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Introduction: The 'Ulamā' As "Local Intellectuals"

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Chapter Summary

Muslim intellectual history for later periods, especially the eighteenth through twentieth centuries, has received far less attention. It is a period regarded by many until recently as an intellectual wasteland whose theologians were largely devoid of originality. What has been little studied in any era is the impact of the ʿulamāʾ and their thought on wider common society. To date little has been written on the ʿulamāʾ as a reflection of the societies to which they belonged. The book seeks to address both of these issues by examining the role of various learned holy men, such as Shaykh Qassim, in helping urban Somali society cope with the turbulent colonial era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It examines the role of Muslim religious leaders as intellectuals in the broadest sense of the term and their role as molders of social discourse during an era of upheaval and change.

Keywords: ʿUlamāʾ; Muslim intellectual history; Muslim religious leaders; Shaykh Qassim; social discourse; theologians; urban Somali society



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