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Changing Structures of Islamic Authority and Consequences for Social Change: A Transnational Review (CSIASC)
Start date: Mar 1, 2014, End date: Feb 28, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Research on Muslims in Europe or in the Muslim majority countries has since September 11, mainly focused on understanding the causes of religious radicalization. Largely ignored in the public debates, as well as in academic scholarship, is recognition of the rapid growth in a number of prominent initiatives emerging within Muslims in the west that are aimed at initiating intellectual revival within Islam. Drawing inspiration from the thinkers such as Al-Ghazali or Ibn-Rushd (associated with the ‘rationalist tradition’ in Islam), the Muslim intellectuals and scholars at the center of this movement for intellectual revival in Islam are arguing for ‘indigenizing Islam in the West.’ This project is aimed at understanding the emergence and growth of this movement, the methodology different actors within this movement adopt to initiate reform while remaining loyal to the Islamic ethical spirit, and the implications of these attempts at intellectual reform for individual behavior and social change within Muslims in the west as well as in Muslim majority countries. The project will situate the emergence of this movement within the broader shifts being witnessed in the traditional structures of Islamic authority— such as Al-Azhar University, Dar-ul Uloom, Deoband, Diyanat, and Al-Medina University— that dominate the teaching and interpretation of Islam globally but are under pressure to reform. By developing detailed ethnographic accounts of these new and old institutions of Islamic authority, examining the intellectual discourse of their scholars, observing the argumentations through which they socially advance their conception of Islam, and analyzing how these discourses impact real life choices, this project will shed light on the complexity of Islamic thought and changes in contemporary Muslim societies. It will also highlight the spaces that are emerging for engagement between the Islamic and western tradition and inform theory of religious behavior."

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