Literary, cinematic and media representations of the disputed category of the ‘South Asian Muslim’ have undergone substantial change in the last few decades and particularly since the events of September 11, 2001. Here we find the first book-length critical analysis of these representations of Muslims from South Asia and its diaspora in literature, the media, culture and cinema.

Contributors contextualize these depictions against the burgeoning post-9/11 artistic interest in Islam, and also against cultural responses to earlier crises on the subcontinent such as Partition (1947), the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war and secession of Bangladesh, the 1992 Ayodhya riots , the 2002 Gujarat genocide and the Kashmir conflict. Offering a comparative approach, the book explores connections between artists’ generic experimentalism and their interpretations of life as Muslims in South Asia and its diaspora, exploring literary and popular fiction, memoir, poetry, news media, and film. The collection highlights the diversity of representations of Muslims and the range of approaches to questions of Muslim religious and cultural identity, as well as secular discourse. Essays by leading scholars in the field highlight the significant role that literature, film, and other cultural products such as music can play in opening up space for complex reflections on Muslim identities and cultures, and how such imaginative cultural forms can enable us to rethink secularism and religion.

Surveying a broad range of up-to-date writing and cultural production, this concise and pioneering critical analysis of representations of South Asian Muslims will be of interest to students and academics of a variety of subjects including Asian Studies, Literary Studies, Media Studies, Women’s Studies, Contemporary Politics, Migration History, Film studies, and Cultural Studies.

chapter |14 pages


Contexts and texts
ByClaire Chambers, Caroline Herbert

part I|42 pages

Surveying the field; comparative approaches

chapter 1|13 pages

The making of a Muslim

ByTabish Khair

chapter 3|15 pages

Before and beyond the nation

South Asian and Maghrebi Muslim women's fiction
ByLindsey Moore

part II|56 pages

Syncretism, Muslim cosmopolitanism, and secularism

chapter 4|11 pages

Restoring the narration

South Asian Anglophone literature and Al-Andalus
ByMuneeza Shamsie

chapter 5|16 pages

Music, secularism, and South Asian fiction

Muslim culture and minority identities in Shashi Deshpande's Small Remedies
ByCaroline Herbert

chapter 6|11 pages

‘A shrine of words'

The politics and poetics of space in Agha Shahid Ali's The Country Without a Post Office
ByRachel Farebrother

chapter 7|16 pages

Hamlet in paradise

The politics of procrastination in Mirza Waheed's The Collaborator
ByPeter Morey

part III|42 pages

Currents within South Asian Islam

chapter 8|12 pages

Liberalizing Islam through the Bildungsroman

Ed Husain's The Islamist
ByE. Rashid

chapter 9|15 pages

Enchanted realms, sceptical perspectives

Salman Rushdie's recent fiction
ByMadeline Clements

chapter 10|13 pages

Tahmima Anam's The Good Muslim

Bangladeshi Islam, secularism, and the Tablighi Jamaat
ByClaire Chambers

part IV|43 pages

Representations, stereotypes, Islamophobia

chapter 11|15 pages

Saving Pakistan from brown men

Benazir Bhutto as Pakistan's last best hope for democracy
ByCara Cilano

chapter 12|13 pages

Queer South Asian Muslims

The ethnic closet and its secular limits
ByShamira A. Meghani

chapter 13|13 pages

After 9/11

Islamophobia in Kamila Shamsie's Broken Verses and Burnt Shadows
ByAroosa Kanwal