Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia

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Overview

The idea of jihad is central to Islamic faith and ethics, and yet its meanings have been highly contested over time. They have ranged from the philosophical struggle to live an ethical life to the political injunction to wage war against enemies of Islam. Today, more than ever, jihad signifies the political opposition between Islam and the West. Ayesha Jalal seeks to retrieve the ethical meanings of this core Islamic principle in South Asian history.

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Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal

Jalal seeks to explain how the principles of Islamic ethics—within the Muslim world itself—have been distorted and abused by political, economic and social interests. She concentrates on South Asia, where Muslims are in the minority and where they have faced a nuanced battle, over many centuries, to reconcile inner faith with temporal ambition. And she focuses on the most distorted principle of all—that of "jihad."
— Philip Delves Broughton

The Guardian

While discussion of Islam tends to focus on the Arab world, Jalal makes a compelling case for paying attention to south Asia, where a Muslim minority has had a long and complex relationship with other communities—each period of history seeing a shift in ideas of jihad...One thing that Partisans of Allah makes clear is that religious discourse within Islam fluctuates widely, and is entwined with geopolitics...An erudite and thought-provoking study of the interplay of religion and politics, with some particularly interesting things to say about the history of south Asian Muslims’ focus on the “outer husk” of religion, often to the detriment of “inner faith.”
— Kamila Shamsie

Muslim Media Network

Absorbing...It is the latest and most authoritative statement on Indian Jihadism. Jalal goes into the fascinating South Asian history and theology of Jihad. This is a challenging book to comprehend, but it is well worth it...Jalal brings Jihad into the contemporary period, and the perversion of the concept of Jihad amongst a minority of Muslims who have reinterpreted it as a violent struggle...It is important reading for all Muslims—especially here in the West—where one hears so much erroneous claims and counter-claims on Jihadism. Partisans of Allah is not only a book for education for Muslims, but the information presented can here help to explain the true nature of Islam to those outside the faith and to clarify the misrepresentation on many subjects to the non-Islamic world.
— Geoffrey Cook

New Republic online

To palliate a frail sense of identity and purpose, many people in Pakistan have in recent years turned to the crusade known as jihad. In her splendid and important book, Ayesha Jalal traces that history to its origins through the words and deeds of Indian Muslim scholars and intellectuals, many of global fame. With Partisans of Allah, she has contributed a rich intellectual and political history of Islam in South Asia, spanning several centuries. She is a talented historian of ideas, and at the outset of her extraordinary story she makes several distinctions that will inform her nuanced and thorough account.
— Camille Pecastaing

Vali Nasr
Intelligent, erudite and timely. This is an important and compelling historical narrative that spans the depth and breadth of the history of Islam in South Asia. By far the best intellectual history of jihad, this work will greatly enrich the study of Islam, South Asia, and Islamic activism.
David Ludden
Based on a vast command of the relevant literature, wide-ranging, meticulous research, fine-tuned analysis, and deep critical thinking, Partisans of Allah traces the history of ideas about jihad and its ethical practice from the early days of Islam to the present. This important book travels the entire Muslim world and should be urgent reading for anyone concerned with cultural politics inside present-day globalization.
Homi Bhabha
Jalalrestores the much used concept of jihad to its enabling history of radical self-examination in the pursuit of justice and freedom, treading a fine balance between religious faith and secular belief. This is a courageous and brilliant book for a hopeful future beyond the quagmire of those who believe in the clash of civilisations
Christopher Bayly
It is difficult to imagine a more timely or a more thoughtful book on this subject. Jalal's subtle reinterpretations sweep away many of the misconceptions fostered both by Western commentators and contemporary Muslim publicists.
Wall Street Journal - Philip Delves Broughton
Jalal seeks to explain how the principles of Islamic ethics--within the Muslim world itself--have been distorted and abused by political, economic and social interests. She concentrates on South Asia, where Muslims are in the minority and where they have faced a nuanced battle, over many centuries, to reconcile inner faith with temporal ambition. And she focuses on the most distorted principle of all--that of "jihad."
The Guardian - Kamila Shamsie
While discussion of Islam tends to focus on the Arab world, Jalal makes a compelling case for paying attention to south Asia, where a Muslim minority has had a long and complex relationship with other communities--each period of history seeing a shift in ideas of jihad...One thing that Partisans of Allah makes clear is that religious discourse within Islam fluctuates widely, and is entwined with geopolitics...An erudite and thought-provoking study of the interplay of religion and politics, with some particularly interesting things to say about the history of south Asian Muslims’ focus on the “outer husk” of religion, often to the detriment of “inner faith.”
Muslim Media Network - Geoffrey Cook
Absorbing...It is the latest and most authoritative statement on Indian Jihadism. Jalal goes into the fascinating South Asian history and theology of Jihad. This is a challenging book to comprehend, but it is well worth it...Jalal brings Jihad into the contemporary period, and the perversion of the concept of Jihad amongst a minority of Muslims who have reinterpreted it as a violent struggle...It is important reading for all Muslims--especially here in the West--where one hears so much erroneous claims and counter-claims on Jihadism. Partisans of Allah is not only a book for education for Muslims, but the information presented can here help to explain the true nature of Islam to those outside the faith and to clarify the misrepresentation on many subjects to the non-Islamic world.
New Republic online - Camille Pecastaing
To palliate a frail sense of identity and purpose, many people in Pakistan have in recent years turned to the crusade known as jihad. In her splendid and important book, Ayesha Jalal traces that history to its origins through the words and deeds of Indian Muslim scholars and intellectuals, many of global fame. With Partisans of Allah, she has contributed a rich intellectual and political history of Islam in South Asia, spanning several centuries. She is a talented historian of ideas, and at the outset of her extraordinary story she makes several distinctions that will inform her nuanced and thorough account.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674047365
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/10/2010
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ayesha Jalal is Mary Richardson Professor of History, Tufts University.
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Table of Contents

  • List of Maps
  • Preface

  1. Jihad as Ethics, Jihad as War
  2. Jihad in Precolonial South Asia
  3. The Martyrs of Balakot
  4. Jihad in Colonial India
  5. Jihad as Anticolonial Nationalism
  6. Islam Subverted? Jihad as Terrorism

  • Conclusion
  • Glossary
  • Notes
  • Index

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