ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Bangladesh’s Secular Aspirations and Its Writing of Islam

Defining Self and Other

Bangladesh's experience with secularism has been chequered. Beginning with a strong constitutional mandate and political rhetoric, the word "secularism" has been changed, removed and restored, while Islam remains the state religion. Aspirations to the principles of secularism - tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and equal treatment of all religions by the State - have been battled at the level of constitutional amendments and political affiliations. These aspirations also undergird a certain epistemic ground, framed by hermeneutic approaches, which produces particular ways of understanding the self as Muslim and its non-Muslim others. This article examines that epistemic ground, tracing the changes in constructions of the self and the other brought about by the manner in which the Islamic Foundation has approached the Quran, methods for reading it, and the manner in which it has advocated attachment to the Islamic tradition. The article highlights how an increasingly muted understanding of power has led to an ever expansive gap between Muslims and the non-Muslim others they share the nation state of Bangladesh with.

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