Muslims on every continent have responded in a great variety of ways to the challenges of colonial modernity. Yet, it is also possible to examine broader currents within this diversity. Fundamentalism, modernism, and traditionalism are global currents which also overlap with other religions, such as Christianity or Hinduism. However, these contested and unstable categories only loosely designate internally diverse currents comprised of complex sub-currents as well as countercurrents. Fundamentalism, for example, has been used to designate various Wahhabi or Salafi movements. Modernism can refer to liberal, progressive, and even postmodern Islamic movements. Traditionalism generally refers to those movements which claim continuity with classical lineages, especially in jurisprudence (fiqh
), doctrine (‘aqîda
), and spirituality (tasawwuf
). Muslims associated with this current generally identify as Traditional
rather than Traditionalist
. Traditional Islam is a global community whose participants adhere to several Sunni and Shia lineages and share a common discourse, network, and aesthetics. These participants typically depict fundamentalism as too rigid and literalist, and modernism as too eager to capitulate to Western ideologies and prone to unorthodox interpretations of Islam. However, rather than hostility and conflict with the West, Traditional Muslims tend to promote peaceful inter-civilisational dialogue, based on shared values in terms of spirituality, ethics, and indeed geopolitical stability. Morocco has emerged as a hub of Traditional Islam, along with other countries such as Jordan. It is pursuing an official policy to reinforce its reputation as the centre of a Western Islamic tradition that converges around the following four central elements: (1) veneration of the Prophet Muḥammad’s descendants (sharifism); (2) Maliki fiqh
; (3) Ash’ari ‘aqîda
; (4) Junaydi tasawwuf.
This article examines how Morocco is actively engaged in shaping the regional and global Traditional Islamic community. It also proposes a decolonial world-systems analysis of how Traditional Islamic discourse relates to the lived experiences of Muslims in places such as Morocco. Based on this analysis, this article concludes that a credibility problem impedes efforts by Traditional Muslims to defend the unique ways of being, knowing, and behaving developed by Muslims against the ongoing genocidal threat of colonial modernity.
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