Tag Archives: South Asia

Book: Sufism and everyday politics of belonging in South Asia by Dandekar and Tschacher

Dandekar, D. and Tschacher, T., eds, Islam, Sufism and everyday politics of belonging in South Asia, London: Routledge, 2016.

“This book looks at the study of ideas, practices and institutions in South Asian Islam, commonly identified as ‘Sufism’, and how they relate to politics in South Asia. While the importance of Sufism for the lives of South Asian Muslims has been repeatedly asserted, the specific role played by Sufism in contestations over social and political belonging in South Asia has not yet been fully analysed.

Continue reading Book: Sufism and everyday politics of belonging in South Asia by Dandekar and Tschacher

Shi’ism in Modern South Asia: Online conference audio-papers

An international conference, ‘Contesting Shi’ism: Isna ‘Ashari and Isma’ili Shi’ism in Modern South Asia’, hosted by the History Department, Royal Holloway, was held in London on 9-10 September 2011.

You can listen to all the conference papers on this website.

Here below is the conference programme:

Friday, 9th September

14:30 – 15:00 Francis Robinson, Reflections on the Shia in South Asia and the wider Muslim world

15:00 – 16:30 Session I

Michel Boivin, The Isna ‘Ashari-Isma‘ili divide among the Khojas around 1910: exploring forgotten judicial sources from Karachi

Ian Williams, Shared and disputed symbols within Twelver Shi‘ite and Ahl-i-Sunnat traditions of Islam: an examination of theological constructions and devotional practices among leaders and adherents from nineteenth century South Asia to the contemporary U.K

Tahir Kamran, Sufi shrines, electoral politics and sectarian violence in Punjab: a case study of the dargah of Siyal Sharif

17:30 – 19:00 Session II

Ludovic Gandelot, Isma‘ili Aga Khani religious and social identities, as seen through Sultan Muhammad Shah’s firmans at the beginning of the twentieth century

Soumen Mukherjee, Of ‘religious and social welfare’ and ‘progress of the community’: religious inspiration, leadership and idioms of welfarism among Shi‘a Imami Isma‘ilis in twentieth century South Asia and East Africa

Bashir Damji, The Khoja Isna ‘Ashari communities of East Africa: from newcomers to flag-bearers

Saturday, 10th September

9:00 – 10:30 Session III

Sajjad Rizvi, Establishing the principles of the faith for a new Shi‘ite polity: the theology of Sayyid Dildar ‘Ali Nasirabadi

Justin Jones, Khandan-i-Ijtihad: authority and transition in a family of Shi‘a ‘ulama in Lucknow, c.1850-1950

Ali Khan, Local nodes of a trans-national network: a case study of a Shi‘a family in Awadh, 1900-1950

11:00 – 12:30 Session IV

Simon Wolfgang Fuchs, Third-wave Shi‘ism: Sayyid Arif Husayn al-Husayni and the Islamic revolution in Pakistan

Hasan Ali Khan, The role of the Auqaf Department in redefining Sufi and Shi‘a built heritage in Pakistan

Saleem Khan, The Shi‘a dominance of the legal profession in British India: a study of the lawyer politicians of Bihar

PhD thesis: Shiite Muslim Sub-Sects in South Asia

Mukherjee, Soumen, Community Consciousness, Development, Leadership: The Experience of two Muslim Groups in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century South Asia, Ph. D, South Asia Institute (SAI), University of Heidelberg, 2010. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Gita Dharampal-Frick.

