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The Portable Madrasa: Print, publics, and the authority of the Deobandi `ulama*


In the first decades of the twentieth century, classically trained Muslim scholars (`ulama) of the influential Deobandi school of North India issued a number of immensely popular, mass-printed ‘primers’ on Islamic belief and ritual practice. Now ubiquitous in the Islamic bookshops in South Asia and elsewhere, these primers sought to summarize the rudiments of an Islamic education for a nascent lay Muslim reading public. Focusing on three Deobandi `ulama—Ashraf `Ali Thanvi (d. 1943), Mufti Muhammad Kifayatullah (d. 1952), and Muhammad Manzur Nu`mani (d. 1997)—this paper explores how their primers advanced the Deobandi school's well-known critique of popular piety even as they claimed to address Muslims generally, and how their authors negotiated the subtle dynamics of print. Understanding the potentially subversive power of print to open a space for readers to form their own interpretations of minute doctrinal matters and the threat of mass-printed religious texts to their own authority, these `ulama implored readers to refrain from forming their own opinions of the primers’ content and to consult the `ulama throughout the reading process. Thus, even as they took advantage of print's possibilities, they remained deeply suspect of its ramifications.

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I would like to thank J. Barton Scott for his insightful comments on a draft of this paper. I also benefited greatly from conversations with Ebrahim Moosa and Muhammad Qasim Zaman during the initial phases of research and writing.

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1 Thanvi, Ashraf `Ali, Bihishti Zewar: Mudallal o Mukammal Bihishti Zewar ma` Bihishti Gauhar (Karachi: Altaf and Sons, 2001), p. 24 [Vol. I, p. 4].

2 See Eickelman, Dale F. and Piscatori, James, Muslim Politics, 2nd ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), pp. 131135 for their discussion of this ‘fragmentation’, and pp. 43–45 for their comparison the `ulama and ‘new religious intellectuals’. Two oft-cited examples of the latter are the Egyptian television personality, Amr Khaled, and the popular writer, Mustafa Mahmud. On Amr Khaled, see for example, Rock, Aaron, ‘Amr Khaled: From Da’wa to Political and Religious Leadership’, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 37, 1 (2010), pp. 1537. On Mustafa Mahmud, see Salvatore, Armando, ‘Social Differentiation, Moral Authority and Public Islam in Egypt: The Path of Mustafa Mahmud’, Anthropology Today 16, 2 (2000), pp. 1215. For an overview of the problem of religious authority in South Asian Islam, see Robinson, Francis, ‘Strategies of Authority in Muslim South Asia in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries’, Modern Asian Studies 47, 1 (2013), pp. 121.

3 Zaman, Muhammad Qasim, The `Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002). See also Zaman, Muhammad Qasim, ‘Commentaries, Print and Patronage: Hadith and the Madrasas in Modern South Asia’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 62, 1 (1999), pp. 60–81, which analyses how the `ulama preserved and reconstituted their authority in a world of print via hadith commentaries. Zaman reminds us, likewise, that projections of such authority are always context-specific and temporally bound. See Zaman, Muhammad Qasim, Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age: Religious Authority and Internal Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), especially pp. 2935.

4 In Middle Eastern contexts, many `ulama saw the mass publication of religious texts as a grave threat to what Schulze calls their ‘monopoly’ on the transmission of religious knowledge. See Schulze, Reinhard, Islamischer Internationalismus im 20. Jahrhundert: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Islamischen Weltliga (Leiden: Brill, 1990), p. 27. Schulze analyses how this threat to their ‘monopoly of knowledge’ (Wissensmonopol) emerged. Much work remains to be done, however, in determining how this alleged monopoly formed, whether it existed in practice as well as in theory, and to what extent it was challenged in pre-modern as well as modern contexts.

