Phallogocentrism, Global Entanglements and Comparison in the Study of Religion

Mysticism and Gender as Category of Knowledge among Muslim Intellectuals (1938–41)

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Giovanni Maltese Junior Professor, Fakultät für Geisteswissenschaften, Universität Hamburg Hamburg Germany
Visiting Scholar, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge Cambridge UK

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Along with the critique of generic terms, such as religion or mysticism, regarded as Western-centric, comparison in religious studies has been faulted for reinforcing Western dominance over the rest of the world. Global Religious History claims to constructively address these charges by focusing on global entanglements. On closer inspection, however, if the latter are theorized at all, an astounding exclusion comes to the fore: the omission of gender as category of knowledge. Engaging this phallogocentrism in Global Religious History, this article calls for a conceptualization of global entanglements that takes this omission seriously. As a case study, I use a tract published serially in a Singapore-based Islamic missionary journal (1938–1941), to argue that a revised conceptualization of global entanglements can help to uncover the contributions of non-hegemonic subjects to contemporary discourses on religion, mysticism, Islam, and Sufism, as well as to the comparative study of religion.

1 Introduction

Between 1938 and 1941, a tract titled “The Sovereignty of God and the Dignity of Man in Islam,”1 eventually subtitled “Islamic Mysticism,” was serialized in the “Comparative Religion” section (intermediately dubbed “Comparative Religious Study”2) of Genuine Islam, the worldwide anglophone mouthpiece of the Singapore-based All Malaya Muslim Missionary Society. Its author was Maas Thajoon Akbar (1879–1944), a retired Ceylonese Senior Puisne Justice who cooperated with the Society. Examining this tract contributes to fill a twofold research gap that is crucial for understanding the discourse of religion, religious studies, and cultural comparisons in the post-World War II era to the present day. It addresses the lack of scholarly works on anglophone South- and Southeast Asian Muslim intellectuals during the interwar period, who have received less attention due to a focus on the so-called long nineteenth century. Additionally, it addresses the scarcity of works on intellectuals with lower visibility (e.g., if compared with figures like Muhammad Iqbal). Typical of the debates among South and Southeast Asian Muslim intellectuals of that time,3 Akbar’s tract aimed at developing an understanding of Islam that would enable Muslims to assert themselves on the global stage despite perceived “Western” superiority in politics, science, and culture. In light of recent debates about Western-centrism and the usefulness of generic and comparative terms, like “religion” and “mysticism,” as well as comparison as such in the study of religion, the prominent role that these terms, along with gender, play in Akbar’s conceptualization of Islam and Sufism is striking. Using Akbar’s tract as a case study, I argue that an examination of how these terms were used in a deeply gendered discourse among anglophone South and Southeast Asian Muslim intellectuals helps to constructively engage issues of Western-centrism in the study of religion. In addition, it allows to address shortcomings in the conceptualization of Global Religious History (GRH), especially with regard to its central theoretical guiding concept – global entanglements. Before doing so, however, I will discuss the aforementioned recent debates on Euro-centrism or Western-centrism and GRH’s approach to them. My two main arguments are: firstly, Muslim intellectuals, such as Akbar, were no passive reproducers of allegedly self-contained Western concepts. Rather, they actively participated in debates in which South and Southeast Asian Muslims appropriated said terms and promoted ideas about “mysticism” (including its usefulness as a comparative term) that shape contemporary discourses and affect the positionality of researchers today. Secondly, conceptions of gender difference were as crucial to these debates as they were to their participants’ conceptualization of “Islam,” “religion,” and “mysticism.” A theorization of global entanglements that constitutively takes gender as a category of knowledge into account can provide interesting perspectives on how “religion” and “mysticism,” as well as “Islam” and “Sufism,” are talked about today – especially regarding the representation of (Indo-Persian) Sufism as antithesis to the so-called “Arab” Islam.

2 Comparison, Generic Terms, and Global Religious History

“Comparison has been subject to criticism […] including postcolonialist critiques;” it has been faulted “as an act of abstraction that does injustice to the particular, neglects the differences, and establishes a mostly Western power of definition over the rest of the world,” reads the book-jacket of a recent monograph on comparison in religious studies by Oliver Freiberger.4 This is accompanied by the accusation that the term “religion” has a “Western” and/or “Christian” origin, the latter two terms being generally used synonymously. Employing “religion” for studying “non-Western” contexts, which does always imply a moment of comparison, the argument goes, equals an act of neo-colonial subjugation that promotes global asymmetries and conceals epistemic violence. Thus, Islamicist Shahab Ahmed, referencing religious studies scholar Timothy Fitzgerald, calls for discarding “religion” as an analytical category in relation to Islam and to use the Arabic dīn instead.5 A similar argument has been advanced with regard to “mysticism.” According to Omid Safi, “mysticism” is a category so “steeped in a Western, Protestant Christian tradition” that its “usefulness to studies of non-Christian (and even non-Protestant) mystics” is “dubious” – especially in relation to his field of expertise: taṣawwuf or Ṣūfism (henceforth Sufism), which is often referred to as “Islamic mysticism.”6 Yet, whereas Safi pleads for expanding definitions of “mysticism” to “encompass the multi-faceted social and institutional roles of the Sufis,”7 others have suggested to dismiss it altogether.8 Scholar of Jewish Studies Boaz Huss, for example, engaging with Richard King and with what Huss calls the “mystification of Hinduism and Buddhism from a postcolonial perspective,” argues: “‘mysticism’ in general and ‘Jewish mysticism’ in particular” are “discursive constructions which came into being in the modern era in Europe, as a result of the expansion” of a “specifically Christian theological notion” and its application to cultures that “did not employ any congruent term.”9 This “was carried out in the framework of western Imperialism,” “Colonialism”, and the “construction” of culturally different “national identities,” as well as through the employing of “European” terms. Therefore, scholars should not try to “correct the use of this category [viz. mysticism].” Rather, he contends, they should follow “Fitzgerald’s argument” and “completely abandon” it along with the equally “unnecessary and misleading” “category ‘religion.’”10

