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Ritual and Political Critique: Tuan Guru's Subversive Pietism

Centre for Contemporary Islam, University of Cape Town
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  • Philosophy
  • Religious Science


Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Qadi ‘Abdus Salam (lived 1712-1807), more commonly known as Tuan Guru, was chiefly responsible for the institutionalization of Islam in Cape Town. The intellectual matrix of this institutionalization was his massive compendium of Islamic writings that was to play a central role in shaping the theology and ritual practices of Cape Muslims. While this compendium contained apparently very different types of subjects – a very philosophical “high theology” written side by side with devotional litanies, supplications and amulets characteristic of popular Sufism – we argue that they must be seen as interacting organically. These pietistic sections of the compendium played a crucial role in reinforcing and vivifying its theological component and, by extension, this theology's critique of the colonial worldview.Journal for Islamic Studies Vol. 26 2006: pp. 92-112

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