Chapter

From a Republic of Letters to a Republic of Piety

Ebrahim Moosa

in What Is a Madrasa?

Published by University of North Carolina Press

Published in print April 2015 | ISBN: 9781469620138
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9781469623221
From a Republic of Letters to a Republic of Piety

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This chapter examines the ideological debates within discrete madrasa networks about curriculum reform, where the cultivation of piety becomes the goal at the expense of rigorous scholarship. Aside from providing a curriculum to train Muslim scholars in colonial India, the eighteenth-century scholar Mulla Nizamuddin reinvigorated a learned community, and his efforts gave rise to a new iteration of the so-called Muslim Republic of Letters. Nizamuddin's curriculum formed a community of learning that served as a bridge from the past to his own time. Graduates who studied his curriculum become “citizens” avant la lettre, of what is known today as a “virtual community.” The rest of this chapter discusses the genealogies and features of Nizamuddin's Muslim Republic of Letters; whether there might be an opportunity for madrasas to become participants in “cellular globalization”; and whether the public sphere will be open to multiple languages and a plurality of forms of the “good,” including the “good” as articulated by the madrasa communities.

Keywords: curriculum reform; piety; Mulla Nizamuddin; learned community; Muslim Republic of Letters; community of learning; virtual community; madrasas; cellular globalization; public sphere

Chapter.  7299 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Islam

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