Seema Mustafa is one of the most popular South Asian print and television journalists. She is known for championing the cause of Muslims in India against systematic state oppression. Currently, she is the Editor-in-Chief of The Citizen, a digital newspaper she founded. Seema has authored four books so far, one of which is a co-authored one.
Being a Secular Muslim in India
by Seema Mustafa
“But strangely enough, I find all my identities under threat today. As a woman, as a journalist, as a Muslim, as a secularist, as a liberal and even as an Indian because the Idea of India as envisaged by those who led the struggle for Independence, and enshrined in the Constitution with all its guarantees and its protection, is under threat.”
A fascinating account of an audacious woman’s journey and a rapidly vanishing way of life, Azadi’s Daughter is both a personal memoir and a political commentary. Journalist Seema Mustafa writes evocatively of the secular, pluralist India of the 1960s and ’70s, chronicling her life as a Muslim woman born into the nationalist, progressive Kidwai family in Lucknow. As a child, her life was untouched by communalism, and even as she realizes that this was not the case for many, her book is a testament to the syncretic nature of secularism, in which a staunchly Muslim household was not limited to conservative interpretations of Islam.
Seema Mustafa incisively charts the events which have slowly begun to erode this tolerant, diverse ethos—the government’s handling of the Shah Bano case in the 1980s, the demolition of the Babri Masjid in the 1990s, the mass arrests and torture of Indian Muslim youth in the aftermath of the 9/11 bombings, and the Gujarat riots of the 2000s. She also examines the current state of secularism where people face marginalization and the threat of violence merely for exercising their right to religion, to livelihood and even to what they eat.
This book should set to rest lazy assumptions about Indian Muslims, and women in particular. Even as it highlights the dominant concerns of Indian Muslims—security, employment, education, housing—it also underlines their abiding faith in Indian democracy and its pluralistic ethos. A memoir that defies old assumptions and prejudices, Azadi’s Daughter is an important account of Indian Muslims in the modern world.
Publisher: Folio Books
Publishing date: July 2018
Professor Uzi Rabi is the Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies and a senior researcher at the Center for Iranian Studies, both at Tel Aviv University. Formerly, he was the Head of the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University. From 2004-2005, he held a visiting professorship at the Lipinski Institute of San Diego State University. Prof. Rabi is the director of the TAU Workshop, an annual ten-day seminar for international scholars that focuses on the geopolitical situation of Israel and its neighbors, and the co-editor of Bustan: The Middle East Book Review. His research focuses on the modern history and evolution of states and societies in the Middle East, Iranian-Arab relations, oil and politics in the Middle East, and Sunni-Shi’i dynamics; within this framework he has supervised the dissertations of numerous doctoral candidates in this field over the years. He has authored numerous books and scholarly papers to date.
Bilal Zahoor studied Chemical Engineering from University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, but didn’t let his academic training hinder his passion for establishing an independent publishing house in Pakistan. An avid reader of local and foreign progressive literature and a freelance editor and writer, Bilal believes that his reading, writing and editing experiences could be best converged only in the form of a publishing platform. He founded Folio Books in 2017 and is currently the Editorial Director of the publishing house while also playing Creative Head and Editor-in-Chief.
Niloufer Siddiqui is an Assistant Professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York in the Department of Political Science. Niloufer completed her PhD in Political Science at Yale University in 2017. Her book project examines why political parties engage in violence and the variation in violence strategies that they employ. Other research interests include political behavior, the politics of religion and ethnicity, electoral dynamics in developing or transitioning democracies, and voters and foreign policy. Siddiqui previously worked at the International Crisis Group (ICG) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Islamabad and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York. She has an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a BA in English from Haverford College.