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The Umma, Community of Faith

Many regard the umma as the totality of Muslims, but some exclude believers whose faith is suspect either because of a commitment to different goals or because they belong to a ‘deviant’ sect. Today, the umma as a concept has an ‘external’ dimension – relations of the non-Muslim Other to the community of faith – and an ‘internal’ dimension – relations among Muslims themselves. The research strand documents how discussions on the idea and agenda of Islamic unity have unfolded in the recent Arab past, focussing on how intellectuals and social movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or Hizbullah in Lebanon, understand relations with other faiths and sectarian divisions within the Islamic community, thus examining their self-presentations of a cornerstone concept in modern Islamic thought.

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