Indian Sufism since the Seventeenth Century
Saints, Books and Empires in the Muslim Deccan
By Nile Green
Published August 3rd 2009 by Routledge – 214 pages
Series: Routledge Sufi Series
Sufism is often regarded as standing mystically aloof from its wider cultural settings. By turning this perspective on its head, Indian Sufism since the Seventeenth Century reveals the politics and poetry of Indian Sufism through the study of Islamic sainthood in the midst of a cosmopolitan Indian society comprising migrants, soldiers, litterateurs and princes.
Placing the mystical traditions of Indian Islam within their cultural contexts, this interesting study focuses on the shrines of four Sufi saints in the neglected Deccan region and their changing roles under the rule of the Mughals, the Nizams of Haydarabad and, after 1948, the Indian nation. In particular Green studies the city of Awrangabad, examining the vibrant intellectual and cultural history of this city as part of the independent state of Haydarabad. He employs a combination of historical texts and anthropological fieldwork, which provide a fresh perspective on developments of devotional Islam in South Asia over the past three centuries, giving a fuller understanding of Sufism and Muslim saints in South Asia.
'a wonderful study …. The literature on Sufism in India is richer and more textured as a result of this work.' - Sajjad Rizvi, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (2008)
'A superb study of mystical Islam within the cultural context of India’s Deccan region…. Particularly impressive is the innovative analysis of Muslim saints in the Hyderabadi city of Aurangabad that draws on a wide range of texts in Urdu, Persian and Arabic, as well as anthropological fieldwork.' - Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature
'This is an unusually accomplished first book' - Francis Robinson, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol 17 Issue 1, 2007
"Superbly well-researched" and "splendid monograph … more than any other study to date succeeds in demolishing the notion of a dichotomy between ‘popular’ and ‘elite’ Sufism" - Richard M. Eaton, Journal of Islamic Studies, 18, 3 (2007)
"Each passage of this innovative and essential book demonstrates the mastery of an immense corpus of sources in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, and reveals an abundance of original ideas, that make us see the history of Islam in South Asia in new light." - Denis Matringe, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 71, 3 (2008)
"a daring effort to venture beyond the texts, both by looking at the context that produced these saints and by putting each of the texts written about these three saints and their successors into the context of their respective times… this book is well-researched and timely." - Gijs Kruijtzer, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 51, 4 (2008)
1. Muslim Mystics in an Age of Empire: The Sufis of Awrangabad 2. The Poetry and Politics of Sainthood in a Mughal Successor State 3. The Sufis in the Shadow of a New Empire 4. Saints, Rebels and Revivalists 5. The Awrangabad Saints in the New India. Conclusions
Nile Green is Milburn Fellow at lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and Lecturer in South Asian Studies at Manchester University. His wide-ranging research interests focus on Sufism and the history and ethnography of Islam in South Asia, Iran and Afghanistan.