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Photo: bdnews24.com
Photo: bdnews24.com

Richard Eaton in his book Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier 1204-1760, notes that existing theories explaining the rise of Islam in the Bengal Delta, far away from the Arab world, may be reduced to four basic reasoning: Immigration Theory, Muslims being descendants of those who migrated to Bengal Delta from the Iranian plateau or sailed across the Arabian Sea; Religion of the Sword, Hindus being forcefully converted by Muslim rulers and soldiers; Religion of Patronage, non-Muslims of the pre-modern period being converted to Islam to receive non-religious favours from the ruling class, such as relief from taxes, promotion in the bureaucracy and so forth; and, the Religion of Social Liberation, lower castes converting to free themselves from the discrimination of the rigid Hindu caste system being attracted to Islam for its equality philosophy. Eaton however argues that all these theories are inadequate.

Islam in Bengal was greatly influenced by Sufi culture. Noted historian Joya Chatterji suggests that although Islam first came to Bengal in the 12th century, it expanded in the 17th and 18th century during the Mughal period with the pioneer saints who came to Bengal Delta, mainly from North India. These pioneer saints were the first Pirs (Sufis). They cleared up the forest in the marshy, forested delta and sowed the first rice crop. They did so with the Mughal state’s support which gave them the ownership of lands for revenue. The Pirs were remembered by later generations of Bengal Muslim for their Islamic teaching as well as power over nature. After their deaths, the locals built shrines in their memory along with the mosques the Pirs built in their journey to this part of the world. Over the period, the shrines and mosques became the social and cultural hub of the new communities growing around them. The Pir cult played a crucial role in the creation of popular Islam in Bengal which was non-political, mystical and ritualistic. It retained the core concepts of religion Islam (the five pillars of Islam) and incorporated local culture.

This syncretic and inclusive Islam gave the Muslims in Bengal a sense of solidarity with other communities that lived around them. For centuries Muslims in Bengal co-existed with other communities peacefully. The problem started in the colonial period. The concentration of Hindu and Muslim population in Bengal first came out in the Census Report of 1872. In the following decades religions in the Indian subcontinent including Islam were politicised which eventually led to the creation of Pakistan and India. Politicisation of Islam did not stop after Bangladesh was created. After Sheikh Mujib’s assassination, successive governments in the country exploited religion for political benefits. When HM Ershad was in power he gave a permanent political culture to religion by declaring Islam as the state religion.

Today, religion is exploited blatantly by Jamaat-e-Islami and their ilk in Bangladesh. Even the BNP and the Awami League take turns to pander to extremist groups to win in elections. Despite this, the syncretic version of Islam is still practiced by most Bangladeshi Muslims. This is similar to what we see in Indonesia, Malaysia etc. However, globalization often attempts to upset the current balance. We see Wahhabi practices, including intolerance and violence. Such religious extremism and violence are not rooted in our Islam and culture.

Jamaat-Shibir’s Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood

In the face of recent violence by Jamaat-Shibir, it is worthwhile to examine our relationship with this party that rejects the cultural and ethnic identity of majority of Bangladeshis to create a pan-Arab Muslim identity and solidarity. This pan-Arab Muslim identity is alien to most Bangladeshis.

Jamaat-Shibir supporters forget that when Bangladesh was part of Pakistan, West Pakistani Muslims in Pakistan did not see East Pakistani (Bengali) Muslims as equal. In fact, the Pakistani narrative in erstwhile East Pakistan was that Bengali Muslims were not masculine enough and enemies of the state influenced by Hindu culture. During the Liberation War, there were special instructions to the Pakistani Occupation Army to carry out mass rapes so that East Pakistan could be populated with ‘masculine and real’ Muslims. The Pakistani Occupation Forces in complicity of local collaborators killed millions of Muslims in 1971. Muslims killing Muslims, so much for the Muslim Brotherhood. When the Pakistani Army and their local collaborators were butchering Bengalis, there was not a single country from the Islamic world protesting it. In fact, it was Hindu India that came to rescue a Muslim majority Bangladesh.

