Despite late reconsideration, a dominant paradigm rooted in Orientalist essentialisations of Islam as statically ‘legalistic’ and Muslims as uniformly ‘transgressive’ when local customs are engaged, continues to distort perspectives of South Asia's past and present. This has led to misrepresentations of pre-colonial Muslim norms and undue emphasis on colonial reforms alone when charting the course to post-coloniality. This book presents and challenges staple perspectives with a comprehensive reinterpretation of doctrinal sources, literary expressions and colonial records spanning the period from the reign of the 'Great Mughals' to end of the 'British Raj' (1526-1947). The result is an alternative vision of this transformative period in South Asian history, and an original paradigm of Islamic doctrine and Muslim practice applicable more broadly.
This book is based on extensive anthropological field-research in Kebkabiya, a town in Darfur, West-Sudan(1990-1995), when the Islamist government of Sudan had just come to power.
The title of the book is a conflation of two main government perspectives on the role of women. These proved to be decisive for the ways in which two classes of working women – low-class market women and highly esteemed female teachers- negotiated their identities within the Islamist moral discourse on gender. The book focuses on the biographic narratives of one woman from each class, which are analysed as part of the multi-layered context in which the woman spoke and acted – and of which the author also formed part.
Finally, the author reflects on the war in Darfur as part of a process of identities-in-construction.