Monday, June 13, 2011

Saba Mahmood Politics of Piety

I’ll quote and paraphrase the key parts of the introduction, which lays out the important theoretical ground. Then I’ll provide summaries (followed by some paraphrasing and quotations) of the argument for the rest of the chapters
Key terms:
Da’wa: Islamic proselytization movement, aimed at making Muslims more pious. The da’iya is the proselytizer
Chapter 1 (Introduction)
How do differences in culture and historical context affect feminist movements? Women’s involvement in Islamist movements is met with mixed reactions, as people wonder whether women are pawns of patriarchy (1). One of book’s main goals is to explore the challenges women’s involvement in Islamist movements poses to feminism and secular liberal thought (2, 5).
Women’s mosque movement marks first time in Egyptian history that women have held public meetings in mosques to teach one another Islamic doctrine, thereby altering the historically male-centered character of mosques as well as of Islamic pedagogy. At the same time, women’s religious participation within such public arenas of Islamic pedagogy is critically structured by, and serves to uphold, a discursive tradition that regards subordination to a transcendent will (and thus, in many instances, to male authority) as its coveted goal (2-3). The Mosque Movement is part of da’wa, a general term for revival activities, specifically indicates proselytization within Islam to encourage Muslims to be more pious (3).
Feminist scholarship has had a certain focus that makes assumptions that can obscure the way women can act as agents even in patriarchal structures (6). Feminist scholars presume that women being agents in these situations means they are resisting. Mahmood questions whether the category of resistance suggests a teleology (8-9). She problematizes the assumption that women seek freedom from male power (10). Negative vs. positive freedom: “absence of external obstacles” vs. “capacity to realize an autonomous will” (11). Individual autonomy is part of both of these: illiberal action if chosen can be considered under the umbrella of freedom. This is key to feminist examination of Arab world and elsewhere, but have been highly criticized (11-13).
Main argument thus far: “If we recognize that the desire for freedom from, or subversion of, norms is not an innate desire that motivates all beings at all times, but is also profoundly mediated by cultural and historical conditions, then the question arises: how do we analyze operations of power that construct different kinds of bodies, knowledge, and subjectivities whose trajectories do not follow the entelechy of liberatory politics? Put simply, my point is this: if the ability to effect change in the world and in oneself is historically and culturally specific (both in terms of what constitutes ‘change’ and the means by which it is effected), then the meaning and sense of agency cannot be fixed in advance, but must emerge through an analysis of the particular concepts that enable specific modes of being, responsibility, and effectivity. Viewed in this way, what my appear to be a case of deplorable passivity and docility from a progressivist point of view, may actually be a form of agency—but one that can be understood only from within the discourses and structures of subordination that create the conditions of its enactment” (14-15).
Foucault and Butler idea that the very processes and conditions that secure a subject’s subordination are the means by which she becomes a self-conscious identity and agent (17)
Butler argues that social is first, and that there is no body before the social, no pure body (18). Agency for Butler comes form the “leakiness” of the system of performativity—in repeated enactment, iterations lead to possibility of change (19). Norms are not only consolidated and/or subverted, but also performed, inhabited and experienced in a variety of ways (22). Mahmood wants to move away from looking at norms dualistically (23)
Scholars of the Islamist movement have often argued that the resurgence of Islamic forms of sociability (such as veiling, increased interest in the correct performance of Islamic rituals, and the proliferation of Islamic charities) within a range of Muslim societies is best understood as the expression of resistance against Western politico-cultural domination as well as a form of social protest against the failed modernizing project of post-colonial Muslim regimes (25)
The relationship b/w Islamism and liberal secularity is one of proximity and coimnbrication rather than one of simple opposition, or for that matter, accommodation; it therefore needs to be analyhzed in terms of historically shifting ambigious and unpredictable encounters that this proximity has generated (25)
“[We must] explode the category of norms into its constituent elements—to examine the immanent form that norms take, and to inquire into the attachments their particular morphology generates within the topography of the self. My reason for urging this move has to do with my interest in understanding how different modalities of moral-ethical action contribute to the construction of particular kinds of subjects, subjects whose political autonomy cannot be grasped without applying critical scrutiny to the precise form their embodied actions take” (24).