Bangladesh receives most of its foreign aid from non-Muslim countries, e.g. Japan. Though we do get aid from the rich Arab world, we are seen as ‘Miskins’ (beggars) by them. Our Bangladeshi migrant workers are treated in an appalling manner not only in Arab countries but also in Malaysia despite their undeniable contribution to the economies of these countries. This is also the behaviour Bangladeshi tourists often get, particularly in the Middle East.

In attempting to create a singular Muslim identity and an Islamic state, Jamaat-Shibir continues to attack Hindus in Bangladesh time and again. Here it is worthwhile to point out what Jamaat-Shibir practices is not Islam but politics of hatred under the cover of religion.  This is manifested by atrocities on Hindus, destroying public utilities and killing people in the name of religion that we have seen again during the recent violence over the War Crimes Trial.

Jamaat-Shibir also spreads intolerance against its opponents, including those considered to be atheists. Recently, five students of my alma mater North South University have been arrested for the killing of blogger Rajib. They claim they were “performing their religious duties”, under the influence of a Shibir leader. Ironically, the predecessors of Jamaat-Shibir supported an atheist before Partition to form a homeland for Muslim. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, was in fact a staunch atheist who used to drink alcohol and eat pork. Thus the politics of Jamaat is inherently opportunistic and fundamentally flawed. The predecessors of Jamaat-Shibir supported Jinnah because it suited them at that time, just as it suits them to kill those considered to be atheists as their political opponents today.

So, what is the solution to end religious extremism and fanaticism propagated by Jamaat-Shibir in Bangladesh? There are some discussions on banning Jamaat-Shibir, but that may not be easy in a democratic country. Besides, banning Jamaat-Shibir will make their activists go underground and become more violent. This is where Shahbagh brings up hope. In Shahbagh, we have seen an unprecedented mass reawakening on our founding values of the Liberation War through demands of justice for the 1971 Genocide.

Led by the young people, Bangladeshis have come together to reject the brand of religious extremism that was the pretext for the atrocities four decades back. In a democratic country, it is the mass awareness and rejection of such extremist parties by the people in elections that works as euthanasia and a long term solution. With Shahbagh, the euthanization of Jamaat-Shibir has already begun.

Rizwana Shamshad is an academic of South Asian Studies.

22 Responses to “Islam in Bangladesh: Local practice and identity politics”

  1. Quadir

    Hi Rizwana,

    Could you clarify what you mean by the fact that the “pan-Arab Islamic identity” is alien to Bengali Muslims? The concept of the “pan-Islamic” Ummah (which cannot logistically be pan-Arab since Arabs only constitute a minority of the global Muslim population) is inherent to the Islamic faith and its adherents. No Bengali who is a believer in the Islamic faith will reject the concept of the Ummah and the centrality of the Arabic language to the faith. From the tone of your article, you seem to see this as a bad thing but it is central to Islam.

    Another point I would like to raise is that Bengalis are definitely treated poorly by Arabs, Pakistanis, Malaysians and by others in many parts of the world. The proponents of this behaviour, especially the ones from Muslim countries, have no excuse for their behaviour but having said that, are us Bangladeshis blameless? We will continued to be called “miskeen” until we become an economic power. Respect is never given freely, it ALWAYS has to be earned, so when criticizing the behaviour of Pakistanis and Arabs, don’t forget to mention that we are not blameless either.

    Lastly, Islam teaches us that when we see others commit wrong, we should try to correct them by giving them proper guidance and by leading through our own example. So let us treat the religious minorities, Chakmas and Biharis in our own country well and give them the respect they deserve before expecting respect from others.

