'The Love of Strangers' tells the story of the first group of Muslims to ever study in Europe two centuries ago. Based around the forgotten Persian diary of the student Mirza Salih, it tells a larger story about the converging of two worlds, Muslim and Christian, in the London of 1815. Following six foreign students on their uppers, the book peeps through the hedgerows of Pemberley to show a previously hidden side of Jane Austen’s England where evangelical missionaries and empire-builders studied Persian with Shiite Muslims. This is that rarest of books about the Middle East and the West: a story of friendships.
This concise accessible book distinguishes global Islam (as a heterogeneous set of organizations and institutions) from global Muslims (as a multifarious world population of individuals and communities). In bringing together the terms ‘global’ and ‘Islam,’ it focuses not only on the doctrines of representative organizations, but equally on their techniques of transfer; that is, what makes them both Islamic and global.
A key argument is that there is no single global Islam in theological terms: there are Salafi, Shi‘i and Sufi forms of global Islam, just as there are violent and quietist forms. What distinguishes global Islam is therefore not theology but scale: the ability of some organizations to transfer their activities and ideologies across spatial, ethnic or political boundaries. This books analyzes how this innately global process occurs.