Anglo-American ‘Traditional Islam’ and Its Discourse of Orthodoxy

  • Kasper Mathiesen

Abstract

Since the late 1980’s a current or denomination that is often referred to as Traditional Islam has crystallised within the broader landscape of Sunni Islam in the English-speaking world. This analysis sheds light on Traditional Islam’s discourses of orthodoxy and orthopraxis, its historical narratives, rhetoric regarding contemporary Islam and how it construes the metastructure of Islam and the Islamic sciences. It is mainly based on essays by Nuh Ha Mim KELLER and Abdul Hakim MURAD and carves out an overview of contemporary Traditional Islam and its central fields of discourse and scholarly contention. Contemporary Traditional Islam’s understanding of Islam is established by reference to the famous ḥadīṯ Jibrīl that speaks of a tripartite structure of the religion consisting of islām, īmān and iḥsān. Through the specification of each of these subfields of revealed knowledge Traditional Islamic discourse instructs its adherents regarding the nature of orthodoxy and its understanding of the Islamic past, present and future. Traditional Islam’s discursive bid for orthodoxy challenges other strands and conceptualisations of normative Islam, not least those predominant within groups and currents associated within salafism, revivalism and reformism.