The values of traditionalist Islam are often portrayed as inherently hostile to those of a modern, pluralistic society. This book shatters many of these stereotypes. Jonah Blank provides a first-hand account of the Daudi Bohra community, a Shi'a denomination numbering 1 million, concentrated in South Asia but spread worldwide. This society has no contradiction between Islamic traditions and full-fledged modernity. The Bohras uphold orthodox Muslim practices, such as in prayer and dress, while at the same time embracing aspects of modern culture not in direct conflict with their core beliefs. They send their children, of both genders, abroad for education, exhibit greater gender equality than most of the communities of the Indian sub-continent, and have become Internet pioneers, uniting members around the world. This volume shows how a premodern clerical elite has embraced modernity, not rejected it.
Jonah Blank, an anthropologist, is South Asia policy advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and author of "Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God: Retracing the Ramayana through India." He has taught anthropology at Harvard University, covered India and Pakistan as a senior editor of "U.S. News and World Report," provided commentary for the BBC, and written for publications ranging from the "New Yorker to Foreign Affairs."