ENIS/NISIS-MIDA Summer School Indonesia 2022 "Mobility and Mobilisation in Muslim Societies"
Venue: Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University (Yokyakarta, Indonesia)
Pascal Buresi (CNRS / EHESS-IISMM), Maribel Fierro (ILC-CSIC). Albrecht Fuess (CNMS / Philipps-University of Marburg), Christian Lange (Director NISIS), Noorhaidi Hasan (Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University; International University of Indonesia).
Prof. Dr. Martin van Bruinessen (Utrecht University),
Prof. Dr. Claudia Derichs (Humboldt University Berlin),
Prof. Dr. Edith Franke (Philipps-Marburg University),
Dr. Syafiq Hasym (State Islamic University Jakarta),
Dr. Istiqomah (Institut Agama Islam Negeri),
Dr. David Kloos (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies),
Dr. Sunarwoto (UIN Yogyakarta),
Dr. Syamsul Rijal (UIN Jakarta).
The international Summer School “Mobility and mobilisation in Islamic societies” is co-organised by the European Network for Islamic Studies (ENIS), formed by the European Research Program “Mediating Islam in the Digital Age” (MIDA) and the Netherlands Interuniversity School of Islamic Studies (NISIS), Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, Yokyakarta, and International Islamic University of Indonesia. The Summer School addresses the topic of mobility and mobilisation in Muslim societies, past and present. Mobility and mobilisation are two interrelated dimensions in the fabric of Muslim societies that have played an important role in shaping these societies’ religious, intellectual and political developments throughout the centuries. Taking movement as a mediating practice, the objective of the Summer School is to study how mobility of people – both in the past and in the present, be they Muslims or non-Muslims, inside and outside the Islamic world, in the ‘real world’ and in cyberspace – has affected the relationship of Muslim societies with their own past, their understanding of their present environment, the formation or deconstruction of entrenched or new stereotypes, and their local dynamics of political and/or intellectual mobilisation.
For the fourteenth-century scholar Ibn Khaldun, “traveling in quest of knowledge is absolutely necessary for the acquisition of useful knowledge and perfection.” The pilgrimage to Mecca and the study journey (al-riḥla fī ṭalab al-ʿilm) stand out among the cultural practices closely associated with Islam that involve mobility, and their relevance is reflected in the number of studies devoted to these two manifestations of Muslim mobility. Ibn Khaldun’s family was from al-Andalus, where the riḥla fī ṭalab al-ʿilm seems to have reached its maximum expression in the early centuries of Islam. Studies on this cultural practice have shown that Andalusis and Maghrebis travelled in great numbers to the central lands of Islam, ahead of those from other regions also located in the edges of the Islamic lands. Travel and pilgrimage was not limited to the scholars and the believers who could afford to pay for it. The ruler of Mali, Mansa Musa (ca. 1280-ca. 1337), went to Mecca, one of the few rulers who did so in the premodern period. The riḥla as a literary genre is considered to have been an Andalusi innovation.
At the same time, there were always scholars who seem to have considered that they could learn what they needed without venturing out of their homeland, although few general studies have been carried out to explain what motivated them against those who did perform the riḥla. The twelfth century saw the rise of a movement, that of the Almohads, headed by a Mahdi who told his favourite student, the future caliph ʿAbd al-Muʾmin, that he did not need to travel to the East because all the knowledge he needed he could find it now in the West. This proclamation of cultural and intellectual superiority and independence did not last for long, and travels of study continued in later times. After the Almohad attempt at establishing a local sanctuary at the grave of the Mahdi Ibn Tumart in Tinmal (Atlas Mountains) there occurred a ritual re-centering in the Hijaz. This gave rise to a peculiar Maghrebi practice, that of sending letters to the Prophet’s grave in Medina by those who could not visit a town that was also closely linked to the eponym of the Maliki legal school that prevailed in the Islamic West.
When moving from the Western to the Eastern edges of Islam, other developments can be highlighted and contrasted with those just briefly described. In the late-medieval and early modern period, mobility between Muslim India, Southeast Asia, and the central and western parts of the Islamic world, increased significantly. In the Mataram Sultanate of Java, to highlight just one example, local, strongly centralistic traditions merged with Islamic cosmopolitanism. Via the Indian Ocean, scholarly and economic networks proliferated, a dynamic that was further enhanced by the advent of the steamship in the 19th century and the airplane in the early 20th century. The Maghrebi and Indonesian cases serve to illustrate that the geographical and intellectual conception of a “centre” (the Hijaz, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Anatolia in Ottoman times) and “peripheral” regions (al-Andalus, or Southeast Asia) should be problematized as for certain periods (perhaps always)? polycentrism seems to be what best reflects the reality on the ground.