Abdul Hamid El-Zein è un antropologo, egiziano e musulmano, morto nel 1979 a soli 45 anni. Due anni prima di morire El-Zein pubblica un articolo, Beyond Ideology and Theology, in cui sostiene che l’oggetto di studio dell’antropologia dell’Islam -l'”Islam”, quello di Geertz, Crapanzano, Gilsenan e lo stesso Eickelman- non esiste:
[W]e have been treating analyses of Islam which accept as fundamental the existence of “Islam,” “religion,” “economy,” “politics,” and even “saints,” whose relation to each other within a given culture may vary, but whose existential “truth” is not subject to question. The goal of such analysis then becomes one of finding the “essence” of things at hand and the kind of connection which seems best to explain how these things work in a “cultural system.”
But what if each analysis of Islam […] were to begin from the assumption that “Islam,” “economy,” “history,” “religion” and so on do not exist as things or entities with meaning inherent in them, but rather as articulations of structural relations, and are the outcome of these relations and not simply a set of positive terms from which we start our studies? In this case, we have to start from the “native’s” model of “Islam” and analyze the relations which produce its meaning. Beginning from this assumption, the system can be entered and explored in depth from any point, for there are no absolute discontinuities anywhere within it-there are no autonomous entities and each point within the system is ultimately accessible from every point. In this view there can be no fixed and wholly isolable function of meaning attributed to any basic unit of analysis, be it symbol, institution, or process, which does not impose an artificial order on the system from the outside. That is, the orders of the system and the nature of its entities are the same-the logic of the system is the content of the system in the sense that each term, each entity within the system, is the result of structural relations between others, and so on, neither beginning nor ending in any fixed, absolute point. The logic of such a system, the logic of culture, is immanent within the content and does not exist without it.
Mi chiedo cosa avrebbe pensato di alcuni approcci moderni. Che so, l’interventismo suino di Calderoli, la storia della sessualità della Santanché, l’imperialismo islamico di Gheddafi etc.
*Leggi il “coccodrillo accademico” di Dale Eickelman.