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In: Religion Past and Present Online
Revised, Enlarged and Updated Second Edition
Islam in South Asia: Revised, Enlarged and Updated Second Edition traces the roots and development of Muslim presence in South Asia. Trajectories of normative notions of state-building and the management of diversity are elaborated in four clusters, augmented by topical subjects in excursuses and annexes offering an array of Muslim voices. The enormous time span from 650 to 2019 provides for a comprehensive and plural canvas of the religious self-presentation of South Asian Muslims. Making use of the latest academic works and historical materials, including first-hand accounts ranging from official statements to poetry, Malik convincingly argues that these texts provide sufficient evidence to arrive at an interpretation of quite a different character. With major and substantial revisions, changes, abridgements and additions follow the academic literature produced during the last decades.


One major proponent of anti-Sufi discourse seems to be Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817–1898), the intellectual giant in Muslim South Asia who had a tremendous bearing on Muslim culture and politics in 19th and 20th century India. He is known for his new approach in Urdu historiography, his rationalism and also his Sufi-bashing. Although he wrote quite a bit against traditional Sufism and its practices in British India, thereby silencing and seeking to obliterate Islamic mysticism, his writings nevertheless resonate with Sufi terminology and deliberations harking back to the concept of Tahdhib al-Akhlaq—in Sufi parlance, controlling the carnal self (nafs) by means of reason and in the traditional ashraf culture, the cultivation of man through manners and etiquette. The chapter argues that in his writing in response to European critique, his Muslim ashrafi civility and modernism displayed Sufi traits that can be read as remnants of path dependencies derived from the archives of the self. In doing so, it revisits some of his major contributions such as his “Wahhabi” writings before 1857, the exegesis of the Bible entitled Tabyin al-Kalam (1863ff) and the Urdu journal Tahdhib al-Akhlaq, which he launched in 1870. This ashrafi civility is compounded by some dreams which Sayyid Ahmad Khan narrated to his biographer in his old age, around 1890. Consequently, his Sufi amnesia, strategically employed to silence Sufi accounts, is enmeshed in structural mimesis, such as meticulously following the 19th century natural sciences, and imaginative anamnesis or the remembrance and visualization of the Sufi shaykh, namely the Prophet.

In: Sufism East and West
In: Islamische Gelehrtenkultur in Nordindien