Artistic Developments in the Muslim Cultural Sphere
Ethics, Aesthetics, and the Performing Arts
Green pop, clean cinema, halal songs, Islamic soaps, Muslim rap and hip-hop, Islamist fantasy serials, postrevolutionary Islamic "Dance-Theatre," Suficized music, as well as heavy metal against Islam, are just a few of the performing arts that will be presented here. This book will trace Islamic discourses on performing arts and give insight into several genres of religious and nonreligious productions that manifest Islam in its various forms. It will foreground case studies from Germany, France, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Canada, and the USA. The book will analyze the way piety movements and politically engaged Islamists, Islamic states as well as moderate believers, have both rejected and embraced popular culture and performing arts as potential sites to propagate their religio-ethical normative projects.
This book is the result of the European Science Foundation exploratory workshop "Islamization of the Cultural Sphere? Critical Perspectives on Islam and Performing Arts in Western Europe and the Middle East," which was held in Amsterdam in 2008. The workshop consisted of scholars from diverse disciplines such as Islamic Studies, ethnomusicology, anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, and political science. The aim of the workshop was to show the multiplicity of voices, discourses, and practices in Muslim communities with regard to Islam and performing arts.
After the Danish cartoon affair in 2006, the general discourse with regard to freedom of speech and expression of culture in Islam has been put in a negative light. There were also several incidents involving secular Western art productions that were felt to hurt religious sensibilities of Muslims and were eventually withdrawn from production, such as the German Idomeneo and the Dutch opera production Aisha. These cases have received media attention to such an extent that the representations of Islam and performing arts as incompatible and the lack of creative freedom as marking the difference between Muslims and non-Muslims are firmly established. As Michael Frishkopf (this volume) argues, the diasporic Muslim community of Canada also seizes upon expressive forms such as music and musical ritual practices to express Muslim difference within Canadian society. Stating that "music is forbidden in Islam" becomes a productive marker of difference. Artists have at times suffered where Islamists have risen to power, as is documented by the website of the anti-music-censorship organization Freemuse. Heavy metal musicians thus protest the Islamization of the public sphere in Turkey (Pierre Hecker, this volume), and Los Angeles exile musicians from Iran attempt to subvert and counter the Islamic Republic of Iran with their sensuous and cosmopolitan musical productions (Farzaneh Hemmasi, this volume). At present, though, the tide within Islamist movements is changing and some strands of Islamists and piety movements embrace art and popular culture. Pious forms of art are created that cater to religious sensibilities and can be used to promote Islamic messages and lifestyles. This development is carefully monitored by states that fear the rise of Islamism. The relationship between Islam and the performing arts has thus become an arena of contest of great relevance to many actors.
Studying the contestations with regard to Islam and performing arts is important for several reasons. First, as illustrated above, popular culture and arts are vital instruments for cultural politics, whether for states or countermovements. Second, the analysis of Islam and performing arts sheds light on the development within Islamist movements toward a post-Islamist, liberal public sphere, as well as the influences of (religious) markets and globalization. Third, studying performing arts productions can add to our understanding of the character and scope of the Muslim cultural sphere. Where, how, and why have popular culture and performing arts been turned into a religious mission? Finally, a focus on Islam and performing arts opens up the study of the sensitive relationship among gender, religion, and the body. It is particularly the strong emotive and sensory power of performing arts and sonic forms that makes them such a sensitive matter in the eyes of religious authorities. The study of Islam and performing arts calls for a careful examination of religious sensibilities and the development of Islamic ethics and aesthetics catering to pious subjectivities. Can we see the development of a new Islamic aesthetics? How are religious ethics embodied in pious productions?
In this introduction the main trends indicated by the contributions will be drawn together. In the first section the importance of art for Muslim cultural politics will be highlighted. In the next section the subversive potentials of (pious) productions will be examined. In the third section the different ways the global and Muslim cultural spheres have intersected and developed toward specific cultural forms will be highlighted. The emerging market for pious popular culture will be sketched as well. Finally, the religious missions of Islamist groups, states, and power holders will be analyzed. This section will particularly highlight the emergent religious sensibilities among Muslim audiences, the pious body on stage, and the conversion of Islamic ethics into aesthetics.
Performing Arts, Cultural Politics, and the Muslim Cultural Sphere
"Performance Studies" is an emergent field of scholarly research drawing on a wide range of disciplines including social science, cultural studies, history, and gender studies. Performance is a broad concept too and can, according to Schechner, be perceived as a wide spectrum of actions extending from ritual, play, popular entertainment, and performing arts to everyday performances and the enactment of social, professional, or gender roles (2002, 2). What counts as "performance" and as "art" is historically and culturally variable. For that reason an open concept of performance and art is needed. Popular culture and popular art are also difficult to separate (Fabian 1998, 96), as are art and vocation or crafts (Fabian 1998, 17; Van Nieuwkerk 1995). Defining performance as a broad spectrum of practices avoids reinstating unproductive distinctions between low culture and high culture or marking off performing arts from popular culture. The tendency over the past century has, according to Schechner, been to dissolve boundaries separating "performing" from "not-performing" and "art" from "not-art" (2002, 30).
Many phenomena can be studied "as performance." Events can be staged as performance for the political effects they create. Most of this volume's contributors document events that are also according to conventional usage "a performance." We will particularly focus on performativity rather than simply performance that is, what performances accomplish or "show doing." As Schechner holds, "The 'working' is as important, maybe more so, than the 'work'" (1987, 8).
Popular culture and performing arts are vital in the identity construction of individuals and communities. Art is generally an instrument for cultural politics. Popular culture, entertainment, and performing arts are specific targets for the cultural politics of competing groups because they are very influential in people's daily lives and lifestyles. Due to the important role played by popular and performing arts in cultural politics as well as in processes of identification, they are crucial arenas of contest.
