In Governing Islam, Julia Stephens examines the relationship between Islamic and secular law in South Asia as intertwined systems that emerged as a result of the transformations of colonial rule. The book thus challenges the assumption that Islam is essentially antithetical to secular, modern, and liberal legal regimes, and aims to “show how Indians’ engagements with and subversion of laws co-existed in dynamic tension with a profoundly transformative, and deeply coercive, colonial legal project” (p. 4). It tracks the formation of what Stephens calls “colonial secular governance” involving institutions and discourses that governed British India while demonstrating how it was subverted by Muslims and women whom the colonial officials portrayed as irrational, communal or prejudiced. Stephens argues that “colonial secular governance” operated through a series of binaries “that pitted family against economy, religion against reason and community against the state” (p. 4). These oppositions, mapped onto a larger secular/religious...

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