This work was propelled by a concern to address the vicious targeting and unabashed stereotyping of Muslims in India in the 1990s, in the context of the enveloping and insidious communalisation that characterised the period. The communal violence that swept the country in the early 1990s had been preceded over decades by various forms of ‘othering’. In the field of sociology and social anthropology, there was a reluctance to address the almost subcutaneous stereotyping that prevailed. The principal mode of stereotyping was to deny the social and cultural diversity that suffuses the lives of Indian Muslims. Such an approach denied their differing histories and reduced their multiple identities based on a complex interplay of caste, class, region, religion and gender to a flattened homogeneity based solely on religion, in this case a textual and narrow interpretation of Islam. The essentialisation of the difference between Hindus and Muslims had its origin in Orientalist perspectives and colonial policies. The manifestation of this in the social sciences had dangerous implications for the very manner in which India was to be imagined.