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Muslim women’s freedom, or assumed lack thereof, has long been a Western obsession. Almost never do we ask, what does agency look like to Muslim women? Who or what do they think constrains them, and how do they challenge that? Focussing on the little-researched area of the Australian Muslim community, this book brings together for the first time diverse accounts from Australian Muslim researchers, leaders, and community workers to interrogate how Muslim women understand, experience, and fight for agency. Academic and activist, personal and political, this ground-breaking book features the people at the centre of the debate.

Contributors are Feda Abdo, Amira Aftab, Mahsheed Ansari, Fadi Baghdadi, Susan Carland, Tasneem Chopra, Mehreen Faruqi, Derya Iner, Balawyn Jones, Souha Korbatieh, Ghena Krayem, Mehal Krayem and Ayah Wehbe.
This second collective volume of the series The Presence of the Prophet explores the growing importance of the figure of the Prophet Muhammad for questions of authority and power in early modern and modern times.
The authors provide a rich collection of case studies on how Muhammad’s material, spiritual, and genealogical heritage has been claimed for the foundation of Muslim empires, revolutionary movements, the formation of modern nation states and ideologies, as well as for communal mobilization and social reform.
This novel comparative, and diachronic study, which is unique for its wide coverage of regional cases and perspectives, reveals diverse political representations of the Prophet in an increasingly globalised struggle over the control of his image between secularization and sacralization.

Contributors
Gianfranco Bria, Rachida Chih, Christoph Günther, Gottfried Hagen, Jan-Peter Hartung, David Jordan, Soraya Khodamoradi, Jamal Malik, Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen, Alix Philippon, Martin Riexinger, Stefan Reichmuth, Dilek Sarmis, Renaud Soler, Jaafar Ben El Haj Soulami, Florian Zemmin.
The three-volume series titled The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam, is the first attempt to explore the dynamics of the representation of the Prophet Muhammad in the course of Muslim history until the present.

Abstract

The Prophet Muḥammad is undoubtedly a major source of self-legitimisation for the Jihādī-Salafī current in general and the Islamic State in particular. Via texts, chants (anāshīd), as well as still and moving images they refer, directly or indirectly, to the Prophet himself or to the nascent Muslim community under his leadership. The Islamic State therefore shares with many other Muslim groups and movements the effort to assure itself of the Prophet’s presence in their own actions and to preserve his aura.

This chapter scrutinises the ways in which members of the Islamic State and its predecessors have appropriated the Prophet in various forms of media. The author argues that, although they are fierce in their claim to defend pristine Islam and the “righteous” interpretation of its sources, they hardly engage intellectually with his sunna. The chapter further highlights a few instances where they show a spiritual or emotional relation to the Prophet, who is most often rationally invoked as a role model in religious, social, and military affairs. Third, the chapter shows how they have used him as an indispensable part of their symbolic repertoire, seeking to enhance their regulatory authority and the significance of their doctrine, aesthetics, actions, and practices by equipping it with Prophetic power.

Open Access
In: The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam
In: The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam
Author: Alix Philippon

Abstract

This chapter intends to show that, in Pakistan, the figure of Prophet Muḥammad has proved efficient in structuring social issues, offering a repertoire to articulate political claims and mobilise for collective action. Generally speaking, the Prophet has been a component of identity politics, used by religious groups and individuals to negotiate and articulate their identity. He has also been used as a political re-source and instrumentalised as a legitimising tool by both state and non-state actors. He could thus be analysed both as a “symbol” and as an “empty signifier”. These issues will be explored through the lens of the Barelwi movement, a theological school founded in the nineteenth century, which has most loudly claimed its love for the Prophet and defended his honour against any attacks. In their self-representation, the Barelwis identify themselves as the true “lovers of the Prophet”, a quality that they deny to other sects. They have indeed succeeded in celebrating religious values and representations centred around the Prophet that have contrib-uted to the construction of their community. These processes have fuelled sectarian-ism between contending groups. And it has given ways to numerous mobilisations that have gradually politicised with time. After recalling the different causes the Barelwis have historically mobilised for, the author presents one of the most active and famous Barelwi “moral entrepreneurs” who has consistently defended causes centred around the Prophet of Islam, before focussing on the Barelwi party that he joined as patron-in-chief, the Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). This new group has been successful at mobilising the population against blasphemy and at reasserting Barelwis in the political field. The TLP became the fifth political party of Pakistan in the general elections in July 2018.

