'Lived Islam' in India and Bangladesh

Biswamitra Sahu, Inge Hutter

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8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper seeks to answer the question of how Muslim women interpret and negotiate religion in order to realise their reproductive aspirations. A close reading of lived experiences of 32 Muslim women from a varied educational background yields a wider perspective of the different interpretations of reproductive norms employed by adherents of the same religion (Islam), situated in two countries (India/Bangladesh) and group (majority/minority) contexts. Further, this comparative study yields a deeper understanding of agency that is employed by Muslim participants in each country. Muslim women both in India and Bangladesh are not passive followers of religious norms, but have agency to bring change in their own life and take an active role in planning their family, thereby transgressing religious norms in reproductive matters. Muslim women in India exercise their agency by adopting sterilisation - a method proscribed by Islam - without the knowledge of their significant others. Muslim women in Bangladesh use their agency by making a flexible interpretation of Islam in reproductive matters. A lesson learned from this comparative study is the need to remove barriers that prevent the adoption of contraceptives by Muslim minorities in India and to design family planning programmes that takes into account their religious needs.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)521-535
Number of pages15
JournalCulture, Health & Sexuality
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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