Can Islam Be French? By John R. Bowen (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2010. 230 pages.)

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John Andrew Morrow

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Abstract

John R. Bowen’s Can Islam Be French? is divided into three parts. The first
part, which includes chapters 1 and 2, provides a brief overview of Islam in
France and addresses issues of migration, the rise of religion, the response
of the state, and the distinctive features of the French Islamic landscape.
The second part consists of four chapters. Chapter 3 explores Islam in
the suburbs, Islamic networks, and the work of an everyday imam, as well
as mosques and social divisions. Chapter 4 examines the forces that shape
Islamic knowledge in the countries; the various rules, schools, and principles
used to interpret Islam; Hichem El Arafa’s Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches
Sur l’Islam, the science of prophetic traditions, and the objectives of
Scripture. Chapter 5 differentiates among the various schools of jurisprudence
in Islam, the differing pedagogical approaches employed in teaching
the Muslim faith, the major influence of the Maliki madhhab in France, and
the practical training of preachers and scholars. Chapter 6, which wonders
whether Islamic schools can really be republican, examines the case of
Dhaou Meskine’s Success School, how Muslim schools manage to teach a
secular curriculum, Muslim family camp, and closes with coverage of Meskine’s
arrest.
Part 3 includes three chapters. Chapter 7 asks whether there should be
an Islam for Europe and whether there should be different rules for different
lands, ideological confrontations in mosques, and the transnational Islamic
sphere. Chapter 8 deals with issues such as secular and religious marriages, halal and haram food rules, as well as the attitude of French civil law toward
Islamic practices. Finally, chapter 9 tackles Islamic spheres in republican
space, whether religion-based associations impede integration, priorities and
values, as well as pragmatics of convergence ...

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