Several contributors give insight into the emergent Muslim cultural sphere, or saha Islamiyya (Harb 2006; Joseph Alagha, this volume; Karin van Nieuwkerk, this volume). By the cultural sphere we mean the debates and contestations by different actors within the public sphere regarding cultural expressions. The notion of a "cultural sphere" is thus not used to separate or distinguish it from the "public sphere," but to highlight and focus on specific deliberations within the public sphere that is, discussions within the cultural field or on artistic expressions. In the Muslim world we can discern an increasing influence of religiously inflected voices and visions within the cultural sphere, and for that reason it is important to study this Muslim cultural sphere. The most important debates and developments within the Muslim cultural sphere, as well as the cultural politics of states and groups impeding or facilitating its development, emerging from this volume's chapters will be discussed below.
The place of religion in the cultural sphere is highly contested in the West. Yet also in many Muslim countries in the Middle East and beyond, the cultural field is one of the last bastions of secularized elites. In Muslim-minority countries any manifestation of Islamism, especially in regard to art and expressive freedom, is carefully watched and interpreted as a sign of (a lack of) integration and citizenship. A discourse on the incompatibility of values between "us" and "them" has gained strong ground in many European countries. As Frishkopf (this volume) shows, the tendency toward "schismogenesis" is also strong among the Muslim immigrant community in Canada. As a result of the Canadian multicultural politics of "tolerance of intolerance" and a policy that is tolerant of non-Muslims but not at all tolerant of Muslim internal differences, little space is provided for ritual and aesthetic diversity. The ethnically diverse and geographically widespread Muslim population that is also skewed toward high educational levels and elite professions tends to follow reformist ideological powers and external global authorities as representing "true Islam." The Canadian diaspora includes few aesthetic specialists who could counter the reformist attempts to unify the diaspora through ritual conformity. In postrevolutionary Iran, on the other hand, the establishment of an Islamic public sphere was a fact. Yet it still was a real challenge to develop a cultural realm compatible with the country's religious sensibilities, as initially most forms of art were banned.
Expressive culture is not only a contested matter between states and Islamist groups, but also within Islamist movements. Opinions differ among hard-liners, moderates, and liberals as to what forms of music and instruments are allowed (Otterbeck 2008; Alagha, this volume; Frishkopf, this volume). These contestations exist up till today in Muslim-minority and majority contexts. In the Canadian multicultural context, a distinctively modernist Islamic reformism has gained prominence that insists on a rationalized ritual unity and purity; other contexts show more cultural and ritual diversity among Muslims. Several case studies show an opening up within the Islamist movements with regard to art and entertainment. A new generation of religious scholars and preachers has developed discourses that stress the importance of the arts for the development of nations. Art is to embody the socioreligious body politic. Instead of leaving art to the secular cultural field and closing their eyes to "immoral" or "lowbrow" productions, Islamists feel the need to produce alternatives. These alternatives have to be in accordance with the religious sensibilities of pious audiences and spectators and be religiously "correct." Alternatives are not only available from regional cultural centers, but globally accessible, especially since the spread of satellite and other new technologies. Global musical youth cultures are attracting many fans among Muslim youth as well. Instead of banning artistic expression, Islamists have started to use art as a source for mobilization of youth (Boubekeur 2007). Nooshin (2005) shows that the Iranian state felt forced to counter the flood of exile pop music from Los Angeles by producing alternative forms of art and entertainment. Islamists are only the most recent groups to instrumentalize art for their ideological purposes; so did Nasser (Abu Lughod 2005) and the Pahlavi government (Zeinab Stellar, this volume). Yet the specific project of Islamists and their special way of using art for missionary purposes, as will be highlighted in some of the contributions, are not yet well studied. How to develop pleasant forms of pious arts that combine morals, messages, and merriment has become a major challenge (Van Nieuwkerk, this volume).
Of critical importance to performance studies are issues of embodiment, action, agency, the body, and sensory experience (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 2004). The focality of the body, sound, and affect, and the aesthetic habitus more generally, are also the issues that make performing arts so crucial for cultural politics. Sonic forms are powerful forces in naturalizing embodied affective social identities, and as Frishkopf argues, maybe even more powerful because they lie outside the discursive realm. Dance in particular is a sensitive arena of bodily discourse (Desmond 1993–1994). The body, the pious body included, is highly gendered and an important matter of concern to religious authorities. The disciplining of the body according to religio-moral scripts, and controlling the way bodies embody piety, make pious productions central issues for cultural politics, a subject upon which I will elaborate in the last section.
What these artistic fields share and what makes them interesting for comparative purposes are the notion of "subverting power relations" attached to popular culture and performing arts (Fabian 1990, 1998; Carlson 2004). After the postrevolutionary state of Iran restricted music and dance, exiles in the USA took these up as constitutive elements of their oppositional version of Iranian culture, which they then circulated globally via a transnational alternative public sphere (Hemmasi, this volume). Turkish metalheads have used music to subvert the perceived encroaching Islamization of the Turkish public sphere (Hecker, this volume). Yet what about the possible counterpublic character of the Islamist public sphere itself (Hirschkind 2006)? To what extent can we regard the pious productions as subversive, and if they are, what are they subverting? So it is interesting to examine the extent to which notions of the subversiveness of popular art and performing arts also hold for pious performing productions. This implies carefully scrutinizing the various historical contexts in which different publics can be considered a counterpublic. I will turn to these questions now.
Power, Subversion, and the Counterpublic
Do performances sustain, reproduce, challenge, subvert, or critique ideologies and regimes of power (Schechner 2002, 19)? Some theorists view performance as reinforcing cultural givens, others see it as potentially subversive, while still others see it working under some circumstances in one way and in some the other (Carlson 2004, 20). Play and popular culture have been particularly analyzed for their rebellious potential. Fabian warns against the political naïveté of some approaches toward performance within the social sciences and points at the possibility that colonial rulers encourage performances as entertainment that is, as a way to co-opt or channel social protest (1990, 17). In Moments of Freedom, Fabian (1998) examines the concept of popular culture for the spaces of freedom and creativity it might provide. Popular culture can create sites for individual or collective freedom but is not in itself liberating (1998, 19–21). "If freedom is conceived not just as free will plus the absence of domination and constraints, but as the potential to transform one's thoughts, emotions, and experiences into creations that can be communicated and shared . . . then it follows that there can never be freedom as a state of grace, permanent and continuous. . . . Freedom . . . comes in moments" (1998, 20–21).
