| Call for Papers | Workshop Mainsite |

for the Workshop:

South-South linkages in Islam. Translocal agents, ideas, lifeworlds (19th and 20th centuries)

Centre for Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin
5th and 6th November 2004


Mona Abaza (American University, Cairo): Asia imagined by the Arabs

In 1938, Taha Husayn, the then Dean of Arabic culture who was already considered as one of the most significant intellectuals of Egypt´s renaissance and liberal age published a posthumous work ´The Future of Culture in Egypt´. It was written in the period when the Anglo-Egyptian treaty which officially ended the occupation was signed. It marked a new epoch in national life. There were serious hopes among nationalists in changing the world. The opening chapters start with an intriguing question, namely, is Egypt belonging to the East, or the Orient - (the Arabic word al-Sharq entails the two meanings) - or the West (al-gharb) ? ... Is the Egyptian mind oriental in its perception and judgement over matters ? Briefly said, what is easier for an Egyptian. Would he better understand a Japanese and a Chinese, or a French and Englishman ? In raising such a question Husayn wanted to convey the message that Egypt belonged indeed, at that time to the Western rather than the Eastern world. Egypt belonged to the culture and civilisation of the Greek Roman Mediterranean world. For Husayn, there were two fundamentally different civilisations that which derives from Greek philosophy and art, Roman law and the morals of Christianity and that which derived from India. Egypt according to Husayn belonged to the Greek-Roman civilisation.
This paper will look at how 'Asia' is imagined by Arab intellectuals. It will look at travel accounts (Anees Mansur and Hussein Fawzi's two travels to India). It will also survey the Southeast Asian research Institutes in the Middle East and the production of knowledge from Arabs on . 'Asia' will include Iran and how the Iranian revolution was perceived by Arab intellectuals, India, Japan and Southeast Asia.

Dr. Jillali El Adnani (Université d'Agadir): Saintes et majdûbâtes: modèle et contre modèle d'une sainteté féminine

Peu de travaux ont été consacrés à ce jour à la question de la sainteté féminine au Maroc. On peut citer évidemment les articles de H. Ferhat, F. Mernissi, et F. Reysoo. Hors du Maroc, on trouve les travaux de J. Clancy-Smith sur Lalla Zayneb en Algérie et surtout, en Tunisie, les publications de N. Amri et l'étude de K. Boissevin sur Saïda Manoubiya à Tunis. Pour l'Egypte, il y a le travail de Y. Raghib sur le culte de Sayyida Nafîssa. Les "classiques" de la littérature anthropologique et ethnographique, comme A. Mouliéras, E. Doutté et E. Westermark, n'ont retenu que quelques bribes de la sainteté de certaines femmes. Enfin, tout se passe comme si l'histoire du Maroc à la fin du XIXe siècle et au début du XXe siècle se ramenait à celle des confréries religieuses et des hommes, saints ou laïcs, capables de faire face à une pénétration étrangère.
Beaucoup de questions restent jusqu'à nos jours en suspens et méritent d'être traitées, depuis les fondements de la sainteté féminine jusqu'aux mécanismes et aux modes de production du discours hagiographique. La place qu'occupe la femme marocaine dans la sainteté est encore à définir. Comment la femme marocaine a-t-elle pu faire éclater le statut de soumission pour atteindre celui d'objet de vénération ?
Quel rapport y a-t-il entre les deux formes de religiosité qui se partagent le domaine de la sainteté féminine entre, d'une part les saintes femmes (sobres et agissant dans un cadre orthodoxe) et de l'autre, les majdûbâtes (libres et en contact permanent avec la foule) ? Quel rapport y a-t-il également entre ces deux formes de religiosité et la place attribuée de nos jours aux femmes agissant dans le cadre des associations féminines ?
La réponse à ces questions ne sera pas facile dans la mesure où le discours hagiographique, même le discours savant, conçoit la prodigalité des conduites féminines à partir d'une vision spiritualiste, selon laquelle la femme n'est considérée que comme un réceptacle où se déversent les bénédictions divines, ou comme un sujet soumis à d'éventuels châtiments.

