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(Im)Piety: Islam, Pious Sinning and Regulated Transgressions


Much has been written about Islamic piety from anthropological and sociological perspectives. However, Islamic impiety has yet to be theorised, which is interesting given how widespread it is in Muslim-majority countries. This article argues that it is essential to examine and theorise impiety because the lives of believers constitute pious and impious experiences. However, the central argument of this paper is not that theorising impiety alongside piety is essential for understanding Muslim communities. Instead, pious and impious experiences are only sometimes easily distinguishable. This is to say, piety and impiety do not exist on separate planes of social experience and behaviour. In other words, it is not necessarily the case that certain practices and behaviours are demonstrably pure forms of impiety, even when they contradict Islamic orthodoxy and mainstream standards of pious behaviour. Instead, the article suggests that pious nuances may exist in the most impious practices and behaviours, which I call (im)piety.


Islam, Piety, Impiety, Negotiation, Transgression, Sin



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