2.1 Scholarship and Hegemonic Asymmetries

I have great sympathies with Huss’ decolonizing incentive and his rejection of essentialist conceptualizations of terms employed in comparisons. I wholeheartedly support the importance of problematizing the interests underlying the “classification of disparate practices, texts, and traditions within the category ‘mysticism.’” This entails questioning the “artificial affinity” created between historical configurations and critiquing the effects of power inscribed in comparisons that operate with the term “mysticism,” including what Huss calls the “ideological structure” of the “comparative study of religion.”11 Yet, I doubt that discarding “mysticism” entirely serves the purpose. For one, scholarship is always entrenched in acts of comparisons. This is due to its claim to disciplinarity: the ability to be validated intersubjectively through independent assessment by experts in the relevant area, which necessarily comes along with abstractions. The latter are achieved via terms that allow (at least some degree of) generalization and are epistemologically conceived in a framework of comparability. Accordingly, the systematization of different items or configurations (Huss’ “classification”) is always somewhat “artificial.” This is because it is neither an uncontested nor a “neutral or disinterested act; rather, it is an inescapably political practice that always partakes in and is symptomatic of the unequal relations of power that structure our world” – to paraphrase Evgenia Ilieva, who discusses epistemologically similar problems in comparative political theory.12 Therefore, dropping “mysticism” when studying “Kabbalah” or (in our case) “Sufism,”13 only shifts the problem. Secondly, it obscures the situatedness of the scholar; it disguises the location from which researchers conceptualize and access their object matter of research. It implies that it was possible to conduct research on Kabbalah or Sufism detached from global discourses on mysticism and from the asymmetrical politics of comparison that gave rise to predominant uses of the term. This, however, as Huss’ very article shows, is not the case.14 Thirdly, dispensing with the term “mysticism” altogether insinuates that “non-Westerners” who have used the term “mysticism,” since the nineteenth century were merely passive reproducers of allegedly self-contained European “discursive terms,”15 which amounts to a renewed discursive marginalization.16 Relatedly, fourthly, it prevents scholars from addressing the complexity of power dynamics inscribed in translingual practices. For example, as professor emerita of Arabic and Comparative Religion Sara Sviri has noted, “modern Arabic, in rendering what in European languages is named ‘mysticism’, has been using the term taṣawwuf generically; thus, Jewish mysticism is rendered al-taṣawwuf al-yahūdī, Hindu mysticism al-taṣawwuf al-hindī and so on.”17

Nevertheless, to keep the term “mysticism” without a throughgoing engagement with the questions raised at the beginning of this article, as Islamicist Alexander Knysh’s otherwise excellent monograph on Sufism tends to do, is equally problematic. Knysh references King and Safi, but does not thoroughly discuss their postcolonial critique with regard to “mysticism” as a category (perhaps, due to his indebtedness to conceptual history and his general critique of “deconstruction-minded” scholars).18 While Knysh’s study of Sufism as “Islamic asceticism-mysticism” opens up for a comparative view that contests representations of Sufism as an idiosyncratic phenomenon, the reader may find that a comprehensive theoretical discussion of the justification for his comparisons within the category “ascetic-mystical,” taking into account the aforementioned postcolonial critique, is somewhat lacking. Put differently, Knysh rightly states that historians are “not neutral” and that categories, such as “religion” and “mysticism,” do not exist without actors who create and reproduce them. Yet, when it comes to the category “asceticism-mysticism,” his study seems to suggest that its usage does not deserve the same critical scrutiny as, for instance, the “category ‘Sufism.’” In contrast to his treatment of “Sufism” (which, however, ultimately retains an essentialist conceptualization), Knysh does not offer, I would argue, an elaborate theoretical reflection of the most critical questions: Whose interests are served and what power relations are reified through his conceptualization and use of “asceticism-mysticism?”19 These issues become more pronounced in Knysh’s chapter “Sufism in Comparison.” Therein his arguing for “the common ferment of Hellenism” occurs in a way that – borrowing from historians Monica Juneja and Margrit Pernau – seems to “take place in a space purged of the workings of power.”20

Against this background, I contend, works that seek to decenter and challenge knowledge production that reifies hegemonic asymmetries – or are otherwise committed to critical scholarship that aims to disrupt essentialist assumptions (as is case with this author, and, arguably, also with Ahmed, Huss, and Knysh) – should pursue a different task.21 They should scrutinize the concrete use of generic and (eo ipso) comparative terms, such as “mysticism,” by those subjects perceived as non-hegemonic, rather than abandoning the term tout court. This, however, requires a framework that constitutively takes global asymmetries into account as well as the researcher’s own situatedness and positionality. That is, firstly, that research is entrenched in global asymmetries reified by practices of comparison and by comparative studies, whose methodologies “are so entangled with colonialism that it is impossible to root out habits of thinking that have emerged from them;”22 secondly, the researcher’s own cognitive interest, which prompts the question: whence the specific interest in studying “mysticism” or “asceticism?”

2.2 Global Religious History and Its Failure to Include …

Global Religious History (GRH) claims to offer such a framework. Here, I refer to GRH as a global history approach23 that studies religion drawing on feminist and postcolonial studies, operating on the grounds of a poststructuralist epistemology (especially by building on the discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and the theory of performativity of Judith Butler), and focusing on global entanglements.24 GRH seeks to interrogate presuppositions underlying knowledge production about religion and to critique the naturalization of asymmetries that comes along with the use of generic terms.25 Simultaneously, it maintains that such a critique “is not the same as doing away with” said terms altogether. Rather, “it is to free” them from their “metaphysical lodgings in order to understand what political interests were secured in and by that metaphysical placing, and thereby to permit the term[s] to occupy and to serve very different political aims.”26 To achieve this, GRH scrutinizes the concrete use of generic terms with a decided focus on the conditions that make their use possible and with the aim of questioning their purportedly natural or self-evident meaning.27 In this sense, I argue, and this is crucial for my understanding of GRH, global entanglements are not to be confused with transnational connections, transregional links, etc., conceived in a somewhat positivist way.28 They are not simply “there, in the sources” waiting to be “discovered.” Global entanglements, GRH’s theoretically guiding concept, are relationalities between discursive signifiers (including non-verbal ones) that are traceable not just over long distances and across boundaries (generally marked by the prefixes “trans-” or “inter-”). Crucial is that they are traceable also as references to predominant global discourses affecting what the scholars regard as their matter of subject within a matrix of global power (and exploitation).29 Put differently, what qualifies relationalities as global entanglements is their capacity of disrupting narratives that, drawing on generic terms (that claim global validity), naturalize asymmetries (including so-called non-human actors) and propose alternative narratives (which, of course, are not less subject to critical interrogation). Global, then, marks the decided reflection on the researchers’ part regarding both, their operating with terms that claim global validity beyond the particular (a result of comparison) and their being positioned in a social fabric that constitutes and is constituted by global asymmetries (the assessment of which is equally a result of comparison).30 In this sense, GRH seeks to acknowledge and address what scholars have repeatedly noted, although often without fully exploring the implications in terms of theory: that historians not only research concepts, “they are also using them. We are all part of the ongoing evolution of concepts.”31