5 I do not mean to claim that there were no pre-modern texts that performed the same role as the primers I examine here. We could fruitfully compare these primers to texts like Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi's (d. 1278) Al-Maqasid, which covers much of the same ground as Thanvi and Kifayatullah would cover some seven centuries later: prayer, zakat, fasting, the hajj, purity rules, and Sufism. But if the later primers’ content is comparable to these earlier ones, their often highly abbreviated, serial format sets them apart, as we will see. See al-Nawawi, Yahya ibn Sharaf, Al-Maqasid fi bayan ma yajibu ma`rifatuhu min al-din, min al-`aqidah wa al-`ibada wa `usul al-tasawwuf (Beirut: Dar al-Iman, 1985).

6 Examining journals, newspapers, and religious books, Jajat Burhanudin discerns a remarkably similar relationship between print and reformist Islam in early twentieth century Indonesia. Significantly, however, those materials were not ‘primers’ in the sense that I use the term here; that is, they were not succinct, topically organized summaries of Islamic religious knowledge. See Burhanudin, Jajat, ‘The Fragmentation of Religious Authority: Islamic Print Media in Early 20th Century Indonesia’, Studia Islamika 11, 1 (2004), pp. 2362.

7 Deoband's reformist project has been summarized widely elsewhere, so I will not attempt to do so here. Arising out of the early nineteenth century reformist activism of Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi, Muhammad Isma`il and others, the Deoband madrasa channelled these reformist energies into a thorough revision of traditional madrasa curriculums to emphasize mastery of the Qur’an and hadith above all other subjects. Their efforts to reform public religiosity in colonial India emerged in response to, among other things, a sense of mass moral decline and the attempts of Hindu revivalist organizations to ‘reconvert’ nominally Muslim populations. See Metcalf, Barbara D., Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860–1900 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982).

8 For an excellent overview of Thanvi's life, works, and impact on modern South Asian Islam, see Zaman, Muhammad Qasim, Ashraf Ali Thanawi: Islam in Modern South Asia (Oxford: Oneworld, 2008).

9 The authoritative study of Bihishti Zewar is: Metcalf, Barbara D. (trans.), Perfecting Women: Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi's Bihishti Zewar: A Partial Translation with Commentary (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).

10 Warner, Michael, Publics and Counterpublics (New York: Zone Books, 2002), p. 67. Emphasis in the original.

11 Ibid., p. 16.

12 Kifayatullah, Mufti Muhammad, Ta`lim al-Islam (Delhi: Kutub Khane Aziziyya, n. d.), Vol. I, p. 1.

13 Manzur Nu`mani's Islam kya hai was first published in 1947, just after the partition of British India, and is thus technically ‘post’ colonial in some sense, but for reasons that will be apparent below, I argue that it should be treated alongside the earlier primers.

14 al-Hasan, `Aziz, Ashraf al-Sawanih (Multan: Idara-yi Ta’lifat-i Ashrafiyya, n.d.), Vol. I, pp. 19 and 27.

15 Ibid., pp. 236–239.

16 In fact, Thanvi simply added an appendix to the text, entitled Bihishti Gauhar, to address issues specific to male readers.

17 Unfortunately, the authoritative biography of Thanvi, Aziz al-Hasan's Ashraf al-Sawanih, does not provide publication dates for his works.

18 The Tablighi Jama`at is a revivalist organization, founded in the 1920s by Maulana Muhammad Ilyas and based in large part on Deobandi reformist ideas, which explicitly targeted ‘nominal’ Muslims and urged them to become more self-aware and diligent in their belief and practice. One could argue that the Tablighi Jama`at is, in some ways, a more direct, practice-oriented manifestation of the same impetus to educate Muslim publics that animates these primers. In fact, the Tablighi Jama`at used Thanvi's Hayat al-Muslimin and Kifayatullah's Ta`lim al-Islam to educate its members in the basics of Islam, at least until 1940 when they developed their own syllabus. Masud, Muhammad Khalid, ‘Ideology and Legitimacy’, in Masud, Muhammad Khalid (ed.), Travellers in Faith: Studies of the Tablighi Jama`at as a Transnational Islamic Movement for Faith Renewal (Leiden: Brill, 2000), p. 80.

