The Newsletter 66 Winter 2013

Sufism and the secular state: the South Asian experience

Peter Custers

Over the last two decades, since the appearance of a special issue of The Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai) on secularism (1994), Indian intellectuals have intensely debated the question as to whether one can speak of a South Asian or Indian variant of secularism. Proponents of such a view (e.g., Rajeev Barghava1) take it for granted both that the concept of secularism historically emerged in a European context, and that the experience of European nation states with secularism has frequently been fraught with contradictions, since a sharp demarcation between state and religion(s) could not be maintained in practice. The South Asian variant of secularism abandons the need for strict demarcation


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