To perceive the relationship between dominant power and popular culture and art in terms of conformity versus resistance is thus far too simple. As Fabian holds, "The issue of power and resistance in studies of popular culture . . . cannot be reduced to determining whether or not, or when and where, expressions of popular culture qualify as acts of resistance; what we need to understand is how popular culture creates power to resist power" (1998, 69). He also draws attention to the "power from within" that is, the possibility that processes and forms of domination that popular culture opposes also work within popular culture. Power is constantly established, negated, and reestablished. "It is not its being power free that distinguishes popular culture . . . but its working against the accumulation and concentration of power, which, when institutionalized, cannot do without victims" (Fabian 1998, 133). Fabian's theory sensitizes us to oversimplified approaches of conformity versus resistance and opens our eyes to power structures within popular art.
Several studies have pointed at the use by young Muslims of music for instance rai, rap, hip-hop, and heavy metal as a way to protest against forms of discrimination and stigmatization of Muslims in Europe (Thomas Solomon, this volume; Gazzah 2008). Music is also used to protest the lack of democracy in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, and Pakistan (LeVine 2008). Musicians can also oppose a perceived Islamization of the cultural sphere in Muslim-majority countries (Hecker, this volume; Hemmasi, this volume). Boubekeur (2007) shows how young Muslims in France and elsewhere search for a "cool Islam," expressed in different forms including music, as a way to fight public discourses that stigmatize Islam or present it as an archaic religion. Yet they also want to get rid of the radical Islamist rhetorics of the old generation of political mobilizers.
Solomon (this volume) compares the way Turkish youth express forms of protest by way of rap in the diaspora in Germany and in the Turkish homeland. Islam arises as one theme in rap and is imagined in rather different ways in the two contexts. For these diasporic Turkish youth, Islam is not a doctrinal religious body of knowledge and practices, but an identity. It is "Muslim-ness" rather than Islam. The rappers construct an emotional way of bonding with religion. In the diaspora, they are confronted with negative stereotypes and can revalorize the symbol of Islam. They turn it into a sign of pride and call for a shared cultural or ethnic identity. In Turkey, rappers can use religious discourse as political oratory to challenge the secular state. Rappers in both contexts express oppositional identities in which Islam is a diverse set of discourses and practices that can be employed in various ways to create Muslim subjectivities.
Hecker (this volume) discusses the way heavy metal musicians contest the Islamization of the public sphere in Turkey. Metalheads are accused of moral, sexual, and religious subversiveness and are called Satanists. They distance themselves from religious practice and transgress verbal, gender, and physical boundaries by blasphemy and bodily display, for instance, by wearing long hair. Interestingly, metalheads use anti-Christian symbols to rebel, like the inverted cross, instead of anti-Islamic symbols. This is not only due to fear of repercussions, or a possible lack of anti-Islamic symbols, but also relates to the global flow of symbols belonging to metalhead culture and lifestyle.
Hemmasi (this volume) offers insight into the Iranian exile popular music and entertainment industry in Los Angeles as a transnational alternative means of expression that emerged in response to the Iranian Revolution. The postrevolutionary state established a religious public sphere within the country in which "impious" performing arts were banned. Initially, this included popular music, which impelled the mass exodus of most of the country's popular music industry to Southern California, where a new Iranian music industry began. As a result of the state's restriction of popular music and dance in the aftermath of the revolution, these cultural forms became important in émigré culture. These productions, ironically, returned from exile locations to Iran by means of new media technologies and attracted a large fan base in Iran.
What counts as the public sphere to be countered can thus be radically different. For Turkish metalheads it is the growing Islamist presence; for some Turkish rap groups it is the domination of secular Kemalism. Many performers in Egypt working in the field of pious art productions go against the grain of the officially secular state. Yet, matters are more complex as regards what can be considered counterpublic in Egypt. Due to the ambiguous policies of the Egyptian state toward Islamists and the partial co-opting of moderates and al-Azhar conservative religious authorities, as well as the influence of Islamist groups within the huge state bureaucracy, the state and counterpublic are not clearly demarcated (Van Nieuwkerk 2008). The Iranian case also points at the possibilities of reversal. Once in power, the new power becomes institutionalized and enforces its own regimes of power, of which, in this case, the victims appear to be the players in the cultural field. So, singing religious songs within the initially restrictive climate of postrevolutionary Iran can be a moment of freedom (as well as an expression of faith) (Bayat 2007), whereas chanting similar songs in Egypt can express an identity oppositional to the secular field of art.
Protest can take many artistic forms. Heavy metal, rap, and hip-hop are global protest genres. Often the text is the main vehicle for expressing oppositional identity, sometimes rather straightforwardly (Solomon, this volume), sometimes by subtly changing existing texts into morally upright ones, as by the Egyptian "halal song movement" (Van Nieuwkerk, this volume). Humor is an important tool for commenting on structures of domination; the growing amount of Muslim stand-up comedy, particularly in the UK and the USA, constitutes an important field for further study. Dutch-Moroccan rappers often choose a stage name that mocks stereotypes about them in Dutch society. Ali B., for instance, intentionally chose his stage name in reference to the way Dutch media speak about criminal suspects by reporting their first name and last initial. In this way, the popular rapper mocks the stereotype holding that many Dutch-Moroccan boys are criminals (Gazzah 2008, 205). Also bodily forms and stances, such as maintaining a certain ethical comportment, refusing certain "immoral" acts on screen and stage, and insisting on veiling, subvert secular artistic normative structures (Van Nieuwkerk, this volume).
In accordance with Fabian's insights, pious art does not simply resist structures of power; it also has its own structures of control and domination. In an inspiring article, the sociologist Asef Bayat wonders why puritan Islamists express hostility toward fun and joy (2007, 433). He argues that "anti-fun-damentalism" is not restricted to Islamists or even to religious fundamentalists, but extends to all rigid one-dimensional discourses and authorities. According to Bayat, purists do not reject pleasure as long as it is rationalized and controlled (2007, 437). It is particularly the spontaneous, uncontrolled character of fun and relaxation that worries the puritans, because it not only disrupts the moral order, but, more importantly, the doctrinal paradigm on which their power and authority is based. Stellar (this volume) details how in postrevolutionary Iran, theatrical dance was transformed into a rationalized and controlled form, which was reintroduced as a new mode of theatrical performance. The Lebanese Hizbullah only permits art if it is purposeful and there is an advantage (maslaha) behind it that outweighs the disadvantage (mafsada) (Alagha, this volume). Van Nieuwkerk (this volume) analyzes Egyptian moderate Islamist discourse, which aims to strike a balance between piety and pleasure, morals and messages, by insisting on the purposefulness of art. New regimes of power are established, particularly with regard to gender and the body (see below).