Kant’s morality is based on reason and ideas not outward behavior (25). “One consequence of this Kantian conception of ethics is the relative lack of attention paid to the manifest form ethical practices take, and a general demotion of conduct, social demeanor, and etiquettes in our analyses of moral systems” (26, see also 118-119).
“Foucault’s conception of positive ethics is Aristotelian in that it conceives of ethics not as an Idea, or as a set of regulatory norms, but as a set of practical activities that are germane to a certain way of life. Ethics in this conception is embedded in a set of specific practices (what Aristotle called ‘practices of virtue’). It is only from the standpoint of the dispositions formed through these practices that the Kantian question of moral deliberation can be posed. In this view, you ask not what a particular ethical theory means, but what it does. In contrast to other contemporary writings on ‘virtue ethics,’ Foucault’s use of Aristotelian ethics is not geared toward asserting its universal validity, or recuperating its various elements for solving contemporary moral problems […] Instead, for Foucault, this tradition allows us to think of ethics as always local and particular, pertaining to a specific set of procedures, techniques, and discourses through which highly specific ethical-moral subjects come to be formed” (27-28).
“Foucault distinguished ethical practices from ‘morals,’ reserving the latter to refer to sets of norms, rules, values, and injunctions. ‘Ethics,’ on the other hand, refers to those practices, techniques, and discourses through which a subject transforms herself in order to achieve a particular state of being, happiness, or truth […] For Foucault, ethics is a modality of power that ‘permits individuals to effect by their own means or with the help of others, a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being’ […] in order to transform themselves inot the willing subjects of a particular moral discourse. Despite his attention to the individual’s effort at constituting herself, the subject of Foucault’s analysis is not a voluntaristic, autonomous subject who fashions herself in a protean manner. Rather, the subject is formed within the limits of a historically specific set of formative practices and moral injunctions that are delimited in advance—what Foucault characterizes as ‘motes of subjectivation.’ Foucault thus treats subjectivity not as a private space of self-cultivation, but as an effect of a modality of power operationalized through a set of moral codes that summon a subject to constitute herself in accord with its precepts. ‘Moral subjectivation,’ in turn, refers to the models available ‘for setting up and developing relationships with the self, for self-reflection, self-knowledge, self-examination, for the decipherment of the self by oneself, for the transformations that one seeks to accomplish with oneself as object’ (28).
People form relationship to moral code themselves. “The precise embodied form that obedience to a moral code takes is not a contingent but a necessary element of ethical analysis in that it is a means to describing the specific constitution of the ethical subject. In other words, it is only through an analysis of the specific shape and character of ethical practices that one can apprehend the kind of ethical subject that is formed” (29).
“I find Foucault’s analysis of ethical formation particularly helpful for conceptualizing agency beyond the confines of the binary model of enacting and subverting norms. Specifically, he draws our attention to the contribution of external forms to the development of human ethical capacities, to specific modes of human agency. Instead of limiting agency to those acts that disrupt existing power relations, Foucault’s work encourages us to think of agency: (a) in terms of the capacities and skills required to undertake particular kinds of moral actions; and (b) as ineluctably bound up with the historically and culturally specific disciplines through which a subject is formed” (29).
Foucault’s framework for studying ethics has 4 parts, though Mahmood says that the framework is not a blueprint for how to do it but raises questions to think about when studying ethics. “Substance of ethics” is part of self “that pertain to the domain of ethical judgment and practice” such as flesh and desire for medieval X. “Mode of subjectivation” is the how—it is “how people are incited or called upon to recognize their moral obligations.” Under this category are questions of authority. Third is “techniques of the self,” what one does, the process of becoming “an ethical subject.” Last is “telos” which is “the mode of being one seeks to achieve within a historically specific authoritative model” (30).
