Item Code: IDK147
Oxford University Press
Size: 8.8" X 5.9"
Pages: 1098 (7 B/W Illustration)
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In 1969, the University of Edinburgh launched the 'Islamic Surveys' series. Volume seven by Aziz Ahmad was intended to 'help to counteract the relative neglect until recently of the achievements of Islam in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent.' The need was great because, as W. Montgomery Watt, General Editor of the series observed.
South Asia is not a mere frontier of Islam, but an integral part of the Islamic world, making a distinctive contribution to the life of the whole. For many centuries it has been interacting with Hinduism by way of both attraction and repulsion, but it has not severed its links with the heartlands of Islam. More recently Indian Islam preceded the heartlands in receiving and responding to the European impact.
Some years ago a friend asked me: 'Is there any recent book on Islam in South Asia?' After all, the friend added, Islam is the religion of over 140 million people in India alone. The fact is the we have allowed decades to pass without asking ourselves many important questions about them, not because we did not have the time but because we were either unconcerned or because at heart we took for granted that we had all the answers. As a result, wide areas of the Muslim traditions-like movements, institutions, liberal thought, reformers, and so on-are represented by only a handful of articles or the occasional book. Moreover, despite Islam's vibrancy in the region, India's Muslims are neither among the 'Makers of Contemporary Islam nor do they represent 'The New Voices of Islam'. It matters little that Muslim scholars and thinkers have contributed substantially to the production of knowledge or that the Muslims in South Asia have expressed their finest sensibilities in creative arts, architecture, poetry and literature. Even the traditional medieval India where such knowledge was produced-the India of the Sultans of Delhi and the Mughals-is dead and possibly beyond resurrection.
In order to address the lack of writings on India's Muslims and their emerging identities apart from questioning analytical frameworks and epistemological assumptions, the present need is to be aware of Islam in South Asia as a living tradition, however defined, and as a dynamic force. The volumes in this Omnibus bring together the variety of thought-patterns and practices instrumental in the evolution of identities among India's Muslims on pan-Indian as well as regional and local levels.
Barbara D. Metcalf, the historian now based in the University of Michigan, studies the analytical platform for exploring Islamic knowledge and training in late-nineteenth century India. The second volume on The Bengal Muslims 1860-1906 by Rafiuddin Ahmad depicts the evolving identities and contesting ideas of the community from a regional perspective while my Legacy of a Divided Nation considers the challenges of adaptation and negotiation the Muslims faced in the times after the independence and partition of India.
Barbara Metcalf's work on the generation of ideas and education system of the Deoband School is one of the fine examples of the epistemological engagement with the manner in which the realm of ideas mould and at the same time represent the societies that give rise to them. In the late 1970s, the relationship between codes for behaviour derived from Islam and codes of behaviours derived from other sources was discussed at two conferences in the United States. Even though their concerns were far removed from the people's lives, the participants paid adequate attention to educational institutions. The reasons are not far to seek. India has been the home of traditional learning since the advent of Turkish rule. During the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq (1325-51), Delhi alone had a thousand madaris. There were at least thirty in Jaunpur, and a sixteenth century traveler visiting Thata-near Karachi in Pakistan-reported 400 large and small madaris. An elaborate curriculum was developed at these institutions, though Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughal emperors, reprimanded his former teacher for having taught him Arabic, grammar and philosophy rather than subjects more practical for a future ruler of a vast empire. Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of the M.A.O. College. Held that the Muslim schools of the old sort were 'altogether useless' because their syllabus and books 'deceive and teach men to veil their meaning to describe things wrongly and in irrelevant terms to leave the history of the past uncertain, and to relate facts like tales and age and to the spirit of the time, and thus instead of doing good they do much harm to the Muhammadans.
