13 June, 2021

Half Hearing The Call To Prayer

Cogent issues are broached, but a proper resolution is hampered by dithering positions

Half Hearing The Call To Prayer

Liberal Islam is dead in India. And to blame are not just conservative mullahs but also “left-wing intellectual Muslims paraded as the community’s liberal heart”. That is the provocative hypothesis of the book, which seeks to offer a “much-needed corrective” and “a way out of the crisis”.

The volume is divided into two sections. The first comprises the author’s assessment of the problem, where he makes some pertinent points: drastic reforms must not be externally imposed on Indian Muslims as it could foment a fundamentalist backlash; certain interpretations of Islamic theology which do not make space for the secular need to be discarded; and the disenchantment with the immutability of mainstream Islam is prompting many Muslims to renounce their faith. The second part features statements of scholars, students and activists regarding the malaises afflicting Islam and the need for diverse reforms.

It is important, however, to unpack the assumptions in the title. Is liberal Islam really dead? And if yes, who killed it?...

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