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Changing Structures of Islamic Authority and Consequences for Social Change: A Transnational Review

Final Report Summary - CSIASC (Changing Structures of Islamic Authority and Consequences for Social Change: A Transnational Review)

Changing Structures of Islamic Authority and Consequences for Social Change: A Transnational Review, a project funded by the ERC starting grant, set out to examine how scholars within leading Islamic authority platforms across the globe are responding to changing attitudes and preferences of the Muslim youth faced with modern day realities; it also focused on examining how young Muslim choose between these competing Islamic scholarly platforms. The project has produced important publications, which are already drawing attention among academic peers. In terms of potential societal impact, it has also led to development of a Proof of Concept grant application which could potentially help develop a module that makes young Muslims in the West better relate to their local societies.
Two book monographs, authored by the PI, have been published by Cambridge University Press under this project. Female Islamic Education Movements: The Re-Democratization of Islamic Knowledge (CUP, 2017) traces the emergence of female Islamic education movements across the Muslim world as well as among Muslim diaspora in the West since the 1970s and explains the factors shaping this demand and the implications it has for the interpretation of Islamic gender norms in the future. The second monograph, The Revival of Islamic Rationalism: Logic, Metaphysics and Mysticism in Modern Muslim Societies (CUP, 2020) traces the emergence of a powerful Islamic revival network in the West led by white converts, that is making young university going Muslims in the West engage with the rationalist and deeply mystical and philosophical debates in Islam. The volume thus captures the Muslim youths’ desire for integration than gravitating towards jihad.
Two major team volumes were published on Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change (EUP, 2018). Volume 1, subtitled, Evolving Debates in the Muslim Majority Countries, analyses the conceptual and methodological debates ongoing within four most influential Islamic scholarly platforms in the Muslim majority countries which have following among Sunni Muslims around the globe. While mapping the actual fiqh (law) debates to analyse how the scholars adjust the Islamic moral and legal dictates to demands of modern time, the volume also maps the historical and contemporary social-political context that shapes each institution’s approach to Islam. Volume 2, subtitled, Evolving Debates in the West, maps six important new Islamic scholarly platforms emerging in the West, that are gaining followers especially among young educated Muslims. These initiatives are led by dynamic scholars, who are raised in the West. The Volume maps the conceptual and methodological tools these scholars are adopting to reconcile Islamic moral and legal dictates with modern Western reality. These volumes have been very well received leading to frequent invitations for the PI to present at leading academic platforms.
Another edited volume is forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press on Salafi Social and Political Movements: National and Transnational Contexts. The volume draws on a conference held under the project on Future of Salafism and is edited by the PI. Finally, five articles from the work done under the first half of the project are already published in leading journals while another 10 articles are in the process of preparation. These articles (most of them joint works between PI and the project post-docs) draw on ethnographic work done by one of the post-doc in the second half of the project with Muslim communities in UK and Germany to understand how young Muslims choose between competing Islamic scholarly platforms and on results from ‘Muslim youth and Islamic knowledge survey’ administrated online with university going Muslim youth in the UK, Ireland and the USA as well as with their counterparts in one Muslim majority country (Pakistan).