“My Doctoral research makes an intervention in a relatively underworked sub-field of scholarship on Islam in South Asia, viz. the history of (sub-)sectarian traditions. My work studies the political, and social life of the Shiite Muslim sub-sects of (mainly Daudi) Bohras and the Nizari Khojas. It juxtaposes smaller sub-sectarian history and culture with broader social and political questions and deconstructs the role of leadership and the different facets of their public career. From a historical perspective my dissertation explicates the entanglement of community consciousness, political and social identity, of contesting versions of social reformism and their eventual development into religiously underpinned welfarist ventures under politico-religious leaderships. The role of politico-religious leaderships in the process of identification of these splinter sub-sectarian traditions with the broader Muslim community along political lines — a process hinging upon a rhetoric of universal Islamic values and social commitment — even as retaining certain (sub-)sectarian specificities documents this nuanced trajectory of shifting community consciousness (exemplified best by the case of Aga Khan III, the 48th Khoja Imam). This was a complex process in which political and socio-religious boundaries of the smaller sub-sectarian traditions were being continually redrawn, the position of spiritual heads reappraised and the idioms of political and socio-religious negotiations reframed. My dissertation analyses this complex process. In doing so, it: (i) sheds light on the role of politico-religious leaderships in evolving certain religiously informed political culture and consensus, as well as social policies catering to community interests; and (ii) contributes to scientific enquiries into the interconnected themes of religion, various ramifications of socio-religious reformism amounting to welfarist concerns, development (understandably, encapsulating much more than mere economic concerns), the role of religious inspiration in such endeavours, religious revivalism, political mobilisation, and above all visions and functional modalities of politico-religious leadership(s).”

Fellowships: Popular Images and Media in Muslim Religious Spheres

Short-term Fellowships of

“The Cluster of Excellence – Asia and Europe in a Global Context”,

Transcultural Image Database Project “Satellite of Networks”

The Circulation of Popular Images and Media in Muslim Religious Spheres

 

“In the summer of 2010, Tasveerghar invited proposals for short term fellowships from scholars, researchers and practitioners of popular arts and culture for multi-disciplinary and multi-media projects of research and documentation on the topic of popular visual cultures and practices in and around Muslim shrines and public spaces, with an emphasis on the transcultural flows as emerging in the globalised contemporary popular arts and media.

Muslim public spheres in India/South Asia exhibit a wide array of image practices such as calendar and poster art, devotional framed pictures, portrait photography with artificial backdrops, illustrated covers of religious chapbooks and magazines, besides innovative wall murals and printed notices, all of them incorporating popular icons of Mecca, Medina, local Sufi shrines, saints, Shia symbols, and Arabic calligraphy. Besides these, one also finds religious narratives in popular recorded media such as audiocassettes, video CDs/DVDs, and now the cell-phone software. Much of this popular visuality and ephemera circulate around institutions such as Sufi shrines or mosques in south Asia, although these may not be limited to only one shrine area or a city. One may also find inter regional connections between shrines of different towns and villages through the passage of these media to wider areas.

Although much of these mass duplicated images and media may have their origins in the traditional religious performative practices of the pre-modern era, the impact of new technology and media, especially derived from outside their local spaces, has altered the way religious devotion is practiced today. One could highlight this with an example about the mobility and transformation of Muslim shrines, saint portraits and relics through images and media on the Indian subcontinent (although by no means do we wish to limit the regional focus to India but explore transnational and transcultural flows!). Usually a Sufi shrine holds the original grave or relic of a specific saint that cannot be replicated anywhere else (unlike a Hindu deity whose idol or replica shrine can be recreated in other locations too). Thus the visit to a particular Sufi shrine has its unique value for a pilgrim for its originality. But the mass duplicated images of the same can easily be made and have been in circulation for a long time, making a shrine or relic mobile beyond its original location. There are evidences of hand drawn illustrations of Sufi shrines and saint portraits being made available before the onset of print in India. The printing industry, especially of colour posters and other types of images made the mass produced images of Sufi shrines even more accessible and popular. The photography has added newer dimension to this visual culture where an odd photo of a saint is used again and again to make drawings and even idols, such as in the case Sai Baba of Shirdi.

Through this multi-disciplinary project we wish to go a few steps further from the nexus of photography, painting, and printed posters, to study the newer practices of the use of “original” images for the creation of new mediated material such as collage posters, videos, animation and even Internet-based presentations that seek newer generation of devotees and their popular piety. A typical example of this would be the production of popular devotional videos about Sufi shrines that are basically music videos with a performer/Qawwal singing a new song seeking the saint’s blessing, dramatically videographed in a studio or staged settings, interspersed with the vérité shots of the actual shrine – the two of which can sometimes be very different in style and quality. There can be several such examples from the contemporary popular culture of Muslims in India. Thus, we invite you to be a part of a larger project by contributing with your specific research about a shrine, institution or public space that is witnessing the production of popular images and media and getting altered through transcultural impact.”