Living out this ethical tradition when viewed in this way allows for agency and for subject formation. Subjectivation is political (32-33)
Agency emerges within a system where people chart their own path, even when options are limited. She doesn’t want to say what agency is precisely to these women but recognize that agency can be found in this ethical action (34)
Political agency and ethical agency are inseparable (35)
“The political efficacy of these movements is, I would suggest, a function of the work they perform in the ethical realm—those strategies of cultivation through which embodied attachments to historically specific forms of truth come to be forged. Their political project, therefore, can only be understood through an exploration of their ethical practices. This requires that we rethink not only what our conventional understanding of what constitutes the political but also what is the substance of ethics” (35).
Chapter 2
Summary: Mahmood begins with a description of her sites and the women who inhabit them. She then describes the aims of the Mosque Movement: it emerges in reaction to the rise of a secular government and westernization. Women of the Mosque Movement want to define how to live like Muslims in the modern world. They do not wish to directly engage the state and try to reinstate shari’a but to have all of everyday life guided by Islamic, not secular ethics. They want practices like veiling to be normative, not just performative of tradition.
Mahmood argues that the increased questioning evident in the Mosque Movement is not the result of objectification of religion or another generalized reaction against modernity but a specific reaction to the context of people who want to live Islamically in the context of a secularizing world.
Mahmood then gives a genealogy of the da’wa movement and the da’iya (da’wa preachers) who have become new authorities outside the institutional structures of the state and the mosques. The Muslim Brotherhood and Rashid Rida are key groups/figures who transform da’wa from a collective effort undertaken by scholars to individual efforts by ordinary Muslims, which opens a space for women to participate, even though patriarchal structures are still in place. Also, other sociological changes allow space for women, including educational reforms and Islamic non-profits. She then gives a history of Zaynab al-Ghazali, who plays a key role in opening space for women in da’wa at the turn of the 20th century.
Mahmood closes the chapter by arguing that religious non-profits and da’wa participatnts engage in politics, shaping ethical and aesthetic sensibilities even though they don’t directly try to change the state. She also argues that the state, who tries to resist these movements, is secular even though it is involved in regulating religion.

Ayesha complex: Da’yat here, like in the other mosques, speak in Egyptian colloquial Arabic, but there speech is marked by street colloquialisms that are characteristic of their and their audience’s working class backgrounds (42) more limited educational backgrounds of attendees, 1/3 are wear the Niqab (42)
Nafisa mosque: first Cairo mosque to start offering lessons to women around 1980, and it current commands largest female attendance of any mosque in Cairo- 500 women/week attend lessons—lessons delivered by group of 3 Da’iyat, all of whom were, at time of fieldwork, in process of obtaining formal training in preaching skills from state-run institutions of Da’wa --- are three are munaqabat (43)
Three mosque examples illustrate the broad based character of the women’s mosque movement evident in the variety of ages and socioeconomic backgrounds represented among the audience as well as in the range of rhetorical styles, modes of argumentation and forms of sociability employed by the teacher….the participants all shared a concern for what they described as the increasing secularization of Egyptian society, an important consequence of which is the erosion of religious sensibility, they considered crucial to the preservation of the “spirit of Islam” (43)
Many of mosque participants criticized what they saw as an increasingly prevalent form of religiosity in Egypt, one that accords Islam the status of an abstract system of beliefs that has no direct bearing on how one lives, or what one actually does in the course of the day (44)
Hajja Faiza is mainly concerned with Muslim who, despite performing their religious duties, have lost the capacity to render all aspects of their lives- of which worship is simply one, albeit an important part- into a means of realizing God’s will (46)
For most of the Da’iyat…reinstatement of Sharia remains marginal to the realization of the movement’s goals and few lessons address this issue (47)…this doesn’t mean that the mosque movement endorsed a privatized notion of religion that assumes a separation between worldly and religious affairs. Indeed, the form of piety women like Hajja Faiza advocate brings religious obligations and rituals to bear upon worldly issues in new ways, thereby living according the old Islamic adage “all of life is worship” (47)
