Book Review: Islamism and Democracy in India: The Transformation of Jamaat-e-Islami
For the past few decades, and particularly since 2001, the issues of Islam, Muslim politics and democracy in the Muslim world have been a central focus in the field of international relations. Much of the work on these subjects has been done by historians, political scientists and area specialists within international relations. Additionally, most of the focus of this work has been on the Middle East, a region still of great significance as the area from which Islam emerged and still the source of various ideas and trends that characterize the broader Muslim world. However, a major shortcoming of this scholarship is due to the fact that the Middle East is now home to only one-fifth of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. After Indonesia, the country with the world's largest Muslim population is India, a country whose history in relation to Islam is only a few decades shorter than that of Arabia. Research on Islamism in India is lacking in both absolute terms and in proportion to the population of Indian Muslims vis-a-vis the rest of the Muslim world. It is in these contexts that the work of Irfan Ahmad makes such an important contribution to the literature. As an anthropologist, Ahmad is able to approach the subject utilizing the techniques of ethnography to present a detailed and insightful analysis of how the forces of secularism and democracy influence Islamic movements in India.
Journal of Sociology
Social and Cultural Anthropology