This article contributes to Islamicist scholarship on the relationship between modern technology and Muslim thought and practice by closely reading and historicizing a twentieth-century South Asian Ḥanafī treatise on the use of the loudspeaker in ritual prayers. In this treatise, the Ḥanafī jurist Muḥammad Shafīʿ discusses the reasons for changing his legal opinion. The jurist first argued that the use of the loudspeaker invalidates the ritual prayer of the congregant (muqtadī). In his revised position, however, he held that the loudspeaker should be avoided in ritual prayers, but that its use does not invalidate the prayer. While Muḥammad Shafīʿ appears to have revised his position in response to newfound scientific knowledge about the ontological status of the loudspeaker’s sound or for the sake of public benefit (maṣlaḥah), I suggest that his revised fatwā was based on distinctive Ḥanafī modes of legal reasoning. By grounding his revised position in casuistry, the muftī renewed his commitment to his law school’s methodologies in a social context in which scientific knowledge and legal pluralism were weakening Ḥanafī modes of reasoning.
This article contributes to scholarship on Muslim humanities, Islam in modern South Asia, and the Urdu literary tradition in colonial India. It does so by contextualizing and closely reading Ashraf ʿAlī Thānavī’s (1863–1943) commentary on the Dīvān of the fourteenth-century Persian poet Ḥāfiz̤. Unlike his modernist contemporaries, Ashraf ʿAlī does not read Ḥāfiz̤ through the prisms of social reform or anti-colonial nationalist struggle. Rather, in his capacity as a Sufi master, he approaches Ḥāfiz̤’s Dīvān as a mystical text in order to generate insights through which he counsels his disciples. He uses the commentary genre to explore Sufi themes such as consolation, contraction, annihilation, subsistence, and the master-disciple relational dynamic. His engagement with Ḥāfiz̤’s ġhazals enables him to elaborate a practical mystical theology and to eroticize normative devotional rituals. Yet the affirmation of an analogical correspondence between sensual and divine love on the part of Ashraf ʿAlī also implies the survival of Ḥāfiz̤’s emphases on the disposability of the world and intoxicated longing for the beloved despite the demands of colonial modernity.