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

A+| A| A-

Secularism, the State and Muslim Personal Law

Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism in Modern South Asia by Julia Stephens, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (South Asian Edition), 2019; pp xiv + 220, price not indicated.

Divorcing Traditions: Islamic Marriage Law and the Making of Indian Secularism by Katherine Lemons, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2019; pp x + 232, price not indicated.

Studies on secularism have burgeoned in the recent past. Moving away from understanding it as the principle of separation between state and religion, influential scholarship has proffered a twofold analytical differentiation between political secularism and the secular. Political secularism denotes the modern nation states sovereign power to reconfigure religion in particular forms, with religion itself being modelled on Protestant Christianity privileging the concept of belief (Asad 1993, 2003). The secular is a particular configuration of the human sensorium (Hirschkind 2011: 633) that produces a secular society and is presupposed by the doctrine of political secularism.

History as an inquiry into the positivity of events (Mahmood 2016: 206), for example, has become indispensable for verifying and interpreting religious truths. In fact, it is important to underscore that the contemporary surge in thinking on secularism has its roots in a particular historical and political conjuncture in postcolonial India in the 1990s, often termed the crisis of secularism (Needham and Rajan 2007). The threat posed by an aggressive, xenophobic and Islamophobic Hindu nationalism required urgent and detailed reassessment of secularism.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 13th Jan, 2024

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.