19 Arshad, Abdulrashid, Bis Bare Musalman (Lahore: Maktabah-yi Rashidiyya, 1969), pp. 418424.

20 Ibid., pp. 430–431.

21 Masud, Muhammad Khalid, ‘Kifayatullah’, in Gaborieau, Marc (ed.), Dictionnaire biographique des savants et grandes figures du monde musulman periphérique du XIXe siècle à nos jours (Paris: Programme de recherches interdisciplinaires sur le monde musulman péripherique, 1992), pp. 1415.

22 Wilfred Cantwell Smith saw the emergence of ‘Islam’ in Arabic book titles as evidence of this process of objectification. Smith, Wilfred Cantwell, On Understanding Islam (The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1981), pp. 4177. Talal Asad, however, takes a more cautious approach, arguing that any attempt to ‘derive far-reaching semantic conclusions through simple word count is generally misguided’. See his ‘Reading a Modern Classic: W. C. Smith's The Meaning and End of Religion’, History of Religions 40, 3 (2001), p. 221, n. 38.

23 Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza, Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 2428.

24 Nu`mani, Muhammad Manzur, Malfuzat-i Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ilyas (Lucknow: Kitab Khana Al-Furqan, 1973).

25 Nu`mani, Muhammad Manzur, Tahdis-i Ni`mat: ap biti (Lahore: Qurayshi Publishers, 1997), pp. 4048.

26 Nu`mani, Tahdis-i Ni`mat, pp. 109–110.

27 Incidentally, Nu`mani was not the first to publish a book entitled Islam kya hai; there is an Ahmadi treatise with the same title that dates approximately to 1930, which is ironic insofar as Nu`mani was a fierce critic of the Ahmadiyya throughout his career. One must wonder whether the author, Muhammad Manzur Ilahi, a representative of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, had seen Kifayatullah's book, given that fact that they both adhere throughout to a strict question-and-answer format. Like the Deobandi primers, Ilahi's primer also assimilates a very specific sort of Ahmadi apologetics into the framework of a primer on Islam in general, particularly in his discussions of ‘revelation’ (wahy). Muhammad Manzur Ilahi, Islam kya hai: ya`ni usul-i Islam ki haqiqat bi-taur sawal o jawab (n.d.).

28 See especially Stark, Ulrike, An Empire of Books: The Naval Kishore Press and the Diffusion of the Printed Word in Colonial India (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2007), as well as Blackburn, Stuart and Dalmia, Vasudha (eds), India's Literary History: Essays on the Nineteenth Century (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2004); Gupta, Abhijit and Chakravorty, Swapan (eds), Print Areas: Book History in India (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2004); and Naregal, Veena, Language Politics, Elites and the Public Sphere (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001), especially Chapter 4. The marketplace for Urdu books in the late nineteenth century also included short, pocket-sized handbooks for aspiring Sufis who, evidently, sought to circumvent initiation with a living Sufi master, suggesting that print impacted on Sufi authority as well. See Green, Nile, ‘Breathing in India, c. 1890’, Modern Asian Studies 42 (2008), pp. 283315, especially p. 291.

29 On Urdu reading publics, see for instance, Joshi, Sanjay, Fractured Modernity: Making of a Middle Class in Colonial North India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 3144. The Urdu novelist, Ratan Nath Sarshar, even appropriated the English word ‘public’ directly into Urdu to signal, in Joshi's analysis, a new category of reader that the sense of the Urdu awaam (‘masses’ or ‘commoners’) did not adequately capture (pp. 43–44).

30 Mir, Farina, The Social Space of Language: Vernacular Culture in British Colonial Punjab (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), pp. 2732. Mir notes, however, that the ‘success’ of this colonial policy was always partial and incomplete, and in the cases she examines, vernacular literary production continued to thrive.

