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A.K. Pasha

LIVING ISLAM: MUSLIM RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE IN PAKISTAN'S NORTH WEST FRONTIER
By Magnus Marrden
Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 297, Rs. 395.00

ISLAMIC REFORM AND REVIVAL IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY INDIA: THE TARIQAH-I MUHAMMADIGAH
By Harian O. Pearson
Yoda Press, Delhi, 2008, pp. 266, Rs. 295.00

A MODERN APPROACH TO ISLAM
By Asaf A.A. Fyzee
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 105, Rs. 395.00

BHUKARI
By Ghassan Abdul Jabbar
Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2007, pp. 145, Rs. 225.00

VOLUME XXXIII NUMBER 3 MARCH 2009

Living Islam is essentially a study of what it means to live a Muslim life in the Chitral region. The area is the largest district in the North West Frontier (NWFP) Provinces of Pakistan. Bounded by Afghanistan in the west and north, Chitral is part of one of the most turbulent regions in the Muslim world. Yet, it is virtually unknown in academic and popular consciousness.   The research work was done while pursuing a PHD and covers the period from1995 to 2003. Fieldwork was conducted about 50 miles from the Afghan border. The chief concern of the researcher is with the intellectual and emotional lives of Muslims living in Chitral. Marrden seeks to illuminate aspects of Muslim life both within and beyond South Asia that are not fully accounted for in the otherwise sophisticated body of anthropological work on Islam and Muslim societies. He attempts to make connections to the anthropology of Islam in the contemporary world by exploring the ways in which people lead a Muslim life and how they contribute in their daily lives to the form the ‘Islamic tradition’ takes in the region. The research also focuses on the relationship between ‘local’ and ‘global’ Islam. Drawing on recent anthropological accounts of cultural globalization. Marrden examines the degree to which Chitral Muslims defer to authoritative calls for commitment from purist, reformist or modernist Muslims. He makes an argument against simplistic formulations treating local Islam as inherently vulnerable to global trends and forces in contemporary Islam. In doing so, he seeks to show that Muslims living in a village and a small town in a remote and poor region are critically engaged in debate on the shape of Islam and the current state of the Muslim world. Although the study is focused on life in Chitral, the strength of the book is that it raises several questions that have a direct bearing on broader debates in anthropology and other social sciences. It is true that social scientists are now documenting and theorizing the significance of new and critical debates in Islamic states and Muslim communities. But the intellectual life of village Muslims has only very rarely been the focus of anthropological research.   Even though the areas where Muslims live have their own local imprint on the practice of Islam, there are issues and ideas at the ulema level that sweep Muslim communities.   Chitral is remote and inaccessible, containing some of the ...


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