ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Muslim Women and the Challenge of Religion in Contemporary Mumbai

Two recent mobilisations of women in Mumbai expose the tension between Muslim patriarchies and women’s rights in contemporary Islam. The first case refers to a petition in the Bombay High Court filed by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan that challenged the prohibition of women in the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled against the governing trust of Haji Ali Dargah and restored women’s right to enter the inner sanctum. The second mobilisation was spearheaded by Sahiyo, a group of five women who started a public conversation around the practice of khafz or female genital cutting among Dawoodi Bohras. Their efforts brought attention to the violent control of female sexual pleasure in the name of religion and tradition. This paper argues that women’s critical voices from within the community challenge conservatism and redefine gendered selfhood within the religious realm.

Quest for Water

An ethnography of everyday life in Shivaji Nagar, a predominantly Muslim slum locality in Mumbai, illustrates how its "Muslimness" complicates the residents' access to water, a commodified and politicised amenity. The struggles of local Muslims to access water also involve holding the state accountable through localised "mundane" politics at the periphery. The state's inability to address the differential access to water is challenged through locally elected political representatives. The paper also explores the role of "intermediaries" who are accused of being the "water mafia" by the state and the English media and argues that they play an important role in making the state accessible through acts of subversion and collaboration.
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