Islamic revival, tradition, and identity: the Islami Sangh Nepal
The Kathmandu valley is a microcosm of the various Muslim communities in the country and a major center of Islamic authority and discourse production in the country, despite being home to only a small percentage of Nepal’s Muslims. In recent decades the Islamic landscape of the Kathmandu valley has been transforming through the efforts of the most vocal members of the country’s Muslim minority who hail from the regions of southern Nepal bordering India. Recently establishing a presence in the Kathmandu valley, these Muslims have increasingly adopted Islamic reform and revival ideologies through Islamic organizations in which the role of Islamic education and a particularly discursive understanding and engagement with Islam is emphasized. This chapter focuses on the most prominent and influential of these organizations, the Islami Sangh Nepal, to examine this growing Islamic revivalism that one witnesses in Nepal today and contextualize it in terms of larger global trends of Islamic revivalism and the local context of ongoing conflict and alterity that Muslims face in Nepal. I suggest that through the Islami Sangh Nepal’s propagation of a modern Islamic revivalism and its particular epistemological orientation, an identity and tradition are being forged that seek to address the religious exigencies of Muslims in Nepal.