If by any one thing, it is religious transformation that marks early modern history. Confessional and pietist movements, both European firsts, are prominent examples of such catalysts for change. In large parts of the Islamic world in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it was Sufi piety that carried the day. The historiographical record reveals strikingly new imaginaires and novel modes of connectivity to the past. The focus in this presentation is on the manifold ways in which new forms of religiosity redefined the landscape of politics in the eastern Islamic world.
Even if convergence between various parts of the early modern worldin both what came before early modernity and what came after it remains elusive, a comparative approach to religious change may help illuminate global currents that defy easy categorization, and crucially, predate the empire-building impulse that for many early modernists sculpts their era from what came before it.