Arsalan Khan, "The Promise of Piety: Islam and the Politics of Moral Order in Pakistan" (Cornell UP, 2024)


The Promise of Piety: Islam and the Politics of Moral Order in Pakistan (Cornell University Press, 2024) by Arsalan Khan is an incisive ethnographic study of Pakistan’s Tablighi movement. This piety movement attracts Pakistani Muslim men across class, caste, and social contexts and as such Khan is particularly attuned and reflexive as he navigates the boundaries of this community. 

Khan theorizes the various modalities of relationality that mark this movement from its sonic and ritual dimensions, especially as it relates to dawat or preaching, to its kinship and ethical ones. Dawat is an analytical tool to map some of the ways in which piety and morality are cultivated in public, private, and domestic spheres by the men of the Tablighi movement. In the end, Tablighi’s ethical worldviews unsettle liberal sensibilities and approaches to Islam (religion) and secularism (non-religion), modernity, sovereignty and much more. This book will be of interest to those think about South Asia, piety movements, anthropology of Islam, Islamic reformism, secularism, and politics and much more.

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Shobhana Xavier

Shobhana Xavier is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here. She may be reached at You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier.

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