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What Is a Madrasa?$
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Ebrahim Moosa

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469620138

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469620138.001.0001

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From a Republic of Letters to a Republic of Piety

From a Republic of Letters to a Republic of Piety

Chapter Six From a Republic of Letters to a Republic of Piety
What Is a Madrasa?

Ebrahim Moosa

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the ideological debates within discrete madrasa networks about curriculum reform, where the cultivation of piety becomes the goal at the expense of rigorous scholarship. Aside from providing a curriculum to train Muslim scholars in colonial India, the eighteenth-century scholar Mulla Nizamuddin reinvigorated a learned community, and his efforts gave rise to a new iteration of the so-called Muslim Republic of Letters. Nizamuddin's curriculum formed a community of learning that served as a bridge from the past to his own time. Graduates who studied his curriculum become “citizens” avant la lettre, of what is known today as a “virtual community.” The rest of this chapter discusses the genealogies and features of Nizamuddin's Muslim Republic of Letters; whether there might be an opportunity for madrasas to become participants in “cellular globalization”; and whether the public sphere will be open to multiple languages and a plurality of forms of the “good,” including the “good” as articulated by the madrasa communities.

Keywords:   curriculum reform, piety, Mulla Nizamuddin, learned community, Muslim Republic of Letters, community of learning, virtual community, madrasas, cellular globalization, public sphere

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