Islam in History and Politics Perspectives from South Asia by Asim Roy, ed. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006. 224 pages.)

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Carool Kersten



This collection of essays consists primarily of the output of Australia’s first
major conference on SouthAsian Islam, held in 1996.Most of the contributions
to this somewhat delayed volume, then, were written by scholars working in the Australian and New Zealand academe. Editor Asim Roy has tried
to close the intervening decade with an at times polemical introduction
focusing on the Islamophobia that has been rising steadily since the conference
was held.
The book opens with Francis Robinson’s conference keynote address. A
professor at Royal Holloway in London and former president of the Royal
Asiatic Society, Robinson is one of the most prominent scholars on (early)
modern Islam in South Asia. His presentation discusses the shift from an
“other-worldly” to a “this-world Islam” and the consequences that this
inward turn had for the individual Muslim’s sense of responsibility. As the
ulama lost their monopoly on the interpretation of Islam in this process,
reformists and modernists – and Muslim women in particular – were all
thrown back on their own devices for re-evaluating the role of religion in
what had become, to a large extent, a disenchanted world ...

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