In this sense, the mosque movement’s goal is to introduce a common set of shared norms of standards by which one is to judge one’s own conduct, whether in the context of employment, education, domestic life or other social activities. The mosque participants’ actions therefore post more of a challenge to the second aspect of secularism, namely the process by which religion is relegated to its own differential sphere, its influence curtailed to those aspects of modern life that are either “private” or “moral” (48)
Undergirding Fatma’s and Hajja Nur’s critique is a conception of religiosity that discriminates between religious practice that is part of the larger project of realizing Islamic virtues in the entirety of one’s life , and a practice that is Islamic in form and style but doesn’t necessarily serve as a means to the training and realization of a pious self…critique of those forms of Islamic practice whose raison d’etre is to signal an identity or tradition and which are, therefore, shorn of their ability to contribute to the formation of an ethical disposition. (51)
Phenomenon of veiling as an insufficient, though necessary, part of making society more religiously devout…the critical issue for Hajja Nur….is whether the proliferation of what appear to be Islamic practices..actually enable the cultivation of Islamic virtues in the entirety of a Muslim’s life (52)
For Islamists, religious rituals should be aimed towards the goal of creating a certain kind of polity, and the mosque movement fails precisely to make this linkage, keeping matters of worship and piety within what for them in a privatized world of worship (53)
“Religion” in the modern period has come to be understood as a self-enclosed system whose proper practice often entails, even on the part of lay practitioners, some form of familiarity with doctrinal assumptions and theological reasoning involved in religious rites and rituals (53)
Working women and students now bring questions of virtuous practice to bear on new problems, such as how to conduct oneself modestly on public transportation, and in schools and offices where pious protocols of sex segregation are not observed (55)
Need to understand religious practice in terms of larger goal to which it is teleogocially oriented (56)
The women of the mosque movement argue that they have had to create new structures of learning- in the form of mosque lessons- to inculcate values that were previously part of the social and familial ethos in Egypt (56)
Da’wa is understood by the contemporary piety movement of Egypt primarily as a religious duty that requires all adult members of the Islamic community to urge fellow Muslims to greater piety (57) These activities include establishing neighborhood mosques, social welfare organizations, Islamic educational institutions, and printing presses, as well as urging fellow Muslims towards greater religious responsibility (58)
Two innovations of Rashid Rida were crystallized further by work of Muslim Brotherhood under al-Banna whose elaboration of da’wa was a key part of his larger program aimed at creating institutional structures and sensibilities capable of contesting western cultural and political hegemony…directed his organizational efforts at education and reform of fellow Muslims…incorporated many of the concepts and organizational strategies integral to the practice of modern politics and governance….addressed fellow Muslims as citizens whose collective project was to sustain the Egyptian nation as an integral part of the Umma…similarly…made the public spaces of urban life…a key site of their Da’wa activity, and used aural and print media extensively…(63)
The Brotherhood successfully transformed mosques from spaces reserved for worship to what Al-Banna described as “schools for the commoners, the popular universities and the colleges that lend educational services to the young and old alike” (63)
Also, trenchant critique of traditional religious education, in particular against religious scholars and their institutions for making religion into a specialized field of knowledge that served only the interests of the ruling elites…it was in the context of a growing perception that scholars and preachers trained within the government administered religious institutions were no more than state functionalities and bureaucrats that there arose the figure of the self-trained preacher/da’iya who took on Da’wa as a vocation rather than as a form of employment…it is not an accident that it is secular universities….that have produced the most prominent da’iyat (both male and female) of the last century (64)