Open Access
In: The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam
In: The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam
Author: Renaud Soler

Abstract

Bandalī Jawzī (1871–1942) is a famous historian of Palestinian origin who settled in the Soviet Union. Having studied in the missionary schools of the Holy Land, where he came in contact which both new ideas on politics and nationalism, and with the young intellectual elite of Palestine, he was sent to Russia in order to complete his curriculum. He wrote a thesis on Islamic studies in Kazan where he started to teach Arabic, French, and various Orientalist disciplines. His first writings display a com-mon ground with liberal jadidism. After the Bolshevik Revolution he was invited to the new Baku University by the short-lived independent Republic and afterward nominated there by the Soviet power. Bandalī Jawzī is primarily known for his Islam-ic Intellectual History (Min tārīkh al-ḥarakāt al-fikriyya fī l-islām) published in Jerusalem in 1928. His history of intellectual movements in Islam is reshaped according to a materialist dialectic conception of history, which reflects the intellectual atmosphere and debates of the Soviet Union during the 1920s around the class-nature of Islam and the role of Muḥammad, as well as Bandalī Jawzī’s view on the future role of the Arabs in history.

Instead of overtly criticising Muslim people, he maintained a certain ambiguity in his work, which was intended for an Arab audience, so as not to shock or offend people. His handling of the figure of the Prophet is noteworthy: Bandalī Jawzī never ques-tioned his sincerity, praised his reforms, and explained his limits (mainly the up-holding of private property under the historical conditions he faced). As he saw it, the dialectic of history would be resumed if Muslims could accept his historical in-terpretation. As a consequence, Marxism could come to life in the Arab world.

Open Access
In: The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam

Abstract

With his sīra-work Mukhtaṣar sīrat al-rasūl Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Wahhāb attacks the devotional attitude to Muḥammad and the concomitant beliefs prevailing among Sunnī Muslims of his time. By consciously selecting and deselecting from the sīra literature he demonstrates that Muḥammad was neither pre-existent as light nor possessed knowledge about the unseen independent from revelation. Furthermore, he plays down the importance of miracles. As opposed to that he stresses Muḥammad’s achievements as military leader and his uncompromising attitudes regarding shirk, which Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb identifies with the contemporary veneration of the tombs of saints. The biography of Muḥammad is embedded in world history, whose central aspect is the relapse into paganism and idolatry after each former prophet. With Muḥammad this model has not come to an end, as is exemplified by the ridda just after his death. Deviation, however, will no longer be corrected by divine intervention. Instead, it is the task of the Muslims themselves to defend and re-establish Islam by implementing the sharīʿa and by waging jihād against apostates. The three crucial elements of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s religious doctrine – the stress on the human character of the Prophet, the cyclical view of history, and the branding of present religious practices as paganism – thus imply for him the necessity to follow the model of the Prophet Muḥammad by fighting shirk. The practices which Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb denounces can be described as thaumaturgic, in accordance with Stephen Sharot’s typology of the purposes of religious actions, as they are supposed to provide relief in worldly matters. In contrast to this, his own vision of Islam represents a transformative understanding of religion which centres on the mandate to impose a normative order.

Open Access
In: The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam
Author: Florian Zemmin

Abstract

The journal al-Manār, published from Cairo between 1898 and 1940, was the mouthpiece of Islamic modernism, that intellectual trend which articulated modernity from within the Islamic discursive tradition. Islam was thus used to distinguish between and at the same time connect both twins of the modern order, religion and society. The Prophet Muḥammad not only brought allegedly godly, timeless teachings most appropriate for modernity, but also himself took care of both religion and society. This chapter shows how the editor of al-Manār, Rashīd Riḍā, constructed the figure of the Prophet to represent an ideal religious and social reformer. This representation pursued two aims: the emotionally charged figure of the Prophet mediated the salience and practicability of abstract Islamic principles to a wider audience; and he served as a role model and lent authority to Riḍā, the self-styled reformist, himself. The reconstruction of prophets as social reformers was not peculiar to Islam, as the author illustrates by pointing to parallel endeavours by modern Jewish and Christian theologians and intellectuals. These parallels attest to the primacy of modernity in Riḍā’s appropriation of the Islamic tradition, and specifically in his construction of the Prophet Muḥammad.

Open Access
In: The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam