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Expressing Post-Secular Citizenship

A Madrasa, an Ethic and a Comprehensive Doctrine

Zahraa McDonald

According to Habermas, the contemporary public sphere is post-secular. In other words, the continuing presence of religious communities within a secular society is indisputable. However, the significance of this is not entirely clear, despite intensive discussion by social scientists, journalists, policymakers and politicians regarding the role of religion in the public sphere. Understanding contemporary religious phenomena requires serious academic and public engagement.
Drawing on theoretical approaches from sociology (Max Weber), philosophy (John Rawls) and religious studies (Abdulkader Tayob), this book analyses empirical data from the study of a madrasa in South Africa in order to explore the important question of how individuals may engage in the public sphere as members of religious communities.
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Chapter Two: Doctrine in a religious ethic



Doctrine in a religious ethic

2.1  Introduction

Religious beliefs, values, practices and communities have remained salient features of modern public discourse and debate, marking a post-secular public sphere for Habermas (2006: 15). Engagement of individual citizens as members of religious communities in public life is however considered to be fraught with challenges. Indeed, there exists considerable reservation in the literature in respect of the contributions of members of religious communities in public debates. Assertions made in the literature related to the participation of Muslims in national life, coalesce on the point that the Muslim community is involved in a process of withdrawing from national life, specifically as it pertains to religiously partial Muslims. This is argued in particular regarding institutions where Islamic education is offered, notwithstanding the fact that secular education may also be offered (Dangor 2005; Fataar 2005; Niehaus 2008; Ramadan 2004; Tayob 2011; Zehr 1999). Inclusion of secular education indicates that individuals in religious communities grasp that society continues to be secular. Thus, focusing on Islamic education at Deobandi institutions, this book undertakes to explore how one could conceptualise individuals’ engagement in the public sphere as members of religious communities.

This chapter develops a framework for identifying and describing religious doctrines. Chapter One, following John Rawls, illustrates that an overlapping consensus affirmed through comprehensive doctrines to which individuals subscribe would be effective for public sphere engagement in plural societies. From this perspective the foundation of social cooperation is...

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