Inès-Leïla Dakhli (University of Aix-en-Provence, Marseille): Se raconter avec les mots des autres? Production d’une littérature de l’intime et construction d’une histoire locale chez les intellectuels syro-libanais de la première moitié du XXe siècle

Studies of the intellectual and literary worlds in Syria and Lebanon have often stated that evolutions were based on themes and forms borrowed from the West, its literature and its culture, which were dominating at the time of colonial expansion. However, the analysis of literary genres and forms of writing at the beginning of the twentieth century would lead to a set of questions on the capacity of a generation to develop radically new means of expression within its own specific framework.
The expansion of autobiography, which I examine through my research, is an example of an "imported" genre developed in order to talk about local issues, express a point of view on one's world: Bilad al-Sham, with its family paths and its tiny family and social distinctions. It is no chance that a more individual-centred literature, dealing with personal paths and a questioning of the ego, emerges throughout the Nahda period. These texts set the way to define a national literature, with its authors and references.
Literary sources, or, more generally, an analysis of forms, enable us to understand broadly societies and their mechanisms. One can read through written texts, words, sentences and literary genres the points of view, the points of focus on social mechanisms during a given period. These sources enable us to access a society's " most minute " aspects, often through indirect means.
I therefore wish to propose a study of continuity and breaches in writing in order to focus specifically on the writing of national history and geography as the constitution of a national corpus. The texts written in 1910-1940 are those of intellectuals who belong to a broad area where they have friends, acquaintances and a culture they are familiar with. Their cultural environment goes well beyond the national space they build. As such, I will focus on the journeys of Amîn al-Rîhânî or Muhammad Kurd 'Ali. These explorations of their own territories as well as the rest of what is define as the Arab world define a common space which spills over the borders of Syria and Lebanon. The identification of locations defines a variety of national belongings, from their home villages to greater Arabia, without any actual contradiction between these two extreme conceptions of faithfulness. Amîn al-Rîhânî writes stories that take him all the way to Yemen, but bases them on the same model as stories focusing exclusively on the closest Lebanese mountains.
It seems to me that these texts, bordering the scientific will to give an account of a research enterprise and the literary will to build up epics through the life of heroes, must be studied within the framework of the constitution of a national memory. These writings generate "places of memory" (lieux de mémoire) shared by an emerging national community: literature, as well as army headquarters, draws borders. It creates monuments, becomes a monument in and of itself, invents its forerunners (al-Ma'arrî, al-Mutanabbî) and its days of commemoration (e.g. Martyrs' Day in Syria and Lebanon).
My understanding of these historical national writings is that they generate a form of nationalistic romanticism which deserves to be analysed in detail, through its processes, internal tensions and the images it generates as symbols for the emerging states. This study would enable us to understand how literature, through imagination, sensitivity, a specific language which is itself a construction of a common world, is the essential tool in the development of national imagination. As the common culture of the syro-lebanese intellectuals of the time is based on complexity and borrowed on many different sources, the landscape they invent and relate in their literary production is a vision of this complexity and multiplicity of exchanges.

Bettina Dennerlein (ZMO, Berlin): ‘Community of discourse’ vs. individuality of political experience? Moroccan contacts with and views on the Middle East in the age of reform

This paper looks at Moroccan perspectives on the heartland of the Ottoman Empire and Egypt as expressed in 19th century historiography. Focusing on the conjunction of political experience and religious discourse, it endeavors to contribute to a deeper understanding of translocal linkages in the Muslim Mediterranean. Current depictions of mutual perceptions and relations among Ottomans and Moroccans tend either to stress the importance of inner-Muslim solidarity or, on the contrary, to underline the significance of the religious and political competition between their respective rulers. As far as European sources from the colonial period are concerned, some clearly express fears of pan-Islamic activities and secret diplomacy encouraged by German agents, whereas others state the complete absence in Morocco of detailed information on Ottoman affairs and a general lack of interest in the subject. The aim of the paper is a more thorough reconstruction of Moroccan attitudes towards the Ottoman Empire and its Arab provinces both as potential competitors for regional religious and/or political hegemony and, at the same time, as spaces for experimentation or even models of administrative and military reform along European lines.

