Positive history and sacred history

Dominique Avon, « Histoire positive et histoire sacrée autour de la pensée de Louis Massignon » in Cahiers d’étude du religieux 16 (2016).

Louis Massignon (1883‒1962) was one of the famous orientalists during the first part of the 20th c. His PHD was based on the life of a mystic Muslim, Manṣūr al-Ḥallāj (c. 858‒922), who was prosecuted and executed. Three factors explain his influence. First, his erudition combined with an exceptional strength of work which insured him to stay at the top of the discipline. Second, his connexion with the diplomatic services, which warranted him a political support. Third, his capacity to create a new path within the Catholic Church in which he became as much famous as contested. Some of his publications are meaningful of a specific conception in religious sciences. As the example of the “Seven Sleepers of Ephesus” will show, he rejected some results of exegesis or archaeological researches, in the name of a common word crossing religious traditions.

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Islam und Muslime im europäischen Kontext

Dominique Avon, « Islam und Muslime im europäischen Kontext. Reden eines medienwirksamen Menschen (1993‒2013) : Tariq Ramadan », in: Sabine Schmitz et Tuba Isik (dir.), Muslimische Identitäten in Europa. Dispositive im gesellschaftlichen Wandel, Transcript, Bielefeld, 2015, p. 267‒297.

Hezbollah

avon-hezbollah-enDominique Avon & Anaїs-Trissa Khatchadourian, Hezbollah: A history of the “Party of God” (translated by Jane Mary Todd), Harvard University Press, Harvard, 2012, 256 pages.

For thirty years, Hezbollah has played a pivotal role in Lebanese and global politics. That visibility has invited Hezbollah’s lionization and vilification by outside observers, and at the same time has prevented a clear-eyed view of Hezbollah’s place in the history of the Middle East and its future course of action. Dominique Avon and Anaïs-Trissa Khatchadourian provide here a nonpartisan account which offers insights into Hezbollah that Western media have missed or misunderstood.

Now part of the Lebanese government, Hezbollah nevertheless remains in tension with both the transnational Shiite community and a religiously diverse Lebanon. Calling for an Islamic regime would risk losing critical allies at home, but at the same time Hezbollah’s leaders cannot say that a liberal regime is the solution for the future. Consequently, they use the ambiguous expression “civil but believer state.”

What happens when an organization founded as a voice of “revolution” and then “resistance” occupies a position of power, yet witnesses the collapse of its close ally, Syria? How will Hezbollah’s voice evolve as the party struggles to reconcile its regional obligations with its religious beliefs? The authors’ analyses of these key questions—buttressed by their clear English translations of foundational documents, including Hezbollah’s open letter of 1985 and its 2009 charter, and an in-depth glossary of key theological and political terms used by the party’s leaders—make Hezbollah an invaluable resource for all readers interested in the future of this volatile force.

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