Indian Ocean Islam

Indian Ocean Islam is an attempt to document the historical source materials on the early Muslim communities of the Indian Ocean littoral.

Within the early centuries, Islam had brought a vast majority of non-Arab population in its abode from the shorelines of the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

Ever since, they have been contributing to the fundamental formulations of Islam. Yet their contributions remain largely unacknowledged in the existing literature, and the scholarship on Islamic law is emblematic of this trend. Against this background, this project explores the ways in which “the Indian Ocean Muslims” (predominantly the Indians, Malays and East Africans) contributed to the making of Islam and its laws, with a special focus on matrilineal and matriarchal practices. Taking four significant lacunae in the literature (Middle-East centric Islamic history; unexplored “Indian Ocean Islamic law”; patriarchal interpretations of Islam; the binaries of Arab-Asia/Afro-Asia/Arab-Africa and their multiple variants), the project examines how Muslims along the non-Middle Eastern shorelines of the Indian Ocean negotiated and interpreted Islam and its law from the early centuries onward.

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