In his book "What is Islam?", Shahab Ahmed proposes the concept of Islamicate to describe the cultural, social, and political expressions of Islam throughout history. According to Ahmed, Islamicate refers to the complex interplay of Islamic values, beliefs, and practices with the diverse cultures and societies in which Muslims have lived and continue to live.
Islamicate encompasses the various ways in which Islam has shaped and been shaped by the cultures and societies in which it has been present, including language, art, literature, architecture, law, governance, and social and economic systems. It includes the cultural expressions of Islam that are not directly related to the religious teachings and practices of Islam, such as music, dance, and dress, as well as the more explicitly religious expressions of Islam, such as the Qur'an and other sacred texts, ritual practices, and the legal system.
In contrast, the term "Islamic" refers specifically to the religious teachings and practices of Islam, as outlined in the Qur'an and the Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad). This includes the belief in one God (Allah) and the belief in Muhammad as the last prophet of Islam, as well as the observance of the Five Pillars of Islam (shahada, salat, zakat, sawm, and hajj).
By distinguishing between the Islamic and the Islamicate, Ahmed argues that we can better understand the diverse ways in which Islam has influenced and been influenced by the cultures and societies in which it has been present, and avoid reducing Islam to a monolithic and homogenous religion.
One of the primary sources for the concept of Islamicate is the book "What is Islam?" by Shahab Ahmed. Published in 2015, this book presents a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of Islam and its place in history and contemporary society. Ahmed argues that the traditional categories of "religion" and "culture" are inadequate for understanding Islam, and proposes the concept of Islamicate as a more accurate and nuanced way of understanding the complex interplay of Islamic values and practices with the cultures and societies in which Muslims have lived and continue to live.
Other sources that discuss the concept of Islamicate include:
"Islamicate Culture in South Asia: At the Intersection of the Religious and the Secular" by Farhat Hasan, published in 2015. This article explores the concept of Islamicate culture in the context of South Asia, and how it has shaped and been shaped by the region's diverse cultural, social, and political histories.
"Islamicate Material Culture: Objects, Images, and Spaces of Devotion in South Asia" by Ebba Koch, published in 2016. This book explores the various ways in which Islamicate culture is expressed through material objects and spaces in South Asia, including mosques, tombs, and other sacred spaces.
"Islamicate Narratives and the Discourse on the Modern Nation-State" by Laurence Louër, published in 2008. This article discusses the role of Islamicate narratives in shaping the modern nation-state in the Middle East, and how these narratives have been used to construct and negotiate ideas of nationhood and citizenship.
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