Islamic Revival in British India

Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900

Barbara Daly Metcalf
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 402
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  • Book Info
    Islamic Revival in British India
    Book Description:

    In a study of the vitality of Islam in late-nineteenth-century north India, Barbara Metcalf explains the response of Islamic religious scholars ('ulama) to the colonial dominance of the British and the collapse of Muslim political power.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5610-7
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xiii-2)
  7. Introduction: The Pattern of Islamic Reform
    (pp. 3-15)

    Throughout Muslim history religious reform movements have transformed not only belief but also political and social life. In modern times the movements, under the stimulus of European domination, have been endemic. Muslim states had earlier protected Muslim interests and had, ideally at least, set policy and provided patronage to foster religious learning and a Muslim way of life. As these states declined, many Muslims, troubled by the constraints put on the political expression of their faith as well as by the inevitable social and economic dislocations that ensued, drew on their own traditions for interpretations and patterns for action. Among...

  8. The ‛Ulama in Transition
    • I The ‛Ulama in Transition: The Eighteenth Century
      (pp. 16-45)

      The role of the religious leader in Islam is at once loosely defined and centrally important. There is no tradition of priesthood in Islam—no caste or family that has special power, no sacrament that sets some men apart from their fellows, no monasticism. Indeed, it has not been uncommon for people regarded as religious leaders to merge with the general population, often filling other occupational roles in society as well. As Shah Waliyu’llah (1703-1762) explained, those who have religious knowledge, whether they acquire it by means of revelation or wisdom or visions, are recognized by others as having gifts...

    • II The ‛Ulama in Transition: The Early Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 46-86)

      In the early nineteenth century there were those of the ‛ulama who felt that scholarship directed to others of the learned class was no longer a sufficient activity for religious leaders. The successors of Shah Waliyu’llah in particular moved in two new directions. One was toward an emphasis on the study of legal codes (fiqh) and the concomitant writing of judicial opinions (fatawa) for increasing numbers of individual Muslims. In this concern they differed even from the representatives of the Naqshbandi Mujaddidi line in Delhi, who shared their rigorous legal concerns, but at this time directed their attention only to...

  9. The Deobandi Movement and School
    • III The Madrasah at Deoband
      (pp. 87-137)

      The ‛ulama shared in the general political quietude that followed the cataclysm of the Mutiny.² They were sobered by the terrible events they had seen, and persuaded that the British were invincible. Many, indeed, took service under the British, filling posts for which they were ideally suited by their literacy and their respectable status. Some kept up a semblance of earlier times by taking employment in the protected Muslim states of Hyderabad and Bhopal. But all such employment was ancillary to the popular educational work of the ‛ulama.

      For most of the ‛ulama the goal of their work was now...

    • IV The Style of Religious Leadership, I: Muftis and Shaikhs
      (pp. 138-197)

      The ‛ulama as such had no formal role in the British imperial state, but they found wide scope for guiding Muslims in civil and religious matters. They acted both asmuftisto determine appropriate legal precedents and as Sufishaikhsto offer spiritual guidance to chosen disciples. Some provided charms and amulets; some undertook medical cures in theyunanitradition. In addition, as ‛ulama have always done, they fulfilled certain public roles defined by the Islamic tradition, notably as preachers and leaders of congregational prayer, as debators with opponents, and as teachers of the young. The Deobandis were notably successful...

    • V The Style of Religious Leadership, II: Writers and Debaters
      (pp. 198-234)

      The ‛ulama of the late nineteenth century played traditional public roles as prayer leaders and preachers, but they took on as well new roles that brought them into touch with ever larger numbers of people. They enthusiastically embraced two means of communication that their precursors earlier in the century used somewhat, but that now were newly important: the lithographic press and public debates. The Christian missionaries had introduced these means of proselytizing but, as in the case of so many policies and products brought by the Westerners to India, their use was not at all what had been anticipated. Indeed,...

    • VI The Social Milieu of the Deobandi ‛Ulama
      (pp. 235-263)

      ‛Ulama such as the Deobandis played an important role in the lives of Muslims of many classes. They generated, as we have seen, many concentric circles of influence. At the center were their students and disciples, people trained by them to spread their religious and social concerns. There followed a larger circle of those who had less sustained contact, perhaps by occasional solicitation of judicial decisions, perhaps by attendance at audiences or by the securing of nominal initiation. Still more knew the Deobandis through their writing and publication of religious literature. Others had heard them engage in public preaching and...

  10. Other Movements of Renewal
    • VII Alternative Tendencies within Sunni Islam: The Ahl-i Hadis and the Barelwis
      (pp. 264-314)

      In addition to the Deobandis, two other influential groups of Sunni ‛ulama, the Ahl-i Hadis and the Barelwi, emerged in the late nineteenth century. All three groups concurred in identifying popularly based ‛ulama as the foci of religious leadership, and all three led quasi-sectarian movements among their followers. All three placed issues of the Law, albeit based on different premises, at the forefront of their teachings. The three groups debated a wide range of issues with each other, from theories of jurisprudence to mere polemic.

      Initially each group appealed to somewhat different social groups and was identified with a different...

    • VIII Further Alternatives: Aligarh and Nadwah
      (pp. 315-347)

      It is with the schools at Aligarh and Nadwah that the continuities among the new educational institutions of the late nineteenth century become clear. The emphasis in comparison of the Nadwatu’l-‛Ulama, the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College, and Deoband has been on their differences, though some opponents saw what they had in common, and even the metaphor in Akbar’s verse makes clear that all three were indeed members of a common body. All contributed to the substantial religious self-consciousness of the period; all reflected and encouraged the growing sense that Muslims resident in British India were tied together in a separate community;...

  11. Conclusion: New Sects, New Strategies, Old Patterns
    (pp. 348-360)

    This study has challenged the widespread assumption that Islam in nineteenth-century India stagnated and that significant cultural change took place only through adoption of Western values. Islamic learning and the institutions of the ‛ulama in fact underwent significant transformations that in many dimensions were shared by the Westernized. No one could deny that cultural change was largely stimulated and constrained by the chain of events stimulated by Western expansion. But the changes themselves were ones long characteristic of the Islamic tradition. Religious change in this period primarily entailed self-conscious reassessment of what was deemed authentic religion—it was not syncretism,...

  12. Glossary
    (pp. 361-368)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 369-376)
  14. Index
    (pp. 377-386)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 387-387)