  2. sid rush

    It is strange aricle with some very shahbagh promoting conclusions. My father attended 1925 Nagpur session of Congress a youth volunteer. He rememnered Jinnah a very secular, elegant, sophisticated person. He was muslim, may not be a practcing one. But he never disowned his haritage. He did not like Gandhi mixing religion, so left for UK. He was brought nack by muslim leaders of United India when Gandhi/nehru marginalized north muslims by playing hindu card. What ever VHP/Jan Sangh talked in 1950-60 or BJP today, Congress did this in 1937 election. So muslim realized Congress will not treat muslims of North with respect. 35% of population only got 10% seats due to hindu cards in election used by Nehru. Nehru was doing s simple math, one person one vote with 65% hindus he will always win. Go study 1937 elections and Indian Constitution debate, seeds of partition are there. Muslim league wanted a better negotiator who can stand up Nehru/Gandhi, so they asked Jinnah to return. A great lawyer, he devised a strategy proportionate representation or partition. Nehru was so desperate to get power after all these years( 25ys) hardwork, he wanted partition rather than shared government. You can compare living conditions of Pak muslims and Indian muslims during 1947-1980. You will Pakistan had better like inspite of wars. It is a tough call post 1980 due regional wars supported by Russia and India.

  3. Truth Teller

    I agree with the previous reader that one should choose words carefully when commenting on someone’s work. The same rule applies when dealing with other people as well. Strong words can often be demoralising and it can destroy a person’s spirit and in some cases can break a person completely.Ms Shamsad may have fallen short in grasping Eaton’s theory but as a reader it doesn’t give h/him any right to dismiss her article by implying it has no merit. I do not think Ms Shamsad’s failure to explain Eaton’s theory and bringing Jaya Chatterjee into the discussion should be seen as something criminal. She is young and may be she didn’t fully understand Eaton’s complex work. For that as a reader I am not going to ignore the good points that she has made, and most certainly will not insult her as a writer and imply that I have better knowledge than her on the subject matter. That would be arrogant of me. I hope Ms Shamsad in the future will be more careful when trying to analyse someone’s work in her writing. Since the author responded to Mr. Tripura, I am surprised why she ignored the very critical comments of another reader. This is an open forum and it was her chance to clear up her points and give a proper response to the other reader. As I said harsh words are very hard to recover from. I hope she is not in a state of shock. I wish the author well in her future artcles.

    • Rizwana

      Thanks Truth Teller for your comments and wishes. It is good to see that there are readers who could see beyond Eaton’s four theories and to the crux of my article. My idea was to tell the readers here about these four theories Eaton mentioned in his book and syncretic Islam in Bengal. I have read Eaton and Chaterji’s ideas in the context of current events.

      I was not shocked but slightly disappointed. I wrote this article as a concerned Bangladeshi. I welcome criticism and constructive suggestions; although some of the vitriolic comments disappointed me. I just addressed one such comment regarding my article’s source. I guess one needs to be thick-skinned to write for an open online forum. As far as people’s harsh comments are concerned, I have to thank Rabindranath Tagore for his Shobujer Obhijan, a poem I read in school. It has rejuvenated my spirit.

    • Golam Arshad

      This debate hinges on Islam and Secularism.The followers of the Islamic Faith can never be Secular as in Western connotation.How would you define SECULARISM and WHY would you juxtapose it on Islamic Faith? Islam always upholds individual FREEDOM! The choice is YOURS but the BLAME should not be tied to any FAITH or ISLAM. Richard Eton chronicles the sequential trail and its impact on Bengal, in a very complex way. It is true the convergence of divergence in the evolution of Islam in Bengal,which was merited to a cultural transition from an existing faith to a another faith ISLAM. Yes the Sufis from Iran/Persia played a huge role in this process of igniting the tenets of Islamic faith in toleration, moderation and tuning up the notion of INDIVIDUAL CHOICE. Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Agnostics, Atheist all in FAITH prevailed during the time of Prophet Mohammad Peace be Upon him, lived peacefully with HONOR and DIGNITY cherishing individual freedom.What NOW traumatized in Bangladesh is whether we fight to be ALL SECULAR or ALL MUSLIMS. This notion is unacceptable, unwarranted and a total denial of Individual Freedom!
      Ms.Shamshad you have done a good job in inviting us to debate humanely on a very contentious matter! Thank you

