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Being Muslim in South AsiaDiversity and Daily Life$
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Robin Jeffrey and Sen Ronojoy

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198092063

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198092063.001.0001

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The Challenges of Diversity

The Challenges of Diversity

‘Casting’ Muslim Communities in South India*

(p.64) Chapter Four The Challenges of Diversity
Being Muslim in South Asia

Torsten Tschacher

Oxford University Press

The southernmost regions of India present an almost paradoxical situation as far as Muslims are concerned. While the impact of Islam and Muslims on the region is often considered insignificant, Muslim societies in south India exhibit historical, economic, religious, and linguistic diversity far beyond that encountered in regions associated more centrally with Islam in South Asia such as the Punjab and the Gangetic Plains or Bengal. From the colonial period onwards, administrators, historians, and anthropologists have tried to come to terms with this complexity by reducing south Indian Muslims to a set of bounded and demarcated ‘communities’ supposedly sharing common language, origins, economic pursuits, and religious particularities. This chapter challenges and contextualizes established images of Muslim societies in south India. It endeavours to understand Muslim diversity in the region as a dynamic and complex interplay of diverse processes.

Keywords:   south India, definitions of community, diversity among Muslims, community formation

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