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IslamisationComparative Perspectives from History$
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A. C. S. Peacock

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474417129

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474417129.001.0001

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Reconsidering ‘Conversion to Islam’ in Indian History

Reconsidering ‘Conversion to Islam’ in Indian History

(p.379) 19 Reconsidering ‘Conversion to Islam’ in Indian History*

Richard M. Eaton

Edinburgh University Press

Inasmuch as about a third of the world’s Muslims reside in South Asia, the question of how and why this came about should be high on our collective agenda. To explain this, however, we need to clear the air of a number of common misconceptions, beginning with ‘conversion’, a term that has greatly distorted our understanding of South Asia’s religious history. The verb ‘to convert’, which literally means to ‘turn around’ or ‘turn over’, implies not only a suddenness of religious change, but a complete rejection of a former cultural identity and the deliberate adoption of a new one. Such a view of religious change seems to be a product of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century worldwide Protestant missionary movement, in which conversion was understood as darkness replaced by light, and error by truth.

Keywords:   Muslims, South Asia, India, Conversion, Islam

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