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From Local Practice to Transnational Network — Saints, Shrines and Sufis among Tamil Muslims in Singapore

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Practices of saint-veneration among Muslims are often perceived as thoroughly localized traditions, which cannot be transplanted to other localities. For this reason, much of the scholarship on the diasporic Muslim communities has assumed that practices of saint-veneration would decline in the Diaspora. Yet, most of this scholarship focused on the relatively young Muslim communities in Western countries. This paper aims to assess this theory by investigating saint-veneration among Tamil Muslims in Singapore, who have been a part of Singaporean Muslim society since the early nineteenth century. It will argue that, contrary to current theories, saint-veneration among Tamil Muslims did not decline among the Singaporean Tamil Diaspora. Rather, Tamil Muslims participated in creating a landscape of shrines in the city by inking their practices with those of other Muslim communities, while at the same time maintaining attachments to saints and shrines back in India.


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