Religion and transnationalism: Bridges, barriers and breakthroughs

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Handbook on Religion and International Relations


Edward Elgar Publishing


School of Arts and Humanities / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




James, J. (2021). Religion and transnationalism: Bridges, barriers and breakthroughs. In J. Haynes (ed.), Handbook on Religion and International Relations (pp. 52-67). Edward Elgar Publishing. https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/gbp/handbook-on-religion-and-international-relations-9781839100239.html


The March 2020 timing for Tabligh Jama’at (TJ; a relatively unknown Islamic transnational organisation) to convene its international conference in Malaysia was unfortunate. This religious organisation gained notoriety when it was revealed that some Jama’at attendees were carriers of Covid-19, spreading their infection to Malaysia and to at least three other countries. Furthermore, shortly after the Malaysia conference, Indian police served two legal notices to Mohammad Saad, TJ’s Indian leader, for allegedly holding meetings in New Delhi during India’s Covid-19 lockdown. Examples of the dynamics of religion and transnational relations in the remainder of this chapter are generally much more positive. In this chapter, I situate religion within the realm of globalisation and transnationalism, commencing with a brief semantic comparison of globalisation and transnationalism, followed by an introduction of the key construct ‘glocal’ (i.e. global-local), which refers to the crucial macro–micro nexus of transnational religion. I then proceed with the main substance of the chapter: an examination of the working of religious transnationalism within three metaphorical contexts: bridges, barriers and breakthroughs



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