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Mullahs on the Mainframe: Islam and Modernity among the Daudi Bohras Paperback

ISBN-13: 000-0226056775 ISBN-10: 0226056775 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226056775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226056777
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Policy adviser to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and a senior editor at U.S. News and World Report, Blank (Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God) here focuses on the Bohras, a community of Shia Ismaili Muslims from Gujarat numbering upwards of a million worldwide. This is a groundbreaking work for two reasons: it is the first full description of a community never before studied from outside, and it demonstrates that an orthodox Islamic community can also embrace Western ideas and technology by adopting all aspects of modern culture that are not forbidden to it. The Daudi Bohras are both "traditional" and "modern." Blank reviews the community's history, organizational structure, rituals, domestic life, orthopraxy, and maintenance of community boundaries. The Bohra have dramatically improved orthopraxy among members, creating a high level of observance of basics while increasing the educational level and scientific sophistication of the community ("there is no conflict whatsoever between science and faith"). The author demonstrates the extent to which Westerners have adopted a view of Islam distorted by stereotypes, fostered by media reports, and sustained by a triumphalism about values that Westerners believe are exclusively theirs. What the Bohras have done, Blank concludes, is to "break down the false dichotomy between modernity and tradition, to let members of the community revel in both." This brilliant study is both academically rigorous and a welcome introduction to the real success of this Islamic community in the modern world. Highly recommended for all academic libraries and large public libraries. William P. Collins, Library of Congress
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"This is a groundbreaking work.... This brilliant study is both academically rigorous and a welcome introduction to the real success of this Islamic community in the modern world. Highly recommended." - Library Journal; "[A] model piece of scholarship, the kind of work you want to give to younger scholars so as to awaken them to the wonders and the variety of the world.... Here is one brilliant venture by a young, superbly trained American social scientist who delves into the world of Indian Muslims, and renders that world with artistry, precision, and detail." - Fouad Ajami, author of Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation's Odyssey; "[Blank's] book should be read for his portrait of a group trying to carve out a place for their practices while maintaining peaceful relations with religious activists and secularists alike, a delicate tightrope act that he chronicles well." - John R. Bowen, Washington Post Book World

More About the Author

I'm an anthropologist who's done time in professions ranging from government to academia to journalism. I write books for the same reason I read them: To explore some of the endlessly-fascinating corners of our world.

More info on my books (and me) is available at www.jonahblank.com

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Jonah Blank's book is well researched and written to appeal to both traditional Bohras and the second generation Daudi Bohras settled in the Western Hemisphere. The initial emphasis on the factual data and the rituals provides a credible introduction to the theme of the book. He discusses with decorum the intellectual controversies that have plagued the sect and exhibits non-judgemental finesse. The glossary, index and elaborate references are very helpful. Although his bias is implicit, he provides the readers with the varying view points. Further, although he worked with the "inner system" to come up with this book, he is limited by the lack of access he had, to the "batin" text. His discussion of the philosophy of the sect in the broader Shiite perspective provides a good balance and allows the readers to think through the nuances of orthropraxy, he frequently alludes to. However, a more in-depth comparison with the orthodox Shiite dogma and more elaborate a description of the Fatmid era and hierarchy would have been more enlightening. Maybe, a topic for future manuscripts!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Daudi Bohra, I can attest to the quality of research the author has put in to his work to create this really interesting case study on our community. He has done it not from secondary sources but by living within the community, understanding its customs and learning its language.
I found this account very well structured and intellectual and it presents an example of how great leadership can transform a community to live harmoniously in this age and yet value their centuries old religious principles.
Great job Sir.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Hussein on April 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is simply The most important recent text on the status of Bohras living today. Jonah does a great service to not just for Bohras but to the study of Shiism in all its rich varients; a much neglected area of study.

I am eager to read more of Jonahs work...he balances the facts and figures well, with a wonderful sense of emotional connection to living people and living communities; characters come alive as part of the fabric of this community.

Simply a must have for those interested in Isma'ilism.
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