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Miriam Kurz: "Lowering the Gaze, Shaping Desires"

A Perspective on Islamic Masculinity in Germany

Muslims in the UK and Europe III

Muslims in the UK and Europe III



This paper examines a set of mosque lectures delivered by a German imam, outlining an
ideal of Islamic masculinity which is based on the exercise of “practices of the self” (Foucault)
working on a mental, bodily, and emotional level. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s
understanding of morality, Aristotle’s conception of ethics and habitus formation, and
Monique Scheer’s work on emotional practices, the article shows how this imam envisions
his audience to achieve long-term changes in their emotional dispositions and thus to
strengthen their faith and compliance with Islamic gender-specific norms of conduct. The
article uses the lowering of the gaze as a central bodily technique and analyses it in its
function for the overall project of ethical self-formation. I argue that the imam in question
considers emotions as objects of conscious and reflexive teaching and training. Extending
the existing scholarship on Islamic piety, the paper pays particular attention to the gendered
nature of self-formation. It inquires into the relational dimension of masculinities within
social power structures, while engaging with Raewyn Connell’s concept of “hegemonic





  • Kurz, Miriam. 2017. "Lowering the Gaze, Shaping Desires: A Perspective on Islamic Masculinity in Germany,” in Anderson, Paul and Hargreaves, Julian (eds), Muslims in the UK and Europe III, Cambridge: Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge, pp. 36-47