Interesting in this regard is Hirschkind's notion of the counterpublic (2006). He analyzes the Islamic missionary movement, or dacwah movement, as a counterpublic. He does not use the notion, as does Fraser (1990), in the sense that the counterpublic is autonomous and sovereign with respect to the state. In his study of the Islamic cassette media, Hirschkind shows that this Islamic soundscape combines ethical exercise, political debate, and popular entertainment. The cultivation of religious sensibilities is a form of political contestation through creating a separate moral space. He thus shifts the attention from Habermas's idea of political deliberation as a rational, disembodied form of reasoning to the ethical values and religious sensibilities of social and political life (2006, 30–31). Hirschkind emphasizes the different sensorium and moral dispositions underlying the discursive practices of the oppositional dacwah movement as forming an ethical counterworld, rather than the independent character or content of its deliberations (2006, 105–143). Hirschkind particularly elaborates his arguments with regard to the aural preaching or listening to cassette sermons as the medium for contestation.
So, by extension, we could analyze pious art productions as potentially subverting secular artistic norms and installing new disciplinary forms by creating a separate moral space and creating art in accordance with religious sensibilities. In the last section I will come back to religious sensibilities and aesthetic forms. But first I will discuss the emergence of different forms of a Muslim cultural sphere in the countries under study.
The Post-Islamist Cultural Sphere
The emergence of pious performing arts calls for a careful contextualizing and historicizing. In some cases, as in Canada (Frishkopf, this volume), ritual and cultural diversity is hindered by several internal and external circumstances leading to a closed, uniform cultural sphere marked by an absence of musical ritual practices. In other cases, an opening up of the Muslim cultural sphere is visible. Some interesting parallel developments toward a diversification of the Muslim cultural sphere are apparent from the presented case studies.
First, there appears to be emerging a more liberal attitude toward art among several groups of Islamists and politically engaged Muslims. At present, young generations of Islamists have created their own niches of pious art and diversion. Several terms are en vogue to express the current liberal climate: "cool Islam," (Boubekeur 2007), "air-conditioned Islam," or "casual Islam" (Tammam and Haenni 2003), as well as "fifteen-minute Islam," "Islam lite," or "market Islam."1 All these notions share a conception of Islamist currents that are open, up-to-date, liberal, and "easy" in character, as opposed to the former heavy, strict, and closed forms of Islamist movements. A notion that is theoretically more sophisticated in denoting the present developments is "post-Islamism" (Roy 2004; Bayat 2002, 2005; Kepel 2000). Bayat and Kepel define post-Islamism as the turn of moderate Islamist movements away from violence or rigid doctrinal views toward a fusion of religion with democracy. Post-Islamism does not mean the end of Islamism, but a reformulation of Islamist discourse from within the Islamist movement aiming to reconcile "religiosity and rights, faith and freedom" (Bayat 2005, 5). Roy links post-Islamism to the individualization and privatization of Islam (2004, 97–99). Post-Islamism is not directed at reconstructing the state, but at the Islamization of individual practices. This view emphasizes the turn from "religion" into "religiosity" that is, stressing the virtuous self as the core of faith and focuses on the development of new forms of piety. The turn from Islamism into post-Islamism, as it pertains to art and recreation, is related to several developments.
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 has been one of the crucial factors in the present "Islamic Revival" in many Muslim countries. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, conservative Islamists battled against playfulness and entertainment, which were considered a "counter value" because they distracted the believer from prayer and supplication toward film and art (Bayat 2007). Popular artists who were somehow associated with "nudity" and other "immoral" signifiers were demonized and started leaving the country. Although traditional and folk musics were promoted against the "Westernized, inauthentic" cultural industries, most popular musics were banned (Hemmasi, this volume). Morals police "cleansed" the public space and even invaded private parties. Unlike Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, the postrevolutionary state in Iran faced a population that had been largely accustomed to secular diversion for about fifty years. Throughout the 1980s, the country's war with Iraq strengthened the revolutionary fervor and surveillance. During the 1990s, the young began to challenge the state's political and moral authority through what Bayat calls "subversive accommodation" (2007, 441). They, for instance, used legitimate rituals such as Muharram austere occasions of mourning the death of Imam Hussein to invent "Hussein parties," which provided a legitimate space for fun and flirting. The government was not totally against pleasure, however, as long as it was rationalized and controlled, or a form of "pious pleasure" (Bayat 2007). Beginning in 1997, a period of liberalization started, in part to provide an ideologically correct alternative to the Iranian exile pop (Hemmasi, this volume).
Particularly Muhammad Khatami, the Iranian president between 1997 and 2005, has played a pioneering role in giving culture a more prominent role (Alagha, this volume). His "democratic Shicite discourse" and argument that "Islam is culture" were also transported to Lebanon's Hizbullah and paved the way for the transformation of the hala Islamiyya into a saha Islamiyya that is, a movement from a political toward a cultural Islamic sphere. Hizbullah now has its own music bands that produce nashid (Islamic song, plural anashid) that are broadcasted from the mosques (Alagha, this volume). The Hizbullah cultural sphere mainly consists of controlled and ideologically motivated forms of art. Stellar (this volume) analyzes the reappearance of theatrical movement-based performance (harikat-i mawzun) in postrevolutionary Iran. Rhythmic movement, which enacted mystical and religious themes such as the Sufi ritual of Sama, were presented as "dance for the divine" rather than "worldly dances which serve no purpose but pleasure." Also, movement-based performances focusing on founding figures of Shica Islam, including Zaynab, Fatimah, Hussein, and cAli, were performed. Performances of the Holy Defense Theatre are regularly commissioned by governmental organizations for various occasions. A controlled form of art and entertainment has been created that embodies the state's ideology. The battle over art remains an important source of conflict between the reformist and the conservative wings of the government to the present day.