Against this backdrop, and despite frequent references to (queer-)feminist studies, it is astounding that studies relating themselves to GRH have almost completely ignored gender as a category of knowledge and power in the discourses under scrutiny.32 The few – but notable – exceptions have primarily focused on articulations by subjects identified as women.33 Thus, GRH has reified the phallogocentrism dominating large parts of scholarship on religion. That is, a “phallicized logocentrism” – a “symbolically masculine coded and identity-logical signifying economy centered on the logos, understood as unity of word and meaning.” This unity is instantiated through “concepts like God, essence, history or reason,” which function as transcendental centers that “guarantee the unequivocalness of meaning” and perpetuate multiple mechanisms of exclusion.34

The present article calls for a revision of GRH that constitutively incorporates a consideration of gender as category of knowledge along the following questions and lines. How do understandings of gender difference affect conceptualizations of religion, Islam, Christianity, mysticism, Sufism etc.? Is religion a “feminized concept” and how does this bear on critiques of the usefulness of said terms in scholarship and of comparison in general, including questions about “the gendering of other peoples” that cements global hierarchies.35 These questions call for investigations that study “global entanglements” (conceived as elaborated above) by paying special attention to the modes of operation of those privileged signifiers that appear both to control the significations which they produce and to be coherent, self-evident, and self-constituting.36 Methodologically, this comprises a dual move. Firstly, to scrutinize conceptual hierarchies and binary oppositions in which one (e.g. male-gendered) element is privileged above another “for what does not appear within its own terms” and yet constitutes the “illegible conditions of its own legibility.” Secondly; to unearth traces of the movement of that same disappearing, which constitutes the inside as well as the outside (traces of the “outside” in the “inside”), along with the contiguities and the metonymic links between the outsides.37 Such a revision, then, entails studies that go beyond a primary focus on the articulations of assumably female subjects when interrogating concepts of gender difference, masculinity, and femininity, or tropes pertaining to presumably “feminine domains” (e.g. motherhood, housekeeping, or education). Put differently, it requires studies that historicize generic terms by heeding to how gender as a category of knowledge works within the articulations of subjects identified as male (either by themselves or by the sources) – even if they refuse to include “women.” In the next section, I apply these considerations to examine the conceptualizations of Islam – and the role “religion,” “Sufism,” and “mysticism” play therein – in the above introduced treatise: “The Sovereignty of God and the Dignity of Man in Islam,” eventually subtitled “Islamic Mysticism,” serially published by Akbar between 1938 and 1941 in the “Comparative Religion” section of Genuine Islam.

3 The Sovereignty of God and the Dignity of Man: A Case Study

3.1 Debasement and the Concept of Religion

For Akbar, Muslims’ debasement is rooted in a wrong conception of the relation between the “Sovereignty of God and the Dignity of Man.” This, he maintains, is inextricably linked to a misunderstanding of Islam that stems from an equally mistaken notion of religion and mysticism. Mysticism, on the other hand, is the essence of religion if understood along a correct notion of Sufism (or “Tasawwuf”) and its non-pantheistic principle of unity of all reality.38 Thereby, Akbar distinguishes himself from two groups. Firstly, from Muslims who argue that Islam should be banned from the public sphere because it is unreasonable and obstructs progress. These group drew on the example of Kemalist Turkey, which was vehemently discussed in South and Southeast Asian intellectual circles, and on what Akbar calls a Western notion of religion, i.e., religion as mere inwardness.39 Secondly, from Muslims, such as Osmania University professor Ilyas Burney, who, according to Akbar, believes that “there is no place for Mysticism, in the real sense of the term, in […] Islam.”40 Akbar accuses both groups of operating with Christian or Western concepts of religion and mysticism and of misapplying these concepts to Islam and Sufism, resulting in a flawed understanding of the latter. Thus, he maintains, they deprive Muslims of their most important resource for achieving emancipation and progress, perpetuating Muslims’ inferiority relative to the West.41 At the base of Burney’s misapprehension, for example, Akbar sees an “English” concept of mysticism at work “borrowed” from Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist currents. This concept, is also found among misguided Sufis, that is mainly pantheistic, individualist, selfishness-driven, or emotional trance-seeking Muslims who misconceive the meaning of “unity” in Islam, according to Akbar.42 In this way, Burney conceptualizes Islam as a legalistic religion, which may be appropriate for describing Judaism but not for describing Islam, Akbar argues.43 Thus, Burney, contradicts his own dictum that Islam is “really a religion of love and mercy, the ultimate and final relation, which subsists between the creatures and the Creator,” although he is correct in stating that this relation “may not be perceived only in a world of contemplation” but comprehends an “inner perception” that leads to the advancement of knowledge and the active shaping of the world.44

Akbar’s writing himself into the discourse on mysticism of the early twentieth century, warrants a close examination – as does his echoing (albeit with a twist) Ernest Renan’s racist distinction between “Semitic” and “Aryan” religions (which included Indo-European and Persian language families), and his adopting the antisemitic discourse of his time with regard to the prototype of legalistic religions.45 It provides valuable insights for ongoing debates about the use of “mysticism” as a comparative term, and relates to the issues discussed in the preceding section. To unpack this argument, I will consider Akbar’s engagement with the “materialist” view of reality, that he sees as a necessary consequence of Christianity’s understanding of God, sin, and nature (3.2); then, I will discuss his “view of God, of Nature, and of mankind” (3.3) and how he elaborates this view challenging Christian/Western charges against Islam related to “polygamy” (3.4). Finally, I will turn to Akbar’s concept of mysticism as the essence of Islam and religion, and as the blueprint for true progress for all humanity which, according to him, is based on unity and equality (3.5).

