Sumbul Farah: MUSA FORUM MUSA's 2nd Graduate Conference, in collaboration with the Royal Asiatic Society, will be held in London on 8, 9, & 10 October 2015. The keynote address will be delivered by Professor Michel Boivin of CEIS Paris. Please do join us.
Thematic Keywords
Sufi, shrine, Barelwi, Ahl-e-Sunnat wa’l Jamaat, Sunni, ulema, identity, performance, boundaries
Geographic Keywords
Bareilly, South Asia, India
Full Name
Sumbul Farah
Email Address
Current Position
PhD student
as of [21-05-2015 03:34:28]
Current Department
Department of Sociology
Expected Year of Graduation
Academic Advisor
Dr. Deepak Mehta
Position Title
PhD student
Current Institution
Department of Sociology, University of Delhi
Country of Institution
Most recently completed Degree and Institution
M.Phil, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Discipline of most recently completed degree
Year of graduation from most recently completed degree
Current Research Title
Piety and Politics in local-level Islam
Current Research Abstract
For my doctoral dissertation I studied the Barelwi school of thought, which defends the tradition of saint-venerating Sufi Islam as well as the practices and rituals associated with shrines. Centered on the Khanqah (Sufi hospice) of Ahmad Raza Khan, an Islamic scholar of the late nineteenth century in India, the Barelwi school offers textually grounded validation of the beliefs and practices that are often dismissed as ‘local’ and ‘external’ (and by extension, un-Islamic) influences by their detractors. My work explores what it means to be a Barelwi (or Ahl-e-Sunnat wa’l Jamaat, which is the term preferred by religious scholars) and the manner in which believers inhabit the identity in the everyday. The predominantly performative character of Barelwi thought makes the task of delineating and policing the boundaries relatively convenient for the believers. Although the boundaries that eventually emerge are deeply contested and often fluid and shifting there is a constant preoccupation with their regulation because they serve to construct a Barelwi identity in opposition to a supposedly coherent ‘other’. By relying on the explicit nature of mundane and extraordinary acts that are believed to be informed by an innate ethical disposition all believers stand to judge the appropriateness of others’ faith and thereby ensure the emergence of a society that complies with the ethical standards upheld by Barelwis.