  4. Rezaul Karim

    The situation in Bangladesh is more mind boggling than Pakistan. In Pakistan a democratically elected government along with the Army is containing the religious fanatics (Talibans). Talibans dont dishonour the flag and anthem of Pakistan. In Bangladesh we are not sure if the democratically elected govt (AL) will get cooperation from the Army to contain future Jamaat militants. Jamaatis dont honour the flag and anthem of the Bangladesh. It is a bizzare situation. Indian forces have already sealed the eastern borders of Bangladesh and catching AK47s and IEDs. It is a headache for India too.

    • Rafiq

      Pradip is my boyhood friend and he lives in Bangladesh. He was my best friend when I used to live in Bangladesh during my childhood. I participated in every occasion in his family (program). His mom loved me as her own son and religion was never a factor. I enjoyed their company and will never forget them in my life. I love them as my own family members and stay in their home every time I go to Bangladesh (Every year). Unfortunately, Jamat Shbir and the so called Muslim extremists attacked their home and family members. The house where I stayed regularly is destroyed and burnt down. The so called Muslim brothers have beaten my friend and his mother and other family members. These so called ‘Muslim brothers’ insulted my friend’s mother during the attack. I was so upset thinking is it Bangladesh ? Is it a democratic country or what ? Democratic country never tortures their minority people. Because they are already weak and less in number. They don’t have much resistance to protect themselves. I have no language to console him and help him. I told him my uncle will visit them and will stay with them until the situation gets back to normal. He told me he has no home to stay there. I offered him to come in our home until they re-build their home. They decided not to re-build the home because those monsters might attack them again and they are threatening them even now.

      They asked me to buy their property because nobody wants to buy their property. I requested them not to leave the country and everything will be back to normal very soon. He asked me what is the difference between Sk. Hasina and Khaleda Zia. Both are are doing what the Pakistanis did during the liberation time. I was crying all day trying to hate myself as I did not help them and they don’t trust me anymore as my ‘Muslim brothers’ attacked them and are forcing them to leave the country. Bangladesh is their right by birth. I feel like a bad Muslim and today I am so angry. He lost his father during the liberation time. As his father was a freedom fighter and he was killed by Pakistani army in the battle field.

      I request all Muslim brothers please help them not kill them. Allah will help you otherwise you will go to hell instead of heaven. Please read the holy Quran and learn from the book what is explained there and how to treat people of other religion. For you people I lost my boyhood friend and how can I go see him in india? Answer me what I should do? Please be kind with people of other religion and their tradition. Because during the liberation war lots of minority people dedicated their lives for this hapless country that it is today — Bangladesh.

      We are Bangladeshi and we should be proud of our country. We should not turn into a new Pakistan. please Do not forget that your national anthem was written by a Hindu Rabindroenath Tagore. So we all should work together and not to force people to leave the country. We all Muslims should promise from now on that we will respect each religion and we all live together without killing each other. We should promise we will love our motherland forever.

  5. afsan

    Islam’s arrival with Bakhtiyar Khalji was political and sufis acted as servants of the invading central Asians. BK was probably the first to set up madrassas in Bengal and import Muslims to set up communities of support for his rule in an alien land. These sufis arrived on the strength of the sword of the invaders. They were officers of Central Asian Muslim imperialism.

    A more mixed variation came during the Sultani era when the Shahi Muslim rulers patronized both religions which made great political sense since they were aliens and needed support from the local people and the economy was flourishing. So various Hindu and Muslim cults flourished under state patronage.

