The Multiple Publics of a Transnational Activist: Abdürreşid İbrahim, Pan-Asianism, and the Creation of Islam in Japan

In: Die Welt des Islams
Ulrich Brandenburg University of Zurich

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The Russian Muslim Abdürreşid İbrahim (1857-1944) was not only a successful journalist and reform-minded Islamic scholar. He was also a transnational activist who became influential in different local contexts, notably Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and Japan. During his four-month stay in Japan in 1909, he cooperated with Japanese pan-Asianists and helped found the first pan-Asianist society, which focused on building ties between Japan and Asia’s Muslims. Researchers have predominantly regarded İbrahim as a pioneering figure in an emerging anti-Western coalition of pan-Islamists and pan-Asianists, or as a Muslim missionary aspiring to convert Japan to Islam. This article will demonstrate, however, that İbrahim’s pro-Japanese pan-Asianism, as well as his missionary zeal, should both be read as flexible stances in reaction to the expectations of different publics. An ostentatious pan-Asianism and the exaggeration of his missionary success equally served the transnational activist to attract attention and assert his importance in varying local contexts.

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