hirschkind The Ethical Soundscape

Key terms:
Da’wa: Islamic proselytization movement, aimed at making Muslims more pious. The da’iya is the proselytizer
Khatib: traditional preacher
I put notes for the introduction and then summaries + notes for each chapter after that.
“As I will argue, the contribution of this aural media to shaping the contemporary moral and political landscape of the Middle East lies not simply in its capacity to disseminate ideas or instill religious ideologies but in its effect on the human sensorium, on the affects, sensibilities, and perceptual habits of its vast audience. The soundscape produced through the circulation of this medium animates and sustains the substrate of sensory knowledges and embodied aptitudes undergirding a broad revival movement within contemporary Islam. From its inception in the twentieth century, this movement has centered on a critique of the existing structures of religious and secular authority. For those who participate in the movement, the moral and political direction of contemporary Muslim societies cannot be left to politicians, religious scholars, or militant activists but must be decided upon and enacted collectively by ordinary Muslims in the course of their normal daily activities. The notions of individual and collective responsibility that this movement has given rise to have come to be embodied in a wide array of institutions, media forms and practices of public sociability. In doing so, they have changed the political geography of the Middle East in ways that have vast implications for the future of the region. This book examines the contribution of the cassette-recorded sermon to the revival movement and to the transformations it has engendered. Although the listening practices I explore inhabit a counter-history—counter to the modernist formations of politics and religion and the ideologies that sustain and legitimate them—this history nonetheless exerts forcible claims on the contemporary, and thus on the futures imaginable from its shores” (2-3).
Emphasizes that cassettes are part of the lives of ordinary Muslims, not just fundamentalists (Hirschkind takes a normative stance in the introduction and epilogue of this book that tries to disavow the assumption that Muslims are violent, prone to terrorism, etc.) (4)
Tapes are “part of a complex ethical and political project whose scope and importance cannot be contained within the neat figure of the militant or terrorist. Islamic sermon tapes have helped craft and give expression to a religious sensibility moored in a set of ethical and social problems” (4). Ethical tied to social and political. From this, political has sense of public sphere political (figure of militant or terrorist indicates this)
Cassettes can comment on the politics of the state, but is not aimed at political action to take on the state. “Rather, such political commentary gives direction to a normative ethical project centered upon questions of social responsibility, pious comportment, and devotional practice” (5). Political commentary causes people to think about how to act as pious people, not to engage in activities against the state
“In the popular neighborhoods of Cairo, sermon tapes are part of the acoustic architecture of a distinct moral vision, animating and sustaining the ethical sensibilities that enable ordinary Muslims to live in accord with what they consider to be God's will. Recorded and rerecorded, passing through worn-out electronics, bustling crowds, and noisy streets, the vocal performances resonate both within the sensorium of sensitive listeners and outside, around them and between them. In doing so, they create the sensory conditions of an emergent ethical and political lifeworld, with its specific patterns of behavior, sensibility, and practical reasoning. To call this lifeworld ‘fundamentalist’ to chalk it up to the contortions of the religious mind in a secular age, misses the point of this ethicopolitical project. The reduction enacted by such terms blinds us to a variety of ambitions, goals, and aspirations, foremost among them the desire on the part of ordinary Muslims to live in accord with the demands of Islamic piety within a context of rapidly changing social, political, and technological conditions. As I show in chapter 4, this attempt entails the creation of new discursive forms for collectively arguing about and acting upon the conditions of social and political life. The emergent public arena articulated by the circulation of cassette-recorded sermons connects Islamic traditions of ethical discipline to practices of deliberation about the common good, the duties of Muslims in their status as national citizens, and the future of the greater Islamic community (the umma). These deliberative practices are not oriented toward politics as it is conventionally understood: their purpose is not to influence the formation of state policy or to mobilize voting blocs behind party platforms. Rather, the activities that constitute the public arena I describe are political in a way close to the sense Hannah Arendt (1958) gives to the term: the activities of ordinary citizens who, through the exercise of their agency in contexts of public interaction, shape the conditions of their collective existence. As conceived by its participants, this arena constitutes that space of communal reflexivity and action understood as necessary for perfecting and sustaining the totality of practices upon which an Islamic society depends” (8).