3.2 Materialism, Immanence and Transcendence

Citing Immanuel Kant, Akbar begins his treatise by calling on Muslims to emancipate themselves from their “self-incurred pupillage.”46 This can only be achieved through a conceptualization of “religion” that takes Islam as its starting point and as the religion par excellence because only Islam offers a philosophically and ethically viable answer to the problem of transcendence and immanence, Akbar argues.47 The “old Victorian materialism,” he references the Quaker and astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington, has “disappeared forever.” Max Planck’s finding that there is a “correspondence between the structure of our minds and the structure of the Universe” renders the radical critique of religion by materialists no longer tenable.48 This is so even though their critique is understandable, given its Western origin, i.e., its emergence in a context dominated by doctrines anti-scientific and irrational as those of Christianity. The history of “bigotries” and “excommunication,” lately of scholars who seek to “release humanity from the strangle-hold of unreason” and “censorship,” Akbar asserts, is evidence of this.49 Yet, he insists, it would be wrong to dismiss the materialist critique altogether, for it elucidates Islam’s superiority to Christianity as well as to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. It brings to light the latter religions’ overemphasis on either the transcendent or the immanent as well as their disregard for the equality of human beings and their adherence to illogical doctrines, or to “crude elements” of law that deprive “man” of “his” dignity, which, according to Akbar, derive from said overemphasis.50 Islam, in contrast, through its “insistence on Unity,” conceived along a notion of God as the absolute Ego, offers a balanced understanding of transcendence and immanence, of God’s sovereignty and human dignity and freedom, as well as of spirit, matter, and nature.51 In short, Islam’s emphasis on unity, understood in a non-pantheistic way, embodies a threefold protest. Firstly, “a protest against the Trinity,” the doctrine fundamental to Christianity that posits a hierarchy within God and leads to a view of reality based on subordination and subjugation. Secondly, against “Duality,” for example between spirit and matter, mind and nature, man and woman, which, as far as Christianity is concerned, is derivative of the concept of Trinity and implies once again a view of reality based on subordination. Thirdly, against “Polytheism,” by which Hinduism potentiates subordination within the divine and subjugation within humanity. As such, Islam’s emphasis on unity is a protest against all hierarchical and anti-egalitarian epistemologies that lead people to mutual oppression and self-extinction. Yet it is more than mere protest. It “has also a positive side, which comprehends a view of God, of Nature, and of mankind” that leads to the universal progress of humanity and true brotherhood of all men. This, Akbar states, is also why “modern philosophical thought” and all “other religions” are “orientating” themselves “towards Islam” unconsciously “adjusting their beliefs” to the Quran.52

3.3 “Fall of Man” and the “Phallus”

Akbar’s understanding of a proper “view of God, of Nature, and of mankind” leading to universal progress and “brotherhood” becomes clearer if considered in light of his discussion of Christian anthropology and its view of sin and nature. For Akbar, the “Western civilization” is at the brink of a self-caused “tragedy,” a crisis epitomized in “Communism,” “Nazism,” and “Facism[sic!]” that threatens to drag “all the five continents” into a “holocaust.”53 This tragedy, he argues, is rooted in the West’s hierarchical-chauvinistic ontology derivative of Christianity’s assumption of a trichotomy and hierarchy in God. This is so because both Trinity and hierarchy are co-primordial with God’s act of begetting a son, who is eo ipso secondary and hence inferior to the God-father, Akbar maintains. Simultaneously, Christianity views sin – more precisely the “so-called fall of Adam” – as co-primordial with the original sexual act and links the pursue of knowledge with the sexual “libido.” This implies that humankind is intrinsically sinful: sexual intercourse is conceived as co-primordial with “the fall” and the acquisition of knowledge. Hence, man is considered to be morally deprived by nature. The result is a conceptualization of nature and matter that translates into a pessimistic view of life and the world, and a degradation of femininity analogous to nature and matter, according to Akbar.54

The base for this line of thought is Muhammad Iqbal’s readings of the Biblical and the Quranic narratives about the fall of man and man’s desire for knowledge which draws on Theosophist Helena P. Blavatsky. For Iqbal, the “pessimistic view” of world, nature, and matter, intrinsic to Christianity, is rooted in the “Semitic form” of the “legend of the Fall,” which is, fundamentally phallic, unlike the Quranic account. The former contains “the serpent (phallic symbol), the tree, and the woman offering an apple (symbol of virginity) to the man,” attributing the “fall” “to the original sexual act.”55 The Quran, however, Iqbal sustains, divides the myth into two episodes: one “relates to man’s desire for knowledge;” the second to his “desire for self-multiplication and power.” The first “omits the story of the serpent” entirely and “free[s it] from its phallic background” and “pessimism.” For the Quran is not concerned with a historical explanation of man’s alleged intrinsic sinfulness, but with “man’s rise from a primitive state of instinctive appetite to the conscious possession of a free self,” endowed with the capacity for doubt and inquiry.56 In this sense, Akbar argues, citing Iqbal, the “fall does not mean any moral depravity; it is man’s transition from simple consciousness” to “self-consciousness.” Accordingly, the Quran does not “regard the earth as a torture-hall where an elementally wicked humanity is imprisoned for an original act of sin,” but as a space for “unfolding his potentialities.”57 As Iqbal puts it, whereas the “Old Testament curses the earth for Adam’s act,” the Quran “declares the earth to be the ‘dwelling place’ of man and a ‘source of profit.’”58 Consequently, goodness is not a matter of coercion, but free surrender of the self to the moral ideal, arising from a willing collaboration of free egos.59 The “radical difference between Islam and Christianity,” Akbar states, is that “Islam points the way to the acquistion[sic!] of knowledge for the purpose of mastering the world of matter” with “a view to discover a basis for a realistic regulation of life.”60 To elucidate this point, Akbar delves into the complex issue of “polygamy.”

3.4 Polygamy

Typical of intellectual debates in the 1930s, for Akbar the issue of “polygamy” (actually: polygyny) is closely related to the accusation that Islam is sensual, libidinous, and misogynistic.61 If the West cites polygamy as evidence that Islam grants men a license to disregard women, he contends, this is not due to Islam but to the Christian understanding of creation and nature. Alluding to the “well-known principle in Sufi[sm]” that a “person or substance, who or which has a high spiritual value,” like a mirror, “reflects back the essential qualities” of anyone “gazing on such a spiritual person or thing,” Akbar argues: Western “propagandists” and “Christian ministers”62 looking at Islam see their own misogyny, which they project unto Islam.63 Their fundamentally phallic conception of creation, nature, and the fall translates into a causal relation between the fall, the cursing of nature, and femininity – since the woman offered her virginity to man (see previous section), she is to blame for the Fall and all the consequences. This precludes critics of Islam to acknowledge that “in Allah’s sight monogamy was to be the rule.”64 Quranic polygamy, as the conditional clause proves (referring to the incapability of doing “justice between wives”), served a pragmatic purpose – the protection of widows and orphans, he argues.65 Simultaneously, however, the Quranic teaching of polygamy shows that Islam has no negative concept of sexuality, according to Akbar.

