Sharing the Sacred: Practicing Pluralism in Muslim North India

Inter-religious relations in India are notoriously fraught, not infrequently erupting into violence. This book looks at a place where the conditions for religious conflict are present, but active conflict is absent. Bigelow focuses on a Muslim majority Punjab town (Malkerkotla) where both during the Partition and subsequently there has been no inter-religious violence. With a minimum of intervention from outside interests, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs have successfully managed conflict when it does arise. Bigelow explores the complicated history of the region, going back to its foundation by a Sufi saint in the fifteenth century. Combining archival and interview material, she accounts for how the community's idealized identity as a place of peace is realized on the ground through a variety of strategies. As a story of peace in a region of conflict, this study is an important counterbalance to many conflict studies and a corrective to portrayals of Islamic cultures as militant and intolerant. This fascinating town with its rich history will be of interest to students and scholars of Islam, South Asia, and peace and conflict resolution.