Michael E. Gasper (New York University): Neglect, moderation and excess: Islamic reform and the translocal roots of modern Egyptian identity

Self-critical commentary about Muslim "retardation" or "backwardness" became an increasingly ubiquitous part of intellectual exchange throughout the Muslim world in the 1870s. The Iranian reformer Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and his Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese and Indian devotees and disciples played a pivotal role in shaping the logic informing much of the analysis of the debilitating effects of backwardness and ignorance on Islam and Muslims.
My paper looks at how one of al-Afghani's major contributions to Islamic reform thought-his recasting the notions of neglect [tafrit] and excess [ifrat] into a blueprint for evaluating all modern religious, social, cultural and political phenomena-was deployed by others to represent social relations in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Egypt. Ultimately, I will argue that modern political and social identity in Egypt was not simply a reproduction of European-derived models as many have argued, but was also the product of local traditions and reform currents sweeping across the Muslim world.
In his reformulation of neglect [tafrit] al-Afghani collapsed together the idea of the "easterner" and the Muslim. Accordingly, a Muslim guilty of neglect rejected all things Islamic and "eastern" and uncritically adopted all things "western." Whereas, excess [ifrat] signified Muslims' stubborn obstinacy to hold on to received notions and customs regardless of their appropriateness for the era or whether or not they conformed to Islamic law. Cosmopolitan Muslims in Istanbul, Cairo, Damascus, Delhi, Tunisia and Lebanon taking their lead from al-Afghani fashioned new ideas about community and self by invoking the 'neglect-moderation-excess' equation.
In Egypt, religious reformers, journalists and social commentators in the nascent middle-classes explicated problems in agriculture, commerce and public health and evaluated social and political issues according to al-Afghani's 'neglect-moderation-excess' formulation. While they applied the same criteria to social relations by portraying the old regime's wealthy elite as "excessive", they concentrated the bulk of their energy in this regard on the neglectful ways of marginal social groups. For example, they explicated all manner of ills through elaborate descriptions of the backward religious practices of peasants and women. For them such neglect, passivity and ignorance not only explained religious deviancy, but was also to blame for Egypt's "inefficient" agricultural methods, its "oppressive" political structures and its subjection to non-Muslim outsiders.
My paper contextualizes one element of the complex of thought, activism and agitation often summarized under the rubric of Islamic reform. It traces connections between evolving conceptions of the Muslim self and Muslim community and notions of Egypt and Egyptian-ness. I avoid resorting to customary narratives of Egyptian history such as national awakening, modernization or the impact of the West. These genres often ignore or "anthropologize" remnants and fragments of other life-worlds with their own forms of historicity and traditions of knowledge. In conventional history writing, these "unruly elements" must somehow be translated into the universal story of the nation or the spread of capitalist modernity lest they unsettle the unity of these other stories.
My paper responds to Dipesh Chakrabarty's challenge for historians of colonialism and the post-colonial world to "provincialize" Europe by showing how modern social and political categories do not fully capture the experience of the non-west. My paper takes account of cultural expression that may not fit into conventional narratives of the "Literary Awakening" or of the "Nationalist Period." I include remnants and traces of other agendas that did not, and could not, be subsumed into the project of the nation. I present this research as one way to approach the emergence of political modernity in Egypt, with it I hope to open up the other approaches to the same question.