From the Christian postulate of causality that women are to blame for the Fall, it follows that femininity is seen as a menace to man. This, combined with the idea of a curse of nature as the result of the fall, leads to a revulsion for femininity, nature, and sexuality that culminates in a contempt for them and in “insan[e]” and “unnatural forms of asceticism.” The latter include the ideal of celibacy (representing the highest form of spirituality in Christianity) and “the repression of the natural appetites, which God created to be enjoyed within certain limits.”66 Relatedly, Akbar maintains referencing Sigmund Freud, the “Western convention of monogamy, coupled with the difficulty of divorce, has often led to the repression and inhibition of natural or unnatural desires,” producing hypocrisy and devastating consequences for the “psyche which suffers it” and for society.67 One manifestation of the “hypocrisy” of the Christian West and its misogynistic understanding of nature and femininity is the “prostitution industry” promoted by governments via brothel laws, Akbar contends, referring inter alia to the entertainment industry in the colonies of Fascist Italy (whereby he apparently draws upon feminist Sylvia Pankhurst).68

In contrast, by rejecting asceticism and world-renunciation, Akbar sustains, Islam affirms femininity, nature, and sexuality. Similarly, it recognizes the scientifically proven danger of suppressing one’s sexuality, by providing man (who, according to Akbar, has a higher libido) a limited space for it, polygamy, with no more than four wives. Yet, Islam expects a voluntary adherence to the ideal – monogamy.69 In short, Akbar asserts, Islamic polygamy “is the balance between the fear of God and His clear preferences for man on the one side and the man’s eros or sexual impulses on the other. If the latter preponderates[,] it only shows that there is something seriously lacking” in “man’s conception of God.”70 Thus, Akbar concludes, while Christianity – like all other religions – “demands the affirmation of the spiritual self in man,” only Islam considers matter, nature and femininity as “part of [the] scheme of God” for the “unfolding his potentiality.” Likewise, unlike Christianity, Islam does not consider the pursue of knowledge to be sinful, Akbar sustains, referencing the critique of several liberal theologians concerning the church’s hostility towards modern science.71 Rather, the desire for knowledge and the reflection of empirical experience are complementarily connected with religious experience, which in turn has traits of sexual passion as well as a cognitive dimension and is at its fullest in “Islamic mysticism.”72

3.5 Mysticism

To substantiate his claims, Akbar significantly draws upon the scholarship on mysticism of his time, quoting extensively from Iqbal, but also Henri Bergson, William James, and L. P. Jacks, a Unitarian theologian with ties to parapsychological circles. The latter, he argues, have arrived at a conception of “dynamic religion” and “mysticism” through their critique of Christianity, Western culture, and the Western concept of religion, which approximates the true Sufi Quranic interpretation of the relationship between transcendence and immanence.73 That is, genuine religious experience, contrary to what is taught in Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, is neither irrational, anti-scientific, world-renouncing, nature- and femininity-denying, nor mere individualistic inwardness, according to Akbar.74 In this sense, Akbar asserts, Sufism is to be understood as the original form of Islam and thus as mysticism par excellence, which is also the essence of religion if properly conceived. And it is in this sense that mysticism lies at the heart of Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, in their original form, i.e., when freed from their later “alterat[ions],” he argues citing, among others, the feminist Pali scholar Caroline Rhys Davids.75

Based on this conceptualization of Islam, matter, nature, and science, as well as feeling, reason, emotion, and passion are not in contradiction to each other or to the belief in God as the ultimate reality. Rather, they reflect ultimate reality in a way that, when “recogniz[ed],” shows the path of true spiritual development.76 And it is this development, Akbar argues, that allows man to realize his “potentiality” as God’s “viceregent on Earth” and as an individual “finite ego” vis-à-vis God, the “Ultimate Ego.”77 The consequence of this is the pursuit of “universal brotherhood” by tearing down all barriers that exist between people, and thus also guaranteeing the woman dignity and recognition.

Obviously, Akbar is neither a feminist nor a women’s rights advocate. Throughout the treatise – to borrow from Judith Butler’s engagement with Luce Irigaray –, women are the excluded outside required for asserting male dominance: they figure only as objects that, similar to orphans, are in need of protection and leadership by men, like him, and whose role in public life ought to remain restricted in order to avoid anarchy and chaos. Women represent the unrepresentable, the non-signifying inscriptional space necessary for men, such as Akbar, to conduct the debates that serve specific interests.78 Akbar is not interested in female voices; women’s dignity is men’s business. Women’s dignity is for men to discuss and command so that men, such as Akbar, can claim and retain their position of authority.79 This is evident, for instance, in the condescending manner in which Akbar dismisses the demand of “Muslim ladies who go so far as to advocate the mingling of the sexes even for the purposes of worship,” whereby he employs sexist anecdotes to argue that women detract men from concentrating on God, and then adds (arguably in the guise of a women’s rights advocate) that men could be a temptation for women too.80 Femininity is the inscriptional space, contiguous and necessary for the debates of men (such as Akbar) and for the interests served by these debates, including the securing of a “fantasy of heterosexual intercourse and male autogenesis.”81 This fantasy, in turn, is a discursive condition for Akbar’s project of emancipation of the Muslim man from the sense of debasement caused by Christian Western colonialism, which operates on the basis of ascribing “femininity” to male colonized subjects, including Muslims like him.82

Akbar’s concern about the dignity of women owes to his positionality – his being positioned in a discourse that ascribed male colonized subjects “feminine” attributes, such as sensuality, instinctiveness (i.e., driven by nature), intellectual inferiority, weakness, and emotionality. Yet, he reverses the politics of this gendered attribution by accusing Western men of sensuality, hypocrisy, and therefore inferiority – as evidenced by the reference to brothel legislation and colonial sex industry, which echoes feminists, such as Pankhurst. Relatedly, he develops an Islamic hegemonic masculinity that constitutively includes these feminine-gendered attributes and is essential to his conceptualization of Islam, religion, and mysticism. Moreover, Akbar sets this understanding of masculinity in opposition to what he perceives as legalistic religions, of which Judaism is prototypical for it, in his understanding. In doing so, he evokes the above-mentioned Renanian distinction between “Semitic” and “Aryan” religions – which included Indo-European and Indo-Persian religions –, reproducing the antisemitic and racist logics he claims to overcome, for his own benefit.

