By Usha Sanyal
Introduces the mythical chief of the nice 20th-century Sunni move.
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Additional info for Ahmad Riza Khan (Makers of the Muslim World)
Had they been “good” Muslims, they would have been strong and the British would never have been able to take over. A related concern was with preaching (dawa), mainly to other Muslims, to encourage greater religiosity. 044 10/12/2004 5:11 PM Page 20 20 AHMAD RIZA KHAN BARELWI questions – sufism (Islamic mysticism) and British rule – varied widely. On both issues we find everything from complete acceptance to total rejection. The reformers’ emphasis on authoritative texts, namely, the Qur’an which Muslims regard as the literal word of God, and secondarily the traditions of the Prophet (hadith), led to the first translations of the Qur’an.
He must have been pleased with the outcome of the Battle of Panipat in 1761, which resulted in Ahmad Shah’s victory over the Marathas and held out the hope of stable central government from Delhi. But he died the next year, and as we know, that battle did nothing to settle the question of central rule as Abdali returned to Afghanistan, leaving a power vacuum in his wake. However, ShahWali Ullah is remembered chiefly for his contribution to religious rather than political matters. His father, Shaikh ‘Abd ur-Rahim (1644–1718), had established a seminary or madrasa, the Madrasa-i Rahimiyya, in Delhi, and this was where he spent his lifetime – as director of the school, as teacher, and as thinker and writer.
The Qur’an is learned and memorized in the original Arabic, but in India Muslims spoke Persian in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, or Urdu starting in the mid-nineteenth century, or a regional Indian language such as Bengali or Tamil. Because Arabic was not spoken by Indian Muslims, the Qur’an was poorly understood. Muslim reformers in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries translated the Qur’an into Persian, and much later into Urdu and other Indian languages. The Indian reform movements also highlighted the hadith literature.