Defending Muḥammad in Modernity
506 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268106690 | January 2020
Paperback | 9780268106706 | January 2020
eBook (PDF) | 9780268106713 | January 2020
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268106720 | January 2020
In this groundbreaking study, SherAli Tareen presents the most comprehensive and theoretically engaged work to date on what is arguably the most long-running, complex, and contentious dispute in modern Islam: the Barelvī-Deobandī polemic. The Barelvī and Deobandī groups are two normative orientations/reform movements with beginnings in colonial South Asia. Almost two hundred years separate the beginnings of this polemic from the present. Its specter, however, continues to haunt the religious sensibilities of postcolonial South Asian Muslims in profound ways, both in the region and in diaspora communities around the world.
Defending Muḥammad in Modernity challenges the commonplace tendency to view such moments of intra-Muslim contest through the prism of problematic yet powerful liberal secular binaries like legal/mystical, moderate/extremist, and reformist/traditionalist. Tareen argues that the Barelvī-Deobandī polemic was instead animated by what he calls “competing political theologies” that articulated—during a moment in Indian Muslim history marked by the loss and crisis of political sovereignty—contrasting visions of the normative relationship between divine sovereignty, prophetic charisma, and the practice of everyday life. Based on the close reading of previously unexplored print and manuscript sources in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu spanning the late eighteenth and the entirety of the nineteenth century, this book intervenes in and integrates the often-disparate fields of religious studies, Islamic studies, South Asian studies, critical secularism studies, and political theology.
SherAli Tareen is associate professor of religious studies at Franklin and Marshall College. He is co-editor of Imagining the Public in Modern South Asia.
Margrit Pernau is a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
"No book offers a richer, more illuminating guide to the origins and the complex theological relationship of the Barelvi and the Deobandi orientations, which have dominated Sunni Islam in modern South Asia, than Defending Muhammad in Modernity. SherAli Tareen’s deeply researched, theoretically informed, yet remarkably accessible study will help make Islam in modern South Asia part of wider and much needed conversations among scholars of religion." ~Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Princeton University, author of Islam in Pakistan: A History
"Defending Muḥammad in Modernity offers a major contribution to the literature on the history of Muslims (and Islam) in South Asia. SherAli Tareen's detailed exploration of the form and logic of the polemical engagements that marked the development of competing Deobandi and Barelvi visions in the nineteenth century is exceptional and provides a critical backdrop for understanding the divisions that continue to shape the dynamics of South Asian Muslim thinking today. The book is also noteworthy for its deep engagement with Urdu, Persian, and Arabic sources." ~David Gilmartin, North Carolina State University, author of Empire and Islam: Punjab and the Making of Pakistan
"This book is beautifully written in a language accessible for students and colleagues who have not previously engaged with this topic. If you can only read three books on Islam in South Asia, Defending Muḥammad in Modernity needs to be one of them." ~Margrit Pernau, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, author of Ashraf Into Middle Classes: Muslims in Nineteenth-Century Delhi