Mullahs on the Mainframe: Islam and Modernity among the Daudi Bohras / Edition 1

Mullahs on the Mainframe: Islam and Modernity among the Daudi Bohras / Edition 1

by Jonah Blank
     
 

In the post-cold war world, Muslim fundamentalists seem to have replaced Soviet Communists as the West's bugbear of choice. Both in academic and popular circles, the values of traditionalist Islam are portrayed as inherently hostile to those of a modern, pluralistic society. All too often the dominant image of Islam is that of its most extreme and militant

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Overview

In the post-cold war world, Muslim fundamentalists seem to have replaced Soviet Communists as the West's bugbear of choice. Both in academic and popular circles, the values of traditionalist Islam are portrayed as inherently hostile to those of a modern, pluralistic society. All too often the dominant image of Islam is that of its most extreme and militant fringe: hidebound Taliban theocrats, anachronistic Iranian ayatollahs, and self-anointed mujahideen whose true battle may be against time itself.

Jonah Blank's groundbreaking book shatters many of these stereotypes. As the first outsider to gain entry to the Daudi Bohra community (a unique Shi´a denomination numbering one million, concentrated in South Asia but spread throughout the world), Blank provides a firsthand account of a society that sees no contradiction between Islamic tradition and full-fledged modernity. The Bohras uphold orthodox Muslim practices as faithfully as any Wahhabi pietist could wish: in all matters of prayer, dress, and even avoidance of financial interest, they are highly conservative. At the same time, they eagerly adopt any aspects of modern culture not in direct conflict with their core beliefs. They proudly send their children (boys and girls alike) to Britain or the United States for education, exhibit greater gender equality than almost all communities of the Indian subcontinent, and have become Internet pioneers, uniting members of their far-flung denomination into a worldwide cybercongregation.

Blank shows how a premodern clerical elite has reinvigorated its society's traditions-not by rejecting modernity, but by embracing it. In the process, he presents a vivid, surprising picture of one community that confounds preconceptions about "fundamentalist" Islam. The example of the Bohras suggests that many values Western triumphalists like to claim as their own (respect for human and civil rights, pursuit of social justice, equality of the sexes, promotion of widespread liberal education, aptitude for technology) are hardly limited to the West-and that "modernity" is something far broader than a taste for sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226056760
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
04/28/2001
Edition description:
1
Pages:
426
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I - Ethnography
1. Historical Background: The Roots of the Faith
2. Rituals of a Daudi Bohra Life
3. Rituals of the Daudi Bohra Year
4. Bohra Domestic Life: Kinship, Sex, and the Status of Women
5. Qasr-e Ali: The Royals
Part II - Analysis
6. Maintenance of Spiritual and Political Hegemony
7. Specifics of Orthopraxy: Dress and Economics
8. Education
9. Dissidents and Control
10. Conclusion
Appendixes
1. Line of Musta'li Tayyibi Ismaili Imams
2. Line of Daudi Bohra Da'is
3. Questionnaire Used for Issuing Certificates of Orthopraxy
4. Analysis of Gulshan-e Malumat Data
5. Kinship Ties of the Daudi Bohra Da'is
Bibliographic Discussion
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

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