    When the Mughals came the agricultural frontier begun expanding particularly in the Noakhali-Barisal area but the money didn’t come from agriculture but trade which was never in local hands. Eaton
    says many people- the Charismatics- mobilized Islam for economic purpose leading to large scale conversion to create agri-labour army. However, they were just made “Muslims’ and no evidence that their ancient practices were changed or told to do so which became common after the British takeover.

    The source of these “imperial’ variations of Islam was Central Asia and its mother land Iran so it was basically Persian islam that prevailed which incorporate pre-Arab invasion of Iran cultures like spiritual dancing, wrestling etc. Sufi ?

    The entry of Arabian sourced Islam happened after the British take over when Muslims already angry over the loss of the empire went for Hajj and returned carrying Wahabi ideas, then sweeping Arab lands. Thus the dominant narrative of Islamic culture in Bengal was first challenged since its arrival in the 14th century. Its these people who took over religious education, that began to dominate and ‘Islam’ shifted from the Persian to Saudi sources.

    The ordinary Bengali villager has followed his own brand of “illiterate Islam ‘ for centuries like his Hindu illiterate counterparts. A good book on the topic is ” Logic in a popular form” by Sumanta Banerjee.

  6. nilu

    Khademul Islam thinks he is the only person who can write in English! Attacking the author in such a harsh manner is uncalled for and bdnews24 should have edited his comments.

  7. Iqbal

    Unfortunately, we Bangladeshis are trapped and held hostage by two extreme groups– Jamatis and secularist. Both the groups want to kill anyone who is not on their side. Jamatis are a violent group and use Islam to perpetuate their political motive. On the other hand the secularists of Bangladesh need to prove themselves “secular” by throwing insult only on Islam as a religion with the same motive to perpetuate their political wishes. Everything is about self-interest of the respective parties, and that is skewing people’s moral belief. Both the parties are imposing what promotes their self own self-interest while hoodwinking the common people to believe what they are doing is morally right. So far the winner of this nasty game is whoever controls the media and has the ability to control behavior, ideology and even interpretation of history.

  8. Nafis

    Dr. Shamshad, i would just like to point out a few things in your article that I feel have not been properly explained –

    1. while Bangladesh did practice syncretic Islam, you did not make the transition as to when Islam became political rather than a spiritual endeavor. The Sufi doctrines envision Islam to be of a spiritual nature without dictating any laws of societal governance, which is rarely seen today in Bangladesh. in my humble opinion, I’d like to say that Sufism did not advance in Bangladesh beyond Shah Jalal and/or Lalon shai. Also the followers of Lalon were heavily prosecuted and ostracized due to their apparent involvement with marijuana and other “unholy” practices.

    2. While you have mentioned Jinnah, I think there should have been more expansion on that to describe how Islam became political. Jinnah and Allama Iqbal raised the call for a separate Muslim state to safeguard the political rights of minority Muslims in undivided India and that’s when the cracks started to happen. A more political Islam paved way for the destruction of spiritual Islam.

    3. Even though you have mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood, you did not shed much light on Jamaat’s overseas operations. Following the liberation war, Jamaat activists and leaders mainly fled to the UK where they have a big stronghold, esp in East London. The strange part is that in the western media, Jamaat puts up a moderate Islamic front, and mostly under the guise of non-Islamic names. Also, as foreign policy analysts would tell you, the Western powers would actually use these so-called “moderate” Islamic political parties to keep the “extremist” ones in check, thus further increasing Jamaat’s power and influence (in case this sounds like a conspiracy theory, I’d urge you to check out Gita Sahgal’s work on Jamaat’s overseas activities).

    4. Lastly, this is a bit petty, but stating that Jinnah was a staunch atheist because he drank alcohol and ate pork only implies and strengthens the stance of political Islam rather than a spiritual one. And also, atheism really does not have anything to do with violating “laws” put down in Islam, but rather the actual belief itself.

    • Rizwana

      Thanks for your comments Nafis. I had several points to make and a detailed explanation would have made the article too long. As an online reader I know people usually do not read write ups that are too long.

