Routledge Handbook on Islam in Asia  book cover
1st Edition

Routledge Handbook on Islam in Asia

Edited By

Chiara Formichi

ISBN 9780367225285
Published September 30, 2021 by Routledge
388 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Routledge Handbook on Islam in Asia offers both new and established scholarship on Muslim societies and religious practices across Asia, from a variety of interdisciplinary angles, with chapters covering South, Central, East and Southeast Asia, as well as Africa–Asia connections.

Presenting work grounded in archival, literary, and ethnographic inquiry, contributors to this handbook lend their expertise to paint a picture of Islam as deeply connected to and influenced by Asia, often by-passing or reversing relationships of power and authority that have placed ‘Arab’ Islam in a hierarchically superior position vis-à-vis Asia. This handbook is structured in four parts, each representing an emergent area of inquiry:

  • Frames
  • Authority and authorizing practices
  • Muslim spatialities
  •  Imaginations of piety

Dislodging ingrained assumptions that Asia is at the periphery of Islam – and that Islam is at the periphery of Asia’s cultural matrix – this handbook sets an agenda against the ‘center-periphery’ dichotomy, as well as the syncretism paradigm that has dominated conversations on Islam in Asia. It thus demonstrates possibilities for new scholarly approaches to the study of Islam within the ‘Asian context.’

This ground-breaking handbook is a valuable resource to students and scholars of Asian studies, religious studies, and cultural studies more broadly.

Table of Contents

Part I: Frames

1. Studying Islam: The view from Asia

Chiara Formichi

2. Minoritization, racialization, and Islam in Asia

Ilyse R. Morgenstein Fuerst

3. The five pillars and Indonesia’s musical soundscape

Anne K. Rasmussen

4. Islam and Sanskritic imaginaires in southern Asia: Mount Meru in Arabia

Torsten Tschacher

5. Islamic feminism in Asia: Trials and tribulations for Muslim wmen

Huma Ahmed-Ghosh 

Part II: Authority and authorizing Practices

6. Eastern African doyens in South Asia: Premodern Islamic intellectual interactions

Mahmood Kooria

7. The making of Qīz Bībī in Central Asia’s oral shrine traditions: From the Great Lady to a fourteen-year-old virgin

Aziza Shanazarova

8. The Ismailis of Badakhshan: Conversion and narrative in highland Asia

Daniel Beben

9. Islamic law in Xinjiang

Eric Schluessel

10. Major turning points for Shiʿi Islam in modern South Asia: Princely states, partition, and a revolution

Simon Wolfgang Fuchs 

11. Making Islamic finance in South Asia: The state, the seminary, and the business corporation

Sohaib Khan

12. In the halal zones of Malaysia and Singapore

Johan Fischer

Part III: Muslim spatialities

13. South Asian Shi’i sacred geography: Tracing 'Ali’s footprints

Karen G. Ruffle

14. Muslim pilgrimage in Southeast Asia: Saints among the rice fields

Sophia Rose Arjana

15. Ḥaḍramī Sufi-scholars and their shrines in Southeast Asia: A geography of sanctity

Ismail Fajrie Alatas

16. Sacred spaces and the making of Sufism in Sri Lanka: Between violence and piety

Merin Shobhana Xavier 

17. Muslim interactions between Central Asia, China, and imperial Japan

Kelly A. Hammond

18. Mosque architecture and decoration in China

Nancy S. Steinhardt

Part IV: Imaginations of piety

19. Mapping the trajectory of Islam in Chinese terms: Community matters

Roberta Tontini

20. The "moral background" of work in Central Asia: The sacred in the mundane

Jeanine Dağyeli

21. Pious lives of Soviet Muslims

Eren Tasar

22. Two Deobandi views on being Muslim in India: Indian bodies, Meccan hearts

Brannon D. Ingram

23. The Tablighi Jama’at movement in maritime Southeast Asia: Piety in motion

Farish A. Noor

24. A tree enrooted: African Sufi saints as "lineage deities" of a Muslim community of East African ancestry in Western India (Gujarat and Mumbai)

Jazmin Graves

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Chiara Formichi is Associate Professor in Asian Studies at Cornell University. Her research focuses on the intersection of Islam and politics in late-colonial and post-colonial Southeast Asia, and especially Indonesia. She has also published on the politics of knowledge production on Islam in Asia. Her publications include Islam and the Making of the Nation: S.M. Kartosuwiryo and Political Islam in 20th Century Indonesia (2012) and Islam and Asia: A History (2020).


'Dispelling the notion of Asia as a periphery to a Middle East-centered Muslim world, this groundbreaking volume looks to the many Asian communities that comprise 60% of the global Muslim population. From hagiography to finance, pilgrimage to law, these twenty-four essays explore multiple modes of being Muslim, in past and present, across all regions of the continent.'

Nile Green, University of California, Los Angeles, USA 


"This volume marks a turning point in the study of Islam, shifting the geographical scope towards the religion’s most populous regions and away from long-standing textualist tendencies. As Formichi rightly points out, there is much to be gained by expanding our frames of study, conceptions of authoritative practice and Islamic spaces, and understandings of what constitutes Muslim piety. Drawing from an outstanding network of scholars working in different regions and with varying methods, the Routledge Handbook on Islam in Asia decenters the study of Islam from its philological and Near Eastern roots and productively queries the categorical assumptions with which the field is typically associated...This volume definitively establishes that it is essential to include Islam in the analysis of Asian religions and that to study Islam, one must include Asia.'

Anna Bigelow, Stanford University, USA


'Through a rich collection of work reflecting recent shifts in perspective on Muslim societies in the region, this book reframes approaches to the study of both Islam and Asian history in ways that highlight trans-regional diversity and complex dynamics of interaction. This forward looking state-of-the-field volume is a valuable new resource for scholars and students across a wide range of area specializations and academic disciplines.'

R. Michael Feener, Kyoto University, Japan