31 Metcalf, Islamic Revival, p. 233.

32 Robinson, Francis, ‘Islam and the Impact of Print in South Asia’, in Robinson, Francis, Islam and Muslim History in South Asia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 76.

33 Isma`il, Muhammad, Taqwiyyat al-Iman ma` Tazkir al-Ikhwan (Deoband: Dar al-Kitab Deoband, 1997). On the impact of Muhammad Isma`il's texts, see Gaborieau, Marc, ‘Late Persian, Early Urdu: The Case of “Wahhabi” Literature (1818–1857)’, in Delvoye, Françoise Nalini (ed.), Confluence of Cultures: French Contributions to Indo-Persian Studies (New Delhi: Manohar, 1994); and Gaborieau, Marc, ‘Sufism in the First Indian Wahhabi Manifesto: Siratu‘l Mustaqim by Isma’il Shahid and ‘Abdu’l Hayy’, in Alam, Muzaffar, Nalini, Françoise Delvoye and Gaborieau, Marc (eds), The Making of Indo-Persian Culture: Indian and French Studies (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers & Distributors, 2000), as well as Ahmad, Qeyamuddin, ‘The Missionary Literature of the Wahhabis’, in Troll, Christian W. (ed.), Islam in India: Studies and Commentaries (Delhi: Vikas, 1982). I have explored the impact of these texts on the Deobandi critique of Sufism in Ingram, Brannon D., ‘Sufis, Scholars and Scapegoats: Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (d. 1905) and the Deobandi Critique of Sufism’, The Muslim World 99, 3 (2009), pp. 478501.

34 Gaborieau, ‘Late Persian, Early Urdu’, p. 177. See also Robinson, Francis, ‘Technology and Religious Change: Islam and the Impact of Print’, Modern Asian Studies 27, 1 (1993), p. 240.

35 Isma`il, Taqwiyyat al-Iman, p. 16. Similarly, in Bihishti Zewar, Thanvi cited the need for Islamic learning among women to justify publishing popular works in Urdu, and likewise proclaimed that the style of Urdu presented there was as ‘simple’ (salis) as he could possibly render it. Thanvi, Bihishti Zewar, p. 23–24 [Vol. I, p. 3–4].

36 On publics and crowds, see Butsch, Richard, The Citizen Audience: Crowds, Publics, Individuals (New York: Routledge, 2008). Butsch highlights Gabriel Tarde's classic 1898 essay ‘The Public and the Crowd’ and its influential distinction between crowds (presumed to be physically present, unwieldy, volatile) and publics (presumed to be physically dispersed, rational, orderly). See Clark, Terry N. (ed.), On Communication and Social Influence: Selected Papers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), pp. 277294.

37 Metcalf, Islamic Revival, p. 201.

38 Darnton, Robert, ‘Book Production in British India, 1850–1900’, Book History 5 (2002), p.  244. Long added that, in his estimate, ‘Not 3 percent of the rural population of Bengal can read intelligently. In Bombay, not 3 percent can read at all’ (p. 241).

39 See Eisenstein, Elizabeth L., The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early Modern Europe, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).

40 For example, see Geoffrey Roper's critique ‘The Printing Press and Change in the Arab World’, in Baron, Sabrina Alcorn, Lindquist, Eric N., and Shevlin, Eleanor F. (eds), Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007), as well as the discussion of Eisenstein in Juan R.I. Cole, ‘Printing and Urban Islam in the Mediterranean World, 1890–1920’, in Fawaz, Leila Tarazi and Bayly, Christopher A. (eds), Modernity and Culture: From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002).