      Jamaat’s overseas connection is an interesting point you raised. I do not know much about Jamaat’s overseas engagements but I do know of the activities of the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) abroad. This is again very complex. After living in Australia for six years, I feel migrants or non-resident Bangladeshis are more conservative than Bangladeshis in Bangladesh. They have a desire to feel connected with their homeland. Opportunistic political parties take advantage of that sense of belongingness and displacement.

      Lastly about Jinnah, I did not imply that Jinnah was a staunch atheist because he ate pork. The implication was Jinnah was an atheist; in addition he used to eat pork and drink alcohol. Apologies on my part if it sounded like that. Yes atheism is related to belief and consuming something forbidden does not make one atheist.

      • Nafis

        Thank you for your reply Dr. Shamshad. I realize in retrospect that the comments appear more aggressive than I had meant them to be and I apologize for that.

        If I may, I would suggest you to read Dr. Ali Riaz’s “God Willing: The politics of islamism in Bangladesh” if you have not already.

        I wish you the very best in your current and future endeavours.

  9. M.Mozammel Haque

    The article by Rizwana Shamsad attracted my attention in regards to the development of Islam in Bengal and birth of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
    I applause most of arguments with a very minimum difference which may not be so important.
    I give much important to economy and discipline.
    Faith,religion,customs,nationality,tradition and practices all round about these two economy and discipline just similar to an atom with proton and neutron in the center.
    And to my utter surprise these two factors are out come of habits and strength.
    and these are related to the gene.For economy crisis/demand is a constant factor. And it is the individual and others how much it is allowed to prevail.Because by simply changing the habit the crisis is overcome.So this changing is a work and this is to be continuously performed.
    In Bangladesh its climate also plays an important role to this work.
    And these are easy cultivation and poultry and diary practices.
    But restraint to change the habit brings all indiscipline and faith and religion are needed.
    And this is a world wide matter.
    My argument is this -changing the habit and this is done only for discipline to live and let other to live.
    Now to conclude we in Bengal are habituated to this changing habit.
    Useless overpopulation need it,job less youth need it,ganojagoron need it,politics need it,parliamentary members need it,our leaders need it.
    It is the history Mohammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan and MK.Gandhi belonged to the same area but the former got the leadership of a section of public and the latter got it in the other section.The former put on the uniform of faith and the latter did not do it.Pakistan came into being.Then there was question of disparity and Bangladesh came into being.
    In both situation changing habit could not be done and its out come is unrest in Pakistan and Bangladesh.And in the end Islam and any other faith has very little to do in this present situation.

  10. anonymous

    well written Dr Shamsad. Some good points were raised.

  11. Observer

    Dr Shamshad, thank you for rightly pointing out that Jamaat-Shibir in fact “alien” to the the Sufi-influenced spread of Islam in this region.

  12. Golam Arshad

    Creation of Pakistan was vehemently opposed by the then Jamaat e Hind.Sheikh Hasina is solely responsible in dividing the nation.For what? To prevail in power. Cracking down on Jamaat triggered in tsunami of violence! The Nation turns on its own identity to preserve and protect its own SOVEREIGNTY!