In sum, Akbar’s conceptualization of mysticism is fundamentally and constitutively gendered – and as such it allows him to present Islam (as well as Sufism and religion, which, if properly understood, refer to the same, he argues) as capable of integrating dimensions that, for him, are commonly seen as antinomic, including the pursuit of peace and universal brotherhood. The gendered category of mysticism allows him to present Islam (Sufism and Religion) as inherently egalitarian and inclusive. Yet, this egalitarian inclusiveness is fallacious – it serves to establish a position of superiority, as evidenced by his condescending attitude towards other religions and his disinterest in women’s voices. Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that Islamic women’s rights advocates in the 1940s largely ignored this discourse of mysticism, unlike their Anglo-European contemporaries (and current Islamic feminists).

4 Contemporary Politics: Inclusive Mysticism, Gendered Discourses, and Global Entanglements

A result of using mysticism as a (comparative) category, Sufism in many contemporary academic and political circles is regarded as the flexible, tolerant, and inclusive (also in terms of gender) current of Islam, capable of countering its legalistic, extremist, “jihadist,” patriarchal and human rights hostile tendencies. Religious studies scholar Rosemary Corbett (née Hicks) has shown how North American politicians, in collaboration with actors such as the Rockefeller Foundation, ambassadors, and heads of state, deliberately launched research projects in the 1960s aimed at training “a cadre of new students in Islamics who have learned to integrate with their awareness of their religious tradition the new conception of intellectual inquiry” and would “ramify through the Muslim world for the next fifty years,” in line with specific visions of liberalism and secularism that were compatible with North American foreign policy.83 A key figure in this endeavor was Wilfred Cantwell Smith, the founder of the Rockefeller-funded McGill Institute of Islamic Studies. Smith was instrumental in bringing scholars like Fazlur Rahman and Hossein Nasr to his institute, who are considered key figures in or otherwise connected (if ambivalent) with the Islamization of Knowledge movement and whose influence on US-American representations of Islam and US Islam policy can hardly be overstated. During this time, the category of mysticism also began to gain significance in Smith’s work, due to his renewed engagement with Iqbal. This engagement, Hicks argues, was decisively influenced by Rahman’s and Nasr’s reception of Iqbal, and has shaped the dominant narrative in North America of “Indo-Persian Sufisms as the most moderate and liberal forms of Islam and antidotes to (generally Arab) radicalism.”84 The reception of Rahman and Nasr cannot be fully understood without considering the broader discourse on Islam, religion, and mysticism in the 1940s, which was deeply gendered and which Genuine Islam authors such as Akbar promoted and participated in, not least by popularizing Iqbal’s work.85

Narratives of a peaceful, moderate, and inclusive Sufism, determining US Islam policy, also underpinned the policy of the Indonesian government in the last two decades, which, as anthropologist James Hoesterey has shown, launched a global campaign to portray Indonesian Islam as influenced by Sufism and, hence, fundamentally distinct from contemporary Arab Islam.86 This is also the case with Pakistan’s post-9/11 policies under General Pervez Musharraf. After aligning with the United States “against terrorism,” his government implemented “several measures to counter extremism in Pakistan, including the institutionalisation of Sufi Islam.”87 At the same time, this discourse informs and is informed, among others, by the work of Religious studies scholar Sa’diyya Shaikh, to whom “Sufi approaches to epistemology” allow for developing a “feminist epistemological category of ‘experience’” aimed at producing “egalitarian knowledge of gender and subjectivities within Muslim thought.”88 As a member of the Ceylonese elite and a writer for a globally circulated journal, Akbar’s treatise provides a glimpse into the debates that took place in the 1940s and shaped the wider discourse to which figures such as Smith, Rahman, and Nasr subsequently referred, influencing government policies and contemporary scholarship.

5 Conclusion

The approach presented here contributes to studying the conditions of the discourse on mysticism and its power effects, and aids in the avoidance of phallogocentric biases in Global Religious History. Investigating apparently male discourses conducted by self-identified men with a decided focus on global entanglements (theorized, as described above, in a way that includes gender as a category of knowledge) allows for fresh perspectives in three interrelated ways: Firstly, it contributes to provincializing “masculinity,” differentiating hegemonic struggles, and complicating simplistic understandings of Westerners, men, colonized subjects, etc. It shows that Muslim intellectuals, such as Akbar, were anything but passive reproducers of “Western discursive terms,” which is also a contribution to research that criticizes comparison in the study of religion and the use of generic terms, such as mysticism, as Eurocentric. Secondly, it retrospectively brings to the fore the agency of non-hegemonic subjects, even if they figure as mere objects in the sources under scrutiny unearthing the traces of their attempted erasure. More specifically, it helps to make visible the non-explicit and often conceived references to arguments of subjects usually perceived as non-masculine and or non-hegemonic that have been adopted and taken over by self-identified male actors. Thirdly, it contributes to critiquing marginalizing thought patterns (including “racial frameworks”89) that underlie the narrative of a Sufi-Islam conceptualized in an essentialist way as ostensibly Indo-Persian and/or inherently inclusive.

6 Acknowledgements

I am grateful to Karoline Ihlenfeldt for proofreading as well as to Jana Coenen and the reviewers of this article for helpful comments on previous drafts. I also owe thanks to the Woolf Institute and to Selwyn College for providing an excellent environment for writing and offering me a Visiting-Bye-Fellow during my stay as a visiting scholar at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, in the Winter Semester 2022/2023.


Giovanni Maltese is Juniorprofessor of Religious Studies and Global Christianity and director of the Institut für Missions-, Ökumene- und Religionswissenschaft, Universität Hamburg. Maltese’s interdisciplinary research focuses on politics, gender, and problems of method and theory in the study of religion. Maltese has authored two books and more than twenty articles and book chapters on Pentecostalism, Evangelicalism, populism and right-wing authoritarianism, as well as on conceptualizations of Islam, religion(s) and masculinity in early twentieth-century South- and Southeast Asia. An Associate Fellow at the Forum Internationale Wissenschaft, Universität Bonn, Maltese has held positions as lecturer and visiting professor at the Universität Heidelberg; the Silliman University (Dumaguete); the Social Development Research Center, De La Salle University (Manila); and the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University (Atlanta). Currently, Maltese is Visiting Bye-Fellow at Selwyn College and visiting scholar at the Woolf Institute and the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge.