41 See, for instance, the notion of ‘Islamic Protestantism’ in Robinson, ‘Islam and the Impact of Print’, p. 78. Nile Green consciously seeks to avoid replicating these teleologies by refocusing the debate away from some alleged feature of Islam that made it less amenable to print culture and towards the argument that printing did not have a foothold because of the relative cheapness of mass-produced bazaar copies. Moreover, ‘in an epistemological tradition in which a person could not access or possess knowledge by the mere purchase and self-study of books,’ he writes, ‘there was a correspondingly lesser incentive for individuals to buy them’. Green, Nile, ‘Journeymen, Middlemen: Travel, Transculture, and Technology in the Origins of Muslim Printing’, International Journal of Middle East Studies 41 (2009), p. 244.

42 In other words, we must avoid the sort of transcendent ‘technodeterminism’ that characterizes what Michael Warner has termed the ‘Whig-McLuhanite model of print history’. Warner, Michael, The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1990), pp. 56.

43 Johns, Adrian, The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1998), pp. 23.

44 The scholarship on orality in Islam is vast. See, among others, Eickelman, Dale, Knowledge and Power in Morocco (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985); Berkey, Jonathan, The Transmission of Knowledge in Medieval Cairo: A Social History of Islamic Education (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), especially pp. 1943; as well as Messick, Brinkley, The Calligraphic State: Textual Domination and History in a Muslim Society (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).

45 Green, Nile, ‘The Use of Books in a Late Mughal Takiyya: Persianate Knowledge between Person and Paper’, Modern Asian Studies 44, 2 (2010), pp. 241265. See also Louis Brenner's discussion of the shift from an ‘esoteric’ to a ‘rationalist’ episteme—that is, from a mode of transmitting knowledge from one person to another to one in which ‘knowledge is theoretically available equally to everyone’. Brenner, Louis, Controlling Knowledge: Religion, Power and Schooling in a West African Muslim Society (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), pp. 79.

46 Makdisi relates the advice of one thirteenth century professor to his students: ‘I commend you not to learn your sciences from books unaided, even though you may trust your ability to understand. Resort to professors for each science you seek to acquire…When you read a book, make every effort to learn it by heart and master its meaning. Imagine the book to have disappeared and that you can dispense with it, unaffected by its loss.’ Makdisi, George, The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1981), p. 89. Robinson, meanwhile, notes how the fifteenth century scholar Jalal al-Din Suyuti was the object of major criticism ‘because he did not sit at the feet of other scholars enough, taking his knowledge directly from books’. Robinson, Francis, ‘Crisis of Authority: Crisis of Islam?’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (Third Series) 19 (2009), p. 343.

47 Green, ‘The Uses of Books’, p. 243.

48 Thanvi, Ashraf `Ali, Tuhfat al-`ulama (Multan: Idara-yi Ta’lifat-i Ashrafiyya, 1995), Vol. I, p. 474.

49 Ibid., p. 465.

50 On the Dars-i Nizami curriculum, see Robinson, Francis, The `Ulama of Farangi Mahall and Islamic culture in South Asia (London: C. Hurst and Co., 2001).

51 Thanvi, Tuhfat al-`ulama, Vol. I, p. 480. See also Zaman, Ashraf `Ali Thanawi, p. 20.

52 Ibid., p. 470.

53 Thanvi, Bihishti Zewar, p. 24 [Vol. I, p. 4].

54 Ibid., pp. 833–834 [Vol. X, pp. 47–48].

55 Thanvi, Tuhfat al-`ulama, Vol. I, pp. 43–44.

56 Imdadullah, Hajji, Kulliyat-i Imdadiyya (Karachi: Dar al-Isha’at, 1977), p. 85.

57 Thanvi, Ashraf `Ali, Hayat al-Muslimin (Karachi: Idara al-Ma`arif, 2005), p. 18; and Thanvi, Tuhfat al-`ulama, Vol. I, pp. 456 and 465.

58 Thanvi, Tuhfat al-`ulama, Vol. I, pp. 37–38.

59 Thanvi, Ashraf `Ali, Islah-i Inqilab al-Ummat (Karachi: Idara-yi Ma`arif, 1998), pp. 1920.

60 Thanvi, Hayat al-Muslimin, p. 18.

61 Ibid., pp. 20–22. The gendered subject is noteworthy here; he is explicit in assigning to the male in a given household the task of educating his wife and children, as one of his principal duties.

