A conspicuous feature of the discourse on the boyāt-phenomenon in the Gulf countries is the prevalence of the Qur'ānic term fi ra [primordial nature]. This article seeks to elucidate why this might be the case. After highlighting theological lines of reasoning suggesting that this primordial fi ra can be 'damaged' and 'obstructed,' it focuses on contemporary usages of the term. It contends that references to fi ra often occur in the context of negotiation of or struggle against unwanted social-cultural transformations and as such can express indignation about the status quo. Considering that many contemporary usages of the term not only are a reflection on the influx of 'things foreign' that threaten 'things authentic,' but also belabor the notion of a 'natural' cosmic order, they often seem to serve the goals of several forms of conservative identity politics.
- Gulf states
- Muslim identity
- political Islamism
- social-cultural transformation