Perspectives from the Field

Interviews with the Alima of Ladakh

  • Jacqueline H. Fewkes
Keywords: Islam, gender, education, Ladakh


This article is based on a series of interviews with a group of female Islamic scholars—alima—in Leh, Ladakh, who were the first four women from the region to receive a religious education in a formal madrassa (religious school). The women interviewed attended Jamiatus Salehat, a Deobandi religious boarding school located in Malageon Maharashtra (India), in the late 1980s. They graduated in 1991, returning to Ladakh to teach religion in the area. Today, these four women conduct public religious teachings for women in both Leh and Nubra valleys, and educate their family members about Islam as well. Segments of interviews conducted in 2012 with three of these alima of Ladakh are provided here to create portraits of the women that reflect their thoughts and experiences in their own voices. While these interviews illustrate the ways that local and global practices of 'being Muslim' are mutually constitutive, they suggest many other narratives as well. Unedited interview transcripts are therefore the focal point of this perspective piece to provide readers with a sense of other possibilities of interpretation and resist the formation of a dominating unified narrative.

How to Cite
Fewkes, J. (2018). Perspectives from the Field. HIMALAYA - The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, 38(2), 90-99.