Religionen als Weichensteller der Geschichte? Die Verschaltung von Religion und Kapitalismus

Vortrag gehalten am 12. April an der Volkshochschule Tübingen

Was hat Kapitalismus mit Religion zu tun?  Ist es tatsächlich denkbar, daß die Religion des stallgeborenen Tischlers aus Betlehem ursächlich für die Entstehung des modernen Kapitalismus mitverantwortlich zu machen ist? Oder daß die Religion der  Nächstenliebe sich zu einer ideologische Stütze des Systems gnadenloser Konkurrenz gemananias und saphiraausert hat?

Zunächst spricht einiges dagegen – nicht zuletzt die heiligen Schriften. Hier ein Beispiel aus dem Neuen Testament [Apostel 5, 1-11] .  Das Ehepaar Ananias und Saphira hat seine Felder verkauft – und die Regeln der urchristlichen Gemeinschaft verlangen, daß sie den Erlös an die Gemeinde abgeben. Aber sie halten etwas von dem Geld zurück. Apostel Petrus durchschaut Ananias, konfrontiert ihn mit seiner Unehrlichkeit, bezichtigt ihn, Gott selbst betrogen zu haben. Und Ananias fällt auf der Stelle tot um. Seine Frau Saphira kommt später hinzu, wiederholt die Lüge – und sie erleidet das gleiche Schicksal: Tod als Strafe für den Versuch der Kapitalbildung.

weiterlesen

 

Advertisements

Never the same – an opening line from Ernst Bloch on Islamic philosophy

Having just got Ernst Bloch’s short book on Avicenna and the Aristotelian Left from the library, I do feel for his translators… how do you render das Gescheite? It would be “clever”, but that doesn’t really capture it. I’ve put in “wise” instead, but while “clever” is too mundane, “wise” is too aloof. The virtuosity of Bloch’s style lies in the ability to maintain the link that connects the bright and clever kid with the old sage, the involvement in everyday matters and the view down on the world from the mouth of a mountain cave. The same goes for his way of expressing that Islamic thinkers have preserved and renewed Greek thought. Here I went for the mundane (fit for purpose) – but losing the very nice allusion of tüchtig (fit, able, competent) to seetüchtig (seaworthy) – enlightenment fit to travel round the world in search for new practical applications.

Nie das Gleiche

Alles Gescheite mag schon siebenmal gedacht worden sein. Aber wenn es wieder gedacht wurde, in anderer Zeit und Lage, war es nicht mehr dasselbe. Nicht nur sein Denker, sondern vor allem das zu Bedenkende hat sich unterdes geändert.Das Gescheite hat sich daran neu und selber als Neues zu bewähren. Was besonders folgenreich bei den großen morgenländischen Denkern der Fall war. Sie haben das griechische Licht zugleich gerettet und anders tüchtig gemacht.

Never the same

Everything wise may well have been already thought out seven times before. But when it was being thought again, in a different place and at a different time, it no longer remained the same. Not only the person who thinks it, but first and foremost the considered thing itself had changed in the meantime. In dealing with it, the wise thought must prove itself anew, and as itself being new. This was the case with the great thinkers of the Orient. They have rescued the Greek light and at the same time made it fit differently for different purposes.

Ernst Bloch, Avicenna und die Aristotelische Linke, Düsseldorf: Progress-Verlag Johann Fladung, 1960, p.5

Sufi consumerism?

Varul, Matthias Zick (2013): The Sufi ethics and the spirits of consumerism: A preliminary suggestion for further research, in: Marketing Theory, Vol.13, no.4, pp.505-512

Abstract

In this speculative comment I will suggest that, in analogy with Colin Campbell’s argument regarding the Romantic Ethic and the spirit of modern consumerism, there isprima facie evidence that there is also an elective affinity between Sufi-infused Islamic religiosity and the emergent Muslim consumerisms, particularly in Turkey and among Turkish (and Kurdish) diasporas in Europe. The main relevant features of Sufi spirituality in this context are identified as continuous creation, creative imagination and longing.

pre-publication open access version

Sufi dream cinema

In my previous post I was apologetic about reducing Sufi spirituality to cinematic experience –  but probably I shouldn’t feel too guilty about this given that cinema as form of creative imagination can reach quite high levels of subtlety, so that Sufi writer and critic Sadık Yalsızuçanlar not only elevates directors such as Akira Kurosawa and Andrei Tarkowsky to the status of honorary Sufi masters, but considers the comparison between Said Nursi’s writings and Steven Spielberg’s films as a compliment to both – creators of dream cinema (rüya sineması)

