Buddhist and Islamic Orders in Southern Asia: Comparative Perspectives

Hardback: $80.00
ISBN-13: 9780824872113
Published: November 2018
Paperback: $28.00
ISBN-13: 9780824892494
Published: August 2021

Additional Information

230 pages
  • About the Book
  • Over the last few decades historians and other scholars have succeeded in identifying diverse patterns of connection linking religious communities across Asia and beyond. Yet despite the fruits of this specialist research, scholars in the subfields of Islamic and Buddhist studies have rarely engaged with each other to share investigative approaches and methods of interpretation. This volume was conceived to open up new spaces of creative interaction between scholars in both fields that will increase our understanding of the circulation and localization of religious texts, institutional models, ritual practices, and literary specialists.

    The book’s approach is to scrutinize one major dimension of the history of religion in Southern Asia: religious orders. “Orders” (here referring to Sufi ṭarīqas and Buddhist monastic and other ritual lineages) established means by which far-flung local communities could come to be recognized and engaged as part of a broader world of co-religionists, while presenting their particular religious traditions and their human representatives as attractive and authoritative to potential new communities of devotees. Contributors to the volume direct their attention toward analogous developments mutually illuminating for both fields of study. Some explain how certain orders took shape in Southern Asia over the course of the nineteenth century, contextualizing these institutional developments in relation to local and transregional political formations, shifting literary and ritual preferences, and trade connections. Others show how the circulation of people, ideas, texts, objects, and practices across Southern Asia, a region in which both Buddhism and Islam have a long and substantial presence, brought diverse currents of internal reform and notions of ritual and lineage purity to the region. All chapters draw readers’ attention to the fact that networked persons were not always strongly institutionalized and often moved through Southern Asia and developed local bases without the oversight of complex corporate organizations.

    Buddhist and Islamic Orders in Southern Asia brings cutting-edge research to bear on conversations about how “orders” have functioned within these two traditions to expand and sustain transregional religious networks. It will help to develop a better understanding of the complex roles played by religious networks in the history of Southern Asia.

  • About the Author(s)
    • R. Michael Feener, Editor

      R. Michael Feener is the Sultan of Oman Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and a member of the History Faculty at the University of Oxford.
    • Anne M. Blackburn, Editor

      Anne M. Blackburn is professor of South Asia studies and Buddhist studies at Cornell University.


    • Ismail Fajrie Alatas
    • Anne M. Blackburn
    • Kenneth Dean
    • R. Michael Feener
    • Nancy K. Florida
    • Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa
    • Alexey Kirichenko
    • Torsten Tschacher
    • Martin van Bruinessen
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • Two seasoned scholars of Asian religion have combined to produce this unique and insightful volume. It demonstrates how a kaleidoscope of orders, both Muslim and Buddhist, emerged in Southern Asia during the long nineteenth century, exhibiting the power of spiritual networks and also the value of maritime mobility. Highly recommended for all students of comparative religion, colonialism, and global history, especially but not solely in the Indian Ocean and Southern Asia.
      —Bruce B. Lawrence, Duke University
    • Feener and Blackburn have brought together a diverse array of scholars to fundamentally redefine how scholars understand Islamic and Buddhist history in Southern Asia. First, they show how orders/sects/lineages were both broad and intimate consisting of highly personal allegiances and affections that stretched over large territories and time periods. Second, they erode the logic of studying either religion through national lenses by showing the complex trade, material, intellectual, linguistic, and ritual networks in which each individual Sri Lankan Buddhist, Indonesian Sufi, Tibetan lama, and so forth existed. Finally, they question the boundaries of traditional regional approaches to the study of Islam and Buddhism in Asia by bringing scholars of Tibet, Bhutan, India, and Sri Lanka together with scholars of the “shorescapes” of Mainland and Island Southeast Asia and the South Chinese littoral. Its broad vision and close historical detail should attract both advanced scholars and new students of the field and start conversations that bring multiple fields into contact.
      —Justin Thomas McDaniel, University of Pennsylvania