There are both theological and sociological bases for women’s entrance into this field- theological: modern interpretations of Da’wa often draw upon those verses of the Quran that enjoin men and women equally to undertake this duty…and sociological: the ability to practice Da’wa has come to depend not so much on doctrinal expertise as on one’s moral uprightness and practical knowledge of the tradition- this is particularly significant for women who have little formal training in doctrinal issues (65)
Women’s participation in the Da’wa field is structured by certain limits—not allowed to instruct men (65)
Women’s entry into field of Da’wa has been facilitated by the conditions of higher literacy and increased social mobility afforded to women in post-colonial Egypt…Al Azhar began to enroll women….all of these developments have gradually opened doors for urban women to pursue religious study, and have endowed them with a sense of entitlement that they should be able to proclaim the Islamic tradition in a manner parallel (although not necessarily equal) to men (66)
Center for Preaching and Advice (Society of Muslim Ladies)--- even after affiliation with Al Azhar ended around 1938-9, al Ghazali’s organization continued to train women in the art of religious exhortation well into the late 1950’s (67)
Ghazali’s Islamic activism was shaped by the liberal discourse of the early nationalism- women should play an active role in public, intellectual and political life with the important caveat that those responsibilities should not interfere with what she considers to be the woman’s divinely ordained obligations to her immediate kin…Ghazali’s modernist religious activism illustrates how the histories of Islamism and secular liberalism are intimately connected, a connection that is nonetheless saturated with tension and ambivalence (70)
Da’iyat seldom employ language of religious equality, don’t demand to be able to preach on Friday (71)
Despite the fact that the University of al-Azhar opened its doors to women in the study of religious sciences in the 1960’s, none of the contemporary Da’iyat have come to the practice via this institutional trajectory, and only a very few of the mosque groups are affiliated with the Muslim Brothers (71)
The one institutional structure that continues to play a significant role in facilitating women’s da’wa activities is that that of the Islamic nonprofit organizations, whose focus has typically been on providing welfare and charitable services to the poooor….the larger number of women Da’wa training centers are run by Islamic non-profit organizations in Egypt today (72) Such organizations have historically been concerned not only with the provision of religious instruction but also with cultivating an Islamic ethos that makes them distinct from secular nonprofit organizations (73)
Regulation …of practices is of eminent political concern b/c they play a crucial role in shaping the civic and public sensibilities essential to the consolidation of a secular liberal polity (74)
As part of the Egyptian government’s ongoing efforts to regulate religious associational life, in 1996 2 laws were approved for implementation aimed at controlling the activities of the Da’wa movement. One aims to nationalize thirty thousand non-government mosques within five years…the second is directed at preaching activities: the state now requires that all male Du’at and female Da’iya regardless of their prior religious training or experience, undergo a 2 year training program in da’wa administered by the ministry of religious affairs (75)
Through the nationalization and direct management of the religious institutions the state has attempted to redefine the locations and modalities of proper religious practice as part of the project of creating a modern polity. While the constitution heralds Sharia as the basis of Egyptian law, in actual practice the Sharia has been restricted to the domain of personal status law in accord with the modernist logic of keeping religion domesticated within the private realm (77)
Chapter 2:
Urbanization and mass media have bolstered peoples’ abilities to access materials of the tradition. New forms of texts have been written to make traditional material accessible to ordinary Muslims. Mahmood examines the women’s mosque lessons to understand how shifts in authority have happened and how new materials are used.
Mahmood describes two extremes of da’iya teachers, one from a wealthier community and one from a poorer community. She shows the different styles: the former explains a number of opinions which allows women to choose which juridical opinion they think fits their lives, though Mahmood points out that this isn’t the secular-liberal notion of choice since it takes place within the orthodox structures of the tradition. In the poorer area, the lessons are disorganized, less authoritative, engage in question and answer within the lessons. The teacher gives prescriptions not choices. The mosque movement women engaging in the tradition to decide how to live their everyday lives shapes the tradition, which isn’t just received but is also inhabited (discursive tradition).
