Secularizing Islamists?
Jama'at-e-Islami and Jama'at-ud-Da'wa in Urban Pakistan

by Humeira Iqtidar
University of Chicago Press, 2011

Of late, there has been an efflorescence of academic work on Pakistan. From Junaid Rana's Terrifying Muslims to Saadia Toor's The State of Islam, we have much to celebrate from the world of Pakistani letters. Along this grain, Iqtidar's book is a sophisticated ethnography of the two leading political Islamist organisations of Pakistan. Rather than come at the two Jama'ats to pillory them, for which there is already adequate work, Iqtidar examines the ways in which these groups are forced to accommodate themselves to the secular tide of modern society – and the role women play in this process. A very smart and engaging book. (Vijay Prashad)

Lost Loves: Exploring Rama's anguish 
by Arshia Sattar
Penguin, 2011

Reflecting back on the rise of the Hindu right and its co-option of the Ramayana, Sattar discusses the tension between text and scholar. 'What were we, those of us who worked with the Rama story and were of a liberal (if not always and entirely secular) bent of mind, to make of this?' she asks. 'Was the story the Hindu right had taken as their own the same story that we were telling?' It was only after 'years of silence', the author notes, that she re-engaged with the text.

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Himal Southasian