Eric Germain (IISMM, Paris): A South-South linkage: Australia and South Africa in an international Muslim network

This paper tracks the communication channels and agents between Muslim communities of South Africa and Australia. It brings to light a generation of translocal agents who developed an intense activity in the press from the last decade of the 19th century till the 1920's. Their ideas were framed by the local context of constructing the Muslim identity of an "alien" - despite being British subjects - and religiously prejudiced minority, but were also strongly influenced by the international network settled by the Liverpool Muslim Institute - established in 1887 - and reactivated by Lahori and Qadiani Ahmadi Missions. This set of relations is mapping quadrangular linkages between the two Southern diasporas, United Kingdom and the Indian subcontinent (including Afghanistan). The aim of this paper is to define the profile of actors of this interaction and to analyse its complex dynamics.

Dyala Hamzah (ZMO, Berlin): Assumptions of universality of a nineteenth-Century Egyptian scholar (Tārīh al-wazīr Muhammad ‘Alī of Khalīl ibn Ahmad al-Rajabī, m. 1824?)

This contribution looks into the assumptions of universality at work in the writing of history in nineteenth-century Egypt. It focuses on scholarly literature that was supportive of reforms, as such works display a number of generic and canonical departures in order to make their point. It posits that assumptions about man and society taken to be shared by a given community of thought can best be read in these departures.
Central to the endeavour is a discourse analysis of the apologetic work of al-Rajabî, Fî sha'n târîkh al-wazîr Muhammad 'Alî, with the aim of positioning it in its broader social and literary contexts. How does a work of this kind relate to the hugely overshadowing (and adversarial) Chronicle of al-Jabartî? What is the epistemological value of this particular piece in the overall work of its author? Since the work was written precisely at the time of Muhammad 'Alî's policy reversal vis-à-vis the category of the Azhar high 'ulamâ', what can Rajabî's corporal dissociations tell us about his status and even more importantly about his assumed role as scholar in the course of history? What anthropological underpinnings are, in sum, to be harvested in such a reading of 19th century Islamic scholarly literature?

Noorhaidi Hasan (International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden): The Salafi movement in Indonesia: transnational dynamics and local development

The efflorescence of Salafi communities adopting the most puritanical sect of Islam, Wahhabism, has marked a new trend in Islamic activism in Indonesia. These communities have developed parallel with the rising influence of Saudi Arabia, which flew in mainly through the Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia. Following the Iranian revolution, Saudi Arabia intensified the spread of its influence by establishing LIPIA in Jakarta in 1980. Due to the presence of this institute of high learning, the number of Indonesian students who were able to continue their studies in Saudi Arabia increased significantly, generating a new generation of Muslim activists committed to the spread of Wahhabism. This paper will look at how the Saudi Arabian influence has played a role in the efflorescence of the Salafi communities and to what extent it has determined the local dynamics of Islam in Indonesia.

Jeffrey Haynes (London Metropolitan University): Militant Islamic networks in East Africa

The paper examines: (1) the extent to which regional networks of Islamists have developed in East Africa, and (2) the role of external Islamic actors in these developments. The main focus of the paper is on translocal popular Islam in East Africa with a focus on Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. In each case, local Islamists are advocating the extension of Islamic law (sharia), and enjoy growing social and political prominence. The paper is also concerned with the interaction of external actors - for example, from Yemen and Saudi Arabia - and the varied nature of their regional involvement. On the one hand, Saudi Arabia's government has been funding new mosques in Tanzania while, on the other, al-Itihaad al-Islamiya in Somalia is said to be linked to al-Qaeda and to be responsible for ambushing United States Army Rangers and for terrorist bombings in Ethiopia.

Engseng Ho (Harvard University): The two arms of Cambay: Muslim Gujarat between Mecca and Melaka

This paper details the formation of a multinational Muslim society in Gujarat, on the west coast of India, between the fifteenth and the eighteenth centuries. With the establishment of the Muzaffarid sultanate at the beginning of this period, a new Muslim society develops in Gujarat, composed of mobile Muslims from across the Indian Ocean: Ethiopia, Arabia, the Malay archipelago. This paper presents findings on relations among the sultans, slave-administrators, sufis, legists, mercenaries, musicians, merchants and European traders who compose this mobile society. Special attention is paid to the role of religious adepts from Hadramawt in Yemen. Gujarat, the fulcrum of the Indian Ocean trading world, develops as a key node for the Hadrami diaspora in this period, and through the Hadrami presence in Gujarat we begin to see the articulation of changing religious and scholarly fashions across the Indian Ocean from the Mecca to Melaka, discernible through to the twentieth century.