Sermon listening has long been seen to shape the heart, the organ of “ethical sensibilities undergirding moral action” (9). Tapes now work in this tradition. Tapes can be listened to in private or in public, as they now saturate the soundscape. Hirschkind recognizes that these two modes of listening may do distinct ethical work on subjects listening, encouraging people to live piously (10)
Tapes bring the sermon to life in a world of mass media and new political situations (11)
There is a shifting acknowledgement of aural in post-Enlightenment world (13). Enlightenment thinkers saw sight as authoritative (14). There’s a fear of irrationality, rote memorization that comes with listening (16). Cassettes do not lead to lack of thought or terrorism (16-17). Occulencitricity continues post-enlightenment (18). We view aural as old, outdated, connected to a nostalgia (19). Though historical discipline marginalizes some senses wrt epistemic value, an openness to a variety of senses allows for flexibility and heterogeneity, which is well-suited for the plurality of modernity (20). As Steven Connor shows, listening can be an essential part of the urban world (21)
Unconscious form of work on the self, leads to ethical reasoning: “Played in public transport, in shops, garages, and cafes, sermon tapes reconfigure the urban soundscape, imbuing it with an aural unconscious from which ethical reasoning and action draw sustenance. In other words, beyond their utility as a distraction from toil, such media create the intensifying sensory background for the forms of social and political life that the Islamic Revival has sought to promote and extend. Sermon tapes enable their listeners to orient themselves within the modern city as a space of moral action, with its characteristic challenges, threats, and daily problems. The style of listening that tape consumers bring to the practice render this media form something very different from a popular distraction or an instrument of religious propaganda, difference, I argue, that has profound implications for collective life within contemporary Egypt” (22).
Auditory used for self-fashioning: “Not unlike psychoanalysis, as I will show, cassette-sermon audition is also a technique of self-fashioning predicated on the therapeutic capacities of listening, albeit one elaborated in ethical (rather than psychological) terms and in relation to a theologically based form of reasoning” (22-23).
Schmidt’s work shows importance of listening for “the fashioning of modern subjectivity” (23): “I extend Schmidt's analytic to the Egyptian context by exploring the way new media practices have helped bring about the discursive relocation of Islamic traditions within Egyptian social, political, and religious life” (24).
“The impact of sermon tapes on the perceptual habits of their vast audience, I argue, has produced a unique religiopolitical configuration that simultaneously compliments and challenges both the secular-bureaucratic rationalities of the state and Egypt's longstanding institutions of religious authority” (24).
Listening recruits the body, causing bodily response (25). “Ethical sedimentation” happens through listening repetitively (28).
In this book, I seek to extend this rich tradition of anthropological inquiry into the senses in an explicitly political direction through an interrogation of the sensorium as both a condition for and object of an emergent form of ethical-political reasoning. It is increasingly difficult to sustain an image of political life that does not include recognition of the role of embodied sensibilities and prereflexive habits in shaping our commitments and reasons. Political judgments are not the product of rational argumentation alone but also of the way we come to care deeply about certain issues, feel passionately attached to certain positions, as well as the traditions of practice through which such attachments and commitments have been sedimented into our emotional-volitional equipment. As Talal Asad has succinctly put it: ‘The public sphere is not an empty place for carrying out debates. It is constituted by the sensibilities—memories and aspirations, fears and hopes—of speakers and listeners. And also by the manner in which they exist (and are made to exist) for each other, and by the propensity to act and react in distinctive ways’ […] Within modern society, popular media play an essential role in the crafting of such public sensibilities, hence their importance to modern political method. For some liberal scholars, the power of contemporary mass media to mold affects and desires represents an immense threat to democratic practices of political deliberation (see, most notably, Habermas 1989). By introducing nonrational elements into political discourse, the argument goes, popular media practices undermine the rational-critical character of public debate necessary to deliberative democracy. This claim, of course, also undergirds the secular judgment that religion should be confined to the sphere of private life, as the passionate attachments that are said to characterize religious belief corrupt the rationality of political discourse” (30-31).
