Defending Muḥammad in Modernity
470 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268106706 | December 2019
Hardcover | 9780268106690 | December 2019
eBook (PDF) | 9780268106713 | December 2019
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268106720 | December 2019
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.
"Defending Muḥammad in Modernity is a substantial addition to the literature on the history of Islam in South Asia and to 'polemical encounters' among South Asian Muslims more generally. The book is important both for its careful and nuanced analysis of the arguments and logic shaping Deobandī and Barelvī arguments and for opening up new perspectives on how we might assess the historical significance of these debates." ~David Gilmartin, North Carolina State University
"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