Alexander Horstmann (Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut, Essen): Islamization and Da'wah in an unlikely place: techniques, discourses and imaginations of the Tablighi Jamaat ad-Da'wah in Mok Lan, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Southern Thailand

Although Nakhon Si Thammarat (Ligor) used to be a crucial location of cultural contact and was once governed by a Muslim ruler and traded with other Muslim sultanates on the sea, the port is known as a bastion of Theravada Buddhist civilization and contacts with Sri Lankan Buddhism. Muslims migrated to Tha Sala either as prisoners of war or as pioneering migrants who escaped from Ayutthaya and looked for a place to live. The marginalized Muslim villages in Moklan are fishing villages with small agriculture and petty trade. I was astonished to know that the Muslim community in Moklan had a strong Indian connection. The missionary who established a modest pondok and mosque in Moklan was Mohammad Ilyas, the founder of the Tablighi Jamaat.
The expansion of the monothoistic idea of the one God into local systems of beliefs and values in Moklan occured, as in so many other places, through Sufi missionaries, in this case Indian missionaries, probably associated with the Deobandi school. In the 1990s however, the politics and culture of Islamization in Moklan is firmly associated to the Tablighi and the Pakistan connection. The Islamic cultural elite in Moklan studied in South Asia, mainly in Pakistan. The missionary zeal of the Tablighi is in full flow, establishing close connections throughout Muslim communities in Thailand.
The missionary activities now put high pressure on local traditions, encouraging villagers to cut and to adopt to a new lifestyle and discipline. The activists of the teams visit every house and encourage Muslims to catch up missed prayers togther and to become a member of the Tablighi. Missionary activities are organised on a worldscale and I was again surprised to meet not only many villagers from other Muslim communities, but a team from Palestina. A meeting was hold in Tha Sala with thousands of devotees from many parts of the Islamic world. Missionaries from Moklan, depending on their financial ressources, go to far away places, but especially to South Asia through the central mosque in Yala (South Thailand).
The paper discusses the trade of Islamic cultural capital in a marginal Muslim community in South Thailand along the South-South axis from the point of view of my assistant who is himself a devotee since his beginning of university education 6-7years ago.

Orhan Kologlu (Istanbul Üniversitesi): The effect of the lack of auto-criticism in the Muslim societies

This paper aimes to analyze the Turkish-Arab dialogue in the 20th century. For example, by analyzing certain actual debates, like the rewriting of a common history concentrating especially on the last two centuries which are imbued with the application of Tanzimat implying the modernization through definite inclusion of Western civilization's practices in the social and economic structure of Muslim societies. The fact that the decision was taken by a state , holder of the Caliphate and defender of Islam since centuries, instigated naturally immediate reactions from fundamentalists as well as reformers in the framework of Islam.
As Tanzimat's reforms reached a peak with the Kemalist campaign, fundamentalism appeared more recently in Turkey, as an importation from Arab sources. Involved with secularism and democracy they were less radical than the others, but still transmitted similar messages , by avoiding any auto-criticism. For example, on the unimportance of delay in the installation of printing press; the aspiration of the revival of the "Ottoman Commonwealth"; the existence of all modern technological knowledges in the holy texts; understanding of democracy; expectation of Messiah in the person of Erbakan; etc...
We will focus on the arguments reflecting the difficulty of this debate.

