Shaykh Abdullahi al-Qutbi and the pious believer’s dilemma: local moral guidance in an age of global Islamic reform

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Using the writings of the religious scholar `Abdullahi al-Qutbi, this article examines the ‘transregional’ nature of Muslim reformist discourse in the early twentieth century and the way in which the trajectories of individuals, objects and ideas cut across the largely imaginary boundaries traditionally used to divide the Middle East and Africa. African Muslims have maintained intimate ties with their non-African brethren across space through various intellectual, economic and political relationships throughout the history of Islam. However, they have also remained entwined across time via engagement with the more or less commonly accepted canon of the faith and what Talal Asad has termed the ‘discursive tradition.’ This essay demonstrates the persistence of these processes through the age of European colonialism into the early twentieth century. But equally important is the way in which the increasingly elaborate and rapid networks of empire created in the nineteenth century facilitated and intensified the interaction of both people and ideas helping create the modern horizontally integrated community of believers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-504
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Eastern African Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015



  • discursive tradition
  • Islam
  • religious reform
  • Somalia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Anthropology
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations

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