13-SEP-2019: 'Siyasi Muslims', a book released; followed by panel discussion
Aligarh, September 13: Scores of students and research scholars obtained autographed copies of 'Siyasi Muslims: A Story of Political Islams in India' (Penguin India) by its author, Dr Hilal Ahmed, a political Islam scholar and an Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CDCS) in New Delhi, during a special book release function held at the Faculty of Arts Lounge, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
During the programme organised by the Department of Sociology, Dr Ahmed said that his book, engages with allegations and cliches that come from conflating ideas, religion and culture and it is an attempt to reach out to those readers who are interested in knowing about Muslims and Islam or what is now called 'political Islam' in India today.
At a panel discussion on the book with Prof Abdul Waheed (Chairman, Department of Sociology), Prof Mohammad Sajjad (Department of History) and Prof Mirza Asmer Beg (Department of Political Science), Dr Ahmed discussed notions of Muslim identities in contemporary India and how Indian Muslims as a socio-religious community, prioritise the issues of poverty, employment and education.
The book addresses Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Muslim politics in India and the norms followed by all Muslim political groups, he said.
Dr Ahmed pointed out that Muslim political groups operate within the constitutional framework, and their demands are made through the language of rights and the law.
He added they (Muslim political groups) highlight Muslim contribution to nation-building and focus on Muslim unity, but this unity is qualified in the sense of self-identifying as a minority.
Dr Ahmed said that Indian Muslims form a constitutional category, a religious minority and as a collectivity in different senses and their 'Muslimness' is an undifferentiated entity.
He pointed out that Muslim presence is always constituted as a homogeneous entity in the public discourses; while highly diversified Muslim social life occupies greater space.
"Muslims are divided on the basis of caste, class and regional lines," emphasised Dr Ahmed adding that caste, class, and gender are not only sociological indicators to offer a context-specific view of Muslim backwardness, but they also play an important role in shaping the nature of Muslim engagements with different forms of politics.
Quoting the CSDS-Lokniti survey, which answered the question 'how religious are Indians?,' Dr Ahmad said that Muslims in India are no more religious than their compatriots from other communities.
"Muslims in India-follow those versions of Islam that emerged in the 19th century as religious reform movements to respond to the intellectual challenges posed by the colonial knowledge system and to adjust Muslims with new political institutions," elaborated Dr Ahmad.
He said, unlike the Muslim elites of the 1960s and 1970s, who came primarily from erstwhile Muslim-dominated urban centres like Hyderabad, Lucknow and Delhi, new Muslim professionals belonging to lower-middle-class Muslim neighbourhoods in metro cities and small towns are transcending their economic status.
Prof Abdul Waheed said that 'Siyasi Muslims' is a primer on the important issues of our time with pragmatic answers to the queries that intrigue us.
Prof Mohammad Sajjad pointed out that it is a highly academic book, immensely lucid and readable to both academic and non-academic communities and an important text for anyone looking to approach the question of Muslim identities in India.
While, Prof Mirza Asmer Beg remarked that Dr Ahmed's work answers general perceptions about Muslim interventions in Indian polities and constitutionalism.
Mr M Danish Iqbal (Department of English) conducted the programme.
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Aligarh Muslim University
Related PicturesDr Hilal Ahmed at the Panel discussion on his book Siyasi Muslim