Muslim communities in modern Indian society are often seen through the lens of race and politics. The separate mechanisms of faith and secularism, which, as Judith Butler observes, may well be “a fugitive way” for certain kinds of “religion to survive”, are meshed together with the politics of representation and counter-representation of Islam and Muslims in the framing of identities. From the Babri masjid demolition to the wake of Ram mandir bhoomi pujan, and the hijab controversy, religion and culture run the risk of being employed in disloyalty, as a threat, in an artistically compromised manner. This article will examine how the tensions between individual subjectivity and a communitarian adherence to culture and faith manifest themselves in the present-day situation in India, as they negotiate between the pull of a liberal individualist lifestyle and that of family and community—between speaking as an “I” and on behalf of a collective.

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