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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 Six: Religious ethic as comprehensive doctrine: Engaging in the post-secular public sphere

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CHAPTER SIX

Religious ethic as comprehensive doctrine: Engaging in the post-secular public sphere

6.1  Introduction

This book has sought to conceptualise how individuals engage in the public sphere as members of religious communities. It commenced with a tension; on the one hand the presence of religious communities in society is recognised, while on the other hand individuals’ association with religious institutions is considered to have a marginalising effect in public life. In the face of empirical evidence that individuals wanted to engage in the public sphere as members of religious communities, John Rawls’s construct comprehensive doctrines was proposed as a useful way to conceptualise this.

Rawls asserts that plurality is a social fact involving individuals subscribing to contradictory world views or comprehensive doctrines. He further states that individuals cannot be expected to forego their comprehensive doctrines. Instead these can contribute to an overlapping consensus of common values in the public sphere. This means that individuals can agree on a principle of justice as fairness, for example, while subscribing to varying, even contradictory, reasons or foundations for the principle.

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