Mahmood shows the way that the women inhabit the tradition through an example of dealing with sexual norms. Mahmood traces how women deploy classical Islamic concepts to deal with issues in their lives. Da’iya doesn’t try to change the institutions (like that there are not women’s higher education institutions) but tries to instruct women how to live virtuously within the coeducational institutions (like not making eye contact with men). Da’iya doesn’t just impart knowledge but the students argue and debate the Quranic principles and about how to navigate classical texts. Mahmood shows that there is room for the divine ordinances of modesty to be adjusted to the realities of everyday urban life.
Mahmood ends by theorizing on the relationship between traditional and modern. She turns to the concept of a discursive tradition—that macrolevel limits shape what is possible at the level of micropractices. The Islamic tradition is a mode of engaging with texts that shape how people live, but do not simply define how people live. Truths are made through engagement with texts, not found within the texts themselves. This allows for agency within the tradition’s limits.

Mosque movement aims at pedagogy that explains practical ways of living Islamically (80). Fiqh manuals and fatwas now focused on practical problems of everyday life form a structure of authority in which mosque women operate to shape their ethical lives (80-81)
Da’iya Hajj Faiza outlines a range of juridical opinions for women to choose: “The range of choices Hajj Faiza outlines are determined by the scholarly opinions expressed within earlier traditions of juristic reasoning that provide the authoritative bases for any decision. As such, choice is understood not to be an expression of one’s will but something one exercises in following the prescribed path to becoming a better Muslim” (85). “noninterventionist style” relies on women to take responsibility for making their own choices (86)
Women gain authority by learning the male scholarly tradition and learning to navigate it (89-90)
Clarification on choice within the tradition, which is quite different from what one thinks about in secular humanism “[T]he form of reasoning one follows in exercising a choice must be guided by the requisite rationale and capacities that the jurists have deemed authoritative, thereby complicating the sovereign subject of liberal-humanist discourse” (90).
In the working class, poorer mosque, ethical technique of tarhib was used, invoking fear. Women were told what to do not given an outline of options (91-99). This di’ya Umm Faris “performatively constituted” (99) the authority of the hadith by her interpretation. As a discursive tradition, she does not constitute it freely but within certain bounds, but she still does work to live the tradition in everyday life, which requires interpretive measures.
Women interpreting classically male tradition (100). Da’iya teaches to overt gaze when dealing with gaze because God has commanded it, so there is no choice (102). Issue is that institutional structures are such that women must deal with men in their working and educational lives, so da’iya wants to teach girls how to live as the Qur’an and Hadith teach them to in the company of men; this requires exegesis to navigate the juridical tradition and apply it to modern life. Women engage in that exegesis and debate over correct interpretation within the structures of male authority and authority from God (102-4). Women don’t stray much, they stay close to jurist positions, though there is a range (106). Another example with modesty of how women see modesty as ordered by God but then figure out how to live it through exegesis and practical considerations (113)
Foucault’s idea of discursive tradition, also used by Talal Asad and Alisdair MacIntyre (114-15) helps to contextualize how women navigate the tradition. People live within macrolevel limits but they live it at the microlevel by negotiating their practices (115). Scriptures come to be seen as the medium through which truth is established instead of truth itself. Truth and tradition produced by subjects through historical processes (116)
Hirschkind argues that fractured space and temporality of modernity do not simply efface older forms of perception and knowledge…but that these aspects of modernity also make possible the retrieval and maintenance of traditional practices and perceptual regimes, giving these practices a renewed life and novel form….the adoption of what are termed the “modern” ways of being do not signify a wholesale replacement of pre-existing sensibilities, but are structured by, and embedded in, ongoing historical traditions (117)
Chapter 4
The ethical in this chapter returns to the Aristotelian, where the ethical subject is formed through actions, not ideas (as Kantian subject). The relevant action here for the mosque movement is ritual. Mahmood traces how the external action shapes the internal self. One must cultivate the desire to pray through discipline, just as one does in everyday aspects of life—ritual is not a separate sphere of behavior. Goal of ritual is to shape the self to please God: for da’wa women, ritual is an ethical means and ends.