62 Thanvi, Bihishti Zewar, p. 834 [Vol. X, p. 48]. See Thanvi, Tuhfat al-`Ulama, p. 469.

64 Ibid. See also Robinson, ‘Technology and Religious Change’, p. 242.

65 Ibid., p. 835 [Vol. X, p. 49]. For a more detailed discussion of this list of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ books, see Metcalf, Barbara D., ‘Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanavi and Urdu Literature’, in Shackle, Christopher (ed.), Urdu and Muslim South Asia (London: School of African and Oriental Studies, 1989), pp. 9597.

66 Nu`mani, Islam kya hai, pp. 15–16. Emphasis added.

67 Ibid., p. 11.

68 Arshad, Bis Bare Musalman, p. 446.

69 Nu`mani, Islam kya hai, p. 7. See also Nu`mani, Tahdis-i Ni`mat, p. 109. Kifayatullah's biographer uses nearly identical language, describing the text as ‘simple and easy’ (salis aur asan). Arshad, Bis Bare Musalman, p. 446.

70 Metcalf, Barbara D., ‘Meandering Madrasas: Knowledge and Short Term Itinerancy in the Tablighi Jama`at’, in Crook, Nigel (ed.), The Transmission of Knowledge in South Asia: Essays on Education, Religion, History, and Politics (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 54.

71 Thanvi, Ashraf `Ali, ‘Ta`lim al-Din’, in Islahi Nisab: Majmu`a Ta’lifat-i Hazrat Thanawi (Karachi: Dar al-Isha`at, 2005), pp. 208210.

72 The four forms of shirk are: ‘participating with God in knowledge’ (ishrak fi-l `ilm), in other words ascribing certain forms of superhuman knowledge to any entity other than God; ‘participating with God in power’ (ishrak fi-l tasarruf), ascribing certain powers (such as the ability to fulfil a wish) to any entity other than God; ‘participating with God in worship’ (ishrak fi-l `ibadat), engaging in any normative actions (such as prostrating, circumambulating, or sacrificing) towards or on behalf of any entity other than God; and, finally, ‘participating with God in habit or custom’ (ishrak fi-l `adah), to maintain any customs or habits that acquire such a normativity in and of themselves (such as believing certain dates to be auspicious, or giving children auspicious names, and so on) that they compete with the normativity of the religion. Thanvi, ‘Ta`lim al-Din’, pp. 214–217, and Isma`il, Taqwiyyat al-Iman, pp. 33–85. Kifayatullah, likewise, adapts this critique for his own primer, but here the four forms of shirk become five: shirk in power (qudrat), in knowledge, in ‘hearing and seeing’ (sama` o basirat), in sovereignty (hukm), and in worship. Kifayatullah, Ta`lim al-Islam, Vol. IV, pp. 20–21.

73 Thanvi, ‘Ta`lim al-Din’, pp. 205–206.

74 Ibid., p. 207.

75 Nu`mani, Islam kya hai, p. 10.

76 Miniature replicas of Imam Husayn's mausoleum, used by Indian Shi`a Muslims during the month of Muharram in public processions to commemorate Husayn's martyrdom in 680.

77 Thanvi, Bihishti Zewar, p. 61 [Vol. I, p. 41].

78 Kifayatullah, Ta’lim al-Islam, Vol. IV, p. 23.

79 Thanvi, Bihishti Zewar, pp. 53–54 [Vol. I, pp. 33–34].

80 Kifayatullah, Ta`lim al-Islam, Vol. III, pp. 17–18.

81 Nu`mani, Islam kya hai, p. 11. The idea of the ‘perfect man’ has a long pedigree in Sufism. It was essential to the metaphysical Sufism of Ibn Arabi, and is given detailed treatment in `Abd al-Karim al-Jili's (d. 1424) treatise Al-Insan al-Kamil fi Ma`rifat al-Awakhir wa al-Awa’il, where al-Jili brings Ibn Arabi's concept down from the realm of metaphysical speculation and contemplates the possibilities of the perfect man acting in history. See al-Jili, `Abd al-Karim, Universal Man: Excerpts, trans. Burckhardt, Titus (Sherbourne: Beshara Publications, 1983).

