Conversion, ritual, and Islam

Two nice quotes here from Rebecca Sachs Norris, from her article 'Converting to What?' which is in The Anthrpology of Religious Conversion (eds. Buckser and Glazier, 2003).

“Converts bring pre-existing ideas and experiences to terms and concepts of the adopted tradition, affecting their understanding of those ideas” (177).

“Americans are very concerned with things being real, and ritual is often suspect because it is seen as insincere or empty” (ibid. 176).

Why are these important insights? The first one because Islamic Christianity has a very certain flavor to it. The way that MBB's approach the Bible has often been described as (not surprisingly) the way that Muslims read the Qur'an, as a uni-dimensional text that does not require any sort of systematic analysis or interpretation.

Similarly, one finds patterns of leadership from the Islamic context brought over into the new context of Islamic Christianity.

But there is also discontinuity--most IC congregations use music in their worship, whereas the standard mosque would use chanting, but not music.

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