Chapter 2
Hirschkind begins the chapter by discussing the pre-20th tradition of emphasizing the listener over the speaker, the Sufi traditions that are the backdrop to today’s preaching techniques, and the importance of the heart as the organ of audition and moral comportment. In traditional sermon practices, the sermon is a technology of the self whereby people fashion themselves so that they can receive divine speech. Modernization challenges the ear’s ethical function, and the state comes to control religious institutions. Within the structure of the state, the written comes to replace the aural, the eschatological becomes outdated, and ethical listening becomes a thing of the private sphere. After 1952, the state favors rationalized, secular morality and preachers become subsumed under state authority; sermons become a site to convey information instead of ethical virtue. There is also the rise of new media. Hirschkind gives the examples of how new media (radio and tv) are used by Nasser and Kuthman (singer) in ways (for politics and entertainment, respectively) that draws on the traditional ethical forms but for new purposes. With the advent of the Islamic revival, new spaces are opened up for new incarnations of ethical listening. The growth of lay religious leaders who work outside the state sanctioned institutions are particularly important for this. In this context, sermon cassettes begin to be distributed and older forms of ethical sermon listening are reincarnated in new, mass-mediated forms.

Sermon listener must have ethical-aesthetic aptitude to receive the message from a preacher and reflect that in actions (37).
Listening to sermon as technology of the self: “An orator within this tradition requires not knowledge of audience psychology, so central to Greek rhetorical study, but rather a complete performative grasp of the true word, revealed in the Quran and exemplified in the sunna. Even more, he requires a listener, one whose acts of discrimination-at once moral and aesthetic-embody, extend, and enhance his discourse. This is not to suggest that a skillful khatib is not appreciated for the excellence of his sermon. Rather, I am simply pointing out how a specific view of the means by which words convince has undergirded a certain depersonalization of the utterance, its agency located more in God and in the disciplined ears and hearts of listeners and less in the speaker. The sermon grounds a collective discipline but also provides what Foucault terms a "technology of the self" (see Foucault 1983, 1988, r99o,1997), a set of procedures by means of which individuals can work on their souls and bodies to achieve a distinct ethical or aesthetic form, in this case, one conducive to a proper relationship with God. Through their own efforts, sermon listeners attempt to fashion themselves as auditory receptacles of divine speech. A khatib, in accordance with this tradition, does not shape his audience at will but serves as a mediator, providing the linguistic and gestural resources through which the listener can undertake the ethical labor involved in properly attuning his or her faculties to the word of God. Preachers, in other words, have a mediatory function and are not ultimately responsible for the creation of moral subjects. This task lies with God and the individuals themselves. Within the context of this tradition, the institutions and practices wherein moral action occurs and is assessed presuppose such an aural subject, whose particular sensory capacities, honed through auditory disciplines, give rise to ethical performances. While it is the responsibility of khutaba’ (preachers) to prevent corruption and the spread of erroneous behavior, they are not, properly speaking assigned the task of enforcing a normative morality, as each individual is ultimately answerable to God on the Day of Judgment. Indeed, it is not surprising that the narration of this event, one in which moral responsibility is radically individualized, has always been a staple of ethical preaching within Islam” (39).
Modernization relegates ethical listening to the private sphere (43). Post-1952 dominance of rational, European morality (44). Lots of changes in sermon content from early 20th century, sermon aimed at forming citizen instead of Islamic ethics before da’wa fights against this (48-49). Also aural comes to be seen as untrustworthy and print is the preferred medium before revival (54). Revival opens space for cassette-based ethical listening, emerging in 1970s (55-8).
