Leïla Babès
Spirituality, affect and women
in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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This chapter will demonstrate why Babès’ contributions are significant, in that they go well beyond the almost obsessive nature of French public debates regarding so-called ‘Islamic dress’ – the ‘external’ face of Islam, with the associated anxieties about women’s bodies and their outward appearances – to contemplate the ‘interiority’ and lived experience of Islam, a narrative which runs counter to political constructions or dominant discursive frameworks of Islam as a monolithic entity in contemporary France. Her work seeks to articulate a nuanced knowledge of Islam with an approach that examines the spiritual lives of Muslims, particularly in contemporary France. One finds throughout her work (in the form of monographs, essays, media interviews and blogs) a consistent interest in three aspects of Islam: what Babès refers to as la foi, le rite and la loi, that is, faith, rituals (practices) and religious law.

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