More infos here: http://www.tasveerghar.net

International conference, 23-24 September 2010, CEIAS-EHESS

International conference

Shrines, Pilgrimages and Wanderers in Muslim South Asia

Venue: CEIAS, EHESS, 54 Boulevard Raspail, 75006, Paris

Convenors: Michel Boivin & Rémy Delage

a

Thursday, 23 September 2010

9h-9h30: Welcoming of the participants

9h30-10h: Welcome address by Blandine Ripert, Director of CEIAS, EHESS-CNRS, and introduction by Michel Boivin (CNRS-CEIAS-MIFS) and Rémy Delage (CNRS-CEIAS-CSH-MIFS)

Session 1: Figures of wandering ascetics through history

During the first session, three contributors propose to analyze how the qalandari figure has been formed over time, using a large corpus of vernacular written sources mainly in Persian language, and how this movement relates to other mystical branches of South Asian Islam.

Chair: Catherine Servan Schreiber (CNRS-CEIAS)

10h-10h20: Alexandre Papas (CNRS-CETOBA), Vagrancy and pilgrimage according to the Sufi Qalandari path

10h20-10h40: Michel Boivin (CNRS-CEIAS-MIFS), Qalandar-s and Qalandarî-s: Antinomianism as a changing concept in the Indus Valley

10h40-11h: Discussion and debate

11h-11h30: Coffee break

11h30-11h50: Mojan Membrado (INALCO), Is there a connection between the Qalandars and the Ahl-e Haqq order?

11h50-12h30: Discussion and debate

Session 2: The saints’ charisma and conflicting representations of sainthood

The four papers reflect the multiple meanings of rituals that are performed in and around Sufi shrines, and which ultimately reflect the continuing success of these pilgrimages. The tension between the expression of emotions and the involvement of institutions in mediating that expression is measured in different ways.

Chair: Françoise ‘Nalini’ Delvoye (EPHE)

14h-14h20: Delphine Ortis (EHESS-MIFS), How discourses construct figures of ‘normalised holiness’

14h20-14h40: Omar Kasmani (Free University of Berlin-MIFS), Rearranging Gender: The question of spiritual authority amongst two women intercessors of Sehwan Sharif

14h40-15h: Discussion and debate

15h-15h30: Tea break

15h30-15h50: Mikko Viitamäki (University of Helsinki & Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), Paris), Entertaining and ecstatic. Poetics and emotions in musical gatherings of a Sufi shrine

15h50-16h10: Ute Falasch (Humboldt University, Berlin), Managing a shrine inhabited by a living saint- the dargâh of “Zinda” Shâh Madâr

16h10-16h30: Discussion and debate

18h: Cocktail and exhibition

a

Friday, 24 September 2010

Session 3: Pilgrimages, the city and the making of ritual spaces

The question is here about how localities, towns or cities have been structured over time by the ritual activity generated by pilgrimages but also by various actors or social groups competing for exerting social power and religious authority locally.

Chair: Thierry Zarcone (CNRS-GSRL)

9h30-9h50: Rémy Delage (CNRS-CSH-MIFS), A sociological reading of ritual processions: the case study of Sehwan Sharif in Central Sindh (Pakistan)

9h50-10h10: Yves Ubelmann (DAFA-MIFS), The shrine of La`l Shahbâz Qalandar and its urban surrounding: politics, urbanism and religion

10h10-10h30: Discussion and debate

10h30-11h: Coffee break

11h-11h20: Muhammad Mubeen (CEIAS-EHESS), The shrine and the Chishtis of Pakpattan (Pakistan): A historical analysis

11h20-12h: Jürgen Schaflechner (SAI, Heidelberg University), Moving through meaning: The pilgrimage of Hing Laj Devi in Pakistan, followed by the screening of a 17mn documentary film “Agneyatirtha Hinglaj”

12h-12h30: Discussion and debate

Session 4: Pilgrimage politics and Sufi shrines policies

Pilgrimages can be envisaged as “places” of politics in that they articulate on the one hand social and ritual activity, and on the other, competing discourses, secular and religious, tinged with different ideologies, and matrix of issues of power and domination.

