Tag Archives: Islam

Book: Sufism and everyday politics of belonging in South Asia by Dandekar and Tschacher

Dandekar, D. and Tschacher, T., eds, Islam, Sufism and everyday politics of belonging in South Asia, London: Routledge, 2016.

“This book looks at the study of ideas, practices and institutions in South Asian Islam, commonly identified as ‘Sufism’, and how they relate to politics in South Asia. While the importance of Sufism for the lives of South Asian Muslims has been repeatedly asserted, the specific role played by Sufism in contestations over social and political belonging in South Asia has not yet been fully analysed.

Continue reading Book: Sufism and everyday politics of belonging in South Asia by Dandekar and Tschacher

Workshop: Pilgrims and Politics in Pakistan, 21 May 2013 (Paris)

This Workshop, whose proceedings will be conducted in English, aims to focus attention on the adaptation of the institutions and languages of Sufism to the political economy of different regions of Pakistan and to explore the potential of Sufism to negotiate the impact of radical Islam on the Pakistani state. Bringing together established and early career scholars working across a range of disciplines, including history, anthropology and political science, the Workshop is intended to deepen our understanding of Sufism in Pakistan not as a ‘degraded’ form of Islamic mysticism but as a living tradition ever responsive to wider social and political changes at the local and national levels.  By doing so, it hopes to shed light on the resilience of Sufism to survive the challenge of more ‘modern’ forms of reformist Islam sweeping Pakistan as well as Sufism’s capacity to withstand the historical pressures brought to bear on it by the state’s own ‘modernist’ agenda. Continue reading Workshop: Pilgrims and Politics in Pakistan, 21 May 2013 (Paris)

Workshop: Discussing recent work on Islam in South Asia

The research team “History and Sufism in the Indus Valley“, coordinated by Michel Boivin at the Center for South Asian Studies (CEIAS) in Paris, organizes a workshop to discuss on recent publications focusing on Islam in India and Pakistan. It will be held at the CEIAS on 24 January 2013 between 9 am and 1 .30 pm. For more information about this event, you can contact Delphine Ortis. Continue reading Workshop: Discussing recent work on Islam in South Asia

Book: Poetry, Islam and Ethnicity in Postcolonial Pakistan

Nukhbah Taj Langah, Poetry as Resistance: Islam and Ethnicity in Postcolonial Pakistan, New Delhi, Routledge India, 2011.

“Focusing on the culturally and historically rich Siraiki-speaking region, often tagged as ‘South Punjab’, this book discusses the ways in which Siraiki creative writers have transformed into political activists, resisting the self-imposed domination of the Punjabi–Mohajir ruling elite. Influenced Continue reading Book: Poetry, Islam and Ethnicity in Postcolonial Pakistan

Fellowships: Popular Images and Media in Muslim Religious Spheres

Short-term Fellowships of

“The Cluster of Excellence – Asia and Europe in a Global Context”,

Transcultural Image Database Project “Satellite of Networks”

The Circulation of Popular Images and Media in Muslim Religious Spheres

 

“In the summer of 2010, Tasveerghar invited proposals for short term fellowships from scholars, researchers and practitioners of popular arts and culture for multi-disciplinary and multi-media projects of research and documentation on the topic of popular visual cultures and practices in and around Muslim shrines and public spaces, with an emphasis on the transcultural flows as emerging in the globalised contemporary popular arts and media.

Muslim public spheres in India/South Asia exhibit a wide array of image practices such as calendar and poster art, devotional framed pictures, portrait photography with artificial backdrops, illustrated covers of religious chapbooks and magazines, besides innovative wall murals and printed notices, all of them incorporating popular icons of Mecca, Medina, local Sufi shrines, saints, Shia symbols, and Arabic calligraphy. Besides these, one also finds religious narratives in popular recorded media such as audiocassettes, video CDs/DVDs, and now the cell-phone software. Much of this popular visuality and ephemera circulate around institutions such as Sufi shrines or mosques in south Asia, although these may not be limited to only one shrine area or a city. One may also find inter regional connections between shrines of different towns and villages through the passage of these media to wider areas.

Although much of these mass duplicated images and media may have their origins in the traditional religious performative practices of the pre-modern era, the impact of new technology and media, especially derived from outside their local spaces, has altered the way religious devotion is practiced today. One could highlight this with an example about the mobility and transformation of Muslim shrines, saint portraits and relics through images and media on the Indian subcontinent (although by no means do we wish to limit the regional focus to India but explore transnational and transcultural flows!). Usually a Sufi shrine holds the original grave or relic of a specific saint that cannot be replicated anywhere else (unlike a Hindu deity whose idol or replica shrine can be recreated in other locations too). Thus the visit to a particular Sufi shrine has its unique value for a pilgrim for its originality. But the mass duplicated images of the same can easily be made and have been in circulation for a long time, making a shrine or relic mobile beyond its original location. There are evidences of hand drawn illustrations of Sufi shrines and saint portraits being made available before the onset of print in India. The printing industry, especially of colour posters and other types of images made the mass produced images of Sufi shrines even more accessible and popular. The photography has added newer dimension to this visual culture where an odd photo of a saint is used again and again to make drawings and even idols, such as in the case Sai Baba of Shirdi.