In Egypt, Islamist movements not only targeted popular artists and their publics but also the officially secular state that allowed and accommodated entertainment and art. As is the case for Turkey, Islamists were not hegemonic, but formed a counterpublic that tried to create alternatives to "immoral" art. In the 1980s, Islamist students dominated university campuses in Egypt. They not only disrupted performances of what they considered "immoral" art, but also developed alternative religious theater and reworked the imported genre of anashid, religious songs. As Boubekeur (2007) shows for France, important factors in the growing popularity of the genre were the vernacularization of the songs and the departure from strict religious or political activism toward the incorporation of social themes. No longer songs about holy struggle sung in classical Arabic or the Palestinian or Jordanian dialect, songs were sung in French or the Egyptian dialect, addressing topics that mattered to the everyday life experiences of the young. These songs developed into a genre that used authentic Islamic sources, as well as elements of global musical cultures. They thus became a way for religious outreach and political mobilization, as well as entertainment, for young Muslims.
Related to the emergence of a post-Islamist cultural sphere is a second trend: the development of a middle and upper-middle-class "market Islam" (Haenni 2005). Besides "cool Islamic" artistic forms favored by youth, diverse forms of pious art are directed at middle and upper-class audiences. From the campus environment in Egypt developed an alternative pious art scene that increasingly catered to the religious sensibilities of a wider circle of people, who accordingly invited the student-artists to their parties. An austere form of pious art would not please the audience, except for the most devout. Artists accordingly experimented with the addition of percussion instruments or lessened the explicit moral and religious imagery of their songs or plays in order to entertain a broader audience. The return from the Gulf of labor migrants who were accustomed to a wealthy and pious lifestyle created a demand for pious art and pious forms of recreation. There thus developed a large internal religious market (Van Nieuwkerk, this volume). Egypt had already, for the religiously conservative market in the Gulf, a considerable production of films and soaps that accommodated Wahhabi censorship (Shafik 2001). But now an internal demand for "prudish productions" developed: the so-called "clean cinema." These films are not strictly religious or moralizing, but women play "chaste roles," without embarrassing the moviegoer (Tartoussieh 2007). A general tendency is noticeable nowadays toward less preachy and more self-consciously pleasant forms of pious art. Yet, as the Muslim public is fragmented, so is the religious market: artists can cater to different religious publics by providing music with or without percussion, weddings with or without sketches, depending on audience demand.
With regard to the development of an internal pious market, Turkey makes an interesting comparison. With the coming into power of Turgut özal in the mid-1980s, Muslim capitalists and small traders began to compete with secular businessmen in almost all sectors of the economy. Navaro-Yashin makes important observations about the processes of commodification behind any market, secular or religious (2002; see also Haenni 2005). Muslim businessmen advertised themselves as morally different from their competitors, but were after all implicated in the same capitalist consumption market. The rise of the Islamist movement in Turkey in the 1980s and 1990s also led to the creation of a specific market niche for Islamist consumer products such as headscarves, overcoats, and veils. Consumption habits differed between secularists and Islamists, but the production of Islamist commodities bore witness to similar processes of commodification. The Tekbir fashion company, named after the habit of calling "God is great" at public demonstrations, strove for worldwide prestige. Covered women began in time to discriminate veils according to brands and qualities rather than simply for the modesty they afforded. Yet despite the similar production processes implicated, the availability of Muslim capital and the growing religious sensibilities among the well-to-do stimulated a new market for leisure and entertainment: from Islamic tourist resorts offering segregated swimming along the Turkish coast to fashion and art.
In Turkey during the 1970s, an Islamic popular culture started to appear that consisted of rather ideologically determined artistic productions (Saktanber 2002). The first Islamic film company was established in 1968, featuring films in which the good, modest, and authentic person meets an individual who represents the corruptions of modernity. The good person inevitably falls in love with the bad one only to discover the true path, albeit too late for a happy ending. In the 1990s, cinema "sensitive to Islam" reflected the problems of youth more accurately. The dichotomizing approach that contrasts good and bad, moral and immoral, is also characteristic of the current popular Islamist fantasy serials that Ahu Yiğit (this volume) analyzes. These fantasy serials deeply influenced by some Western productions adopt magical plots such as time travel, angels disguised as ordinary people, and appearing or disappearing objects and people. Several serials are set in the afterlife, from which the main characters look back on their life on earth. These serials have become so popular that secular channels have copied the format, a development which suggests that a division along the lines "secular" versus "Islamist" is too simple. This Islamization of popular culture in Turkey also forms the context for the emergence of the Islamist rap discussed by Solomon (this volume). But not all such attempts to remake popular cultural forms in an Islamic image succeed, as evident, for example, in the Turkish state's effective censorship of Islamic rap around 2000 by excluding it from the market.
Third, moderate religious ideologies are gaining ground that support liberal religious views on art. cAmr Khalid and Mocez Mascud are noticeable examples of preachers who encourage the production of pious art in Egypt (Van Nieuwkerk, this volume; Winegar 2008). Interesting in this respect is not only the increase of trendy messengers who support the "Islam lite" productions, but also the recent use of Sufi elements in pious art productions. Sufi mysticism, or tasawwuf, appeared in the Turkish Islamic cinema, the "Dream Cinema," that came into being in the 1990s. Jonathan H. Shannon (this volume) analyzes the "Suficization" of music in present-day Syria. He analyzes the present upsurge of Sufi music worldwide as a result of, amongst other factors, the so-called "War on Terror." In furthering the idea of Syria and Syrians as on the "right" side in the War on Terror, Suficized music helps to promote awareness of an Islamic heritage that is peaceful and "good." The Syrian state tries to portray itself as an ally in the War on Terror, and as a source of "good" Islam and "good" Muslims Sufism and Sufis versus the "bad" forms of Islam at its borders. In this highly politicized context, Sufi-related expressive cultural forms are used by the state to promote a message of tolerance to the world.