Traditional schools made substantial adjustments in religious thought and organization in the nineteenth century. A number of writers compiled the histories of such initiatives in Urdu. Much was written on Deoband's Dar al-ulum, but these well-drilled arrays of 'historians' hardly ever went beyond extolling the ulama and the Dars-I Nizamia as the model curriculum. It was different with Barbara Daly Metcalf's book, Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband 1860-1900. She closely looked at Deoband's ulama, especially those who were engaged in a self-conscious reformulation of their religious thought-a reformulation that involved new emphases and new concerns from within the framework of their own received tradition. Her account of their rise in the nineteenth century and of the origins of the Dar al-ulum are particularly useful since they show that the ground work for the setting up of a religious seminary had already been prepared by scholars whose names have been forgotten. She unfolds their world and the ways in which they experienced colonial rule, acquaints the reader with a teacher's life, the growing up of a student thrown into a particular social milieu and the evolution of religious ideas, and introduces their interpretation and their impact on the construction of a society modeled on the Shariat. Lastly, she is able to show that Islam in nineteenth-century India did not stagnate and that significant cultural change took place only through the adoption of Western values.
According to Barbara Metcalf, the Deoband movement illustrates that there are long and deep traditions of Islamic apoliticism and a de facto embrace of democratic and liberal traditions. Second, it demonstrates that the goals and satisfactions that come from participation in Islamic movements may well have little to do with opposition or resistance to non-Muslims or 'the West.' Last, what they offer their participants may be the fulfillment of desires for individual empowerment, transcendent meaning and moral sociality that do not engage directly with national or global political life at all.
Islamic Revival in British India is the product of meticulous scholarship and testifies to a remarkable erudition. Francis Robinson, the reviewer, wrote: 'Now we can share in the life and the workings of an Indian madrasa, the world of the nineteenth-century alim and Sufi loses some of its mystery, and the men themselves emerge as men of flesh and blood.
That we do, for Metcalf employs an empathetic view to decode the meaning-systems behind the ideas of the Deoband ulema. Instead of plainly criticizing the traditional view, Metcalf's narrative depicts the ulama as godly men, Spirited, and self-sacrificing. The piety and learning of the ulama in a world torn by materialism is emphasized in her work and her idealization of the Deobandi ulama runs contrary to the widespread critique of their conduct and performance. Metcalf explains the response of the 'ulama to the colonial dominance of the British and the collapse of Muslim political power and discusses the ways in which they enhanced a sense of cultural continuity in a period of colonial rule. However, the implicit critique of 'Enlightenment', and 'modernity' exists simultaneously with an emphasis on the traditional view. This view does not account for the impact of 'ulema's conservative modes of thinking on gender justice, on other aspects of family life, or on the processes of Deoband's negotiation with other communities and movements in the Indian context.
To ensure that the Deobandi and the Firangi Mahalis alone are not seen to represent the authentic voice of Islam, Usha Sanyal produced a detailed account of Ahmad Riza Khan Barelwi and his movement. Before her, C.W. Troll, a German Jesuit based in New Delhi, reflected on various Islamic trends in South Asia. The collection of essays on the dargahs was one of the early works on the subject. Barbara Metcalf's study of the revivalist movement in Deoband, therefore, represents a body of literature which contributed to develop an understanding of the crystallization of thought and identity in centres of Islamic learning.
Along with this increasing understanding of traditional Islamic views in the context of the Indian subcontinent, historical scholarship has helped to free, at least to some extent, minds from sweeping generalizations and from tendentious exaggerations regarding the practice of Islam and Muslim communities in South Asia. To give an example, it has been regional variations and changes over time. Indeed there are, and always have been, many Islams. The Islam of theologians remains very much with us, though the doctrine they present varies with time and place, from school to school, and from scholar to scholar. Then, there is the Islam of the subalterns, who have been alternately drawn by a 'great tradition' and a 'little tradition'. The great tradition itself is fissured by the Shia-Sunni divide. Furthermore, the 'orthodoxification' of the little traditions between the great and little traditions is not a divinely ordained imperative. Nonetheless, the ensuing contest for the sacred as well as the secular space is an Islamic tradition, and is still very much with us. We see evidence of this in Delhi in the first-half of the nineteenth century, especially in the encounter with the colonial system. While the Shaias believed that they inherited the Prophetic traditions, some leading Sunni ulama only grudgingly accepted them as brothers of faith. Indeed, a great deal of literary evidence for such a reaction can be found in contemporary memoirs, correspondence, novels, and poems. After 1857, in particular, Syed Ahmad Khan, Maulvi Nazir Ahmad and Maulvi Zakaullah, the pillars of what came to be known as the 'Delhi Renaissance,' mirrored these trends.