Through this multi-disciplinary project we wish to go a few steps further from the nexus of photography, painting, and printed posters, to study the newer practices of the use of “original” images for the creation of new mediated material such as collage posters, videos, animation and even Internet-based presentations that seek newer generation of devotees and their popular piety. A typical example of this would be the production of popular devotional videos about Sufi shrines that are basically music videos with a performer/Qawwal singing a new song seeking the saint’s blessing, dramatically videographed in a studio or staged settings, interspersed with the vérité shots of the actual shrine – the two of which can sometimes be very different in style and quality. There can be several such examples from the contemporary popular culture of Muslims in India. Thus, we invite you to be a part of a larger project by contributing with your specific research about a shrine, institution or public space that is witnessing the production of popular images and media and getting altered through transcultural impact.”

More infos here: http://www.tasveerghar.net

Book: Atlas of Muslim Minorities in South and South-East Asia

Michel Gilquin (dir.), 2010, Atlas des minorités musulmanes en Asie méridionale et orientale, Paris, Editions CNRS, 347 p.

This book brings together fifteen contributions addressing the issue of Muslim minorities in South Asia (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka) and Southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Philippines), as well as in the Chinese world. This is justified by the fact that over half of Muslims in the world live in these regions. However, the director of publication has chosen here the case of Muslim minorities in countries where Islam is not the dominant religion. Of particular interest is that six papers relate to South Asia, three are dedicated to India, given the demographic weight of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent (about 400 million people). All in all, this book, dressed up with many maps and statistical data, offer a good overview of the Muslim population living in these regions, while focusing especially on their internal diversity at the doctrinal, social, cultural and linguistic levels.

Rémy Delage

More infos

http://www.cnrseditions.fr

 

Book review: L’ascète et le bouffon by Christiane Tortel

Christiane Tortel, L’ascète et le bouffon. Qalandars, vrais et faux renonçants en islam ou l’Orient indianisé, Arles, Actes Sud, 2009.

The publication of an academic book on the qalandars is a true event. Despite the existence of a book by Ahmed Karamustafa (1994), another one by Katherine Ewing (1977) and masterful papers by Simon Digby (1984), the article of the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam gives evidence of the scarcity of academic works on the topic. Christiane Tortel is a freelance specialist of Persian literature who is a recognized translator of referent treatises of Sufism (1998). Christiane Tortel, an expert in the collection of rare manuscripts, is also well acquainted with fieldwork since she has visited numerous shrines and temples in different parts of Asia.

This 439 pages book is a very ambitious work, in a previous version, a Ph. D. defended at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Études in Sorbonne University. After an introduction, the first part is devoted to “Asceticism, transgression and quackery. The pariah and the jester” (pp. 25-228). The second part is devoted to “Unpublished texts: presentation and translation” (pp. 229-305). Beyond the notes, bibliography and index, one will appreciate wonderful pictures discovered in various libraries of Europe and Asia.

The main thesis proposed by the author is that the role played by India in Islamic and Christian worlds has been under evaluated. The main basis of this misunderstanding is that since Antiquity, the historians always classified the Indians among the Africans since they were seen as Blacks. The author uses the figure of the qalandar to track the way by which Indian characteristics have penetrated Islam and Christianity. The problem is that this policy implies the use of innumerable references written in innumerable languages over many centuries. The consequence is the details makes one lose the thread of the demonstration implemented by the author. The argument would have been more convincing if it had been more tightly focused on the figure of the qalandar, and possibly the main transmitters of this figure, the gypsies.

The second part provides very useful data. The author also gives useful summaries of the relations between the Qalandariyya and “institutionalized” tarîqas like the Sohrawardiyyas or the Chishtiyyas, especially in South Asia. Last but not least, Christiane Tortel provides us the French translation of unpublished manuscripts. They include treatises of the Faqr-nâma genre, like Risâla-yi tawba attributed to Abû’l-Hasan Kharaqânî (d. 1033), or the Risâla-yi qalandarî, translated into French from an anonymous Persian manuscript she has found in Tashkent. Another remarkable piece is a rare example of scholarly literature of the qalandarî type, the Qalandar-nâme composed by Abû Bakr Qalandar Rûmî (d. 1321) from Crimea. Although the conclusion of this huge work is contained in a single page, where the author restates that Qalandariyya is a late extension of Indian renunciation, this book ultimately provides a useful basis for further study of the topic of qalandar, as the author states herself (p. 188).

Michel Boivin (CNRS-CEIAS,EHESS, Paris)

References

Paroles d’un soufi. Abû’l-Hasan Kharaqânî 352-425/960-1033, présentation, traduction du persan et notes par Christiane Tortel, Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1998.

A. T. Karamustafa, God’s Unruly Friends: Dervish Groups in the Islamic Later Middle Period, 1200-1550, Salt Lake City, University of Utah Press, 1994.

S. Digby, “Qalandars and related groups: elements of social deviance in the religious life of the Delhi Sultanate”, in Y. Friedman, Islam in Asia, Jerusalem, The Magnes Press, 1984, pp. 60-108.

K. P. Ewing, Arguing Sainthood. Modernity, Psychoanalysis, and Islam, Durham and London, Duke sUniversity Press, 1977.