Skip to main content Accessibility help

Forgotten Futures: Indian Muslims in the Trans-Islamic Turn to Japan

  • Nile Green


This essay casts light on the alternative but unrealized futures imagined through the Indian Muslim encounter with Japan in the inter-war period. Echoing other attempts to destabilize the empire-to-nation teleology of Indo-Pakistani independence, the essay uncovers a set of aspirations, actors, and spaces of comparison by which Indian Muslims sought an independent future for Muslim-ruled princely states such as Hyderabad. Through comparison with similar patterns in other Asian princely states, a case study of Urdu writings on Japan shows how East Asia became a place to imagine for Hyderabad a future that never came to fruition. By locating India in a trans-Islamic pattern of engaging Japan, the essay shows how, between the Russo-Japanese War and the Second World War, Japan provided newly globalized intellectuals with a template for empowering Muslim-ruled polities that either never came into existence or were subsumed by Asia's postcolonial nations.



Hide All
Ali, Choudhry Rahmat. 1978. Complete Works of Choudhry Rahmat Ali, ed. Aziz, K. K., 2 vols. Islamabad: National Commission on Historical and Cultural Research.
Amin, Haron. 2007. Afghan-Japan Relations: Lands under the Rising Sun. Tokyo: Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Tokyo.
Anantharamaiah, Poomagame, and Murthy, Narasimha. 1986. India and Japan: Dimensions of their Relations, Historical and Political. Delhi: ABC Publishing House.
Andaya, Barbara Watson. 1977. “From Rūm to Tōkyō: The Search for Anticolonial Allies by the Rulers of Riau, 1899–1914.” Indonesia 24:123–56.
Aqeel, Moinuddin. 1996. “A Culture Shock: A Narrative of the Late 19th Century Japan in Urdu.” Area and Culture Studies 53:135–51.
Auslin, Michael R. 2004. Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Aydin, Cemil. 2007. The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought. New York: Columbia University Press.
Badr al-Islam, Shaykh Muhammad. 1934. Haqīqat-e Jāpān [The truth about japan]. Delhi: Anjuman-e Taraqqī-e Urdū.
Bharucha, Rustom. 2006. Another Asia: Rabindranath Tagore and Okakura Tenshin. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bose, Subhas Chandra. 1997. Indian Pilgrim: An Unfinished Autobiography, eds. Bose, Sisir Kumar and Bose, Sugata. Calcutta: Oxford University Press.
Bose, Sugata. 2011. His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle against Empire. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Chida, Momohei, and Davies, Peter N.. 1990. The Japanese Shipping and Shipbuilding Industries: A History of their Modern Growth. London: Athlone Press.
Conrad, Sebastian, and Mühlhahn, Klaus. 2007. “Global Mobility and Nationalism: Chinese Migration and the Reterritorialization of Belonging, 1880–1910.” In Competing Visions of World Order: Global Moments and Movements, 1880s–1930s, eds. Conrad, Sebastian and Sachsenmaier, Dominic, 181212. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Cyclopedia of India. 1907. The Cyclopedia of India: Biographical, Historical, Administrative, Commercial. Calcutta: The Cyclopedia Publishing Co.
Datla, Kavita. 2009. “A Worldly Vernacular: Urdu at Osmania University.” Modern Asian Studies 43(5):1117–48.
Dickinson, Goldsworthy Lowes. 1914. An Essay on the Civilisations of India, China and Japan. London: J.M. Dent & Sons.
Duara, Prasenjit. 1997. Rescuing History from the Nation: Questioning Narratives of Modern China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Esenbel, Selçuk. 1996. “A ‘Fin de Siècle’ Japanese Romantic in Istanbul: The Life of Yamada Torajirō and his ‘Toruko Gakan.’” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 59(2):237–52.
Esenbel, Selçuk. 2002. “Japan and Islam Policy during the 1930s.” In Turning Points in Japanese History, ed. Edström, Bert, 180214. Abingdon, UK: RoutledgeCurzon.
Esenbel, Selçuk. 2004. “Japan's Global Claim to Asia and the World of Islam: Transnational Nationalism and World Power, 1900–1945.” American Historical Review 109(4):1140–70.
Esenbel, Selçuk. 2011. Japan, Turkey and the World of Islam. Leiden: Brill.
