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CSI Monday Majilis

Philipp Bruckmayr

Islamic Reform as a Family Affair: The Tariq Shah Wali Ullah in Modern Malaysia

Event details


Philipp Bruckmayr
Islamic Reform as a Family Affair: The Tariq Shah Wali Ullah in Modern Malaysia

Monday Majlis Online on the 18th of March, 17:00-18:30 (UK time)
Centre for the Study of Islam, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter.

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Abstract: The present contribution charts the intellectual and social history of a Malay scholarly family across four generations. The story begins in 1840 in the rural village of Tak Bai in present-day Thailand with the birth of Tuan Tabal, who would become the first Malay shaykh of the Aḥmadiyya-Idrīsiyya. Most of it then plays out in Kelantan in northeast Malaysia, where sons and grandsons of Tuan Tabal devised their own - locally highly controversial – discourse of Islamic reform centered on their ingenious interpretation of the works of the South Asian 18th century luminary Shāh Walī Allāh al-Dihlawī. It ends in affluent suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, where some of Tuan Tabal’s great-grandsons are still striving to spread their teachings, known as the Tariq Shah Wali Ullah, in their quest to overcome what they perceive as the psychological feudalism and self-defeating dogmatism prevailing among the Malay segment of Malaysia’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. With its links to scholarly circles in Mecca, Cairo and Deoband, the history of Tuan Tabal’s family has strong transnational aspects. Yet, it also reflects the transformations accompanying the transition from British Malaya to independent Malaysia and intersects with key internal social and political developments, including the rise of the Islamist Parti Islam Se-Malaysia and the ascendancy of the present prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. 

Bio: Philipp Bruckmayr studied Arabic and Islamic Studies, Turkish Studies and History at the University of Vienna. Currently a Visiting Professor in Islamic Studies at the University of Freiburg, he served as research fellow and visiting lecturer at the International Research Center Cultural Studies (Vienna), University of Passau, National University of Malaysia, University of Exeter and University of Bamberg. He was awarded the Dissertation Prize of the German Association of Middle Eastern Studies (DAVO) in 2015 and the Dr. Hermann Stieglecker-Scholarship for Christian-Islamic Studies of the Forum of World Religions (FWR) in 2017. Much of his research has focused on Islam in Southeast Asia, the Māturīdī school of rational theology, and transnational aspects of modern Sunnī and Shiʿī Islam.   

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István T Kristó-Nagy