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Although all articles are marked as continuations, the first two parts were titled: “The Philosophy of the Holy Quran” and ran under the rubric “Islamic Theology, Philosophy, Mysticism and Culture.”


Akbar, Sovereignty [6], p. 149.


Maltese, Islam, p. 350.


Freiberger, Considering Comparison. Echoing the blurb of a volume edited in 2013 by theorist of literature, modernity, and gender Rita Felski and by professor emerita of English and Women’s Studies Susan Stanford Friedman, Freiberger calls scholars to produce “responsible comparative studies” – works that heed critiques informed by postcolonial and other critical studies and yet do not dispense with comparison altogether, see Freiberger, Considering Comparison, p. 1; cf. Felski/Friedman, Comparison. At closer look, however, Freiberger’s otherwise admirable monograph raises questions pertaining the import value the engagement with said critiques bears on his own approach. As scholar of religious studies Jens Schlieter puts it, they are “broadly presented, but not discussed in depth,” Schlieter, Oliver Freiberger, p. 241. Thus, the reader looking for the “thorough epistemological analysis” that takes both the “scholar’s situatedness and his or her agency seriously,” announced by the blurb of Freiberger’s book, remains somewhat disappointed. The study seems to leave the question of the cognitive interest (Erkenntnisinteresse) motivating the scholar’s enterprise of “description” and “classification,” according to Freiberger the “goals of comparison,” underreflected, see, Considering Comparison, p. 35. This, as Schlieter observes, comes along with a “weak understanding of theory” that “does not encompass essential epistemic interests that guide theory formation” and affects the way scholarship and normativity are conceptualized throughout the book, Schlieter, Oliver Freiberger, p. 241.


Ahmed, Islam, pp. 187, 197; for a more detailed discussion see Maltese, Islam.


Safi, Bargaining with Baraka, p. 261.


Safi, Bargaining with Baraka, p. 281; similar, but on different grounds Sviri, Perspectives, pp. 23–32.


Nile Green, for example, tries to avoid speaking of Sufism as mysticism, and prefers to describe Sufism as a “powerful tradition.” For although, “Sufism encompasses many mystical elements,” the „Western notion of the mystic” impedes the appreciation that “many aspects of Sufism were collective and public rather than individualistic and private,” Green, Sufism, pp. 2, 5.


Huss, Mystification, p. 2.


Huss, Mystification, pp. 2, 10 notes 6, 8.


Huss, Mystification, pp. 3, 9.


Ilieva, Comparative Political Theory, p. 703. In this sense, Huss’ charge against scholarship that “extricates” the investigated “phenomena” from their “historical contexts and obscures their political and social character,” applies also to any alternative Huss’ would propose, including – as Fitzgerald himself has recently argued – to the term “political,” see Huss, Mystification, p. 9; Fitzgerald, Critical Religion.


Similarly, albeit on different grounds Chittick, Faith, pp. 173–178.


Huss, Mystification, pp. 1–3; see also Hicks, Comparative Religion; Sorgenfrei, Hidden or Forbidden; for a similar critique of Ahmed, Maltese, Islam; Maltese, Gender.


Huss, Mystification, p. 9.


Cf. Maltese, Islam; Maltese, Spiritual Warfare.


Cf. Sviri, Perspectives, p. 24.


Knysh, Sufism, pp. 167, 259 note 62. For a discussion of theoretical and historiographical shortcomings of conceptual history, see Bergunder, What is Religion, pp. 257–259.


Knysh, Sufism, pp. 1–7; 31–35; cf. 35–61.


Knysh, Sufism, pp. 124–136, Juneja/Pernau, Lost, p. 112.


In a recent and highly learned article Rushain Abbasi has also critiqued Ahmed. Still, the approach I propose, differs from Abbasi’s as it operates with a poststructuralist epistemology and tries to avoid the teleology underlying conceptual history (for a discussion of theoretical and historiographical shortcomings of conceptual history, refer to my note 18). For Abbasi, “religion” is a concept that seeks to grasp a given “human phenomenon” whose essence ultimately boils down to “that ineffable connection to the transcendent […], a seemingly universal intuition which incessantly resurfaces throughout the story of humankind, whether under the guise of ‘religion’ or dīn” (Abbasi, Islam, p. 106). Thus, Abbasi can speak of the semantic transformations in the notion of dīn as further “develop[ment]” and “refine[ment],” I argue, in a way that implies an adaequatio intellectus ad rem (p. 102). In contrast, I regard “religion,” “mysticism,” etc. as names that serve to demarcate positions in specific social contexts and are linked to political interests, such as objecting to certain representations of Islam and of the history of differentiating between “religion” and “the non-religious,” which is viewed as an index for positive “social, political, and intellectual endeavours” (see Maltese, Islam, p. 367–369; cf. Abbasi, Islam, p. 1). In this sense, it could be posited: the critique that Ahmed fails to fully reflect his own discursive positionality and writes as if terms were neutral and as if it was possible to sidestep current power relations affecting the researchers’ interests (see Maltese, Islam; Maltese, Gender) applies also to Abbasi, despite his disclaimers (e.g., Abbasi, Islam, p. 5). This is evident from the way Abbasi handles the various analytical ambiguities that compel him to speak of “a concept akin to the modern sense of ‘religion’” and to invoke the Wittgensteinian concept of “family resemblance” (Abbasi, Islam, p. 104, emphasis mine). The latter, as I have argued elsewhere, is methodologically and theoretically problematic, as it lacks clarity or specificity concerning the criteria for selecting certain features and the justification for declaring similarities (Maltese/Bachmann/Rakow, Negotiating, p. 5). It is also evident from Abbasi’s drawing on the emergence of Protestantism as an “effort to define religion as an internal affair,” rather than as a struggle against papal hegemony (Abbasi, Islam, p. 104).


Ilieva, Comparative Political Theory, p. 703; cf. Loomba, Race. This is also crucial for works that focus on precolonial periods. In this sense, Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz’s (see her contribution to this issue) skepticism towards positivist accounts that overemphasize the nineteenth century is plausible, provided that studies on precolonial periods reflect the possibility, that the use of certain terms for comparing by, say, seventeenth-century Capuchine monks is not eo ipso identical with the use of the same term in a framework of global imperialism and, thus, needs to be discussed in relation to today’s practice of scholarly comparison.


