This article situates the emergent political discourse of tolerance in the broader post-9/11 geopolitical context, wherein the ideal of tolerance has been embraced by both the West and the Muslim world as an antidote to the global problem of terrorism.
I suggest that Gulf tolerance initiatives are best understood in terms of a broader politics of representation that coheres around the promotion of ‘moderate Islam’, and that in the context of what has been described as the Western ‘civilisational discourse’ of tolerance, Muslim-majority countries are responding with a civilisational discourse of their own.
Through a focus on moral narratives that cohere around understandings of emotion, I suggest that the careful aversion to displays, or indeed claims, of overt emotional experience in Mayapur is best understood by treating emotions as sites of moral self-cultivation.
Whereas the anthropology of emotions has tended to privilege temporal episodes of rupture, I argue that more attention needs to be paid to how emotions are conceived and managed in the context of broader sustained projects of self-transformation.
Since the early 1970s, the small town of Mayapur in West Bengal has been home to a multinational Gaudiya Vaishnava community of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) devotees, popularly known as the Hare Krishnas.
Although the land of Mayapur is understood to be sacred and therefore conducive to spiritual life, devotees often struggle with the practices and prohibitions that are deemed indispensable for their salvation.
I argue that efforts to manage religious diversity are informed by notions of protection and segregation, as can be identified both in Islamic historical precedents, and in the state's broader response to its developmental dilemma.In other words, they inhabit the moral system by failing well.This article contributes to recent debates in the ethical turn that center on the twin problems of identifying and locating ethics.For more than a decade, Qatar has hosted annual interfaith conferences on themes such as ‘Steps Towards Tolerance’.Oman and Bahrain have been prominent advocates, pursuing their respective tolerance agendas through academic publications, travelling delegations, exhibitions and international conferences.
The small Gulf state of Qatar is today home to as many Christians, and as many Hindus, as it is Qatari citizens, making it one of the most religiously diverse states in the Middle East.