Mahmood also looks at the relationship between ritual (external acts) and agency and power. She turns to the Aristotelian concept of habitus, which is unlike Bourdieu’s usage, as it pays attention to the work done to shape the ethical self by an agent as opposed to determinist, sociopolitical structures acting on the subject. She looks at the ethical emotion of fear, which is an epistemic tool for distinguishing good from bad and moves the person to right action. It is not just motivational—fear should also shape action, which through repetition shapes the self. In the end, Mahmood argues that ethical norms are scaffolding/potentiality, and that self-work by the agent needs to be done to shape the self. Women cultivate ethical selves as agents who work for what they desire, which may line up exactly with what society prescribes.

Uses positive ethics, based on discursive practices involving the body. Discursive practices acted on the body forms the subject. Personhood formed within these morality forming discursive practices (120). To understand the person and the authoritative moral structures, one must pay attention the body (120).
Subject formed through external practices. Internal shaped by external (121)
Piety: pious women must nurture desire to do pious acts with pious attitudes. Must shape your heart, the moral organ, to want to be pious. Discipline the self to hone moral capacities so they are acted out in everyday life (123-6).
“A close examination of Mona’s advice to the young woman reveals that the enactment of conventional gestures and behaviors devolves upon the spontaneous expression of well-rehearsed emotions and individual intentions, thereby directing attention to how one learns to express ‘spontaneously’ the ‘right attitudes.’ For women like Mona, ritual (that is, conventional, formal action) is understood as the space par excellence for making their desires act spontaneously in accord with pious Islamic conventions” (129).
“Thus, ritual worship, for the women I worked with, was both enacted through, and productive of, intentionality, volitional behavior, and sentiments—precisely those elements that a number of anthropologists assume to be dissociated from the performance of ritual. Importantly, in this formulation, ritual is not regarded as the theater in which a preformed self enacts a script of social action; rather, the space of ritual is one among a number of sites where the self comes to acquire and give expression to its proper form” (131).
Aristotelian ethical pedagogy: “external performative acts (like prayer) are understood to create corresponding inward dispositions” (135).
Key term is habitus, and she uses this in the Aristotelian sense instead of in Bourdieu’s more deterministic sense. “Habitus in this older Aristotelian tradition is understood to be an acquired excellence at either a moral or a practical craft, learned through repeated practice until that practice leaves a permanent mark on the character of the person. Thus, moral virtues (such as modesty, honesty, and fortitude) are acquired through a coordination of outward behaviors (e.g., bodily acts, social demeanor) with inward dispositions (e.g., emotional states, thoughts, intentions) through the repeated performance of acts that entail those particular virtues” (136).
The da’wa movement can be seen as reflective of Aristotelian ethics of working for moral attainment (137).
Goes over why Bourdieu’s habitus is less helpful, because it is based on societal superstructures and is deterministic; also, it is unconscious, as opposed to something people work for.
Example of fear—people train themselves to fear God’s power and to act with that fear. “[R]epeated invocations of fear, and practices that evoke and express that fear, train one to live piously (act as a spur to virtuous action) and are also a permanent condition of the pious self” (143). Sedimentation of fear in the heart—example of Aristotelian habitus (143)
How is the ethical fear cultivated? One way is through tarhib (144)
“As I have described, the mosque participants did not regard authorized models of behavior as an external social imposition that constrained the individual. Rather, they viewed socially prescribed forms of conduct as the potentialities, the ‘scaffolding,’ if you will, through which the self is realized. It is precisely this self-willed obedience to religiously prescribed social conventions—what is often criticized as blind and uncritical emulation—that elicits the critique that such movements only serve to reproduce the existing patriarchal order and to prevent women from distinguishing their ‘own desires and aspirations’ from those that are ‘socially dictated’” (148).
