Revitalised Sufism and the new piety movements in Islamic Southeast Asia

Authored by: Julia Day Howell

Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415635035
eBook ISBN: 9781315758534
Adobe ISBN: 9781317636465


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This chapter focuses on Sufi currents within the contemporary Islamic revival movement in Southeast Asia. While popular today, Sufi Islam was heavily criticised by many twentieth-century scripturalist reformers drawing on the Wahhabi and Muslim Brotherhood movements, which favoured narrowly law-oriented and anti-Sufi forms of piety. Scripturalist Islamic renewal movements succeeded for a time in marginalising the Sufi-inspired Islam dominant in the region and elsewhere before the twentieth century (Laffan 2011; Wormser, this volume). Nonetheless, throughout the twentieth century, traditional, mostly rural Islamic schools (pondok or pesantren), fostering knowledge of classic Islamic texts and linked together within organisations such as the Nahdlatul Ulama, have continued to foster Sufi study and practice. And over the last several decades, even as new waves of scripturalist revivalism have gained momentum in the region, so also have new forms of Sufi piety emerged and inspired many Muslims, in cities as well as in the countryside.

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