Global and Jihad and the Battle for the Soul of Islam

Mervyn F Bendle


The violence of the present global crisis tends to obscure another battle that is presently underway within Islam, one "for the soul of the world's Muslims" (Schwartz, 2002:163). While the primary focus of much current research concerns the threat of the Islamist call to 'Global Jihad', these movements are also seeking to impose a purified Islam universally across the Muslim world. They are targeting popular forms of Islam, Sufi mysticism, and the many diverse forms of traditional Islam that have existed for centuries across the globe. Given the significance of these religious phenomena, and especially Sufism, this is a battle with major implications for the future of Islam and the religious history of the world. This paper describes and assesses this situation and identifies some implications for the contemporary study of Islam.

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