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‘But You Don’t Look Like a Muslim’ review: The long shadow of Partition

Chaman mein ikhtilat-e-rang-o-bu se baat banti hai/Hum hi hum hain to kya hum hain tum hi tum ho to kya tum ho (It is the inter-mingling of colours and fragrances that make a garden/ If there is only us there can be no us and there can be no you if there is only you.)

This Urdu couplet by Sarshar Sailani quoted by Rakhshanda Jalil in the beginning of her book sets the tone for the essays that follow, on identity politics, the composite cultural traditions of India and its literary history. The 40 essays make up four sections, The Politics of Identity, The Matrix of Culture, The Mosaic of Literature and The Rubric of Religion.

In the introduction, ‘Oh, But You Don’t Look Like a Muslim’, she talks about the stereotyping of Muslims in India, associating them with a certain set of characteristics, and portraying them in a bad light. It also adds that the common preconceived notions about Muslims being violent, aggressive and regressive have not only been propagated by right-wing organisations but also in popular literature and cinema.…

Title: But You Don’t Look Like a Muslim

Author: Rakhshanda Jalil

Reviewed by: Abdullah Khan

Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers India Ltd, Block A, 75, Kamal Marg, Block A, Sector 57, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201307, ₹599.https://www.amazon.in/

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