Because people cultivate their ethics, they exhibit agency (151)
Chapter 5
This chapter tries to lay out different modalities of agency that go beyond resistance. She starts with the formation of the virtue of shyness: woman cultivates the virtue of shyness by repeated action. For mosque movement women, the external shapes the internal, though the secular woman she describes sees the cultivation of shyness as passivity. Mahmood evaluates Judith Butler’s concept of performativity and concludes that it does not describe the mosque movement even though it is based on the concept of repeated performance for self-formation and creation of agency. Thus, to get at a better fitting concept of agency, Mahmood examines how women navigate marriage in a patriarchal society. She tries to show how secular women may take a different approach to marriage, but it is no more aimed at altering patriarchal structures than the mosque movement women. Mosque movement women are agents even in the patriarchal system because she recognizes her responsibility to deal with her situation even if she cannot change it. Mahmood finishes by looking at different ways women deal with/were taught to deal with husbands who are not pious. How does one practice da’wa in a patriarchal system if the husband disapproves? Women navigate the textual tradition to choose how to deal with it. This is another modality of agency that shows resistance/subordination way of looking at agency is insufficient.

In the last chapter, she ties together argumentative and embodiment as scaffolding practices (154).
Cultivation of shyness (155-157).
Action creates ethical feelings. Cultivating shyness by acting on the self so that it becomes part of the self (157)
Rejects Butler’s theory of performativity (repeatedly acting out norms, which forms the self but also leaves room for agency) as being applicable to the mosque movement (162-7).
Last chapter on agency shows the way women navigate within the patriarchal structures of marriage to show the ways in which they make choices within these constraints—different modalities of agency.
MM woman discussing marriage shows that even though they feel that they live in a situation that God predestines, they feel they have responsibility for how they act (173, 183).
“The constraining nature of these alternatives notwithstanding, I would argue that they nonetheless represent forms of reasoning that must be explored on their own temrs if one is to understand the structuring conditions of this form of ethical life and the forms of agency they entail. Note that the various paths followed by the women do not suggest the application of universal moral rule (in the Kantian sense), but are closer to what Foucault calls ethics: the careful scrutiny one applies to one’s daily actions in order to shape oneself to live in accordance with a particular model of behavior” (187)
living ethically involves self-monitoring and individual responsibility (188)
Basic gist: Let’s escape our closed mindedness that comes from liberal-progressive ideas and even though we are forced to use the terminology and analytical tools of the West, we should question our assumptions and destabilize the dichotomies we set up with respect to agency.
The questions that the audience members posed and the answers that the da’iyat provided assumed that a woman is responsible for herself and her moral actions – anguish felt by women was product of both moral responsibility these women felt and the limited scope of choices available to them within the Orthodox tradition (187)
The emergence and proliferation of Islamist movements are deeply indebted to modern mass education, practices of media consumption, and forms political and associational life characteristic of civil society- all of which are crucial elements within the historical trajectory of secular liberalism across the globe (192)
To the extent that all aspects of human life (whether they pertain to family, education, worship, welfare, commercial transactions, instances of birth and death, and so on have been brought under the regulatory apparatuses of the nation-state, the piety movements efforts to remake any of these activities will necessarily have political consequences (193) As Charles Hirschkind argues persuasively, “modern politics and the forms of power it deploys have become a [necessary] condition for the practice of many our more personal activities. As for religion, to the extent that the institutions enabling the cultivation of religious virtues have become subsumed within (and transformed by) the legal and administrative structures linked to the state, then the (traditional) project of preserving those virtues will be necessarily political if it is to succeed….it is not that the pietists have “politicized” the spiritual domain of Islam…but that conditions of secular liberal modernity are such that for any world-making project (spiritual or otherwise) to succeed and be effective, it must engage with the all encompassing institutions and structures of modern governance, whether it aspires to state power or not (194)


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