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Islam Beyond Borders: The Umma in World Politics

With different meanings attached and without an overarching formal institution, the umma has nevertheless maintained strong symbolic, normative and political appeal in the world of nation states. However, as James Piscatori and Amin Saikal observe, with the structural fragmentation after the abolishment of the Sunni Caliphate and the absence of Shia Imamate, new forms of interconnectedness that embody “Muslim communalism today” are replacing old forms and bringing new theological and practical quandaries.

 

There are very few religious concepts that have enjoyed such a prominent place in modern political discourses as the umma, the global community of Muslim believers. With different meanings attached and without an overarching formal institution, the umma has nevertheless maintained strong symbolic, normative and political appeal in the world of nation states. However, as James Piscatori and Amin Saikal observe, with the structural fragmentation after the abolishment of the Sunni Caliphate and the absence of Shia Imamate, new forms of interconnectedness that embody “Muslim communalism today” are replacing old forms and bringing new theological and practical quandaries (p. 7).

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