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Mapping Islamic Proselytism (Da’wah) in National and Transnational Perspectives

Panel Chair: Jamal Malik | Monday, August 24, 9-11 a.m.

Research on the global phenomenon of resurgent Islam has focused so far on Islamic states and movements that strive to establish an ideal Islamic state. However, emphasis has been put on the militant, jihādī, aspect of Islamism, which has led to considerably biased representations of the phenomenon and, correspondingly, biased policies. In contrast, this project aims at taking a complementary perspective by examining the discourses and practices of Islamic resurgence, centred on the concept of daʿwah, mission, for it is rather daʿwah (invitation) than jihād (struggle), we argue, that forms the backbone of the modern Islamic state and collective action. Hypothesizing that religion is being reasserted in the post-modern secular world, we consider the various discourses, practices and organisations of daʿwah to be epitomes of the transformation of Islam that takes place in the face of Western and missionary challenges and puts it on the secular age’s cultural market. Thus, this project will shed light on redefinitions of the Islamic Self and Other, on the reformation of gender relations and youth culture, and on the interaction of Islamist political theology with the modern notions of civil rights, democracy and social justice.

Thomas Gugler

Da’wat-e Islami and Sufislamism: Practice & Politics of Preaching in Pakistan

Being the only Islamic state founded as a refuge for Muslims, Pakistan has the world’s largest numbers of Islamic missionary movements. Like Israel, its Muslim twin is an ideological state, claiming to defend the rights of coreligionist non-citizens beyond its border. Under Zia ul-Haq Islamization became the main political project of Pakistan. The dynamics of Islamization focused increasingly on questions of conformity and external observance: how to dress, how to practice gender segregation, Islamic ways of eating, fasting and speech etc. The Dawat-e Islami was founded in 1981 as the Barelwi counterpart of the Tablighi Jamaat and has become by now Pakistan’s largest and by far most visible organization for the propagation of Quran and Sunnah in the Country, revolving around piety and self-improvement it promises a revitalization of Muslim solidarity. It runs its own chain of madrasas and jamiats, Islamic shops, Mufti hotlines, Dar al-Ifta offices and airs its own TV-channel “Madani Channel”. Due to the transnational character of the movement, with centres in about a hundred countries, young Muslims in Pakistan consider Dawat-e Islami a specifically modern and cosmopolitan way to practice Islam. With the attitude of “learning Islam by preaching”, its lay preachers are requested to regularly participate in missionary qafilas. Following this program on a daily basis enables one to experience the result of discipline — and the pleasures of minor victories leading to larger triumphs against one’s nafs.

Nina Wiedl

Daʿwa and Islamic Law in Minority Contexts: On the Interrelation between Salafi Daʿwa and Salafi Legal Opinions in Germany

This paper examines how Islamic law and religious verdicts (fatāwā) by ʿulamāʾ from Saudi Arabia may shape and restrict daʿwa, and how Salafi preachers in Germany react to these constraints. It aims to demonstrate that Salafis are able to act rationally and strategically and adapt to minority contexts. Drawing on an analysis of fatāwā and publications on religious law and jurisprudence, the Salafi approach to Islamic law related to daʿwa is investigated through an analysis of four areas of regulations that are central to daʿwa in Germany: interaction with non-Muslims, interaction between males and females, methods of da ͑wa, and the process of conversion. The results reveal that the challenges of effectively practicing daʿwa to non-Muslims prompted some preachers to develop new and more pragmatic interpretations of Islamic law for the German context and to adjust fatāwā by Saudi ʿulamāʾ without transgressing the scope of the orthodox methodology of legal reasoning.

Muhammad Al-Atawneh

Globalizing the Wahhabi Daʿwa

One of the most noticeable areas of the Wahhabi expansion is the significance of its ‎religious transnational penetration of the Arab world, Africa, Asia, Europe and ‎North America since the late seventies of the last century. This is experienced in several areas, for example religious ‎preaching, educational programmes, charitable organisations, and religious patronage networks. The paper will try to explore this phenomenon of globalizing the Wahhabi da'wa during the last few decades in terms of theory and practice. Some of questions to be raised are: How is da'wa presented in contemporary Wahhabi writings? To what extent was Wahhabi da'wa globalized? What are the means and methods adopted by Wahhabis to spread their mission? What are the motives behind the globalization of the Wahhabi da'wa?

Jamal Malik

Fiqh al-da`wa or the Juridification of Islamic Mission in the Context of Globalization

Globalization is made responsible for different sorts of (re)invented traditions: from hyper-culture to individualization. Probably this is right, but the matter of fact is that there is a marked trend towards a new religious foundation in and of societies. Some call this the deprivatisation of religion; others describe it as the return of the gods. Obviously, religion has become an important factor in politics and society. Law and proselytism seem to play a major role in negotiating this complex situation. With Islamic proselytism (dawah) having gone global the invoking of empowerment has also pluralized, and religious authority disenchanted. It may look like religious resistance when piety-minded Muslims instigate homogenizing dawah activities and endowing them with legal superstructure. The entanglement of proliferation of law and the process of legal framing may be traced in what is called fiqh al-dawah, the legal reasoning on Islamic proselytism. The paper will reconstruct the genealogy of this rather new genre, its social constructiveness, its ideational grounding and its normative potential. It is argued that though juridification of dawah is not yet complete, some of its aspirations and promises are visible in the context of the global reassertion of religion in the public sphere, its ability to compete with other systems in the secular market, and the grasping of hegemony and agency.


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