The moral authority of this media form derives less from the classical institutions of Islamic learning, now compromised by the secularizing policies of the state, and more from its embeddedness within the broad domain of da'wa, a sphere of religious activity claiming responsibility for the moral direction of Egyptian society in light of the state's failure to perform this role (59)
Chapter 3
Cassette listening takes place in informal ways and often does not require full concentration but still works to instill Islamic virtue. The tapes can fulfill the dual function of ethics and entertainment. What does ethical listening entail? Physiological responses arise from ethical listening: listening involves the whole body, especially the heart (the ethical center), not just the ears. The Islamic ethical tradition recognizes the importance of the body for ethics and emphasizes somatic (bodily) learning and memory. In the tradition of Quranic recitation, when listening, the body (not just the mind) must respond. Cassette tapes, as a new form of ethical listening, picks up on this tradition. Hirschkind brings in the concept of affect—the unconscious response of the body to listening, by which the body instills the ethical. Even when listening to familiar stories, the bodily performance is key to the ethical. But the body must be experienced/learned in order to respond correctly in the shared, agreed upon fashion. The body must be cultivated to respond correctly. There is concern today that sermon tapes don’t do correct ethical work because people confuse them with entertainment. This is seen as part of the crisis of modernization and the fracturing of the sites of religious authority. People are free from the established practices. There is a fear that people listen to the tapes but don’t bring that into life with ethical action.

Tapes do work on the person to bring about feeling of tranquility (68) or ethical therapy promoting morality within the hustle and bustle of everyday life (78)
Disagreement over the level of concentration needed for ethical listening—one man says you need to concentrate and one says that you didn’t need to concentrate and that repeated listening acts on the body to bring about ethical character (70-71). Conscious and unconscious both at work, major difference from Mahmood
Tapes can work to reorient the self toward virtuous life during the goings on of everyday life (73). Of sermon tapes that work this way to bring about fear: “Here, sermon media sustain one of the primary affective conditions of virtuous conduct, an active fear of God, consumed as both ethics and entertainment. As a device for the reanimation, modulation, and embodiment of pious sensibilities, cassette technology may be seen as a prosthetic of the modern virtuous subject: a mnemonic instrument that both enhances and supplements the capacity for memory, ethical feeling, and moral discernment while providing many of the pleasures of popular entertainment” (74).
There can be a physiological response to listening, especially to sermons eliciting fear or delight (75) work on the body done through sermon tapes, there is a “moral physiology that is invoked and refined” (76).
“I want to think of sermon listening as a practice predicated on the developability of the body as an auditory instrument. To "hear with the heart," as those I worked with described this activity, is not strictly something cognitive but involves the body in its entirety, as a complex synthesis of patterned moral reflexes. Indeed, as I describe below, the imaginative response evoked in the course of sermon audition runs along a progression from full-voiced interjections and dramatic gestural movements, to whispering and subtle postural shifts, to a slight moving of the lips and tongue, to an apparently invisible response, with all gradations in between. Listening invests the body with affective potentialities, depositing them in the preconscious folds of kinesthetic and synaesthetic experience and, in doing so, endows it with the receptive capacities of the sensitive heart, the primary organ of moral knowledge and action. Importantly, Islamic ethical traditions give explicit recognition to this kind of somatic learning, as we see in Badawi's invocation of the faithful listeners whose ‘flesh trembles’ who are seized by ‘a violent angst [that] shakes their backs,’ whose ‘chests are opened and relaxed'. Contemporary sermon listening, in other words, inherits and extends a practical tradition for the formation of a pious sensorium” (79).
Sometimes listener has to “assume the ethical disposition corresponding to the recited or audited verses: humility, awe, regret, fear, and so on” (80) and comport body in certain way, not just understanding the message but making body express its attitude (81) very similar to Mahmood’s picture of ritual
Quranic verse causes ethical response, and ethical situation makes one think to the Quran (81)
Tapes can also work at a more unconscious, passive way:
“Insomuch as sermon tapes are used as a kind of background or environmental sound, attended to in a relaxed manner, often with shifting degrees of focus, their reception needs to be theorized at the level of the somatic more than the programmatic. Instead of the fully elaborated sequences of gesture, speech, and bodily movement that accompany the act of Quranic recitation, tapes produce a modulation of affect registered kinesthetically and viscerally, one experienced as an ethically enhancing form of relaxation. In this sense, what is acquired through the practice are less honed dispositions, moral skills as delineated and organized within disciplinary regimes, than the somatic and affective potentialities from which such dispositions draw sustenance” (82).