Mara A. Leichtman (Department of Anthropology, Brown University): Transnational Shi'ite Islam in Africa: Lebanese and Iranian influences on converts in Senegal

Incorporating West African cases into discussions about Shi'ism and global Islam highlights social, political and cultural change in relation to migration, ethnicity, proselytizing and Muslim networking. Whereas the Lebanese Shi'ite community has been present in Senegal as early as the 1880s, a small Senegalese minority began to convert to Shi'ite Islam only recently as a result of the Iranian revolution of 1979. The Lebanese Shi'ite sheikh, brought to Senegal by the request of the Lebanese community in 1969, changed his objective to also include the Senegalese population in his efforts, perhaps competitively encouraged by the influence of the Iranians on the religious and political ideologies of Senegalese Muslims. Like communities of Shi'a in the Middle East and Asia, Shi'a in Senegal create their own spaces, both ethnic and religious. Fluent in the Arabic language, many leaders of the Senegalese Shi'ite movement have university degrees from the Arab world and pride themselves in their knowledge of both Sunni and Shi'ite schools of thought. Drawn to the religion for many reasons - political, spiritual, philosophical, financial, or because Shi'ite scholars convincingly answered their questions about Islam - their mission is to convince others. They spread the faith in Wolof or other local languages through teaching, conferences, holiday celebrations and media publicity. While influenced by the marja's (Shi'ite religious authorities) of Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, Senegalese Shi'a emphasize that their Shi'ism is Senegalese. Indeed, through keeping their feet in both Sunni and Shi'ite worlds, the Senegalese Shi'a hope to find their place in Senegal's politics of religion. This paper explores relationships between Lebanese, Senegalese and Iranian Shi'a, the location of Shi'ite Islam in national and international religious networks, and the making of an indigenous Shi'ite Islam in Senegal.

Odile Moreau (ZMO, Berlin): Ottoman military expertise in the Muslim Mediterranean at the beginning of the 20th century: a kind of translocal agents?

This contribution aims to look at the exchanges and interactions between the Middle East (Ottoman Empire, Egypt) and the Maghreb (Morocco, Tripolitania) at the beginning of the 20th Century, just before the 1st Word War.
Analyzing a group of Arab-Ottoman officers and military reform experts who came to Morocco in 1909, we'll try to reconstruct their networks and ask the multiple allegiances and connections they had all around the Mediterranean.
In fact, apart from their professional life, as military men, it seems that they participated in various kind of socio-cultural activities especially relating to the movements of Young Moroccans, Algerians and Egyptians. How did they perceived the established political boundaries and how did the negotiate their status? Did this military expertise contribute to the production of new notions of Islam in the process of transmission between this entities?

Farish A. Noor (ZMO, Berlin): Pathans to the East! The historical development of the Tablīghī Jamā’at movement in Malaysia and its transnational links with the South Asian and the global Islamist revivalist movement

Though there exists abundant historical evidence of transnational contact and exchange between South Asia and Southeast Asia that dates back to the earliest waves of Indianisation of the Indon-Malay archipelago during the Hindu-Buddhist era, there has been little work done on the actual impact of the exchange and export of ideas from the Indian subcontinent to maritime Southeast Asia from the 18th century onwards. The focus of this paper shall be the contribution of ideas and worldviews from the Indian subcontinent to two Southeast Asian countries in particular: Malaysia and Indonesia during the period of Western colonial rule. (Then known as British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies). Focusing primarily on the transfer of ideas and educational links between the two sides of the Indian ocean from the mid-19th century onwards, we shall attempt a cursory overview of the transfer of knowledge and ideas across the Indian ocean, looking at agents of transfer and social change from both sides of the territorial divide, and assess the contribution that India made as far as the development of a renewed sense of national, religious and political consciousness are concerned. In particular we shall be looking at how Indian Muslim intellectuals, leaders, institutions (such as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the Indian modernist-reformist Muslims, Aligarh Muslim university) and movements (such as the Lahori Ahmadis) had a direct impact on the development of Malay and Indonesian political, religious and social thought from the late 19th century onwards. Our aims are two-fold: Firstly to highlight aspects of a shared history that brought South and Southeast Asia closer together which has gone unrecorded by most scholars of both regions; and secondly to examine how this long drawn-out process of transcultural change helped to create a sense of common awareness and identity among Muslims that transcended boundaries of territoriality and the nation-state. Here the Indian Ocean serves as the interface that not only brought there two disparate territories together, but also served as a shared space which allowed for the creation of new common imaginaries and shared discursive enterprises that collapsed other boundaries of race, political differences and fixed territorial limits.

