Approaching Religion 2022-06-14T09:38:09+03:00 Donner Institute Open Journal Systems <p><em>Approaching Religion</em> is an academic open access journal published by the Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History in Åbo, Finland.</p> Editorial 2022-05-14T09:35:34+03:00 Susanne Olsson Simon Sorgenfrei <p>Editorial for Vol. 12, Issue 2</p> 2022-06-14T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Susanne Olsson, Simon Sorgenfrei ISKCON and intelligent design 2022-01-03T15:01:10+02:00 Måns Broo <p class="p1">Bhaktivedanta Swami (1896–1977), the founder of ISKCON, had a complex relationship with science and modernity, and many of his followers have consequently allied themselves with various kinds of critiques of the modern project. A favourite enemy has been Darwin’s theory of evolution. This article undertakes a close reading of the book <em>Rethinking Darwinism</em>, written by a Danish member of the society, Leif A. Jensen, and published by the movement’s official publishing house, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in 2010. Contextualising the book within the history of ISKCON’s relationship with science, the article asks what the motivations for challenging Darwin here are, how it is done, and what the consequences of it are for a movement often taken to be a fundamentalist one.</p> 2022-06-14T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Måns Broo Soft charisma as an impediment to fundamentalist discourse 2022-01-24T10:46:58+02:00 Karen Swartz Olav Hammer <p class="p1">The Anthroposophical Society in Sweden is, in the view of many of its members, going through tough times. Times of crisis and the search for a collective identity often inspire the formation of ideological rifts within a larger religious community. One way of responding to challenges is by turning to doctrines and texts stemming from a purportedly pristine past for guidance – in other words, by developing a fundamentalist discourse. A striking fact about the Anthroposophical Society, in Sweden as well as internationally, is that such returns to a set of canonical texts by the founder of the movement appear to be self-defeating. There are deeply rooted structural features within the Anthroposophical Society as an institution that impede any one voice from gaining significant traction and imposing a collective identity upon the movement. This article uses the example of the Anthroposophical Society in Sweden and the conundrum it repeatedly faces when addressing a perceived crisis in order to formulate a model of charismatic leadership that more generally accounts for the lack of success of fundamentalist discourses in religious movements with certain types of organisational culture.</p> 2022-06-14T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Karen Swartz, Olav Hammer Chabad on Ice 2022-01-11T11:59:55+02:00 Mercédesz Viktória Czimbalmos Riikka Tuori <p class="p1">The article examines the Finnish branch of Chabad Lubavitch as a fundamentalist and charismatic movement that differs from other branches of ultra-Orthodox Judaism in its approaches to outreach to non-observant Jews. Whilst introducing the history of Chabad Lubavitch in Finland and drawing on historical and archival sources, the authors locate the movement in a contemporary context and draw on 101 semi-structured qualitative interviews of members of the Finnish Jewish communities, who either directly or indirectly have been in contact with representatives of Chabad Finland. The material is examined through the theoretical concept of ‘vicarious religion’. As the results of the article show, whilst Chabad very much adheres to certain fundamentalist approaches in Jewish religious practice, in Finland they follow a somewhat different approach. They strongly rely on people’s sense of Jewish identification and Jewish identity. Individuals in the community ‘consume’ Chabad’s activities vicariously, ‘belong without believing’ or ‘believe in belonging’ but do not feel the need to apply stricter religious observance. Whilst many of them are critical of Chabad and their activities, they do acknowledge that Chabad fills the ‘gaps’ in and outside the Jewish Community of Helsinki, predominantly by creating new activities for some of its members.</p> 2022-06-14T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Mercédesz Viktória Czimbalmos, Riikka Tuori ‘One of the most important questions that human beings have to understand’ 2022-01-28T14:32:03+02:00 Susanne Olsson Jonas Svensson <p class="p1">In the present article, the authors argue that the study of Salafism as a contemporary Islamic new religious movement could benefit from an analytical perspective separating fundamentalism into the modes of inferentialism and deferentialism. The basics of these concepts are outlined and discussed in relation to different aspects of contemporary Salafism as well as in relation to previous tendencies in Islamic history. As a case study, the authors employ the concept in an analysis of a contemporary Swedish Salafi discourse on the ‘wiping of the (leather) socks’ in the context of ritual purity. The authors argue that the concept of ‘deferential fundamentalism’ has a potential in the study of Salafism in that it allows for comparative analysis, both cross-religiously and diachronically, in contextualising Salafism historically. It also allows for an analysis of Salafi thought and practice in relation to theories of how human beings in general process social information.</p> 2022-06-14T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Susanne Olsson, Jonas Svensson Salafi Sufism? 2021-12-27T09:22:11+02:00 Simon Sorgenfrei Simon Stjernholm <p class="p1">The aim of this article is to analyse a local expression of the transnational Ahbash Sufi movement in light of recent scholarship on the relationship between Salafism and Sufism as well as Islamic neo-traditionalism. Some researchers have reacted against a dichotomous relationship between fundamentalism and Sufism, instead suggesting a continuum and a mutual interdependence. We aim to contribute to a developed understanding of the process whereby some Sufi actors go on the attack against their Islamic foes by publicly and loudly claiming to represent ‘true Islam’ as found in the ‘fundamentals’ of Islam – but with a different understanding of what those fundamentals are. We analyse a series of interviews with a local representative of the transnational Ahbash Sufi movement in Malmö, Sweden; the Ahbash movement has its central leadership in Lebanon. Through discussing the representative’s understanding of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ <em>bid<span class="s1">ʿ</span>a</em>, in particular concerning the celebration of the prophet Muhammad’s birthday (<em>mawlid al-nabi</em>), we note a combined emphasis on authoritative textual sources – including the Qur<span class="s1">ʾ</span>an and hadith literature – and the allegedly unbroken traditional knowledge transmission which secures a correct understanding of Islam. This shows an ambiguous space of Islamic thought and practice, an arguably Salafi-affected neo-traditionalist defense of Sufism, which transgresses commonly employed dichotomies between Salafism and Sufism.</p> 2022-06-14T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Simon Sorgenfrei, Simon Stjernholm