  ‘Bediüzzaman’ın “Sekizinci Söz”ünü hep bir Spielberg prodüksüyonu olarak düşlüyordum. Adamın biri çölde gezinirken karşısına ansızın vahşi bir arslan çıkıyordu. N’olup bittiğini anlayamadan bir kuyuya düşüyordu. Altmış arşın derinliğindeki kuyunun dibinde bir canavar ağzını açmış bekliyordu. Düşerken tutunduğu ağacın köklerini siyah ve beyaz iki fare kemirmekteydi. Yukarda arslan, aşağıda ejderha, her dakika biraz daha kemirilen ağacın budağı… Buna rağmenher türden meyvanın fışkırdığı görkemli ağaca bakan adam onları yemekten de geri durmuyordu. Tolstoy’un itiraflarına da aldığı – ve eski bir şark masalı dediği – öyküdeki siyah-beyaz farelerin gece ve gündüz olduğunu, arslanın “yokluk”u, canavarın “ölüm”ü simgelediıni, altmış arşının ortalama insan ömrüne tekabül ettiğini ve “meyve”lerin dünya nimetleri olarak anlaşılması gerektiğini Üstad Said Nursi’den öğrenecektim. Sözler, bu türden rüya sinopsisleriyle örülmüştü. Kiminin Beybeda, kiminin Mevlana, kiminin de anonim mahreçli olduğu öykülerde soyut bir anlatım dilinin tüm imkanları kullanılmaktaydı. Bediüzzaman’ın otantik referansları şark-islam klasikleriydi. Öyküler gerçeğin ta kendisiydi ve sonuç yine rüya sinemasıydı.’ (Yalsızuçanlar 1997: 13f.)

Yalsızuçanlar, Sadık (1997): Düş, Gerçeklik ve Sinema, İstanbul: İz Yayıncılik

Sufi urbanism – Rumi and Marx against the idiocy of rural life…

One of the starting points of my interest in the possible linkages between Sufism and commercial culture was Sultan Veled’s couplet on how the soul becomes ‘a city, a market, a shop‘. Sufism is a thoroughly urban, cosmopolitan phenomenon – The notion that Sufism is a mere expression of rural “folk” Islam is a myth, as Martin van Bruinessen (2008) points out. The role of urbanity in the development of Anatolian Sufism (and possibly the role of Sufism in the development of Turkish urbanity) has been emphasised by Hülya Küçük in her paper on Sufi influences in Konya. Celaleddin Rumi seems to have anticipated Marx’s aversion against what he called, in the Communist Manifesto, the ‘idiocy of rural life’ – though evidently without the Orientalist twist that Marx puts on it:

‘“We are like a pair of compasses: One foot on the Religion of Islam, / the other is wandering around the seventy-two nations.” – This couplet shows that, Rūmī was not afraid of contact with other cultures. In fact the later couplet made him, in the words of a monk mourning his death, a “sun” everyone needs or “bread” that no one can live without. This couplet also demonstrates empathy, a necessary element for urban living and for globalization. In fact, all Sufi orders teach their adherents to have empathy, for empathy enhances solidarity among members. Here it should be reminded that Rūmī always favored urban life and likened rural life to “living in a grave” When he says: “Do not go to the country: the country makes a fool man, it makes the intellect void of light and splendour. O chosen one! Hear the Prophet saying: “To dwell in the country is the grave of the intellect.” If any one stay in the country a single day and evening, his intellect will not be fully restored in a month.”’ (Küçük 2007: 249)

What links Sufism to commercial culture, urban civilisation and globalisation is the creative imagination that sees the world as full of opportunities. Like the empathy seen as a core element of the commercial culture by Adam Smith (Sznaider 2000: 15)  this is not just a skill that helps the city dweller to find their way with people, to trade with them so as to secure their own existence, but also engenders an ethos of tolerant solidarity that can be the starting point of a critique of at least aspects of that same commercial culture.

Bruinessen, Martin van (2008): ‘Sufism, “Popular” Islam and the Encounter with Modernity’, in: Khalid Masud/Armando Salvatore/Martin van Bruinessen (eds): Islam and Modernity: Key Issues and Debates, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp.125-57

Küçük, Hülya (2007): ‘Dervishes Make a City: The Sufi Culture in Konya’, in: Critque: Critical Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.16, No.3, pp.241-53

Sznaider, Natan (2000): The Compassionate Temperament, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield