This article discusses the growth of predominantly Muslim populations in two regions of South Asia-western Punjab and eastern Bengal. No evidence supports conventional understandings that Islamisation in these areas resulted from a desire for social liberation on the part of the lower orders of the Hindu caste system. Nor should Islamisation in these regions be characterised as instances of 'conversion', a term embedded in the nineteenth century Protestant missionary movement and thus, inappropriate for reconstructing religious processes in medieval Bengal and Punjab. Rather, transformations of religious identity in these two regions appear to have been gradual and unselfconscious in nature. They also appear to have been part of larger socio-political and economic changes that were occurring in the regions, in particular the diffusion of settled peasant agriculture.
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