Ali Sardar Jafri (1913-2000) was an influential Urdu poet and critic, as well as a leading figure in the taraqqī pasand taḥrīk (Progressive Writers’ Movement), which espouses Marxist literary sensibilities. Carlo Coppola, a pioneer in the study of modern Urdu literature, spoke to Jafri in 1968 about the historical, ideological, and aesthetic orientations of the Progressives.
Since the early twentieth century, Urdu poets have recited verse at locally-organized poetry gatherings held in country fairs across North India’s Gangetic plain. Critical engagement with these mushāʿarahs overturns assumptions about historical and affiliative aspects of vernacular and elite literary practices, revealing a patchwork of patronage, influence, and taste among poets and their audiences, while also highlighting unexpected routes of textual circulation outside urban locales. This essay examines poetry gatherings in and around the city of Muzaffarnagar located in North India’s Upper Doab. Ethnographic and archival materials tell a history of the performance arenas, tea stalls, and municipal structures of a semi-urban milieu that changes the scale of Urdu literary spaces over time.
In histories of the Urdu novel, the name of G.W.M. Reynolds (1814-1879) is either not mentioned at all or only in passing reference to his possible influence on Sharar, Urdu’s first writer of historical romances. But the actual role that this ill-reputed contemporary of Dickens played in the development of Urdu prose fiction was far greater. By 1918, twenty-four of his massive works were available in Urdu, some in more than one translation, and all reprinted more than once. Among his translators were a number of significant poets and fiction writers of the time. Arguably, between 1890s and 1920, Reynolds was not only the most widely read author in Urdu but also the most admired. He influenced not only writers of historical romances, but also inspired what can be best described as the earliest original crime tales in Urdu.
Some of the most important structural patterns and devices used in individual ghazal verses by the famous poet Mirza Asadullah Khan ‘Ghalib’ are identified and analyzed; their literary effectiveness is illustrated with examples and discussion. In particular, the paper considers two such patterns. One set of verses have a ‘twist’ to them, such that the reader (or, ideally, hearer) is first misled or confused, then at the last possible moment is suddenly and almost explosively enlightened. Another set of verses create an inherently unresolvable ‘tangle’ of several possible meanings which cannot be either affirmed or rejected on any non-arbitrary grounds. The context-free independence of such small ghazal verses, together with their division into two formally distinct and performatively separated lines, makes for unusual poetic constraints and opportunities. The author has prepared an extensive commentarial website on the poetry of Ghalib and Mir.
The reception of Mullā Ṣadrā in South Asia began soon after his death through the dissemination and commentary culture on his Sharḥ al-Hidāyah that was adopted into the Dars-e Niz̤āmī pedagogy in the eighteenth century. However, the modern reception of his thought in Urdu has been somewhat removed from that initial scholastic engagement. I examine four modalities of this reception: translation of his major work the Asfār; analytic engagement by a philosophy doctorate; triumphalism in the literary sphere; and responses to the intellectual challenge of the West by a Shiʿi seminary student. I attempt to show that these varied receptions are indicative of trends and developments in the modern intellectual history of Pakistan.
This manuscript explores the dynamic between religion and rural-urban linkages in northeastern Madagascar. I find that church leaders have coalesced around two competing narratives of ancestors. Catholic churches see some types of migrant linkages (e.g., burial in the rural family tomb and participation in rural ancestral rituals) as being in line with Christian beliefs, while Protestant churches see these same activities as morally questionable or potentially satanic. To some degree Protestant migrants exert agency in the face of these religious teachings, and do not view their religion as an impediment to maintaining rural connections. However, quantitative analysis of rural-urban linkage behavior over a twelve-month period shows that Protestants have weaker rural ties compared to Catholics, even for behaviors that are not the focus of religious prohibitions. I offer several explanations for this finding. Protestant migrants are less motivated to invest in all types of rural linkages due to family conflicts after conversion, uncertainty about burial in the rural family tomb, reduced opportunities to develop affective ties with kin, and economic motivations to reduce rural demands on their urban wages.
This article examines Ibn Taymiyya’s (d. 728/1328) unprecedented fatwas allowing menstruating female pilgrims to perform the ṭawāf al-ifāḍa, an essential rite of the hajj. In normative jurisprudential law, menstruating women are obliged to stay in Mecca and fulfil this rite only after returning to ritual purity. However, women in Ibn Taymiyya’s time found the prospect of staying in Mecca a difficult one, predominantly due to the risk of returning home without the protection of the hajj caravan. For modern pilgrims, bureaucratic and financial obstacles also make extending one’s stay in Mecca a difficult task. This paper examines how Ibn Taymiyya’s application of ḍarūra enabled him to provide legal recourse for the numerous female pilgrims affected by the consequences of menstruating while on the hajj. It also explores the extent to which contemporary scholars have engaged with his landmark ruling in order to assist Muslim women today.