Past and present polemics apart, the historian and the anthropologist place cultural practices in their historical as well as socio-economic contexts, thereby establishing that culture and its manifestation are not immutable. Others argue that, in its regional and local specificity, Islam and its followers are susceptible to a variety of influences, and that they absorbed, as in Kashmir, many social and cultural practices of pre-Islamic origin. T.N. Madan, for example, has shown how in the Kashmir valley the relationship between the scriptural and the Rishi tradition is hierarchical: the latter may seem opposed to the former but is in fact encompassed by it.
Studies on specific regional trends in the development of Islamic thought and practice has revealed the significance of specificities in the process of identity-formation. Rafiuddin Ahmed elaborated on the regional perspective to the changes in Islam and Muslim community which is testimony to its dynamism. Islam in Bengal took many forms and assimilated values and symbols that did not necessarily conform to Koranic precepts. Thus Rafiuddin Ahmed examined how the Muslims of Bengal made new adjustments to life. At the same time, he and the historians who followed in his footsteps unfolded the complex process of Islamization and its implications on inter-community relations. Although we have been familiar with the big picture on Haji Shariat Allah and the 'Wahhabi' Movement, Rafiuddin Ahmed highlighted how the itinerant religious preachers and mullahs sensitized the rural Muslims to their Islamic rather than their local or national identity. This was done at baha meetings and the rural anjuman. The author also pointed to the basic contradiction between the predominantly Muslim peasantry and their oppressors, the high caste landlords and moneylenders. Based on an examination of the Bengali Muslim religious literature known as puthis, the book develops the central thesis that for the Muslim masses, the appeal of the Islamic revivalists proved a source of strength as well as weakness: it roused them to action but made them susceptible to communal propaganda.
Even if Islam had become the defining element in the lives of some individuals and groups, the internal differentiation among it followers, exacerbated in course of time by the growth of print culture and the distribution of polemical literature on theological disputes, made nonsense of the appeals to 'Muslim unity'. An average Bengali Muslim largely preferred to fashion his life on the basis of local ties, traditions and relationships. For the ulama-theologian, the shariat demarcated the boundaries of the community, but not for the Muslim peasant. Syncretic tendencies continued to feature in his life despite the reformist-revivalist movements directed against the 'Hindu' accretions. Rafiuddin Ahmed, too, argued that the objective differences between the Hindus and Muslims at the mass level were themselves not strong enough to induce mutual conflict, and that 'it was only through a skilful manipulation of certain religious symbols and constant ideological propaganda that the latent differences could be articulated and later used as a potent instrument in the conflict between the two elite groups.
Religious syncretism, in fact, posed the greatest threat to pietism and the stringent fulfillment of the injunctions of Islam in the veneration of the numerous Sufi sheikhs, syeds and pirs. As the Deccan's Sufi and other expressions of Islam. More generally, the Asaf Jah Deccan was the heir to a unique regional culture that, while deeply imbued with Muslim tradition, had nonetheless nurtured a distinctively Deccani approach to Islam and even at times transcended religious denominations altogether.
