SherAli Tareen, "Perilous Intimacies: Debating Hindu-Muslim Friendship After Empire" (Columbia UP, 2023)


Friendship—particularly interreligious friendship—offers both promise and peril. After the end of Muslim political sovereignty in South Asia, how did Muslim scholars grapple with the possibilities and dangers of Hindu-Muslim friendship? How did they negotiate the incongruities between foundational texts and attitudes toward non-Muslims that were informed by the premodern context of Muslim empire and the realities of British colonialism, which rendered South Asian Muslims a political minority? 

In Perilous Intimacies: Debating Hindu-Muslim Friendship After Empire (Columbia University Press, 2023), SherAli Tareen, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin & Marshall College, explores how leading South Asian Muslim thinkers imagined and contested the boundaries of Hindu-Muslim friendship from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. He argues that often what was at stake in Muslim scholarly debates on Hindu-Muslim friendship were unresolved tensions over the meaning of Islam in the modern world. Tareen’s framework also provides a timely perspective on the historical roots of present-day Hindu-Muslim relations, considering how to overcome thorny legacies and open new horizons for interreligious friendship. In our conversation we discussed Muslim scholarly translations of Hinduism, Hindu-Muslim theological polemics, intra-Muslim debates on cow sacrifice, and debates on emulating Hindu customs and habits.

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Kristian Petersen

Kristian Petersen is an Associate Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at

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