Islāmicate: Different Perspectives


• The Venture of Islam. Volume 1. The Classical Age
  of Islam. 1977. Pages 58-59.
• Michael G.S. Hodgson

The term ‘Islamdom’ will be immediately intelligible by analogy with ‘Christendom’. ‘Islamdom’ is, then, the society in which the Muslims and their faith are recognized as prevalent and socially dominant, in one sense or another–a society in which, of course non-Muslims have always formed an integral, if subordinate, element, as have Jews in Chrisendom. It does not refer to an area as such, but to a complex of social relations, which, to be sure, is territorially more or less defined.... Sometimes the phrase ‘the Islamic world’ is used much in this sense....

... I thus restrict the term ‘Islam’ to the religion of the Muslims, not using that term for the far more general phenomena, the society of Islamdom and its Islamicate cultural traditions.

... The adjective ‘Islamic’ ... must be restricted to ‘of or pertaining to Islam’ in the proper, the religious, sense .... Unfortunately, there seems to be no adjective in use for the excluded sense–‘of or pertaining to’ the society or culture of Islamdom.... I have been driven to invent a term, ‘Islamicate’.... [It] would refer not directly to the religion, Islam, itself, but to the social and cultural complex historically associated with Islam and the Muslims, both among Muslims themselves and even when found among non-Muslims.

• On the “Introduction to Islam”
• A. Kevin Reinhart
• Oxford University Press

Phenomenal essentialism is the assumption that there is some intrinsic form of Islam that transcends time and place; an essence of Islam. This is a mistake characteristic of both Muslim and non-Muslim students-Muslims, because they are committed to the idea of a transcendent truth to which they adhere, and non-Muslims because they assume the stability of that which is labeled by the word “Islam,” just as Judaism, slavery, or democracy are also understood to be stable essences represented by the word. To subvert this metaphysical approach I make Hodgson’s terminology from his prolegomena to The Venture of Islam standard for the course. The differences underlying his distinctions between Islam and Islamdom, Islamic and Islamicate are so commonsensical and so taken-for-granted in other fields of academic study that not to use them is a kind of intellectual sloth that requires justification by those who would choose not to take pains to speak precisely. No one would say, “with Clive's victory in the Battle of Plassey, Christianity controlled all of India.” Yet it is commonplace to say that “after the battle of Yarmouk, Islam was victorious throughout the Middle East.” Bulliet and many others have shown, of course, that it was not “Islam” that was victorious but the Arab armies; and centuries were to pass before “Islam” was the dominant religion of the Middle East or anywhere else besides Arabia.

• Islamic Art
• The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and
• Oxford University Press

The term “Islamic” is ... different from such terms as “Christian” or “Buddhist.” The latter deal only with a system of beliefs and pious behavior, while Islam deals with all aspects of life. The term “Islamic” is also different from such modifiers as “Gothic” or “Baroque,” as it is not restricted to a period or a style. And “Islamic” is not, as is “French” or “Chinese,” tied to a land or space with a continuous chronology of changing artistic forms. Imperfect and even misleading though it may be, the word “Islamic” is preferable to a host of older terms such as “Moorish,” “Saracenic” or “Mohammedan,” which have inappropriate or erroneous implications, or to a neologism such as Hodgson’s “Islamicate” (to refer to civilization, where “Islamic” is limited to the religion), which has not been widely accepted.

• Gender in Arabic Literature
• Fedwa Malti-Douglas, Devin J. Stewart, and
  Miriam Cooke
• The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World
• Oxford University Press

Most twentieth-century Arabic fiction is informed by an Islamicate consciousness, even if relatively few authors have chosen specifically Islamic themes. Many writers question the place of tradition in a rapidly modernizing world, but few examine religion as a social, symbolic system. Those novels and poems that have dealt with Islam specifically have three foci: criticism of the institutions of orthodox Islam; the spiritual role of Islam and of the prophet Muḥammad as a counterproject to Westernization; and Islamist activism. Such texts tend to exaggerate traditional conceptions of gender roles and behaviors. Gender is here used to refer to the images, values, interests, and activities held to be important to the realization of men's and women?s anatomical destiny. As women have added their voices to the corpus of literature on Islam, so have the understandings of gender changed.

• Wahid Azal
An Introduction to The Fatimiya Sufi Order

... the Fátimíya Súfí Order is in no way, shape or manner an exoteric, orthodox Islamic sect .... [W]e are an Islamicate expression of an intrinsically universal Indo-Iranian phenomenon of gnosis ....

The First Word: Islamicate Homo Faber

As for why Islamicate and why not Islamic, Muslim or even Homo Islamicus, I have deliberately avoided using the term Homo Islamicus to broaden the scope of discussion to broaden the focus. The idea is critique the way things are in the Islamic world and beyond and not just on why the way things should be. In Latin Homo Faber means ‘Man the maker.’ Especially in Philosophy of Technology, human beings are conceptualized as tool making creatures. This is the other important theme in this blog – the relationship of technology with humankind. Taken together, these two themes mean that we will be discussing the impact of technology on Islamicate culture ....