In independent India the politicization of community identities draws upon historical traditions and perceptions. My own writings unfold the bewildering diversity of Muslim communities and the variety in their social and cultural traits and engage with identity and representational issues and their relevance to the rise of Muslim nationalism. In Legacy of a Divided Nation: India's Muslims since Independence, I discussed the indeterminacy of social identity and of the importance of the secular in the history of social life in the subcontinent, I did so without glossing over the close imbrications between nationalism and a majoritarianism on the religious distinction. The history of nationalism was explored to illustrate how the myth of Muslim unity and the revanchism of the Hindutva forces gradually alienated large sections of Muslims, some of whom turned to the Pakistan movement in the mid-1940s while other felt the edge of 'difference' in the violence of the subcontinent's partition in 1947. from the book of the preface to the last paragraph, I question the essentialist view of Islam and take recourse to 'matter-of-fact narration' of regional and local variation in values and perceptions. I argue that, for India's largest minority, being a Muslim is just one of several competing identities for any individual; that there has never been a homogeneous 'Muslim India', whether in doctrine, custom, language or political loyalty; and that to make the most of their potential, Muslims must rally around those who hold firmly to the idea of a society committed to social justice and freedom. I conclude the preface with the following observation :
Some of these arguments have been carried forward in Will Secular India Survive (2004) and Living with Secularism (2006). Even though Satish Saberwal, co-editor, questions the optimism reflected therein, the glue that binds all these together is the debates around secularism and the challenges posed by the Hindutva forces. In this debate the battle lines are drawn, for at stake is the very survival of a pluralist society, a society that has prided itself on nurturing a substantial tradition, largely Hindu, of argument and pluralism.
Today, more and more social scientists are engaged in 'understanding' Islam and 'observing' Muslim societies within historically informed social contexts. With one-third of the world's Muslims now living as members of a minority, they are busy exploring their responses to globalization, westernization, and the impact of living in a minority. To what extent does globalization cause the old traditional points of reference to disappear? To what extent it reawakens passionate affirmations of identity that often emerge on withdrawal and self-exclusion? These questions can still arouse interest in our colleges and universities. They are important questions that touch deep-seated chords of feelings.
I started with a plea to draw Islam in South Asia into the contemporary discourses on colonial and postcolonial writings. The Cambridge historian Herbert Butterfield had reminded us long ago that we should see ourselves not quite autonomous or unconditioned, but a part of the great historical process; 'not pioneers merely, but also passengers in the movement of things.
From the Jacket
India's Muslim communities, comprising almost one hundred and forty million people, have significant political, cultural, and religious identities in contemporary times. The processes of their emergence, formation, and the articulation of community identities, before and after independence, have been researched and interpreted in many ways by scholars.
This omnibus brings together three analytical frameworks-the empathetic view to identity formation, the regional articulation of identity, and developments at the national level. The book analyses several important aspects-the Deoband School, the Aligarh Movement, the Muslim league, the Lucknow Pact, the Lahore Declaration, Partition, the Shah Bano case, the demolition of Babri Masjid-providing a multifaceted and nuanced picture of the lives of India's Muslims.
Barbara Daly Metcalf's Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900 studies the vitality of Islam in late-nineteenth century north India by focusing on the most important Islamic seminary of the time. Metcalf explains that during the collapse of Muslim political power and colonial rule the 'ulama ensured cultural continuity crucial to the emergence of modern Muslim identity.
Rafiuddin Ahmed in The Bengal Muslims 1871-1906 concentrates on the evolution of popular consciousness through an examination of the Bengali Muslim religious literature known as puthis. His study raises doubts about any simple explanation that emphasizes either the historical conflict between Hinduism and Islam, the doctrine of divide and rule, or the central role of constitutional initiatives.
In Legacy of a Divided Nation, Mushirul Hasan analyses India's polity and its relationship with Muslims. He deliberates on the secular platform on which to build bridges in times when positions have hardened and battle lines drawn.
In his introduction to the omnibus, Mushirul Hasan locates these important studies in the extant literature and emphasizes the need to drawn Islam in South Asia into the contemporary discourses on colonial and postcolonial writings. Students, teachers, researchers of modern Indian history, sociology, political science, and the general reader interested in the emergence and growth of Muslim identity in India will find this informed volume an important addition to their bookshelves.