Gabaccia, Donna R., and Hoerder, Dirk, eds. 2011. Connecting Seas and Connected Ocean Rims: Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans and China Seas Migrations from the 1830s to the 1930s. Leiden: Brill.
Gauriprasada. 1904. Tārīkh-e Japan [History of Japan]. Agra: n.p.
Georgeon, François. 1991. “Un voyageur Tatar en Extrême-Orient au début du XXe siècle” [A Tatar traveler in the Far East at the beginning of the 20th century]. Cahiers du Monde russe et soviétique 32(1):4759.
Green, Nile. 2009. “Among the Dissenters: Reciprocal Ethnography in Nineteenth Century Inglistan.” Journal of Global History 4(2):293315.
Green, Nile. 2011. “The Trans-Border Traffic of Afghan Modernism: Afghanistan and the Indian ‘Urdusphere.’Comparative Studies in Society and History 53(3):479508.
Green, Nile. 2013. “Shared Infrastructures, Informational Asymmetries: Persians and Indians in Japan, c. 1890–1930.” Journal of Global History 8(3).
Green, Nile. 2013. “Anti-Colonial Japanophilia and the Constraints of an Islamic Japanology: Information and Affect in the Indian Encounter with Japan.” Journal of South Asian History and Culture 4(3).
Haag-Higuchi, Roxane. 1996. “A Topos and Its Dissolution: Japan in Some 20th-Century Iranian Texts.” Iranian Studies 29(1–2):7183.
Hay, Stephen N. 1970. Asian Ideas of East and West: Tagore and His Critics in Japan, China, and India. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Hayashi, Shunsuke. 2010. “Yapon Mohbiri: The Sole Magazine Introducing Japan to Muslim Countries of the World.” National Diet Library Newsletter 171. (accessed September 7, 2010).
Hidayat, Mahdi Quli. n.d. Safarnāma-ye tasharruf bih Makka-ye mu‘azzama [Travelogue of a respectful visitation to Mecca the magnificent]. Tehran: Chāpkhāna-ye Majlis.
Husayn, Muhammad Fazl. 1904. Mukammil mukhabarāt-e Rūs ū Jāpān [Comprehensive news on Russia and Japan]. Muradabad: n.p.
Ibrahim, Muhammad. 1904. Jang-e Rūs ū Jāpān [The war of Russia and Japan]. Muradabad: n.p.
Isozaki, Sadamoto. 1997. “Brief Report on Present Muslims in Japan.” Korea Journal of Islamic Culture 1(1):199205.
Jaffe, Richard M. 2004. “Seeking Śākyamuni: Travel and the Reconstruction of Japanese Buddhism.” Journal of Japanese Studies 30(1):6596.
Jaffe, Richard M.. 2006. “Buddhist Material Culture, ‘Indianism,’ and the Construction of Pan-Asianism in Prewar Japan.” Material Religion 2(3):266–93.
Japan Weekly Mail. 1907. “Indian Student.” February 23.
Johnston, Hugh. 1989. The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada's Colour Bar. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
Khalidi, Omar. 1998. “Ottoman Royal Family in Hyderabad, Deccan, India.” Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society 46(3):8997.
Khan, Mawlvi Zafar ‘Ali. 1905. Jang-e Rūs ū Jāpān [The war of Russia and Japan]. Hyderabad: Matba‘a.
Kreiser, Klaus. 1981. “Der Japanische sieg über Russland (1905) und sein echo unter den Muslimen” [The Japanese victory over Russia (1905) and its echo among the Muslims]. Die Welt des Islams, n.s., 21(1):209–39.
Laffan, Michael F. 1996. “Watan and Negeri: Mustafa Kamil's ‘Rising Sun’ in the Malay World.” Indonesia Circle 24(69):156–75.
Laffan, Michael F.. 1999. “Mustafa and the Mikado: A Francophile Egyptian's Turn to Meiji Japan.” Japanese Studies 19(3):269–86.
Laffan, Michael F.. 2001. “Making Meiji Muslims: The Travelogue of ‘Ali Ahmad Al-Jarjawi.’” East Asian History 22:145–70.
Laffan, Michael F.. 2006. “Tokyo as a Shared Mecca of Modernity: War Echoes in the Colonial Malay World.” In The Impact of the Russo-Japanese War, ed. Kowner, Rotem, 219–38. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Markovits, Claude. 2000. The Global World of Indian Merchants, 1750–1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Masood, Sir Syed Ross. 1923. Japan and Its Educational System: Being a Report Compiled for the Government of His Exalted Highness the Nizam. Hyderabad: Government Central Press.
Masood, Sir Syed Ross. [1922] 1968. Travels in Japan: Diary of an Exploring Mission, ed. Kidwai, Jalil Ahmad. Karachi: Ross Masood Education and Culture Society of Pakistan.
Mas‘ud, Sayyid Ras. 1925. Japān aur uskā ta‘līmī nazm ū nasq [Japan and its educational order and administration]. Aligarh: Anjuman-e Taraqqī-e Urdū.
