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Islam on the Move

Islam on the Move: The Tablighi Jama'at in Southeast Asia

Farish A. Noor
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Islam on the Move
    Book Description:

    SHORTLISTED for the ICAS Book Prize 2013 Much nuance and variability have been lost in the process of the reductivist analysis of Islam post 9/11 and, as this study amply demonstrates, we are all the poorer as a result. This exhaustive examination of the rise and spread of the Tablighi Jama't, arguably the world's largest Islamic missionary movement, locates it in the larger perspective of global Islam and developments in the Muslim societies. Combining an overview of the history and current socio-political perception of the Tablighi Jama'at with a more analytical and philosophical approach to fundamental questions of identity, subject-positioning and representation, the author creates a comprehensive resource of interest to all scholars and students of Islam. Drawing on exhaustive research and records of conversion narratives of the new members of Tablighi Jama'at, cited here at length, the author creates a unique perspective on this complex phenomenon from both an internal and external viewpoints. Ahmad-Noor locates the spiritual framework of the movement in the context of its perception in the eyes of the political and religious authorities of the countries where it has a following, as well as the Western 'securocrat' approach. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1682-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-10)
  3. A Note on Proper Names and the Spelling Used in This Book
    (pp. 11-12)
  4. Glossary
    (pp. 13-16)
  5. Introduction Brother Bismillah and My Introduction to the Tablighi Jama’at
    (pp. 17-26)
    Farish A. Noor

    My first encounter with the Tablighi Jama’at took place more than two decades ago, when I was still uncertain of the career path I would take in the years to come.

    On the morning of the second-to-last day of the month of Ramadan in 1986, I woke up on the cold, hard floor of the mosque in Dewsbury, England. Recovering from a bout of influenza and being somewhat under the weather as a result of nearly a month of fasting, I was not in the best of spirits. As I turned, I saw beside me a figure who bore an...

  6. I At Home Across the Sea The Arrival of the Tablighi Jama’at and Its Spread Across Southeast Asia
    (pp. 27-62)

    Muslims have feet, and tend to move about like everybody else.

    The history of Islam and Muslim society can be read as a history of movement, for without such movement Islam would not be the global religion that it is today. For centuries, Muslims have travelled across the world for the sake of commerce, politics, diplomacy, warfare and to spread Islam as well. The Muslims that I am concerned with in this book are the members of the Tablighi Jama’at, a global movement of itinerant lay Muslim missionaries that has been described by scholars like Masud, Metcalf, Sikand and Reetz²...

  7. II Learning to Be The Foundational Literature of the Tablighi Jama’at and Its Role in Defining the Movement
    (pp. 63-88)

    In writing on and about the Tablighi Jama’at, I am already assuming that there is athingto be studied, and that the signifierTablighi Jama’atsignifies a thing that is distinct and identifiable.

    Scholars of the Tablighi are, of course, cognisant of the fact that they are discussing a mass movement that is made up of many individual subjectivities, and no scholar seriously believes that even the most detailed study of such a movement can account for the millions of subjectivities that make up the rank and file of such a complex entity. No matter how deep we delve...

  8. III Learning on the March The Portable, Reader-friendly Literature of the Tablighi Jama’at and Its Role in the Self-identification and Reproduction of the Movement
    (pp. 89-114)

    From the hefty, we now move on to the lightweight. I would like to focus on the range of portable, pocket-sized reading material that has been produced by and for the members of the Tablighi Jama’at and for those whom they wish to convert to their path as well. The Tablighis in fact produce a steady stream of what can be described as reader-friendly booklets and pamphlets, which are widely consumed, distributed and shared among their members. This is particularly true in the case of Indonesia where a number of Tablighi publishing companies have emerged (Pustaka Assajadah, Pustaka Ramadan, Pustaka...

  9. IV The Stories We Tell The Conversion Narratives of the Tablighi Jama’at and the Internalisation of Tablighi Identity
    (pp. 115-144)

    In the previous chapters we looked at the foundational texts of the Tablighi Jama’at as well as the locally produced vernacular literature of the movement. Now we shall turn to the personal microbiographies of the Tablighis themselves, focusing in particular on the stories they tell of themselves and to themselves – which may help us in our attempt to understand what may be termed the Tablighi mindset. Labouring still along the path set by Quine and his notion of radical translation of the language of the Other, I will extend the scope of my enquiry beyond the written to the spoken...

  10. V Learning to Be Tablighi The Rule-governed World of the Tablighi and the Disciplining of the Self
    (pp. 145-168)

    What is it to be in pain, and tosaythat one is in pain? Off-tangent though the question may seem at this point, its relevance lies in the fact that to make any knowledge-claims about the states of minds of others means being able to speak about their inner subjective states – be it to claim that a person is in pain or to claim that another person is committed to the Tablighi Jama’at.

    Wittgenstein’s answer to the question may come in the form of his public language theory, and the idea of language-use involves speaking language-games that are rule-governed...

  11. VI How We Look and What We Are The Tablighi Jama’at Framed in the Eyes of Others
    (pp. 169-192)

    Let us return to Wittgenstein for a moment and take into consideration his argument that the meaning of signifiers lies not in any private act of definition but rather in the broader context of how they are used in the public domain.

    I brought up this point earlier when we argued that the meaning of the Tablighi Jama’at is not a matter of personal subjective choice on the part of the members of the movement itself. What the Tablighi is and what it means to be a Tablighi has less to do with one’s subjective state and certainly nothing to...

  12. VII Finally, a Summing Up The Tablighi Jama’at as the Complex Thing That It Is
    (pp. 193-196)

    I end this book by revisiting the beginning. During my last visit to the humble Tablighimarkazin the town of Jogjakarta, Central Java, I encountered a small delegation of Tablighis who had arrived from theirkhurujfurther afield. Among the new arrivals was a young man who clearly seemed out of place, and did not look the part: he was clad in tight jeans, wore a heavy metal T-shirt, had no skullcap on his head and did not sport a beard or a moustache. Instead, the expression that he wore on his face seemed to say: ‘What on earth...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 197-242)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 243-250)
  15. Index
    (pp. 251-255)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 256-256)