82 Ingram, ‘Sufis, Scholars and Scapegoats’, especially pp. 484–485.

83 Nu`mani includes a short chapter on ‘social relations’ (mu`ashirat) and ‘etiquette’ (adab), but unlike Thanvi and Kifayatullah, the discussion here is a streamlined overview of the various rights and obligations (huquq) that Muslims have towards each other, such as the mutual rights between a husband and wife, the rights of children, etc. Nu`mani, Islam kya hai, pp. 78–93.

84 Kifayatullah, Ta`lim al-Islam, Vol. II, pp. 39–40. On some occasions, Kifayatullah includes prescriptions that, on first glance, seem out of place in an introductory primer on Islam, but make sense in the context of his overall concern for ritual purity. For example, he asks what one should do if a mouse falls into one's ghee (clarified butter, used for cooking in the Indian subcontinent). The answer: ‘If the ghee is frozen, remove the mouse and the ghee just around it. The rest of the ghee is clean (pak). But if the ghee is liquid, all the ghee will be unclean (na pak).’ Kifayatullah, Ta`lim al-Islam, Vol. III, p. 38.

85 Thanvi, ‘Ta`lim al-Din’, p. 248.

86 Thanvi, Bihishti Zewar, p. 539 [Vol. VII, p. 11].

87 Akhtar, Hakim Muhammad, Ek Minit ka Madrasa (Karachi: Kutub Khane-yi Mazhari, 1991), p. 3.

89 <>, [accessed 21 July 2012].

90 One oft-cited account of ‘objectification’ describes it as the ‘process by which basic questions come to the fore in the consciousness of large numbers of believers: “What is my religion?”, “Why is it important to my life?” and “How do my beliefs guide my conduct?”’ Eickelman and Piscatori, Muslim Politics, p. 38. However, other scholars have criticized and complicated Eickelman and Piscatori's formulation of the concept. Lara Deeb, for example, has cautioned against an implicit and problematic presumption within their discourse of ‘objectification' that Muslims only become reflexive about their own traditions with the advent of modernity. See, for example, Lara Deeb, An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Policy in Shi'i Lebanon (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), pp. 20–21.

91 Among the Deobandi `ulama, a few of the most popular and widely consulted collections include: Rashid Ahmad Gangohi's Fatawa-yi Rashidiyya (Karachi: Educational Press Pakistan, 1985), Ashraf `Ali Thanvi's Imdad al-Fatawa (Karachi: Maktaba-yi Dar al-'Ulum, 2007), Aziz al-Rahman's Fatawa-yi Dar al-`Ulum Deoband (Karachi: Dar al-Isha'at, 1976), Gangohi's, Mahmud HasanFatawa-yi Mahmudiyya (Karachi: Kutub Khana-yi Mazhari, 1986), and Lajpuri's, Abdul RahimFatawa-yi Rahimiyya (Karachi: Dar al-Isha'at, 1992).

92 Green, Nile, Bombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, 1840–1915 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 31.

93 Turner, Bryan S., ‘The Crisis of Religious Authority’, in Reid, Anthony and Gilsenan, Michael (eds), Islamic Legitimacy in a Plural Asia: Education, Information and Technology (New York: Routledge, 2007), p. 58.

94 Ibid., p. 59.

* I would like to thank J. Barton Scott for his insightful comments on a draft of this paper. I also benefited greatly from conversations with Ebrahim Moosa and Muhammad Qasim Zaman during the initial phases of research and writing.

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