Equally important and interesting is another development related to the Suficization of music that is, the crucial influence on the production of music of what Shannon calls the "World Stage" for World Music (Shannon 2003). When we see and hear Sufi music on the World Stage in the ever growing popular scene of World Music festivals, we are actually experiencing Suficized musics --- those that are "created expressly for the stage and that bear sometimes only a passing relationship to their reputed referents" (Shannon, this volume). Whereas World Music and "World Beat" are generally associated with globalization and transnational cultural economies, "sacred music" is perceived as the domain of the spiritually "authentic" and the "local." The efforts of the Syrian ensembles to record and promote Sufi music reveals how spiritual traditions are in fact produced and authenticated within the practices of the World Music market. In the rush to perform on the World Stage, artists and managers participate in the Suficization of their performance repertoires. The Suficized music is in fact the World Stage music that is, its production is intended for performance outside the original ritual context.
This brings us to a last development I would like to highlight with regard to the emergent post-Islamist cultural sphere: the influence of media, and the global transnational sphere and markets. Several studies indicate the influence of the global and transnational cultural sphere for the development of pious artistic genres. Boubekeur (2007) argues that politically engaged French Muslims desire to participate in the global public sphere. Their artistic products are not only bound to codes related to Islam but also to aesthetic norms of the West: it no longer suffices to sing in a religiously correct way, but the cover of the album should be of the latest design. Also a celebrity system is ascendant in the Muslim public sphere. "Celebrification," the importance of celebrity culture for everyday life, identity formation, and patterns of social interaction, has become a pervasive and global phenomenon (Gamson 1994; Rojek 2001). Also in the Muslim cultural sphere, fame has become as important as religious authority. Bart Barendregt shows the importance of the success of Western boy bands such as the Backstreet Boys in the 1990s for understanding the current form and celebrity status of nasyid (nashid) music. The transnationality of nasyid in Southeast Asia is reflected in the form and style of the music and in the song texts, as well as in the composition of the ensembles consisting of multinational members. Of some singers such as Waheeda, "the 2003 nasyid sensation," it was said that the sounds produced were merely World Music with a spiritual twist, that is, not authentic. The commercialism of some groups that seem to focus more on pop than religion is criticized as well. Muslim performers, audiences, and ideologues take different positions as to what is the "right" balance between morals, mission, and the market (Van Nieuwkerk, this volume).
This challenge of balancing glamour and piety relates to manifold aspects of the performance, the most mundane of which is the extent of the remuneration that is acceptable. Monetary compensation can be a tricky issue for pious performers, because tensions can emerge as a result of their sincere pious intentions and their desire to be appropriately remunerated. Islam as (profitable) business was a sensitive issue during my research among female weddings bands in Egypt. Several female performers were slightly insulted when I talked about their performance as "work." It was done for spiritual ajr, recompense, not for material gain. This was an important element constituting the respectability, and influencing the religious imagery, of their "work." Also, the families of the women performing at the wedding processions as players of the duff (tambourine), were uncomfortable with their daughters "working" at weddings, whereas they did not mind their daughters being engaged in "Islamic calling." The bandleader, though, intending to increase the extent of professionalism in her band, deemed nothing wrong in earning a decent living from this work. She rhetorically asked why whenever something is "Islamic" it should be for free. "Is Islam against money?" Her answer was clearly that morals and money go hand in hand. Yet, the pious performers can be easily attacked for "impious commercialism."
The challenge to translate Islamic ethics into Islamic aesthetics goes far beyond these mundane aspects and is related to sounds, images, movements, and bodily comportment. Pious performance is inscribed onto the body, and pious performances are made to embody certain missions. The relationship between religious mission and the sensorial, bodily form is the topic of the last section.
Islamic Ethics, Aesthetics, and the Body
For the study of Islam and performing arts it is crucial to examine discourses on the body. Within anthropology, the body already has a long career, and notions of the body, sensorial experiences, and embodiment are widely debated among scholars (Mauss 1979; Bourdieu 1977; Csordas 1999; Blackman 2008). As Blackman has argued, the body comes in manifold shapes: a disciplined body, a civilized body, a vitalist body, a feeling body, and a sensient body, to mention just a few. Yet the body-in-motion is still undertheorized. Desmond has tackled the dancing body, yet she mainly focuses on it as an arena of bodily discourse and argues for considering not only the body, but also its actions and movements, as a "text" (1993–1994, 34). I would like to consider the moving body in performance not only as a site of representation, but also as a source of experience and subjectivity (Csordas 1999). I will restrict myself to studies on the (moving) body in relation to Islam and piety. First, I will look at some of the theoretical insights on the body and embodiment in the field of Islam and Islamic piety that theorize the pious body at a religious-experiential level. This will give insights into the way religious sensibilities among large audiences have created a receptive climate for pious productions. Then I will come back to the moving body in performance as embodying Islamic ideologies and analyze the translation of these discourses into moving bodies.
Within the study of Islam and the Middle East, Bourdieu's elaboration of the concept of habitus has been taken up and criticized by Starrett (1995) and Mahmood (2005). Bourdieu's notion of bodily hexis is also considered a promising field for further study (Abu Lughod 1989; Starrett 1995). Bourdieu is interested in understanding how individuals contribute to the reproduction of social restrictions, a problem for which the concept of habitus offers an important tool. Habitus is defined as a system of durable, transposable dispositions "structured structures" that structure and generate human practice yet are not felt as enforcing and typically go unnoticed (Bourdieu 1977, 72; Auslander 2008, 67–72). Bodily hexis refers to the way individuals' bodily movements come to feel natural to them; these movements are "em-bodied, turned into a permanent disposition, a durable manner of standing, speaking, and thereby of feeling and thinking" (Bourdieu 1977, 93–94). These notions, however, have been criticized for emphasizing the unconscious character of the habitus and body hexis. Mahmood, for instance, in her study of the Egyptian piety movement (2005, 139), has highlighted the intentional and pedagogical training of the body as a site of moral virtue among the members.