Affect is Brian Massumi’s term, referring to “the myriad of emotional movements within the body occurring below or outside of consciousness, the vast sea of emotionally charged perceptual response that traverse the body without being assimilated as subjective content” (82).
“Cassette-sermon listening, I want to suggest, intervenes precisely at the level of what Massumi calls the affective. The relaxed attentiveness of this auditory practice invests the body with affective intensities (Jousse's ‘gesticulations’), latent tendencies of ethical response sedimented within the mnemonic regions of the flesh. The vocabularies of ethical affect, bodily sensation, and moral actions invoked both by preachers and sermon listeners, in this regard, function as instruments for objectifying and organizing sensory material, in accord with long-standing discourses on ethical cultivation. Following Foucault, we might describe the practice as ‘a technology for the constitution of the self that cuts across symbolic systems while using them’” (82-83).
Pushing back at Mahmood: “In their ability to mold both soundscapes and human receptivity, sermon tapes help fashion and sustain the sensory conditions for a modern Islamic ethics. One of my key arguments in this book is that such undisciplined disciplines play a far more pervasive role in shaping traditions, both religious and secular, than their more ‘serious’ (rigorous and systematic) counterparts” (83).
Some other listening requires more active response. There some listening experience that require active response by the listener (84-5). Often response relies on disciplined body who knows how to respond based on repeated experience (86-87). This is Mahmood exactly
“What I am pointing to here is that beneath the level of expressed belief and opinion, those I knew who participated in sermon listening shared a common substrate of embodied dispositions of the sort I have described as instrumental to the task of sermon audition. It is these sensory dispositions, I argue, more than a commitment to a normative rationality, that constitute the common ground upon which the discourses of a tradition come to be articulated, the "reflexes" that make arguments about the status of Quranic references meaningful and worthy of engagement” (88).
Concern that sermon tapes won’t lead to ethical action, people will view them as mere entertainment (92). Unlike music, sermon sets off moral response. Doesn’t define moral as opposed to ethical
Ethical works on the heart (97). Hearing not just done with the ears.
“The auditory apparatus consists of an experienced body in its entirety, one learned in the gestural vocabularies by which the sermon's ethical narratives have been woven into the autonomic and motor responses of this compound. Sermons impart not simply moral lessons but affective energies of ethical potential, a background of sensory and motor skills considered by those I worked with to be necessary for inhabiting the world in a manner appropriate for Muslims” (98).
Mahmood’s point too: “Rather, and this is an important part of my argument, an experiential knowledge of the gestural and emotive elements of the story constitutes a condition for its ethical reception. That is to say, one is capable of hearing the sermon in its full ethical sense only to the extent one has already cultivated the particular modes of sensory responsiveness presupposed in the discourse's gestural vocabulary, a vocabulary rich in affective, kinesthetic, and visceral dimensions” (101).
Chapter 4
Hirschkind introduces the idea of a counterpublic, where deliberation and discipline are interdependent as opposed to either/or. The private/public distinction is not strict, and existing in this counterpublic are the cassette tapes, a new form of soma-ethics. Cassette da’wa exists in a world of everyday people engaged in a common moral project who have informal discussions in public spaces across age, gender, and class lines. The public sphere merged with the traditional umma is a new form of public directed at divinely sanctioned comportment. The public exists in the context of national public life but is concerned with umma, the community beyond the nation. Cassettes, along with the call to prayer, form a soundscape that shapes individual affect, as do activities centered around the mosque. This cultivates virtues for proper moral behavior—the ethical soundscape and activities are ethical and they create a moral space for right action. Da’wa makes this moral order dependent on individual citizens, who shape the normative and deliberative counterpublic.

“Following conventional histories of the Protestant revolution, this scholarship has given particular emphasis to the role of print and other media technologies in propelling a democratization of religious authority. The new objectlike quality of religion and the universal accessibility of religious texts, it is argued, transform ritual speech into individual assertion, oral mnemonics into analytical memory. Equipped with these newfound sophistications and the autonomous reasoning that they facilitate, a growing number of individuals engage with and revise the religious traditions they have inherited. Scholars emphasizing the disciplinary functions of religious media, on the other hand, have stressed the ideological over the dialogic aspects of the phenomenon” (105).
