international conference: What is ‘Moroccan Islam’?

Activiteit: Participation in workshop, seminar


The concept ‘Moroccan Islam’ is a product of the ‘Moroccan colonial archive’ (Burke 2014),i.e., a corpus of primary French texts written on Morocco and Moroccans between 1880 and 1930s. The label emerged as an attempt to: 1. describe what several European scholars and travelers perceived as heterodox and idiosyncratic elements in Moroccans’ religious beliefs and practices, i.e., the ‘lived Islam’ of Moroccan society; and 2. contrast them with the‘standard Islam’ advocated by Muslim scholars (Reinhart 2020). During the protectorate
period (1912-1956), ‘Moroccan Islam’ was used and enforced by the French protectorate to question the ‘authenticity’ of diverging manifestations of Islam in the decentralized parts of the country and reconfigure the role of the Sultan and his central government as the only true guardians of ‘authentic’ Islam. This gave birth to several assumptions and stereotypes about Moroccan society, which, for decennia to come, had a deep impact on the way Moroccan affairs were perceived and interpreted by both native and non-native scholars. In the postcolonial period, it was mostly through the works of American and British anthropologists and historians that the existence of the label ‘Moroccan Islam’ was perpetuated before it was later officially co-opted by the Moroccan government. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 2003 in Casablanca, The Sharifian Kingdom used the notion of ‘Moroccan Islam’ to counter Islamic extremism and recenter the religious life of Moroccan Muslims around a unified
nationalist understanding of Islamic authenticity.
This official version of ‘Moroccan Islam’ was presented as the result of the continuous historical presence of four “immutable religious principles” (al-thawābit al-dīniyya) that shaped the Islamic identity of Morocco throughout
the centuries: 1. the religious leadership of the monarch; 2. the Mālikī school of law; 3. the Ashʿarite creed; and 4. the ‘sober’ Sufism of al-Junayd of Baghdad (d. 910). This new doctrine became in the following years an important instrument to strengthen the Kingdom’s claim as guardian of a ‘moderate’ and ‘authentic’ Islam, both domestically and worldwide.
Periode8 jun 202210 jun 2022
LocatieRabat, Morocco
Mate van erkenningInternational