Barbara Daly Metcalf is Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of History and
Director of the Center of South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Rafiuddin Ahmed is Matsumiya Professor of Asian Studies, Elmira College, New York and Adjunct Professor, Cornell University.
Mushirul Hasan is a Padma Shri awardee and Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Back of the Book
'An impressive book
well-researched, ably documented
most significant are the implications
approach and methodology.'
'With the publication of this excellent book, studies in English of the 'ulama in
have come of age.'
'Combining the highest standards of western scholarship with
an extensive knowledge
of the Urdu sources, she has considerably advanced
[Hasan is an] excellent, thorough and exhaustive historian. This encyclopaedic
is a story worth telling
-Late S. Gopal, historian and former President, Indian History Congress
Hasan's concern is genuine
[he] combines scholastic enquiry with personal
[and] is up against many myths about the Muslim community.'
Gautam Bhadra, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.
the best work on the subject to appear since Mujeeb['s]
The author renders no
small service in exploding
the myth of the Muslim "monolith".'
A.G. Noorani, constitutional law expert.
'It is a powerful, impassioned, purposeful, and at times polemical, book.'
Andrew Whitehead, former BBC correspondent, Delhi
|Introduction Mushirul Hasan||ix|
|Preface to the Paperback Edition||v|
|List of Illustrations||xxvii|
|List of Maps||xxviii|
|Note on Transliteration||xxix|
|Introduction: The Pattern of Islamic Reform||3|
|I||The 'Ulama in Transition: The Eighteenth Century||16|
|II||The 'Ulama in Transition: The Early Nineteenth Century||46|
|III||The Madrasah at Deoband||87|
|IV||The Style of Religious Leadership, I: Muftis and Shaikhs||138|
|V||The Style of Religious Leadership, II: Writers and Debaters||198|
|VI||The Social Milieu of the Deobandi 'Ulama||235|
|VII||Alternative Tendencies within Sunni Islam:|
|The Ahl-I Hadis and the Barelwis||264|
|VIII||Further Alternatives: Aligarh and Nadwah||315|
A QUEST FOR INDENTITY
|Preface to The First Edition|
|Preface to the Second Edition||xiii|
|I||The Bengal Muslims: Problems: Problems in Social Integration||1|
|II||Fundamentalist Reform and the Rural Response||39|
|III||Fundamentalists and Traditionalists: From Confrontation To Consensus||72|
|IV||A Crisis of Identity: Muslims or Bengalis?||106|
|V||Education, Employment and Social Mobilization||133|
|VI||Towards Political Solidarity and communal Separatism||160|
|Notes and References||191|
|A||Some Typical Rural Muslim Names in Bengal in the Nineteenth Century||237|
|B||Muslim 'Caste' and 'Trade Names in Bengal||238|
|C||Some Documents on the Cow-slaughter Controversy||241|
|Preface and Acknowledgements||v|
|2||The Myth of Muslim Unity: Colonial and National Narratives||25|
|3||Making a Separate Nation||53|
|4||India Partitioned: The Other Face of Freedom||100|
|5||Secularism: The Post-colonial Predicament||134|
|6||Forging Secular Identities||166|
|7||Redefining Boundaries: Modernist Interpretations and the New 'Intellectual Structures'||223|
|8||Empowering Differences: Political Actions, Sectarian Violence and the Retreat of Secularism||253|
|9||Ayodhya and its Consequences: Reappraising Minority Identity||298|
|A.||Distribution of Muslim population in India||329|
|B.||The Divine Law||341|
|C.||Resolutions of the All-India Jamiyat-Ulama-i Islam conference, Calcutta, 31 October 1945||344|
|D.||'What Does Secularism Mean?'||346|
|E.||'Myths Relating to Minorities in India'||348|