Society and Identity
Pakistani Tablighis, practitioners of the transnational piety movement, the Tablighi Jamaat, claim that Muslims have abandoned “religion” (din) and become captivated by “the world” (dunya), a fact that has thrust the world into a state of moral chaos (fitna). Among the most visible signs of this moral chaos, they say, is the breakdown of hierarchical relations within the family, for instance between children and parents, wives and husbands, and younger and older siblings, as well as the break down of moral relations between Muslims along ethnic and national lines. For Tablighis, what is needed is a “return” to the Prophet’s Time, a time when Muslims were organized around the exemplary authority of the Prophet and when the Companions expressed their love for the Prophet in total devotion. This nostalgia for the sacred past reflects a desire for a time when people recognized and valued their place in a moral hierarchy. In this presentation, I argue that this nostalgia not only establishes the value of hierarchy in the present, it also demands that the Tablighi move towards a pious ideal by emulating exemplary pious others. In this sense, hierarchy is not a static condition but opens the future towards new possibilities, instantiating a temporality of pious becoming.