In classical books in anthropology of islam the categories of «great and little traditions» set up a dichotomy between an orthodox, official, scripturalist, puritanical, urban islam and an heterodox, popular, oral, saintworshiping, ritualistic, tribal Islam. This essentializing theory, criticized in Islamic studies, lasted for a long time in anthropology for multiple reasons: failed dialogue with religious (and islamic) studies, ethnocentrism, political circumstances. The 'invention' of an 'authentic orthodox islam' seems to be a recurrent pattern in history, functional to serve ideologies and interests of different subjects: islamic dominant élites, colonizers, islamists (moderate and radicals) and, finally, scholars apologists of islam after 11/9. [Publisher's text].
Anthropology of islam, islamic studies, religious studies, orthodoxy, sufism