The primordialist would counter that Islamic religious conceptions so profoundly shape community identity that "the formation of separatist movements on the basis of religious confession, the assertion of a political identity on the basis of religion...
does seem to be an especial characteristic of Muslims."Neither of these approaches is often held in its pure form.
39 (Brass's summary, not his own position, which is instrumentalist but more subtle; see Paul R.
Brass, Language, Religion, and Politics in North India [London: Cambridge Univ.
In North India, even an instrumentalist found that local nationalisms, whether Sikh, Muslim, or Maithili, succeeded best when religious rather than only linguistic bases were used for political identity.
In some ways, of course, the debate between instrumentalists and primor-dialists centers on the relative weight of short-term causes for political identity formation versus long-term ones.
Ursula Sims-Williams of the India Office kindly helped with the illustrations.
The Raja and Maharajkumar of Mahmudabad munificently gave me access to their manuscripts.
Naiyir Masoud and Mawlana Kalb-i Sadiq shared with me rare printed works.
How far back to look for the roots of Muslim separatism and religious state building has become a central debate in the study of Asian Islam.
The two major approaches to the problem have been called the "instrumental" and the "primordial." The extreme instrumentalist might say, for instance, that ethnicity is "the pursuit of interest and advantage for members of groups whose cultures are infinitely malleable and manipulable by elites." He would argue that pre-1947 Muslims and Hindus in the subcontinent differed little from one another, but that different rates of mobilization and the claims of elites to advantage created a split.