This article offers an in-depth discussion of the theory of civilization of Shāh Walī Allāh of Delhi, a prominent Muslim scholar in eighteenth-century India. It shows that Shāh Walī Allāh articulates a naturalistic understanding of the genesis of social life and the evolution of civilization, outlines the factors involved in the decline of the state and the empire, and sets forth a program for dealing with a broad range of emergencies. It explores the ways in which Shāh Walī Allāh’s thought relates to previous Islamic political discourse, notably the akhlā q (Ṭūsī, Dawwānī) and Indo-Islamic (Baranī, Abū’l-Faẓl) traditions of political thought. It also investigates Shāh Walī Allāh’s use of the Byzantine paradigm as a heuristic device to trace the causes of the dissolution of the Mughal Empire. The article looks at Shāh Walī Allāh’s analysis of Byzantine decline from a cross-cultural perspective and places him in conversation with Byzantine political writers who discuss the factors that led to the decay of the Byzantine Empire.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 793-840
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.