This volume brings together the work of more than thirty scholars of Islam and Muslim societies in South Asia. It comprises a rich anthology of primary texts that contributes to a new appreciation of the lived religious and cultural experiences of the world’s largest population of Muslims.
The thirty-four selections—translated from Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Gujarati, Hindavi, Dakhani, and other languages—highlight a wide variety of genres, many rarely found in standard accounts of Islamic practice, from oral narratives to elite guidance manuals, from devotional songs to secular judicial decisions arbitrating Islamic law, and from political posters to a discussion among college women affiliated with an “Islamist” organization.
Drawn from premodern texts, modern pamphlets, government and organizational archives, new media, and contemporary fieldwork, the selections reflect the rich diversity of Islamic belief and practice in South Asia. Each reading is introduced with a brief contextual note from its scholar-translator, and Barbara Metcalf introduces the whole volume with a substantial historical overview.
BARBARA D. METCALF is president of the American Historical Association. She is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Davis, and most recently taught at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Islamic Revival in British India and coauthor of A Concise History of Modern India.
“Barbara Metcalf has helped transform the study of modern South Asian Islam by her insistence on close readings of texts; her attention to religious practice, institutions, and worldview; and her refusal to dismiss the concerns of South Asian actors. This edited volume, with its magisterial introduction, exemplifies these qualities while giving us access to a wide range of texts from throughout South Asia. She and her collaborators are owed great thanks.”
“This is undoubtedly the richest collection of materials on South Asian Islam ever to be published in a single volume. What makes it so rich is its contributors' presentation and interpretation of primary texts, rather than any attempt to broach a synthetic narrative, however complex. This approach allows the book to be used in different ways: as an introduction to the wealth of Muslim texts and practices in South Asia, as a guide to scholarly debates on South Asian Islam, and as a reference. Barbara Metcalf's introduction is a masterpiece of lucid condensation.”
“This is a book of the first importance. It offers a way of engaging with Muslims and Muslim societies that takes them out of orientalist and political discourses and instead focuses on what Muslims actually say and do. It should form approaches to Islam among generations of students. Barbara Metcalf's masterly introduction gives the whole book a rich context infused with deep historical understanding.”