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Synopsis

Although pluralism and religious tolerance are most often associated today with Western Enlightenment thinkers, the roots of these ideologies stretch back to non-Western and premodern societies, including many under Muslim rule. This book explores the development of pluralism in Islam in South Asia through the work of the poet, historian and musician Amir Khusraw and sheds new light on how Islam developed its own culture of tolerance.

Countering stereotypes of Islam as intrinsically intolerant, the book provides a better understanding of how rhetorics of pluralism develop, which may aid in identifying and encouraging such discourses in the present. Khusraw, a practicing Muslim who showed great affection toward Hindus and used much indigenous imagery in his poetry, is an ideal figure through whom to explore these issues. Addressing issues of ethnicity, religion and gender in the early medieval period, Alyssa Gabbay demonstrates the pre-modern precedents for pluralism, conveying the broad sweep of Perso-Islamicate culture and the profound transformations it underwent in medieval South Asia.

Accurately depicting the paradoxicality and jaggedness involved in the development of its composite culture, this book will have great relevance to scholars and students of Islam in South Asia, gender, religious pluralism, and Persian literature.

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