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The Trace of GodDerrida and Religion$
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Edward Baring and Peter E. Gordon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262090

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262090.001.0001

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Called to Bear Witness

Called to Bear Witness

Derrida, Muslims, and Islam

(p.88) Called to Bear Witness
The Trace of God

Anne Norton

Fordham University Press

Derrida’s later work is marked by an apparent hostility to Islam.  Derrida claimed that Islam was “the other of democracy.”  He supported the coup that forestalled the likely victory of Algerian Islamists in democratic elections, arguing for the idea of democratic autoimmunity.Though he freely acknowledged his debts to Judaism and Christianity, he insisted on his distance from Islam, the Muslim philosophic tradition, and Arabic.  Yet five times a day for the first nineteen years of his life Derrida heard the Muslim call to prayer, the adhan, sound over the city.  Derrida is often seen in and through the figure of the Marrano, but what is concealed in his work is not Judaism but Islam.This chapter contends that the concerns recorded and recited in the adhan are inscribed in Derrida’s philosophy, most notably in the imperative to bear witness, and that Derrida’s work obliquely acknowledges the costs of exclusion of the Muslim.  Reading Derrida conscious of the hidden Muslim, the phantom friend, re-opens the possibilities of democracy for Muslims, and for all the Abrahamic faiths.

Keywords:   Islamc, Muslim, Democracy, Autoimmunity, Bearing Witness

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