“The resultant public is less a site of discussion than of subjection to authority, part of a project aimed at promoting and securing a uniform model of moral behavior. In short, the public arena constituted by the media practices of religious actors tends to be identified either as a deliberative space of argument and contestation between individuals or as a normative space for education in community-oriented virtue. The assumption is that the more truly deliberative a public, the weaker its disciplinary function, and vice versa” (105-6).
“While clearly structured around some of the assumptions of modern publicity, this idea of a ‘counterpublic’ rests upon a conceptual edifice in which deliberation and discipline, or language and power, are regarded as thoroughly interdependent. In contrast to a space for the formation of political opinion through intersubjective reason, the discursive arena wherein cassette sermons circulate is geared to the deployment of the disciplining power of ethical speech, a goal, however, that takes public deliberation as one of its modalities. Within this context, public speech results not in policy but in pious dispositions, the embodied sensibilities and modes of expression understood to facilitate the development and practice of Islamic virtues, and therefore of Islamic ethical comportment. For contemporary Egyptian Muslims who participate in this sphere of dialogic engagement, the definition and articulation of Islamic ethical norms and their embodiment as practical aptitudes are critically dependent upon the communicative practices and discursive conventions of this public arena” (106-7).
“As mosques in Egypt over the last fifty years became the site for new kinds of social and political organization and expression, everyday practices of pious sociability gradually came to inhabit A new political terrain, one shaped both by the discourses of national citizenship and by emerging transnational forms of religious association. In the course of this shift, forms of practical reasoning led to the tradition of the virtues became oriented not simply toward a notion of moral community (an umma) but toward what we would recognize as a public as well: the practice of the virtues and the deliberation of issues of public concern were fused together in a unique manner. The cassette sermon has provided the discursive vehicle wherein this interdependency has been most extensively and intensively worked out” (107).
“This public is a fragile and unstable accomplishment, the contingent product of the way embodied forms of historical memory have congealed within new social and political spaces as the visceral substrate for a modern Islamic ethics. I say fragile because the practices that constitute this arena are continually subject to rival and more powerful discursive framings that are tied to the market, the regulatory institutions of the state, and conditions of governance more generally” (108).
Deliberation and dialogue in public spaces about ethical issues (110)
Can listen to cassettes while doing other things and without having to concentrate like you would with a text (112)
“What joins the practice of delivering or listening to a sermon with that of arguing with a neighbor is a conception of the rhetorical force of ethical speech to shape character, as I outline in the preceding chapters. in other words, if in the earlier tradition the ethical mediation of divine speech required the voice of either the Quran reciter or the khatib in the mosque, now a deliberative public also performs this function. Deliberative and disciplinary moments, in other words, are thoroughly interwoven and interdependent within this arena” (113).
“To gather up the threads of my argument so far, the media and associational infrastructure put into place by the da'wa movement has created the conditions for a kind of publicness grounded in the deployment of certain classical Islamic concepts within a context increasingly shaped by the normative modes of discourse of a modern public sphere” (116).
“Deployed in a political context structured by the discourses of citizenship and nation, da'wa has come to fuse what are in effect two models of agency: one ethical, grounded in the Quranic moral psychology I discuss in chapter 3, the other embedded in the liberal notions of public that accompanied the states attempt to fashion a modern political order. A discourse on the ethical impact of pious speech on the sensitive listener provides the interpretive frame for a public sphere geared to the deliberation of the common good” (116-117).
“[W]hile the Islamic umma is fundamentally a moral space, the types of action it encompasses and that serve to delineate and sustain it have come to be structured by the normative mode of articulation of the public sphere. Inflected by the discourse on moral action organized under the rubric of da'wa, the new form of public is grounded in the tendency of ethical public discourse toward self-correction, toward an approximation of what is understood to be divinely sanctioned comportment. As politics, both national and global, impinge on the structures of moral life, the ethical discourses of da'wa necessarily extend to political topics. As a type of activity aimed at both revealing and realizing Islamic ideals of moral life through persuasion, exhortation, and deliberation, it is fundamentally a political practice. Indeed, da'wa emerges not at a point of commonality but precisely at one of difference, where a discrepancy in practice makes argument necessary” (117).
