Engendering Piety and the Making of an Islamic Home in an Islamic Revival Movement in Pakistan

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - 5:00pm
Faculty Lounge, VC Office, LUMS

This presentation focuses on how Pakistani Tablighis, practitioners of the transnational Islamic piety movement the Tablighi Jamaat, attempt to restructure kinship relations within their homes. Tablighis practice a distinct form of face-to-face preaching (dawat) that involves arduous travel and intimate living in groups of men in the mosque. The central claim of the Tablighi Jamaat is that by preaching to others, one creates the "faith" (iman) needed to live a pious life. In this presentation, I outline the ideals of pious male authority around which the Tablighi Jamaat is structured and show how bringing the home under the authority of the Elders of the movement is one of the primary goals of Tablighis. Tablighis insist that all individual Muslims can acquire faith through dawat, but acquiring “certain faith” requires that a Tablighi constitute an Islamic home by eliciting the participation and support of his kin. While anxiety and doubt permeate the movement, faith becomes particularly precarious when a Tablighi fails to align the space of the home with that of the mosque. The project of creating "certain faith" requires remaking one's most intimate relations, a fact that has far-reaching political implications in Pakistan.

Dr. Arsalan Khan is assistant professor in the department of anthropology at Union College in Schenectady, NY. His research is situated at the intersection of semiotics, ritual, value, and ethics, themes that he explores in the context of the Islamic revival in Pakistan. Through an examination of the transnational Islamic piety movement, the Tablighi Jamaat, in Pakistan, his research explores the broader relationship between Islam, secularism, and modernity.