‘Certain precepts of Islam have been exploited to promote exclusivity or justify violence. These
precepts may have once been relevant in specific historical contexts, but have frozen into religious
dogmas over time at the hands of blinkered interpreters.’
In this erudite book, S.S. Gill tries to correct common misconceptions among
non-Muslims about Islam, especially in India, and offers new ways of engagement between Muslims
and those who subscribe to other faiths.
The author examines the concept of umma, the global community of Muslims, and the
place of the Muslims of India in it, and traces the history of the religion in India and its spread in
different parts of the country. He argues that many followers of Islam in India and the world appear
to have turned away from the values of plurality and creativity which once marked the golden age of
Islam. Gill attempts to understand Islamic fundamentalism in the context of how the West, by
exercising its hegemony, has largely succeeded in polarizing the world into ‘us and them’. The book
also includes profiles of four prominent reformers - Altaf Hussain Hali, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad,
Muhammad Iqbal and Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan-who have contributed greatly to the cause of Islam
and the Muslims of India.
Extensively researched and lucidly written, Islam and the Muslims of India attempts to
make sense of the problems that have been created by a too literal interpretation of the word of god
by a select few who wield wide influence in the community. It makes the vital point that a failure to
interpret the word in its specific historical context will only exacerbate the divides between Islam and
the other religions that must share space with it.
S.S. Gill (1927-2007), a career civil servant, retired as secretary, ministry of information
and broadcasting, in 1985. The same year he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. From 1997 to
1998 he served as the first CEO of Prasar Bharati. He has also written The Dynasty: A Political
Biography of the Leading Ruling Family of Modern India, The Pathology of Corruption, Gandhi: A
Sublime Failure and Information Revolution and India.
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