Islamic Reform in Asia.

Ahmad, Irfan. 2015b. “Islamic Reform in Asia.” In Bryan Turner and Oscar Salemink (eds) Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia. London/New York: Routledge: 144–157.

Abstract: Islamic reform is often identified with the misleading term Wahhabism and as an anti-Western ideology opposed to all that West is depicted to stand for: Enlightenment, liberalism, freedom, tolerance and so on. Against this, I argue that reform, iṣlāḥ, and renewal, tajdīd, should be seen in terms of Islam’s own Weltanschauung according to which ideas and practices of reform are integral to Islamic history and tradition from early on as they predate West’s rise. Rejecting the nearly standard dualism between local and universal/Arab/Islamic, I show how various Islamic reform movements and currents in Asia from 18th to 20th centuries inform and display initiatives of (re)making self, society and tradition under the global Western domination. This chapter begins by discussing the intellectual contributions of Shah Waliullah’s (1703–1762) reform initiatives and his impact on the subsequent thoughts and movements. It then discusses Tablighi Jamaat as a varied, complex instance of reform. I conclude with observations on the autonomy of Islam as a discursive tradition and how to re-conceptualize reform.