There is some ambiguity among scholars who refer to their work as Globale Religionsgeschichte (German for Global Religious History). Is it conceived as a “project;” a “distinct approach” that “explores alternative spatialities, is fundamentally relational, and is self-reflective on the issue of Eurocentrism;” or as “an object of study” – and how do these understandings relate to each other? Cf. Conrad, History, p. 90; Maltese/Strube, Global Religious History; Hermann, History; Bergunder, Historisierung; Bergunder, What is Religion?; Kollmar-Paulenz, Lamas. The implicit assumption that “Global history is both an object of study and a particular way of looking at history,” see Conrad, History, p. 11, is not conducive here, unless the underlying theory of histography is discussed.


Maltese/Strube, Global Religious History.


Maltese, Spiritual Warfare, pp. 11–13.


Butler, Bodies, p. 30.


Maltese, Islam, p. 367.


Maltese/Strube, Global Religious History, p. 236.


Maltese/Strube, Global Religious History, p. 236.


Evidence of this are questions about publishing language or one’s self-locating in a specific disciplinary discourse.


Pernau/Sachsenmeier, History, p. 19.


For what follows see Maltese, Gender, which contains also a more comprehensive elaboration of this critique and of my argument.


For example, Albrecht, Coloniality; Bachmann, Witchcraft. For a detailed critical appreciation of these works, see Maltese, Gender. Studies on the construction of femininity and women’s rights among self-identified Muslim male authors in early twentieth-century South and Southeast Asia (at times translating Arab-reformers) – such as Barbara Metcalf, Virtuous Body, Hasnah Hussiin, Pendidikan, Hamisan@Khair, al-Hadi’s Thought, Hamisan@Khair/Mad Azeri, Review, or Mad Azeri/ Hamisan@Khair, Emansipasi –, have not discussed the relation between gender and conceptualizations of “religion,” “Islam,” etc. This is also the case for scholars, such as Margrit Pernau, whose excellent works include understandings of masculinity among Muslims in the interwar period from a global history perspective (e.g., Pernau, Riots).


Maltese, Gender.


Khan, Speaking ‘Religion’, pp. 154–156.


Butler, Bodies, pp. 49, 76.


Cf. Butler, Bodies, pp. 37, 45, 47–49.


Akbar, Sovereignty [3], pp. 33, 39; Akbar, Sovereignty [22].


Akbar, Sovereignty [9], p. 300; Akbar, Sovereignty [14], p. 37.


Akbar, Sovereignty [20], p. 24.


Akbar, Sovereignty [14], pp. 35–40; Akbar, Sovereignty [3], p. 40.


Akbar, Sovereignty [21], p. 24; Akbar, Sovereignty [11], pp. 375–377; Akbar, Sovereignty [3], p. 34; Akbar, Sovereignty [22].


Akbar, Sovereignty [6], p. 156; Akbar, Sovereignty [10], p. 334.


Akbar, Sovereignty [3], pp. 37–40.


Cf. Stroumsa, Semitic Monotheism, pp. 111–130.


Akbar, Philosophy [1], p. 177.


Akbar, Sovereignty [10], p. 333; Akbar, Sovereignty [15], p. 83.


Akbar, Sovereignty [14], pp. 38 et seq.


Akbar, Sovereignty [8], p. 255; Akbar, Sovereignty [10], p. 333.


Akbar, Sovereignty [10], p. 334.


Akbar, Sovereignty [3], pp. 32 et seq.; Akbar, Sovereignty [11]; Akbar, Sovereignty [14], p. 33.


Akbar, Sovereignty [3], p. 32; Akbar, Sovereignty [8], p. 74; Akbar, Sovereignty [10], pp. 333 et seq.; Akbar, Sovereignty [11], p. 369.


Akbar, Sovereignty [10], p. 335; Akbar, Sovereignty [9], p. 301.


Akbar, Sovereignty [5], p. 114.


Iqbal, Reconstruction, p. 78.


Iqbal, Reconstruction, pp. 80 et seq.


Akbar, Sovereignty [5], pp. 114 et seq.; cf. Iqbal, Reconstruction, p. 80.


Iqbal, Reconstruction, p. 79.


Akbar, Sovereignty [5], p. 115; Akbar, Sovereignty [11], p. 370; Akbar, Sovereignty [13], p. 339; Akbar, Sovereignty [14], p. 33; cf. Iqbal, Reconstruction, p. 81.


Akbar, Sovereignty [5], p. 114; freely quoting Iqbal, Reconstruction, p. 9.


For a detailed discussions of debates on polygamy conducted by Genuine Islam authors in the context of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century reformers, see Maltese, Gender.


Akbar, Sovereignty [6], p. 157.


Akbar, Sovereignty [12], pp. 296 et seq.


Akbar, Sovereignty [12], p. 298.


Akbar, Sovereignty [12], p. 298.


Akbar, Sovereignty [5], p. 117.


Akbar, Sovereignty [12], p. 298.


Akbar, Sovereignty [12], p. 297; Akbar, Sovereignty [14], p. 40; cf. Pankhurst, Women Under Fascism, which Akbar must have known as it appeared in a Hibbert Journal issue he frequently quotes.


For a contextialization of this understanding in relation to late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Muslim reformers (including figures, such as Sayyid Ahmad Khan), see Maltese, Gender.


Akbar, Sovereignty [12], p. 298.


Akbar, Sovereignty [8], p. 255.


Akbar, Sovereignty [22].


Akbar, Sovereignty [22], pp. 98 et seq.


Akbar, Sovereignty [7]; Akbar, Sovereignty [22].


Akbar, Sovereignty [6], pp. 149–154; Akbar, Sovereignty [9], pp. 301–303.


Akbar, Sovereignty [5], p. 114 et seq.; cf. Iqbal, Reconstruction, p. 80.


Akbar, Sovereignty [11], pp. 370–377; Akbar, Sovereignty [22].


For a comprehensive elaboration of this argument, see Maltese, Gender, cf. Butler, Bodies, p. 52.


Cf. Pernau, Veiled, pp. 136 et seq.


Akbar, Sovereignty [5], p. 117.


Butler, Bodies, p. 54 cited in Maltese 2021.


Cf. Morgenstein Fuerst, Gender.


Hicks, Comparative Religion, p. 153.


Hicks, Comparative Religion, pp. 141, 155.


Akbar, Sovereignty [5], p. 111; cf. Latif, Iqbal and World Order; Maltese, Gender; Maltese, Islam.


Hoesterey, Saints, pp. 195, 200.


Suleman, Insitutionalisation, p. 6.


Shaikh, Feminism, p. 14.


Hicks, Comparative Religion, p. 163.

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