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Living Hadith in the Tablighi Jama`at

Barbara D. Metcalf
The Journal of Asian Studies
Vol. 52, No. 3 (Aug., 1993), pp. 584-608
DOI: 10.2307/2058855
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2058855
Page Count: 25
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Living Hadith in the Tablighi Jama`at
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Abstract

The symposium is impressive, not only for its findings but also for the variety of interpretative perspectives employed by the authors. With surprising ease the contributors have broken the often artificial boundaries of Asia's regions to provide meaningful comparisons from both South and Southeast Asia. Three of the articles refer to the work of BENEDICT ANDERSON, who has stressed the role of mass-produced vernacular literature in creating the political and social identities on which the postcolonial world is organized. The contributors generally stress that religion-often interpreted as a private matter in the postcolonial world-can increase its influence in the public sphere. In addition, the authors address the question of the differing ways a text can be composed and read, an issue that is arguably central to most current literary criticism and as well the major concern of some social scientists. BARBARA D. METCALF, in particular, stresses that the social uses of these vernacular Islamic texts reveal there is no wholly autonomous subaltern tradition, but rather that alternatives are always shaped by the particular dominant order in which they occur. Finally, the authors all address the gap that lies between universal principles and their particular expressions. The symposium organizer, JOHN BOWEN, suggests that studies of other universal traditions, such as Buddhism and Confucianism, will reveal new understanding of the alternative projects being proposed in their names for the postcolonial world.

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