A community of 180 million people amounting to 14 per cent of the population is not a demographic threat but a cultural possibility. The Indian Muslim contributes not just to India but to the culture of Islam across the world. Muslims were an integral part of the freedom struggle and an integral part of independent India. Yet, he remarks, injustice has been done to them.
But Mr. Ansari as a scholar, reflecting on the recent debates in Islam, goes dramatically further. He cites the work of Mohammed Arkoun, the Algerian scholar. Arkoun like U.K.-based scholar of Islam, Ziauddin Sardar, does not reduce Islam to essentialist categories. He is neither an Orientalist nor a fundamentalist but is keen to develop that plural space where Islam is no longer a closed official corpus replete with rituals of ideology and domination. He seeks to create a new Islamic imaginary, opening up new fields of reflection and research within the Islamic domain. Arkoun was no ivory tower intellectual but a scholar who engaged in the everydayness of debate and policy.