Modern religion as a set of institutionalized beliefs and practices is a development on the devotional elements of oral narratives and narrativized history which have been passed down from one generation to the next. This is as relevant to scriptural religions as non-scriptural ones. Over the course of time, however, the relationship between the sacred and the literary has become obscure to the point of being accused as blasphemous. Revered characters and stories of wisdom literatures (oral and written) have been claimed by one or another religious group and made into canonical history. Among the many consequences of this canonization, two are worth noting for the purpose of this discussion: first, they have become religious artefacts whose worth have ceased to exist except as part of a rote religious memory. Second, considering them as products of divine or ancestral creativity or historical events of unmatched significance, the notions of religious creativity are thought to be non-existent for worshippers in this age. I argue that fictional re-contextualization of these traditional metaphors can lead to a more integrative approach to understanding lived religious experiences. De-shelving these religious artefacts and re-shelving them as metaphorical wisdom of the present age can be seen as both a form of commemorative worship whereby sacred is integrated in everyday life and an attempt to make the religiously-exclusive a world heritage. My case studies will include novels written by contemporary Muslim Anglophone writers that reimagine religious names and themes in ahistorical scenarios and impart knowledge for modern readers.
Religion, Literature, Devotion, Anglophone, Muslim, Fiction, Integration, Socialization, World Heritage
Religious Community and Socialization
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
I have always believed in and learned to deepen my understanding of the world I inhabit through a humanistic approach, mainly by reading literature. What makes literature meaningful for me is its reflecive nature as a product of human creativity (Afterall critical pursuit is at the same time a critical one). Another experience of immense value to me is my religious upbringing as an Ismaili Muslim, a minoritarian Muslim group living in disaporas across the world. I enjoy and strive to bring the two together, not so literally as philosophically, and to let my academic and personal insight into both guide me towards undertaking researches beneficial to the contemporary social and religio-political situation at large. I intend to pursue a doctorate in world literature and to see the commonalities and cultural specificities of ancient wisdom literatures.