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Understanding the Umma as an Islamic “Global” Society

WIDHIYOGA, GANJAR (2017) Understanding the Umma as an Islamic “Global” Society. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Traditionally the concept of society was in practice bound by state or tribal boundaries. However, the aspiration to move beyond the boundaries and establish a global society has been present in mankind’s history. Roland Robertson calls this kind of aspiration “global consciousness”. One such aspiration can be found in Islam. Islam encourages the believers to spread the religion and establish a global society, which in Islamic vocabulary is called the umma.

In this thesis, I seek to explore how early Islamic society developed global consciousness and how the concept of the umma developed in relation to the concept of global consciousness and to the concept and historical formation of a global society. I argue that the early Islamic society developed global consciousness through reflecting the spiritual teaching of Islam and through several networks. In order to trace the development of global consciousness in early Islamic society, I follow Clifford Geertz’s assertion that religion is a cultural system and discuss how basic doctrines and religious rituals in Islam cultivate the development of global consciousness in the minds of the believers.

Subsequently, in order to understand the global characteristics of the umma, I observe the historical development of several instruments fundamental to the emergence of translocal networks in the Muslim world, namely the intellectual networks of Muslim scholars, the caliphates, and Sufi brotherhoods. The presence of networks of intellectuals, integration under the caliphates, and the spreading Sufi brotherhoods are invoked as indicators that the umma was a social reality and had the characteristics of translocal society. Yet, while the aspiration to establish a global society is strong within Muslim society, I argue that historical data show that the umma is a translocal, rather than a global, society.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Globalisation, global consciousness, global society, Islam, Umma
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:21 Jun 2017 07:51

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