Bourdieu is criticized not only for neglecting the pedagogical process of instilling disposition, but also for his lack of attention to the relationship between bodily hexis and the ideology or public discourse about hexis (Starrett 1995). Instead of being an unconscious transmission of bodily habits, the embodiment of ideology in hexis is "a set of processes through which individuals and groups consciously ascribe meaning to or learn to perceive meaning in bodily disposition, and to establish, maintain, and contest publicly its political valence" (Starrett 1995, 954). Starrett analyzed the relationship between body hexis and discourse as it pertains to prayer and showed the difference between the colonial discourse, in which the rocking body in prayer is perceived as irrational, and the discourse of Egyptian educators, who advocated a modern version of prayer as related to cleanliness and discipline. Embodying an ideology, in this case pertaining to prayer, is thus not an unconscious process but an explicit and discursive practice. This brings agency back into processes of embodiment and bodily habits, and underlines its learned, conscious, and contentious character.
The work of Foucault and Butler has been another source of inspiration for scholars working on Islam and piety, particularly Mahmood (2001, 2005). One of the central areas of analysis of both Foucault and Butler is the process of subjectivization, that is, the constitution of the subject. Subjectivity draws attention to the intricate processes through which subjects construct a liveable sense of self. Foucault explored how power perceived both as oppressive and as resistant to oppression and emanating from discourses and material practices operates to produce certain subjects. He explores the issue of the ethics of self and identified sexual, political, and religious "technologies of the Self" (2003) that are constitutive of a sense of oneself (Foucault 2003, 146). The technologies are practices that discipline the body and mind. "Individuals can resist power and transform their own subjectivity by applying techniques of the self. Techniques of the self are about discipline, they are not simply about discipline as domination of the self; they also entail positive transformations of the self" (Auslander 2008, 101).
Mahmood (2005) has given an in-depth analysis of the piety movement in Egypt and the way the devotees train pious dispositions and work on the body to cultivate an ethical self. Participants in the mosque movement regard religious practices such as prayer, styles of comportment, dress, and the movement of the body as ineluctable means for training, cultivating, and realizing a virtuous self (2005, 27–31). Prayer is not simply the expression of piety, but also the means to develop piety. It is a positive way of discipline and ethical self-making. As Hirschkind (2001, 2006) has shown, one of the ethical practices of self-discipline can be to listen to tape-recorded sermons. By extension, listening to religious songs is not only an expression of the devoutness of listeners, but also a form of ethical self-improvement. Pious performances can thus help to inculcate pious dispositions and sensibilities into audiences.
Sensibility is a concept used by Strathern and Stewart to overcome mind-body dualism, as well as to point at the "moral and aesthetic dimension of choice in action" (2008, 70). Sensibility mediates between the mental and the sensory. It encompasses conscious thoughts and actions and also includes the senses, which are focal in the context of performances. It also incorporates the idea of culturally appropriate or habitual behavior (Stewart and Strathern 2002, 5–6). Pious productions do not simply cater to religious sensibilities, but also instill piety into the body and senses of the devout. This enables the realization of the virtuous self in an embodied way within the discursive field of the "appropriate." Pious art is thus for both producers and consumers a sensory means for ethical self-making in accordance with religious ideologies.
This brings us back to what counts as culturally or religiously appropriate. What ideologies or discourses are embodied in pious productions and how? How are bodies made to embody ideologies, particularly in performances? Working from Foucault's insight on forms of power and the processes of subjectivization, Judith Butler has investigated "body matters" with regard to gender and sexuality. Every social-symbolic order is consolidated by prohibitions and repeated performance of identities within that order. Identities are "performative" and constantly reiterated: "Gender is not being but doing; it is not who you are but what you do, that is, how you express your identity in word, action, dress, and manner" (1990, 25). As Butler explains in Bodies That Matter (1993), identity performance is not a voluntaristic free choice. Subjectivization that is, the process by which a subject becomes a self-conscious agent is not outside the working of power but is a product of these operations. Butler stresses the sustained enactment of norms, although there is a possibility for transformation in the performative reiteration of norms (Auslander 2008, 73–79; see also Mahmood 2005). Stellar (this volume), however, draws attention to the restrictions and controls on performance that hardly leave space for enactment of norms other than those reflecting the biopolitics of the postrevolutionary government in Iran.
We thus need to understand the performativity of normative performances. Which norms or scripts do pious productions in diverse cultural settings enact, embody, and perform? Several contributions highlight religious doctrines (Alagha, this volume; Yiğit, this volume), pedagogical projects (Van Nieuwkerk, this volume), or biopolitics (Stellar, this volume) of Islamist groups or states. Islamic discourse pertaining to the permissibility of art in general, the discussions about the lawfulness of certain instruments and of the female voice, and the conditions for the permissibility of listening to music all shape the artistic form of the performance. How are religious norms and ethics translated into aesthetics, and what does this mean for the sensorium and the body-in-motion?
There are various ways in which Islamic ethics are embodied in aesthetics, depending on the mission of the Islamist states or groups concerned. Yet the moving body appears to be a problem for many Islamists. As Bayat noted for Iran: "Sorrow, sadness, a somber mood, and dark, austere colors defined the Islamist public space, media, and religious rituals. In such a state of virtue, the shape and color of clothing, the movement of the body, the sound of one's voice, the level of laughter, and the intensity of looks all became matters of intense discipline and contestation" (Bayat 2007, 439). Saktanber noted for Turkey that Islamic youth are "over-cautious about any kind of bodily expression, other than presentational codes regarding veiling for girls and beards and hair for boys, and, in the same way that they carefully avoid dancing, . . . [they seem] not to be interested in sport, apart perhaps from martial arts like karate and judo" (2002, 269). Yet, the contrast between the ideal body-at-rest versus the negatively valued body-in-motion is not an assumption restricted to Islamists, but was also part of the colonial discourse (Starrett 1995). As Desmond has argued, in many cultures bodily expressiveness is often linked to nondominant groups, races, classes, and ethnicities, and to gender and sexuality. Several dances introduced into Europe and the USA, for instance, those coming from Latin America, became over time more codified and stylized, less sexually explicit, and more restrained in movement of the body in order to become "appropriate" (Desmond 1993–1994).
