Introduction: Towards a Framework
The idea of this book is to contribute towards fi lling the gap in empirical studies in sociology and social anthropology in India on the diversity and complexity in Muslim communities. These essays focus on the everyday lives of ordinary Muslims so as to challenge the assumption of monolithic Islam and a homogeneous Muslim community in academic writings as well as popular imagination. The nature of the historical spread of Islam over a period of several centuries, and into cultural regions as varied as Spain, northwestern Africa, central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Turkey and eastern Europe, apart from its origin in Arabia itself points to diversities across time and space. Even Muslims in the South Asian region generally, and in India in particular, are so diverse ethnically, culturally, linguistically, politically and economically that it is impossible to talk of a homogenised and essentialised South Asian or Indian Muslim society. Various such communities are embedded in different cultures and have to be viewed dynamically in specifi c historical contexts informed by global, national and regional situations.