“The practice of da'wa does not take place within or serve to uphold that domain of associational life referred to as civil society. When the state acts in ways that foreclose the possibility of living in accord with Islamic standards promoted by the movement-such as forbidding schoolgirls from wearing headscarves, broadcasting television serials that show behaviors that are considered indecent, or cutting back on the amount of time dedicated to learning the Quran in schools-khutaba' use the mosque sermon to publicly criticize these actions, a critique that is then quickly distributed on tape. On some occasions, the broad mobilizations that have ensued have led the state to reverse a decision (as happened with the ruling banning the use of headscarves in public schools). Having said this, it is important to recognize the extent to which the nation is a political condition of the da'iya's speech: the position of utterance he inhabits and the contestatory discourse he articulates have been shaped by the concepts and institutions of national political life” (117-118).
“While the nation inhabits the da'iya's discourse as a necessary object of reflexive self-identification, it is as an object embedded in (and subordinate to) the broader moral project of an Islamic umma. As performatively enacted within da'wa discourse, the nation's claims on loyalty and identity are relativized in light of the demands of this moral project, a project understood to be irreducible to the concepts of territory, ethnicity, and collective historical experience upon which the nation is founded. The da'iya's narrative locates itself within the temporal frame of an lslamic umma and in relation to the succession of events that characterize its mode of historicity” (118).
“By dislodging print from its privileged position within the national imaginary of publicness, the cassette sermon, I want to suggest, introduces a rupture into da'wa's mode of articulation with the normative structures of public discourse. Tapes allow listening to go public, not simply as the figure of an ideal receptivity but as a model on which an emergent notion of the public could be conceptualized and imagined. By replacing print and the image of the private reader with resonant sound and sensitive hearts, the cassette gives new purchase to a history of reflection upon the virtues and specific agency of sound” (121).
“The common practice of playing Quran and sermon tapes in shops, cafes, taxis, and buses has also reshaped the moral architecture of such places. Sermon and Quran tapes tend to bring with them some of the norms of sociability associated with the mosque: when they are played in a public location, such as a store or a bus, they produce an environment wherein certain styles of speech and comportment become marked as inappropriate and are likely to draw public censure from others present” (124).
“Viewed in this light, cassette sermons emerge as more than just a technology of ethical self-fashioning. Such tapes contribute to the creation of a sensory environment from which the subject draws its bearings, an environment that nourishes and intensifies the substrate of affective orientations that undergird right reasoning” (125).
“According to many khutaba' in Egypt, most of the programs presented on state-controlled television engage and direct the senses toward moral dispositions, states of the soul, that are incompatible with the virtues upon which an Islamic society rests. In response, proponents of da'wa have sought to develop and encourage the use of alternative, Islamic forms of popular diversion” (127).
“As Beha's remarks suggest, one of the most pronounced effects of this agglomeration of activities and associations around the mosque in popular quarters has been the reinforcement of a normative civility, one grounded in the sort of ethical sensibilities foregrounded by popular khutaba' but also embodied in a variety of publicly enacted expressive forms” (129).
Smellscape also exists and shapes da’wa counterpublic (130)
“Virtuous conduct, in other words, is seen by the movement both as an end in itself and as a means internal to the dialogic process by which the reform of society is secured. Although a concern for individual salvation continues to inform the disciplinary exercises of the movement, it is coupled with an emphasis on the construction of an ethical sociability conceived as a vehicle of moral and political reform” (130).
“The da'iya, as figured here, must be an active and concerned citizen, one who, having honed the skills of public concern and careful listening, is able, through example and persuasion, to move fellow Muslims toward correct forms of comportment and social responsibility” (131).
“The prior cultivation of such virtues as friendliness, temperateness, and gentleness of speech ensures that da'wa, as a public act, is conducted in a calm, respectful manner, protected from the kind of passions that would vitiate the act and the social benefit that it seeks to realize. The adab of da'wa, in other words, entails not a simple suppression of the passions but their moderation or attunement in accord with an authoritative model of the virtues” (132).
