By Bimal Kanti Paul
Religious identity is a decisive force in the political and social life of many South Asians. Religion was the basis for the 1947 partitioning of British India into Pakistan and India. Today, the impact of religions, particularly Islam, continues to shape the political geography of South Asia. India and Pakistan have fought several wars to control the Muslim-dominated Kashmir region. Decades-long political conflicts in Afghanistan are centered around the imposition of strict Islamic ideology. This and other conflicts between the followers of Islam and other religions of South Asia, as well as followers of different sects within Islam, have taken the lives of thousands of innocent civilians. The primary objective of this article is to present salient characteristics of contemporary Islam in the countries of South Asia. This will be accomplished by providing an overview of contemporary manifestations of Islam in a number of countries.