Religious rules and thick description: some thoughts from the anthropology of Islam

Morgan Clarke
2022 Suomen Antropologi  
The recent anthropology of ethics has sought to look beyond rules to themes such as the cultivation of the virtuous self. Anthropology generally has grown impatient with what Bourdieu called 'the fallacies of the rule' as a key term for describing the social. But rules remain a crucial dimension of ethical practice in many contexts, including religious ones. This article focuses on British Muslim conceptions and practice of the religious rules of Islam in order to highlight the complexity,
more » ... sity, and subtlety of everyday practices of rule-following. Sticking to the rules, even in the non-Muslim majority setting of the UK, is important to many, although what it means to follow the rules and how to do so are not always straightforward. By going beyond stereotypes of 'mere' 'rigid' rules, blindly followed or boldly evaded, I demonstrate both the necessity and the possibility of a thicker description of religious rules. Keywords: Rules; piety; ethics; morality; Islam; Shia; sharia
doi:10.30676/jfas.115500 fatcat:r2pmvjfrgzgjlglpy7pccoeima