South Asia is today the region inhabited by the largest number of Muslims—roughly 500 million. In the course of its Islamisation process, which began in the eighth century, it developed a distinct Indo-Islamic civilisation that culminated in the Mughal Empire. While paying lip service to the power centres of Islam in the Gulf, including Mecca and Medina, this civilisation has cultivated its own variety of Islam, 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 civilisation 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, as evident in the foreign ramifications of sectarianism in Pakistan.

Reviews for this publication

“The Indian Ocean, linking Arabia to South Asia, looms as the testcase for Muslim networks, yet the profile of Indo-Islamic civilization remains contested between Saudi Salafis, Pakistani Sufis and also Iranian Shi’ites. This pioneering volume provides a welcome transregional, comparative analysis of multiple case studies, at once historical and contemporary.”
—Bruce Bennett Lawrence, Professor Emeritus of Religion, Duke University

“Connections of trade, family, learning and faith have existed between South Asia and the Gulf for hundreds of years.  This book focuses on their workings in the modern period with especial emphasis on Islam. It demonstrates the significant and complex interactions which take place across the region, some of which are of strategic potential.”
—Francis Robinson, Professor of the History of South Asia, Royal Holloway, University of London