Islamicate: Islam Doesn’t Speak, Muslims Do
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
  United States License

Welcome to islamicate. The term comes from Marshall Hodgson, historian ....

We are here to comment upon the culture and society, which affects Muslims, and that are affected by Muslims. We want to make informed, critical commentary. Part of the tradition of the Islamic world-view is intellectual engagement with the faith and the world, and we believe this tradition to be waning. We don’t want to be labeled as either “progressive,” or “conservatives;” these labels are too constraining and imply a deviance from an acceptable norm of Islamic thought. We hold that there is not a normative Islamic thought, but rather, a spectrum of ideas and thoughts that are in constant engagement with one another. We would like to engage in this fluid process and to encourage people to extend the arguments, as well as to disagree with the positions taken amongst members and visitors.

The world around us is changing quickly, is deeply inter-connected, and, as a result there are important issues confronting Muslims and Muslim cultures. In many instances, we seek the quick answers to these challenges, ignoring over 1400 years of history, either in ignorance or for ease. History should not act as a limiting factor to our thought, but as an enriching factor, and it should help us realize that much that we think is new, has in fact been the subject of vigorous discussion and debate throughout Islamic history.

There are more and more websites that wish to discuss the nature of the modern Islamic world, and the state of Muslims today - we link to some of them. We support this, it shows that public debate is coming back to the forefront. We also hope you find something unique enough about our approach that you keep coming back here.

Society of Contemporary Thought and the
  Islamicate World (SCTIW)
• Founded in 2010

For our purposes, the Islamicate world in fact embodies a kind of limitless zero-world, a vast territory of thought, experience, and imagination through which some of the most powerful currents circulate at will. It is through such obscure existential turns-across rising spaces of transformation, experimentation, and distortion-that we construct the map for a captivating endeavor.

Islamicate Graduate Student Association (IGSA)
• University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

IGSA represents the interests and ideas of graduate students involved in the academic study of Islamicate civilization, culture, and religion. We work to facilitate enduring forms of interdisciplinary exchange and assist in funding and arranging on-campus events organized by graduate students across departments and schools.

Beyond Turk and Hindu
• Brief Excerpt from the Introduction
• Bruce B. Lawrence and David Gilmartin

To open up the space between reductive religious orientations and mobile collective identities, one needs a new vocabulary that is not restricted to modern connotations of words such as ‘Muslim’ and ‘Hindu’. It was to remedy the inadequacy of English popular usage that the world historian Marshall G.S. Hodgson coined the term ‘Islamicate’. For Hodgson the neologism ‘Islamicate’ allowed students of civilizational change to refer to the broad expanse of Africa and Asia influenced by Muslim rulers but not restricted to the practice of Islam as a religion. It is for the same reason, to suggest the breadth of premodern South Asian norms beyond Hindu doctrine or practice, that we employ the term ‘Indic’ in the essays that follow. Both Islamicate and Indic suggest a repertoire of language and behavior, knowledge and power, which define broad cosmologies of human existence. Neither denotes simply bounded groups self-defined as Muslim or Hindu.

The goal of the contributors to this volume is thus contrarian: it does not accept popular notions, even those espoused by major and influential world figures, which invoke identity as set, unchanging and exclusive. Instead, the contributors have tried to understand within the frames of Indic and Islamicate norms those discrete processes of identity formation that shaped religious identities in pre-colonial South Asia. The aim is to move beyond a fixation with bounded categories, whether “religious” or “ethnic,” Hindu or Turk, in order to pluralize the ways that these categories operated in varying historical contexts.

The Asma Practice™ of the Asma Path™
• Copyright © 2011 Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.

... The Asma Path  is a personal  Baháʾí project. It is not a Muslim Ṣūfī order. Nevertheless, the term, Ṣūfism, has also been more broadly defined as a spirituality, or a mysticism of the heart, inspired  by Islām. Since Islām is “the source and background” of the Baháʾí Faith, The Asma Path  may be seen as Islāmicate.

In this book, the term, “Islāmicate,” will refer to groups or movements, Islāmic or not, which began or developed within, or were strongly influenced by, a culture dominated by Muslims. Although I have never been a Muslim, there has been a long  history, up to the present, of permitting non-Muslims to enter certain Ṣūfī orders. The majority of orders, regardless of their admissions policies, are Islāmic. Some, including The Asma Path, are not. All of them, by accepting Ṣūfī concepts or by using a Ṣūfī vocabulary or simply by beginning in Ṣūfism, are Islāmicate. Therefore, “Islamicate” may be more accurate.

Regardless of Hodgson’s suggestion that the noun, “Islāmdom,” apply to “the Islāmic world,” I personally see no need to introduce an additional word. In the English language, a noun with the same ending, “Caliphate” (Hilāfa, successorship or representation), refers to the historical religious leadership structure for the largest branch of the Muslim population. (The Turkish government ended the Caliphate in 1924.) For this reason, I use “Islāmicate” as both  an adjective and a noun. The construct, Ṣūfism, for instance, may be defined as an Islāmicate. More specifically, The Asma Path  is an Islāmicate.