Oxford University Press launched “Religion as Critique”, by Irfan Ahmad

New Delhi: Oxford University Press, the world’s largest university press, launched “Religion as Critique”, a book written by Irfan Ahmad at an event today.

The book was launched in the presence of Mr. Hamid Ansari, former Vice-President of India. Distinguished panelists present at the event were Ziya Us Salam, Associate Editor, Frontline, Manisha Sethi, Associate Professor, Jamia Milia Islamia, Irfan Ahmad, Author. The session was moderated by Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor of The Wire.

Irfan Ahmad is an anthropologist and senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Studies in Gottingen, Germany. He is also the author of Islamism and Democracy in India: The Transformation of Jamaat-e-Islami (2009).

This book, elucidates the far-reaching argument that potent systems and modes for self-critique as well as critique of others are inherent in Islam–indeed, critique is integral to its fundamental tenets and practices. Challenging common views of Islam as hostile to critical thinking, Ahmad delineates thriving traditions of critique in Islamic culture, focusing in large part on South Asian traditions. Ahmad interrogates Greek and Enlightenment notions of reason and critique, and he notes how they are invoked in relation to “others,” including Muslims. Drafting an alternative genealogy of critique in Islam, Ahmad reads religious teachings and texts, drawing on sources in Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, and English, and demonstrates how they serve as expressions of critique. Throughout, he depicts Islam as an agent, not an object, of critique.

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