Defending Sufism, Defining Islam: Asserting Islamic identity in India Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Umashankar, Rachana Rao
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
  • Based on thirteen months of intensive fieldwork at two primary sites in India, this dissertation describes how adherents of shrine-based Sufism assert their identity as Indian Muslims in the contexts of public debates over religion and belonging in India, and of reformist critiques of their Islamic beliefs and practices. Faced with opposition to their mode of Islam from reformist Muslim groups, and the challenges to their sense of national identity as members of a religious minority in India, I argue that adherents of shrine-based Sufism claim the sacred space of the Sufi shrine as a venue where both the core values of Islam and of India are given form and reproduced. For these adherents, contemporary shrine-based Sufism is a dynamic and creative force that manifests essential aspects of Islam that are also fundamental Indian values, and which are critical to the health of the nation today. The dissertation reveals that contested identities and internal religious debates can only be understood and interpreted within the broader framework of national and global debates over Islam and over the place of Islam in the Indian polity that shape them.
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  • Peacock, James L.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012

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