Partisans of Allah

Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia

Ayesha Jalal
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Partisans of Allah
    Book Description:

    Today, more than ever, jihad signifies the political opposition between Islam and the West. As the line drawn between Muslims and non-Muslims becomes more rigid, Jalal seeks to retrieve the ethical meanings of this core Islamic principle in South Asian history. Drawing on historical, legal, and literary sources, Jalal traces the intellectual itinerary of jihad through several centuries and across the territory connecting the Middle East with South Asia.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-03907-0
    Subjects: History, Religion, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xx)
  5. 1 Jihad as Ethics, Jihad as War
    (pp. 1-19)

    Balakot is in many ways the epicenter of jihad in South Asia. Blanketed by green, terraced fields and thick, dark forests, this beautiful town is situated about eighteen miles from the city of Mansehra in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. Situated on the banks of the river Kunhar, it serves as a gateway to the picturesque Kaghan Valley, which is bounded on the east and the south by Kashmir. It is also a point of entry into the history of jihad, struggle in the way of Allah, in the subcontinent. It was here that Sayyid Ahmad of...

  6. 2 Jihad in Precolonial South Asia
    (pp. 20-57)

    South asia furnishes rich historical evidence of the multiple meanings and symbolisms of jihad in Muslim consciousness. From court chroniclers seeking to legitimate wars fought by their patrons against non-Muslim and Muslim rivals to Muslim legists and theologians articulating theories that later reappeared in symbolic form in Persian and Urdu poetry and prose (to say nothing of popular myths and legends), advocates of jihad have been many—testimony to the potency of the idea and its pivotal place in the Muslim imagination. Representing in all their variety the manifold meanings of jihad in Muslim society, these expressions undermine any notion...

  7. 3 The Martyrs of Balakot
    (pp. 58-113)

    This is how Hakim Momin Khan Momin (1801–1852) expressed his desire for martyrdom, as he prodded himself to prove his faith by engaging in jihad:

    Momin, if you have any respect for faith,

    Jihad means battle: so go there now;

    Be fair, more than God you love that life

    Which you used to sacrifice for idols!¹

    Anything short of that was infidelity(kufr). A devotee of Sayyid Ahmad of Rai Bareilly, to whom he had given an oath of allegiance, Momin wrote poetry that pulsates with passion for the cause to which his mentor had devoted his life. Despite...

  8. 4 Jihad in Colonial India
    (pp. 114-175)

    Ghalib made his definitive statement on jihad in the way of Allah while Muslims were debating the implications of Shah Abdul Aziz’s fatwa declaring India aDar-ul-Harb. Giving one’s life for Allah, he asserted, is insufficient recompense for what one owes God. In invoking the idea of human indebtedness, the essence of the Islamic concept ofdin, Ghalib once again alluded to jihad as a struggle to be human. The poignancy of the comment was not lost on Muslims conscious of the broader ethical meanings of the term. Preoccupation with the political and legal ramifications of the loss of sovereignty,...

  9. 5 Jihad as Anticolonial Nationalism
    (pp. 176-238)

    The intellectual discourse on jihad after 1857 was dominated by Indian Muslims advocating accommodation with colonial rule. Their pragmatic response to British temporal sovereignty in India was aimed at securing better safeguards for the defeated and demoralized Muslim community. They found the persuasiveness of their argument seriously undermined by Western imperialist forces’ growing encirclement of Muslim countries over the course of the late nineteenth century. Since the end of the Mughal Empire, Indian Muslims had taken solace in the idea of God’s sovereignty over the universe, consistent with a sense of belonging to the worldwide community of Islam. For a...

  10. 6 Islam Subverted? Jihad as Terrorism
    (pp. 239-301)

    In trying to retrieve the notion of jihad from the grip of defeatism, anticolonial Muslims sparked a religious and political debate whose effects were felt well beyond the subcontinent. Iqbal, pointing an accusing finger at Muslims who had “lost the taste for death,” made a wry comment on the hypocrisy of Western imperialism, “drowned in armaments,” that inspired the Islamic revivalist agenda of Abul Ala Mawdudi and found echoes in the writings of the Egyptian political activist Sayyid Qutb (1906–1966). Along with Ibn Taymiyya, Mawdudi and Qutb are considered the intellectual forebears of “Muslim fundamentalism.”¹ Authors tracing the roots...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 302-314)

    These two sets of utterances celebrating death for the love of Islam are different not merely in poetic quality, but in what they convey about the religious and ethical sentiments of the two composers:

    Die now, die now, in this Love die: when you have died in this Love, you will receive new life…

    Be silent, be silent; silence is the sign of death; it is because of life that you are fleeing from the silent one.¹

    We drink the wine of martyrdom, swaying in ecstasy;

    This living is not living, we live by getting our heads cut off.


  12. Glossary
    (pp. 317-320)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 321-356)
  14. Index
    (pp. 357-373)