Virtues and ethical dispositions create a moral space (136)
Da’wa makes moral order depend on ordinary citizens (137)
“The kind of public arena that has been created by the da'wa movement in Egypt is both normative and deliberative, a domain for both subjection of authority and the exercise of individual reasoning. As I have argued, it is less an empirical structure than a framework for a kind of action, one intertwining moments of learning, dialogue, and dispute as practices necessary for the moral guidance of the collective” (139-140).
“My argument is that we should not view da'wa as simply an Islamic rendition of the normative structure of the public sphere, one enabled and produced through an incorporation of Islamic symbols and culturally grounded frames of reference” (142).
Chapter 5
There are doctrinal requirements and traditional modes of oration, but sermons today are quite heterogeneous in style. This chapter highlights the extent to which mass media has affected sermon style. It goes through examples of how there have been shifts in khatib-audience relationships, the authoritativeness of the khatib, the relation of sermon to calendar date, etc. Also, new regimes of visuality and cinematic style have been absorbed by sermons: narration mirrors television news anchor’s narration. There are also various Sufi techniques incorporated. In addition, there is a new focus on contemporary political issues in the sermons.

“This refashioning of the sermon in commodity form and the increasing recourse to conventions used in the production of other media products have had an impact on the oratorical performance itself in a variety a ways” (144).
“In short, to the extent that the standards of sermon audition were (and continue to be) modeled on the Quran, with the sermon itself incorporating its verses, the benefits that accrue to the listeners (the positive effects on their souls) are not entirely limited to the particular kind of cognitive process we conventionally associate with ‘understanding.’ Sermon oratory works itself into the human compound, much like the stories of Benjamin's storyteller worked themselves into the flesh and spirit of their laboring audiences” (153).
Shaykh Kishk is famous for his use of visual realism in his sermon (“word as camera” style) (156-7).
“Kishk builds the sense of terror and the macabre so important in Islamic exhortation, but does so through a rhetorical form that presupposes a very different kind of ‘literacy’ and concentration from its audience, one tied to modern technologies of the image and a national public sphere” (161).
“The core of Shaykh Kishk’s art lies in his ability to render Islamic textual traditions into drama staged through such rhetorical devices as the theatrical curtain and the on-site investigative reporter” (162).
Tapes prompt listeners to discuss the relationship between preachers and the nation-state (167).
Sermon topics aimed at critique of contemporary life (168).
Chapter 6
Death is key to the ethical tradition. One must live in the shadow of death, “tasting” death during life. Death reminds people to live morally. Life should be lived as if death were now—eschatology should be brought into the present. This is cultivated in part by physical weakness and sickness, but also through sermon techniques, which bring spatial and temporal aspects of death into life but re-situated on the living body. The khatib reorients forms of popular media for the purpose of ethical instructuon. Sermons on death (which is part of daily life in Egypt) are mixed with calls for social reform.

“[A]n experiential knowledge of death is a condition of moral agency” (176).
Death reminds people to live morally (179)
Knowledge of death is epistemic condition for correct reasoning and acting, not supposed to acquire intellectual knowledge but to reform sensory experience to see with “dead eyes” (180).
Fear of death is ethical, imprints on the heart, allows for performance of moral acts (181)
Life lived as if eschatology were now. Individual bears moral responsibility, but it is mediated by the sensory landscape (184)
Suffering and physical ailment bring ethical benefit (186-7) body connects one to morals of eschatology
Judgment day—radically individualized moral responsibility (189)
Cassettes are a tool to “reflect on death” (203)
Purpose of epilogue is to preempt responses to his work that the Islamic Revival is fundamentalist and leads to violence. He reiterates that the Islamic Revival is “not a given socio-ideological formation but a contingent and shifting constellation of ideas, practices, and associational forms” (207). One shouldn’t discount da’wa as incompatible with interreligious cooperation. Da’wa tries to make the inherited tradition relevant in the present. He ends with a moral call to the reader to dislodge the entrenched negative attitudes about Islam.

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