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Caged in on the OutsideMoral Subjectivity, Selfhood, and Islam in Minangkabau, Indonesia$
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Gregory M. Simon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838300

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838300.001.0001

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Being Muslim Subjects

Being Muslim Subjects

Essential Tensions and the Promise of Transcendence

(p.170) 6 Being Muslim Subjects
Caged in on the Outside

Gregory M. Simon

University of Hawai'i Press

The tensions of moral subjectivity in Minangkabau society clash with the totalizing demands and promises of transcendence made by conceptions of Islam and its ethical practices. Shalat, the ritual of the daily prayers, crystallizes the tension between integration and autonomy, promising its transcendence. However, in confronting the enduring tensions of multidimensional selfhood, shalat sometimes leads to distressing experiences of failure. The engagement with shalat thus does not determine moral subjectivity, but reflects attempts to transcend stubbornly enduring tensions of human selfhood that have become the focus of Minangkabau and Islamic discourses. Given the impossibility of transcendence, notions of belief in Islam are employed in West Sumatra as a way of maintaining Islamic selfhood in the face of ambiguously Islamic practices and experiences. By locating Islamic identity within the self, these notions also provide an alternative to a fundamentalist impulse to overcome that impossibility by attempting to transform the world.

Keywords:   subjectivity, Islam, ethics, autonomy, shalat, ritual, self, belief, fundamentalism, Minangkabau

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