Laurence Louër is a researcher at Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales (CERI) in Paris. She is an Arabist and specializes in Middle-Eastern studies. Christophe Jaffrelot is a senior research fellow at CERI and the author of the critically acclaimed The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience as well as the editor of Pakistan at the Crossroads: Domestic Dynamics and External Pressures.
The region inhabited by the largest number of Muslims-roughly 500 million-today is South Asia. In the course of the Islamization process that began in the eighth century, the region developed a distinct Indo-Islamic civilization that culminated in the Mughal Empire. In the Gulf, while paying lip service to the power centres, including Mecca and Medina, this civilization cultivated its own variety of Islam, which was based on Sufism. Over the last fifty years, pan-Islamic ties have intensified between these two regions. Gathering together some of the best specialists on the subject, this volume explores these ideological, educational and spiritual networks, which have gained momentum due to political strategies, migration flows and increased communications. At stake are both the resilience of the civilization that imbued South Asia with a specific identity and the relations between Sunnis and Shias in a region where Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a cultural proxy war. The Islamic Connection investigates the nature and implications of the cultural, spiritual and socio-economic rapprochement between these two Islams.