Paulo G. Pinto (Center for Middle East Studies of Federal Fluminense University, Brazil): Pilgrimage, commodities and religious objectification: the construction of transnational Shi'ism between Iran and Syria

This paper analyzes the role of the constitution in the 1980´s, in the context of the political alliance between Syria and Iran, of a route of Shi'i mass pilgrimage linking the holy shrines and sites in Syria, such as Saiyda Zaiynab, Saiyda Ruqaiya or the Mashad al-Husseiyn, with Iran and, therefore, with the pilgrimage centers of Qom and Mashad, in the construction and organization of objectified and transnational forms of Shi'ism.
The Shi'i pilgrimage route, which passes through Iran, Turkey and Syria, is a channel for the dislocation of persons, ideas (encoded in texts and discourses), images and objects through different spatial, symbolic and practical contexts, creating practical and symbolic links between religious communities located in these countries. The analysis will focus on the production, circulation and consumption of religious commodities in the markets created within the holy shrines that mark the pilgrimage route. The production of religious commodities is an important mechanism of objectification of symbols, beliefs, images and rituals, which allows their consumption and re-signification in religious contexts other than their original one. This process leads to the organization of a transnational Shi'i community, which crosses different social, cultural and national spaces. Thus, I will examine how local Shi'i communities in Syria articulate with transnational trends of Shi'ism that were originated in Iran, as well as how the commodification and objectification of Shi'i religious symbols and texts allows their consumption by non- Shi'i communities, such as the Sufis in Syria, creating a transnational arena of exchanges and interactions.
The data for this article were collected during an ethnographic fieldwork research managed in Shi'i pilgrimage shrines in Syria (Saiyda Zaiynab, Saiyda Ruqaiya, Mashad Husseiyn, Raqqa), Turkey (Urfa) and Iran (Qom, Mashad) in different periods from 1999 through 2002.

Dietrich Reetz (ZMO, Berlin): The Deoband Universe: What makes a transcultural and transnational educational movement of Islam?

At a time when the inspiration of Deobandi thought for purist Islamic groups and radical militants across a number of countries in Asia and Africa has made sensational news after September 11, 2001 it is felt that the forms and objectives, the potential and impotency of the Deobandi educational movement have to be ascertained and assessed more factually and realistically. The paper is set to explore how the influence of the d?r al-`ul?m, the Islamic school of higher learning in Deoband, north India, radiates across the countries of South Asia and much beyond. It seeks to understand what are the ingredients of its religious school of thought; how does it function across cultural and political boundaries; and what institutions it has spawned. The paper will venture to describe the formal and informal ways of coordination and norm setting, of cooperation and inspiration. It will look at the various forms of interaction, from foreign students at Deoband, to foreign teachers there, to Deobandi institutions abroad, to the ever expanding network of Deobandi graduates and to the manifestation of their local and translocal influence in other Islamic groups and organisations.

Lutz Rogler (ZMO, Berlin): Creating space for translocal "Islamic thinking": the role of transnational Arab-Islamic intellectual journals in the late 20th century

The paper will examine a sample of theoretically oriented or at least academically fashioned Arabic journals ("majalla fikriyya"), published since the beginning of the 1970s in the context of the "Islamic trend" in several Arab countries and the Arab diaspora in Europe and the USA. The selected journals function primarily within the transnational networks of intellectual and ideological exchange that link the movements and organizations of (so-called) "political Islam" and, in particular, their intellectuals or those loosely associated with these movements. At the same time, they are part of a larger community of communication and discourse dominated by intellectuals rather than religious scholars, most of whom have benefited from a modern higher education, especially in the social sciences.
Since one of the main characteristics of these journals is their ambition to create a transnational frame of reference of "Islamic thinking" for Muslim intellectuals who mostly originate from outside the established religious frameworks, the paper will focus on how they identify and discuss some major problems, topics, and concepts that could constitute a translocal and future-oriented "agenda" of potentially or supposedly universal "Islamic thinking".

