Nile GreenBombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, 1840-1915

Cambridge University Press, 2011

by Dhara Anjaria on July 15, 2011

Nile Green

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Bombay (Mumbai), India, is a city that has never lacked chroniclers – from Rudyard Kipling to Salman Rushdie to Suketu Mehta, bards of pluralism have written about Bombay’s divers religions and peoples and the interactions between them. Now here comes a fantastic new book on the much touted ‘cosmopolitan culture,’ as the natives call it, of colonial Bombay- with a twist. Nile Green’s well received  Bombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, 1840-1915 (Cambridge University Press, 2011) masterfully  weaves together the dizzying varieties of Islams current in this port city –Islams that grew up as the Deccan, the Konkan, Gujurat, East Africa, Central, West and Southeast Asia all converged upon the crowded lanes and workshops of Bhendi bazaar, Haji Ali, Mazgaon, Chira Bazaar, Dongri. These neighbourhoods in turn exported systems of belief and practice wherever their denizens went – beliefs that were themselves shaped and modified by the time they had spent, and the adherents they had won, in Bombay. Never before has Muslim Bombay been presented as part of a global network – this is a book that traces Muslim life in Bombay and beyond in a framework transcending nationality, race and spatial demarcations- a book, in short, that tells the story of what happened when a global religion came to a global city.

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