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Mullah on the Mainframe : Islam and Modernity Among the Daudi Bohras (Hardcover)

Author: Blank, Jonah

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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 Shia 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 onecommunity 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.


Publisher Univ of Chicago Pr
Mfg Part# 9780226056760
SKU 202488301
Format Hardcover
ISBN10 0226056767
Release Date 6/11/2013
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