Dorothea E. Schulz (Institute of Ethnology, FU Berlin): Embodied Piety: Islam’s female face in Mali

The invigoration of Islamic moral idioms and social networks across Sub-Saharan Africa raises new questions about the relevance of new religious transnational movements to the current restructuring of the political and economic world order. This paper examines the key actors and institutional forms of female Islamic revivalism in contemporary urban Mali, by situating these trends in a transnational field of ties to the Arab-speaking world. In Mali, as in many other countries with a Muslim-majority population, Islam has gained a greater public prominence over the past 20 years. Typical of these new forms of "Islam" is that women play a key role in it, both as emblems and as articulators of a new moral order. Women's prominence in public and semi-public arenas is predicated upon the reformulation of conventional gender ideologies and of notions of religiosity. Depending on their different educational and economic background, these women locate themselves differently in a transnational community of "true believers". Their transnational framework of reference draws on a longer-standing tradition of close ties between West Africa and the religious and intellectual centers of the Arab-speaking world. Whereas before, these ties and trends were almost exclusively established by men, at present, new (mostly "small") media and the new relevance of religious commodities to everyday experience and identity formation, have opened up new opportunities for women to assert both their location in a transnational community of believers and their local identity as a "practicing Muslim".

Yoginder Sikand (Hamdard University, Delhi): Stoking the flames: Intra-Muslim rivalries in India and the Saudi connection

This paper examines the impact of the 'Wahhabi' state and 'ulama in Saudi Arabia on the Muslims of India, focusing particularly on the question of intra-Muslim maslaki or sectarian disputes. In this regard it examines the nature of the Saudi 'Wahhabi' connection, both ideological as well as financial, with the 'ulama of rival Muslim maslaks in post-independence India. In particular, it looks at the close links that came to be established between the 'Wahhabi' 'ulama and the Saudi state, on the one hand, and the Indian Ahl-i Hadith, on the other. It shows how access to Saudi funding led to increasing assertiveness on the part of the Indian Ahl-i Hadith and to bitter critiques launched by their scholars against the dominant Hanafis, both Barelvis and Deobandis, as well as the Indian Shi'as. The discussion of these developments is placed in the broader context of the foreign and domestic policy goals of the Saudi state and its supporters.

Benjamin F. Soares (Afrika Studiecentrum, Leiden): Chain letter, poem, sermon, and tract: on Islam in twentieth-century West Africa

In this paper, I consider some of the modes of communication and different understandings and practices of Islam among African Muslims over the course of the twentieth century. Drawing on colonial and postcolonial-era sources from places in present-day Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal, including chain letters and poetry in Arabic, various tracts and pamphlets in Arabic and French, as well as public sermons in Arabic and vernacular languages, which have circulated within and between these places and beyond, I explore changing modalities of religious expression among African Muslims. The main objective is to build theoretical and methodological tools for apprehending the articulation and transformation of understandings and practices of Islam, which, I argue, can only be understood at the intersection of the local, the supralocal, and the translocal, including the broader scriptural traditions of Islam and the experience of colonialism.




For further information, please contact one of the following workshop coordinators:
Dr. Bettina Dennerlein (bettina.dennerlein@rz-hu.berlin.de)
Dr. Dietrich Reetz (dreetz@rz.hu-berlin.de)

Dr. Bettina Dennerlein, Dyala Hamzah, Dr. Odile Moreau, Dr. Farish Noor, Dr. Dietrich Reetz, Lutz Rogler

ZMO Main Site | Call for Papers | Workshop Mainsite |


updated October 20, 2004