Mas‘ud, Sayyid Ras. 1926. Rūh-e Japān [The spirit of Japan]. Hyderabad: Matbū‘a-e Dār al-Matba‘-e Sarkār-e ‘Ālī.
Menemeniciogğlu, Nermin, ed. 1978. The Penguin Book of Turkish Verse. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books.
Mishra, Pankaj. 2012. From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia. London: Allen Lane.
Mukhopadhyay, Bhaskar. 2002. “Writing Home, Writing Travel: The Poetics and Politics of Dwelling in Bengali Modernity.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 44(2):293318.
My-Van, Tran. 1999. “Japan through Vietnamese Eyes (1905–1945).” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 30(1):126–46.
My-Van, Tran. 2005. A Vietnamese Royal Exile in Japan: Prince Cuong De, 1882–1951. London: Routledge.
Nadwi, Sayyid Sulayman. [1944] 2008. Sayr-e Afghānistān [Journey to Afghanistan]. Lahore: Sang-e Mīl.
Nish, Ian. ed. 1998. The Iwakura Mission in America and Europe: A New Assessment. Richmond, UK: Curzon Press.
Oishi, Takashi. 2004. “Indo-Japan Cooperative Ventures in Match Manufacturing in India: Muslim Merchant Networks in and beyond the Bengal Bay Region 1900–1930.” International Journal of Asian Studies 1(1):4985.
Ramnath, Maia. 2011. Haj to Utopia: How the Ghadar Movement Charted Global Radicalism and Attempted to Overthrow the British Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Ray, Rajat Kanta. 1988. “Moderates, Extremists and Revolutionaries: Bengal, 1900–1908.” In Congress and Indian Nationalism: The Pre-Independence Phase, eds. Sisson, Richard and Wolpert, Stanley A., 6289. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Sahhafbashi, Ibrahim. 1985. Safarnāma-ye Ibrāhīm Sahhāfbāshī [The travelogue of Ibrahim Sahhafbashi], ed. Mushīrī, Muhammad. Tehran: Shirkat-e Mu‘allifān.
Shimizu, Hiroshi, and Hirakawa, Hitoshi. 1999. Japan and Singapore in the World Economy: Japan's Economic Advance into Singapore, 1870–1965. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Singh, Jagatjit. 1906. Safar-e Chīn ū Japan ū Jāva [Travels in China, Japan, and Java]. Lahore: n.p.
Singh, Puran. 1924. The Story of Swami Rama, The Poet Monk of the Punjab. Madras: Ganesh.
Sirāj al-akhbār [Torch of the news, newspaper]. 1912. no. 14.
Sugita, Hideaki. 2007. “The First Contact between Japanese and Iranians as Seen through Travel Diaries.” In The Islamic Middle East and Japan: Perceptions, Aspirations, and the Birth of Intra-Asian Modernity, ed. Worringer, Renée, 1132. Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener Publishers.
Usmanova, Larisa. 2007. The Türk-Tatar Diaspora in Northeast Asia: Transformation of Consciousness: A Historical and Sociological Account between 1898 and the 1950s. Tokyo: Rakudasha.
Visvesvaraya, Mokshyagundam. 1920. Reconstructing India. London: P. S. King and Son.
Weiss, Anita M. 1991. “South Asian Muslims in Hong Kong: Creation of a ‘Local Boy’ Identity.” Modern Asian Studies 25(3):417–53.
Wittner, David G. 2008. Technology and the Culture of Progress in Meiji Japan. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Worringer, Renée. 2004. “‘Sick Man of Europe’ or ‘Japan of the East’? Constructing Ottoman Modernity in the Hamidian and Young Turk Eras.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 36(2):207–30.
Worringer, Renée, ed. 2007a. The Islamic Middle East and Japan: Perceptions, Aspirations, and the Birth of Intra-Asian Modernity. Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener Publishers.
Worringer, Renée. 2007b. “Japan's Progress Reified: Modernity and Arab Dissent in the Ottoman Empire.” In The Islamic Middle East and Japan: Perceptions, Aspirations, and the Birth of Intra-Asian Modernity, ed. Worringer, Renée, 91120. Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener Publishers.
YĀnĪ yĀpŪn mukhbirĪ: al-Mukhbir al-yĀbĀnĪ. 1936. vol. 38. Tokyo: Yānī Yāpūn Mukhbirī.
Yokohama Archives of History Review. 2011. “Indian Businesses in Yokohama.” 29:41.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Forgotten Futures: Indian Muslims in the Trans-Islamic Turn to Japan

  • Nile Green


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.