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Abstract

India in the inter-war decades was alive with multiple competing ideologies whose spokesmen made their arguments in Islamic terms and claimed to speak authentically for ‘Islam’, among them the ‘Islamist’, Maulana Maududi; the ‘Modernist’ poet, Muhammad Iqbal; and the ‘Traditionalist’ Islamic scholar, Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani. A significant advantage of looking at these early movements is that, more than fifty years on, we are able to see them as products of their times, subject, moreover, to considerable change in the new nation states that emerged. Their histories exemplify the limits of stressing the ‘genealogy’ of any given movement – whether to Quranic chapter and verse or to some putative founder – as well as of imputing rigidity to Islamic thought.