ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Consistency and Ambiguity in South Asian Islam

Consistency and Ambiguity in South Asian Islam THIS book consists of papers presented at a conference on 'South Asian Islam: Moral Principles in Tension', which was held in 1981 in Pennsylvania. The various contributors represent a variety of disciplines: anthropology, history, religious studies. The anthropologists are by far the largest group. In the 'Introduction' the editor declares the purpose of the study as an examination of the relationship between the codes for behaviour derived from Islamic principles and codes originating from other sources. The general Muslim belief is that the Shariat, i e, Islamic law, is the supreme and all-comprehensive code of behaviour to which alone they are required to render adherence. In reality the Muslim community in its fourteen centuries of history has been influenced by diverse outlooks and traditions besides the Islamic. That such were to happen is not surprising considering the fact that Islam spread to various parts of Asia and Africa, and in the process local traditions and culture lent their own imprint to the Islamic identity which evolved in the process. Furthermore, from the very outset Muslims were not a cohesive community but comprised several sects and sub- sects and ethnic and linguistic variations. South Asian Muslim identity presents a good example of multi-dimensionality, cultural diversity and ethno-linguistic and sectarian heterogeneity. The result is plurality and ambiguity rather than consistency and conformity which Muslim theorists assumed in their ideal version/versions of the Islamic community.

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