Arun Rasiah “On the Shores of Learning: Scriptural Formations of Muslim Intellectual Culture in the Indian Ocean World”

On the Shores of Learning: Scriptural Formations of Muslim Intellectual Culture in the Indian Ocean World

This project examines the transmission and translation of Islamic texts from Arabic into Tamil to map a sacred landscape of the Indian Ocean arena. Using textual analysis and interviews, my work excavates scholarly texts and oral sources to trace an intellectual genealogy that forms the basis of contemporary intellectual culture. Aspects of Arabic and Persian literary practices have gained currency while a local grammar of being Muslim contributes to vernacularizing religious thought and practice, particularly through the hybrid script of Arabu-Tamil or Arwi. By exploring circulations of Arwi script, my research illuminates shifting layers of Islamic identity embedded in contested scripturalist cultures of transnational Tamil Islam.

Arun Rasiah’s doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, focused on the transmission of Islamic knowledge in Qom, Iran, and examines cultures of reading in centers of Islamic learning of the Middle East and Indian Ocean. In conjunction with Berkeley faculty, he teaches summer seminars on Islamic intellectual history in Granada, Spain.


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