I’m delighted that the Department of Islamic and Middle East Studies at the University of Freiburg will be hosting Prof. Teena Purohit (Boston University, Department of Religion) on July 4th, 2023, at 6.15pm.

Prof. Purohit’s talk examines the main arguments of her recently published monograph Sunni Chauvinism and the Roots of Muslim Modernism (Princeton University Press, 2023). The dominant through line of the book traces how nineteenth century modernists such as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Muhammad Abduh, Muhammad Iqbal, and Rashid Rida wrote about their aim to unite the global Muslim community—which was stagnant and fragmented in their eyes—through the idea of tauhid. While modernists claimed to represent all Muslims when they asserted the centrality and significance of unity, they questioned the status of groups such as Ahmadis, Bahais, and the Shia more broadly. Their aspirations to unite the Muslim community created lasting divisions and exclusionary impulses that continue today. This talk will focus in particular on how modernists’ preoccupations with unity were informed by a Sunni normative bias shaped by a simultaneous threat and fascination with the charismatic leadership of Ahmadi, Bahai, and the Shia communities.