Islam and Politics in South Asia

Ahmad, Irfan. 2013. “Islam and Politics in South Asia.” In John Esposito & Emad El-Din Shahin (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics. New York: Oxford University Press: 324–339.

Abstract: Based on an analysis of the changing trajectory of Jama`at-e Islami in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, I critically examine Breman’s and Rushdies’s line of thought also manifest in dominant academic writings. Demonstrating the folly, even poverty, of such a framework, I aim to offer a fresh understanding of Islamism in south Asia. Central to my argument is that we begin to study the transformative moments in Islamism for it marks a shift from discourse to the profoundness of praxis. Critical to this is the process of transformation. Since it is a process, Islamism is not a frozen entity immutably locked into a dead end. In showing this dynamism, my aim is to destabilize the premise that while liberalism is open to self-examination, thinkers like Mawdudi and their followers are not. My contention is to the contrary. It seems that Muslims and Islamists such as Ghannouchi have reexamined many of their assumptions; it is liberals like the French secularists, notably the philosopher Blandine Kriegel (Foucault’s associate, advisor to Jacques Chirac, and the chair of the High Integration Council), and Indian academics like Zoya Hasan who are obstinate on not reexamining theirs. This obstinacy has only been accentuated with the ascendance of the post-9/11 paradigm I have called “securitization” of Islam.