Abdennour Bidar
Existentialist Islam as intercultural translation
in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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This chapter explores the work of French philosopher Abdennour Bidar. Via his publications, scholarly articles and media interventions, Bidar attempts to sketch out the contours of what he calls a twenty-first century Muslim existentialism. Muslim existentialism emerges from what Bidar calls un islam sans soumission. Islam or Islamic belief without submission is premised on a profound desire for freedom of conscience, expression and dissent. Prior to his work on the notion of Islam without submission, Bidar also developed the term self Islam with reference to European citizens of Muslim heritage, the majority of whom choose to define their own diverse relationships to Islam on their own terms. Bidar’s approach can be described as a project of cultural translation, whereby he can be regarded as a cultural mediator who seeks to productively confront non-Western and Western concepts of religion, spirituality, modernity and humanism. His work, which places him at the intersections of the academic world, the media and the political arena, makes him a particularly interesting figure through which to investigate the circulation of narratives concerning French Muslims and their diverse relationships to secularism.

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