  13. Khademul Islam

    This particular writer should be careful how she writes in English, which can distort meaning, twist the research thrust of an important academic work, and make for an internally conflicted article. In the first sentence of her article, in order to make a polemical point, she writes that Eaton “attributes the rise of Islam… to four factors.” This is inaccurate. These four factors have historically been used by other historians to explain the anomaly of the rise of Islam in East Bengal, surrounded as it was by Hinduism and Buddhism. Eaton examines each of these four factors and dismisses them as the primary cause of Islam’s rise in the delta. He advances his own hybrid theory of these factors, but one which is underpinned by the agrarian theory of the spread of wet rice cultivation. This is manifestly, and absolutely, not the same as saying he “attributes” the rise of Islam in Bengal to the four factors of Immigration, Forceful Conversion, Patronage, and Social Liberation.
    The writer then opposes her own assertion in the first sentence and paragraph by writing that Islam in Bengal(as defined by Eaton in his book but not made clear by the author), was syncretic, which within the frame of the article itself undercuts the Social Liberation cause factor.
    And the writer seems to imply – by connecting pirs, rice cultivation and Jaya Chatterjee’s work within two sentences – that it was she who advanced the theory that Islam’s spread coincided with the growth of rice cultivation in this part of Bengal. Really? In which book of hers? Her area of expertise and work I thought was in a completely different period of history, which was Hindu bhadralok communalism in the context of the Bengal Partition of 1905. As far as I know this particular ‘agrarian’ theory is in Eaton’s book.
    Richard Eaton’s is a scholarly and complex work, and should not be glibly marshaled to defend or advance ready-made, or thoroughly unexamined, positions on current affairs. That is not why he wrote his book. And if I am right about Jaya, then to bring her into this debate wrongfully is criminally wrong.

    • Rizwana

      Mr Islam. With due respect you and I are not in a position to interpret a complex argument. Any complex scholarship such as Eaton’s should be left to individual’s own interpretation and understanding. My idea for this article was to introduce my readers with the four popular theories on rise of Islam in Bengal and then discuss the syncretic nature of Islam in Bengal Delta. There is no denial that Eaton did mention that all the available theories on rise of Islam in Bengal could be reduced to these four theories.

      Regarding Joya Chatterji, it seems you are not aware of her other works or publications. It is unfortunate that you made such harsh comments without doing your homework, or in this case a google search for Joya Chatterji’s work. Although known best for her book Bengal Divided: Hindu Communalism and Partition, 1932-1947, Joya Chatterji has worked beyond that. This particular paragraph was based on one of her articles which, was an overview of the debates on Bengali Muslims. There she notes and discusses Richard Eaton and Asim Roy’s work on Islam in Bengal.

      There could be one or two more typos in the article, but that does not mean this article is not informative for the readers.
      You suggest that Eaton did not write this book with the current conflict in mind, this is stating the obvious. If we cannot build upon others work, to deploy it in different contexts then we severely limit ourselves. Should Postcolonialists have not theoretical insights from Post-structuralists, should Subalternists have not borrowed from social history?

      I agree that one should take care with the words one uses, in any language, not only English. I would ask that you reflect upon the tone of your comment. People may think you are rude.

  14. Prashanta Trpura

    I have read this article with interest, both for its current relevance, and for its reference to Eaton’s seminal work. With regard to the latter aspect, however, the article begins with a paragraph that may be based on, or in any case lead to, misinterpretation of Eaton’s views. Far from attributing the rooting and spread of Islam in Bengal/Bangladesh to the ‘four factors’ mentioned, Eaton’s main argument is that none of these conventional theories of Islamization in South Asia are adequate, useful or historically accurate, particularly in the context of the ‘Bengal frontier’. Dr. Shamsad, however, does represent Eaton’s views more accurately in characterizing Islam in Bengal as being inclusive and syncretic, owing greatly to Sufi influences.

    My own take on Eaton’s thesis can be found summarized in an article published in the Himal magazine: http://himalmag.com/component/content/article/5116-becoming-bangladeshi.html
    Readers who have not read Eaton’s book may of course read it for themselves to their own conclusions.

    • Rizwana

      Thanks for your comments Mr. Tripura. ‘Eaton however, argues that all these theories are inadequate to explain the rise of Islam in Bengal.’ This one line got missed while I was doing the final read. I have contacted bdnews24.com and they will fix it soon.

      Eaton’s book is available online as well if anyone is interested. For this particular paragraph see Eaton’s book on googlebook: pg 113, 1993 edition.

  15. Saimur

    Why cant you people be non-political and be objective in your writing? Do some real research before claiming something that you do not know. Readers you are targeting here are well aware of what is happening around!

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