In Egypt, the Islamic Revival and religious sensibilities of performers and audiences have affected the domain of cinema to a large degree. The "clean cinema" is one of the expressions of the normative religio-ethical projects of the Islamic Revival (Tartoussieh 2007). An important facet of piety is bodily modesty, and any representation of explicit sexuality is avoided. Women's bodies have to be silenced and sanitized, their sexuality erased. Any "hot scene" that is, sexually explicit scene is removed, and new ways of suggesting love scenes are developed. Clean cinema actresses "inhabit a body that is at once chaste, ascetic, and overwhelmingly appealing, even prurient in its modesty and morality" (Tartoussieh 2007, 37). Actresses cultivate the image of the clean body also in order not to lose their fan base and disappoint their pious audience. Clean cinema is a light comical genre because, as Tartoussieh argues, the comic's sexual innocence and chasteness make slapstick an appropriate vehicle for modesty.
Other productions in accordance with the recent Islamist "art with a mission" project are less light and more missionizing (Van Nieuwkerk, this volume). They go beyond erasing hot scenes. Women are veiled, both in real life and on stage, and their bodies are fully covered. They embody religious values such as piety, chastity, and modesty, and gendered values such as motherhood, obedience, and patience. Islamic soaps featuring veiled artists show not only a chaste body but, foremost, a pious body. The use of religious imagery and props, as well as bodily comportment, way of dressing, and moving, enact piety. Whether doing the five-day prayers or supplicatory prayer, holding and reading the Qur'an, or consoling and advising women to be patient and obedient with gestures of submission and patience, the body avoids restlessness and agitation in order to embody the value of religious calmness, sakina (Van Nieuwkerk, this volume).
Early-twentieth-century Iranian Islamist discourse rejected "dance" (raqs) as the activity of the Western-driven "modernists" (mutijadid), deeming it a "religion-destroying and Islam-murdering performance." While in the genre of "national dance" (raqs-i milli), constructed under the rule and patronage of the Pahlavi dynasty, a new "authentic" dancing body was introduced, the performing body in the postrevolutionary rhythmic movements had to embody chastity, modesty, and spirituality. While rhythmic movements often showcases Iranian identity like its predecessor national dance, Islamic ideology is a common theme for these postrevolutionary performances. This genre was renamed from "dance" (raqs) into "rhythmic movements" in order to dissociate it from immorality. An inspection committee previews and examines the performances for their appropriateness. Female bodies-in-motion are particularly scrutinized, and the female dancers have to cover their bodies with a loose costume. They have to move for a defined purpose, such as carrying props, or move in a way that resembles prayer. The general trend is that they are to embody and perform the expressions of heaviness, modesty, chastity, and austerity, and in order that dancers embody these qualities, movements should have a purpose and are literally "slowed down" movements (Stellar, this volume).
Gender and the sexuality of performing bodies on stage remain a prime problem for Islamists, and for that reason the body must be neutralized or desexualized. This can be done in several ways, of which veiling and covering it are the most obvious ones. Removing certain agitated movements such as the shimmy with the hips and shoulders is another strategy. Rhythmic movement is fairly fixed around the vertical midline of the body and restrains the free flow of movements of the wrist and arms in the common Iranian solo improvised dance (Stellar, this volume). The director of the Egyptian National Folklore Troupe deemed all the folkloric dance acts "art with a purpose" and appropriate also as a pastime during the holy month Ramadan, except for the milaya laff dance, which contains many shimmy movements and resembles belly dance. This dance was skipped during Ramadan.4 Even with these desexualized movements and covered bodies, female performances remain a sensitive issue because of the male gaze, which tends to sexualize female bodies-in-motion. Yet male singers must perform the "art of no seduction," too. Male bodies should refrain from moving too much while singing, and they should also avoid imitating "feminine" movements. Abundant swaying on stage can tip the balance from religion to pop.5
Excessiveness also marks poor moral quality in women in Turkish Islamist fantasy serials. Whether in the form of excessive makeup or loud laughter, it is always considered bad for women (Yiğit, this volume). So there is a complex set of contrasts between heaviness and lightness, slowness and rapidity, restlessness and calmness, excessiveness and austerity in moral-religious terms. Heaviness signifies moral solemnity and lightness connotes triviality in Persian (Bayat 2007, 438). In other parts of the Middle East as well, the relationship between movement and morality is noted. Algerian men are considered "heavy" that is, in control of their movement whereas women have to overcome their natural tendency to be light (Jansen 1987, 183). Lightness of movement stands for lightness in morals. This is connected to the contrast between slow and fast. Iranian rhythmic movement has slowed down the movements; Egyptian actresses embody solemnity by avoiding agitated movements.
Whereas the Islamist cultural sphere tends to "slow down," the post-Islamist cultural sphere shows a tendency to "speed up." Shannon discusses the different tempi in which Sufi music created for the World Stage is packaged and consumed (this volume). He argues that this Suficized music is akin to "fast food" that is, highly embedded in capitalist social relations and marketing strategies characteristic of advanced industrial economies: "Suficized musics are those that are produced for global consumption with the same attention to form and presentation as fast food: Sufi music and dance may be slow and ecstatic (think of the whirling dervishes doing their slow turns), but the aesthetic regimes of value that create them are very much fast" [emphasis added]. The opening up of the Islamist movement toward the global market and the emergent post-Islamist cultural sphere thus also translate into other aesthetic forms. I have mentioned already the celebrity culture that has gained ground in the Muslim cultural sphere and the aesthetic regime of the global markets that affect pious productions. The Islamist fantasy serials are deeply influenced by the Western genres (Yiğit, this volume). This points at the global aesthetics' contentious character within the Muslim cultural sphere. It is deemed an enormous challenge to carefully strike a balance between "East" and "West" and between commercialism and spirituality. The balance between religion and pop, morals and market, and ethics and aesthetics remains a contested issue.
The contributions in this volume thus try to bring together several crucial developments in the Muslim cultural sphere by providing in-depth case studies of performing arts. They will highlight the conditions that impede or facilitate the emergence of a post-Islamist cultural sphere in different areas, a development that is highly contested within and outside Islamist movements. Several chapters will examine the development of religious sensibilities of audiences, which increasingly include the well-to-do and educated young. The contributions thus point out the emergence of local and global religious markets. The changing discourses that provide more space for religious productions are examined as well.
Finally, the contributions indicate how ethics and aesthetics are related. Several examples of pious art productions are elaborated, showing how these productions embody different ideologies and affect the body-in-motion.