In Good Company Piety and Conjugality in Colonial North India

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Darakhshan Haroon Khan


Piety, Conjugality, Thanawi, Tablighi Jamaat


Women’s participation in the Tablīghī Jamā‘at, an Islamic reform movement launched in the 1920s that emphasizes personal piety, remains underexamined, impeded by the organization’s strict pardāh requirements but also by the popular perception that it is a body of male preachers. While there is no indication that its founder wanted women to play an active role in his movement, women were a part of the Jamāt a few decades later. This paper points to important twentieth-century shifts in the socio-economic configuration in north India that paved the way for women’s inclusion in the Jamāt. The mode of piety that evolved in this period was better suited to handle the stresses of the emerging salaried class, and it upheld the pious wife as an ideal companion for the pious man, underplaying the role of teachers and spiritual masters. This paper argues that the possibility of social and geographic mobility that changed the structure of the household and the texture of local communities also formulated a mode of piety that enabled women to perform da‘wā.

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