The Mythmaking of Divine Violence: Revisiting Benjamin’s Critique in an Age of Apocryphal Caliphates by: Gianni Izzo

Document Type : Original Article


This essay examines the common identification of violence by taking Walter Benjamin’s critique as a keystone to understanding how it is used as a device for abstracting its casual nexus of social and political indignities. From the modern Muslim perspectives of Ali Shariati and Ayatollah Mutahhari, an attempt at uncoupling mythic from divine violence is made where the later, without the guarantees and protection of the totalizing juridical systems of the former, is experienced as a politics of tribulation. At today’s critical historical juncture of self-declared caliphates, mythic excesses point to a breaking out of the abstraction spell and a return to the “scalar” qualities of Islam. When effective, divine violence inheres with a potent quality of orientation that can be an effective mode in resisting the ideological edifices that sustain state repression, including those proclaimed as being Islamic.