Panel 7: Script, Text and Practice

Udo Simon, Frankfurt/Jan Scholz, Heidelberg

Religious practice refers to schemes of action, the basis of which is usually formed by texts or by a stock of knowledge of religious experts. To varying degrees the (pre)scripts allow for different realisations. The performance often goes beyond the script.

Different realisations of (pre-)scripts and the implied communications refer to religious attitudes, lines of tradition and theological concepts on the one hand, on the other – and not less importantly – to the life world (Lebenswelt) of religious actors, as well. The latter can become virulent particularly in cases where cultural or social imprints (such as aesthetic preferences or consumer buying habits) stemming from supposedly non-religious spheres contribute to the shaping of religious practice. Ritual variations can occur particularly where practices are transferred from one geographical and/or socio-cultural context to another. The transfer does not necessarily lead to variation, it can also emphasise the strictest observance of the prescript. But also in cases where the practice persists unchanged, frequently explanations and interpretations change over time.

This panel focuses on the variance of religious practice in Islam, the performative realisation of such variants and on the connected processes of reflections and negotiation from the point of view of the actor’s agency, the framing, the religious language, the aesthetic dimension, the dimension of experience and the attribution of meaning. Particular emphasis will be placed on the criticism of ritual practice, which challenges counter-arguments legitimizing the criticized practice.