Chair: Alka Patel (University of California, Irvine)

14h-14h20: Kashif Sherwani (CEIAS-EHESS), Maududi on Shrines and Sufism or the building of a new Islamic orthodoxy

14h20-14h40: Alix Philippon (University of Provence), An ambiguous and contentious politicization of Sufi shrines and pilgrimages in Pakistan

14h40-15h: Discussion and debate

15h-15h30: Tea break

15h30-15h50: Mauro Valdinoci (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy), Dead saints or living souls? Contested pilgrimages to Sufi shrines in Hyderabad (India)

15h50-16h10: Uzma Rehman (University of Copenhaguen), Spiritual power and ‘Threshold’ identities: the mazars of Saiyid Pir Waris Shah and Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai

16h10-16h30: Discussion and debate

Keynote address

16h30-17h: Pnina Werbner (Keele University, UK), Transnationalism and regional cults: the dialectics of Sufism in the plurivocal Muslim world


Book: Atlas of Muslim Minorities in South and South-East Asia

Michel Gilquin (dir.), 2010, Atlas des minorités musulmanes en Asie méridionale et orientale, Paris, Editions CNRS, 347 p.

This book brings together fifteen contributions addressing the issue of Muslim minorities in South Asia (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka) and Southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Philippines), as well as in the Chinese world. This is justified by the fact that over half of Muslims in the world live in these regions. However, the director of publication has chosen here the case of Muslim minorities in countries where Islam is not the dominant religion. Of particular interest is that six papers relate to South Asia, three are dedicated to India, given the demographic weight of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent (about 400 million people). All in all, this book, dressed up with many maps and statistical data, offer a good overview of the Muslim population living in these regions, while focusing especially on their internal diversity at the doctrinal, social, cultural and linguistic levels.

Rémy Delage

More infos

http://www.cnrseditions.fr

 

PhD thesis: Indo-Islamic Societies through Arabic and Persian inscriptions

Johanna Blayac, Genesis and history of the first Indo-Muslim and Indo-Islamic Societies through Arabic and Persian inscriptions (7th-14th centuries), PhD thesis in History, EPHE, Paris, 16 December 2009.

“Islamic inscriptions of the Indian subcontinent, that were collected and published since the end of the 18th century, have not been studied with a global problematic until now. The first two-hundred and ninety-six Arabic and Persian known inscriptions from the region (7th-14th centuries) are put together here, – listed, (re)edited, and analysed, to study the formation and history of the first Indo-Muslim and Indo-Islamic societies, through the multiple aspects of epigraphic sources, both textual or philological and material. This thesis thus begins by showing the various political, social and economic processes operating during the different phases of Muslim and Islamic penetration and implantation in the different regions of the Indian subcontinent through the chrono-geographic  distribution of the inscriptions. It subsequently studies, by region and then by dynasty during the Delhi sultanate period, the composition and the representations of the Indo-Muslim elites, merchants, religious men, statesmen and soldiers, from the very texts of the inscriptions and the names and duties they provide. At last, it considers the first regional architectural remains, greatly composite, and the epigraphic programmes of the main monuments ordered by the sultans of Delhi, as “architectural” discourses, and thus reflects of the articulations and “tension” between the Islamic phraseology and the social, political and religious contexts.”

Keywords: Medieval India, Islamic epigraphy/inscriptions, Islamic conquest, Muslim settlement, Delhi sultanate, Indian Ocean, Sind, Gujarat, Kerala, Indo-Islamic societies, composite cultures.

 

Book: Territory, Soil and Society in South Asia

Daniela Berti & Gilles Tarabout (dir.), 2009, Territory, Soil and Society in South Asia, New Delhi, Manohar, 379 p.

A pluridisciplinary team of researchers has raised the question of territory in this book, which is the revised and English version of a previous publication in Italian. Beginning with the study of territorial representations in the Vedic texts to end up with a contribution about the mobilization of territorial categories by the Hindu nationalists during political processions, the authors have also taken into account in their theoretical framework the territory as a divine or spiritual jurisdiction, that is to say, a territory where the power and authority of various social groups exert on. Given the few studies on the notion of territory as both a cognitive category and a category of analysis of social change, it is certain that this book will not go unnoticed in the landscape of publications on Indian society.

Rémy Delage

 

More infos

http://www.manoharbooks.com

Preprint version

http://gtarabout.free.fr/pdf/Preprint_Introduction_Territory.pdf