The Bengal Muslims, 1871-1906: A Quest for Identity

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Oxford University Press, 1996 - History - 271 pages
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Contrary to most works on religious identity which treat the rural poor as an appendage of their urban co-religionists, this study concentrates on the evolution of mass awareness among the Muslims of Bengal, basing itself on an examination of the Bengali Muslim religious literature known as puthis. The book asks specific questions and develops the central thesis that for the Muslim masses, the reformist appeal of the Islamic revivalists proved a source of strength as well as of weakness: it roused them to action but made them susceptible to communal propaganda. In tracing the origins of separatism in a key area to its social and cultural roots, the work raises doubts about the validity of any simple explanation that emphasizes either the historical conflict between Hinduism and Islam, the doctrine of divide and rule, or the central role of constitutional initiatives. This book is essential reading for all interested in the question of religious identity: historians, social scientists and general readers alike.

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Fundamentalist Reform and
Muslims or Bengalis?
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About the author (1996)

Rafiuddin Ahmed is a Professor of History at University of Chittagong.

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