Indian Muslim Minorities and the 1857 Rebellion: Religion, Race, and Empire

In her fascinating and path paving book, Indian Muslim Minorities and the 1857 Rebellion: Religion, Rebels and Jihad (I. B. Tauris, 2017), Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst, Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Vermont reorients our understanding of the 1857 rebellion in India, while offering a nuanced theorization of religion, religious identity, and questions of violence.

We discuss the vital relevance of studying religion , the changing images of religion, and the formation of this category through imperial processes of racialization and minoritization that have a lasting impact on modern ideas of what religion is and is not. We look at the very interesting textual dialogue of William Hunter and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan on the 1857 rebellion. Finally, we attempt to broach the fundamental questions of what is religion, really? what is Islam? what is Hinduism?, paying our respects to Ilyse’s mentors Shahab Ahmed and Omid Safi.

Ilyse R. Morgenstein Fuerst is Associate Professor of Religion and the Director of the Humanities Center at the University of Vermont. She has previously published in peer-reviewed journals and her research deals with Islam in South Asia, historiography and the development of theories of religion. She received an MTS from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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