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II The 'Ulama in Transition: The Early Nineteenth Century In this city [of Delhi] the Imam al-Muslimin wields no authority, while the decrees of the Christian leaders are obeyed without fear [of the conse­ quences]. Promulgation of the command of kufr means that in the matter of administration and the control of the people, in the levy of land-tax, trib­ ute, tolls and customs, in the punishment of thieves and robbers, in the settlement of disputes, in the punishment of offences, the kafirs act according to their discretion. There are, indeed, certain Is­ lamic rituals . . . with which they do not interfere. But that is of no account. The basic principle of these rituals are of no value to them, for they de­ molish mosques without the least hesitation and no Muslim or dhimmi can enter the city or its suburbs except with their permission. . . . From here to Calcutta the Christians are in complete control.— Shah 'AbduVAziz, 18031 IN the early nineteenth century there were those of the c ulama who felt that scholarship directed to others of the learned class was no longer a sufficient activity for religious leaders. The successors of Shah Waliyu'Uah in particular moved in two new directions. One was toward an emphasis on the study of legal codes ifiqh) and the concomitant writ­ ing of judicial opinions ifatawa) for increasing numbers of individual Muslims. In this concern they differed even from the representatives of the Naqshbandi Mujaddidi line in 1. Shah 'AbduVAziz, Fatawd-yi 'AzM (Delhi, 1311 A.H.), I, 17, translated in Muhammad Mujeeb, The Indian Muslims (London, 1967), p. 390. The fatwa appears in Shah 'Abdu'l-'Aziz, Suriir-i Άζϊζϊ al-Ma'ruf Fatdwd-yi Αζϊζϊ (Kanpur, n.d.), p. 35. This is the edition cited here. 46 Early Nineteenth Century Delhi, who shared their rigorous legal concerns, but at this time directed their attention only to the spiritual elite.2 The second new direction was far more dramatic—military revolt on the borders of the old empire, in the hope of creating a new Islamic order through jihad. The latter effort failed; the former was to be the hallmark not only of the Waliyu'llahi family but of most groups of 'ulama by the end of the century. From the time of Shah Waliyu'llah's death in 1763 until his own in 1824, Shah 'Abdu'l-'Aziz, eldest of Shah Waliyu 'llah's sons, was the head of his family and the center of an important circle of reformist teaching in Delhi. He, with his three brothers, taught the religious sciences, particularly hadis, to large numbers of students, many of whom hadjourneyed great distances to sit at their feet. The brothers also acted as Sufi shaikhs to chosen disciples, and preached as well in the mosques of Delhi.3 'AbduVAziz in particular was known as an excellent teacher who provided advanced students an opportunity to offer their opinions, and who supervised the initial teaching of those who had completed their studies.4 He was deemed, in the words of a traveler from Bukhara, a great scholar from whom "rivers of shanat would flow into all the world."5 Hisfatawa were his major tool for disseminating instruction in shari'at beyond the circle of his students and disciples . They provided the means for individual Muslims to receive day-to-day guidance in the innumerable details of life that together created a distinctive pattern of religious fidelity, whatever the vicissitudes of political life. They were explicit in seeking to adhere to the sunnat or practice of the Prophet by constant reference to hadis. Thus, for ex2 . Christian W. Troll, Sayyid Ahmad Khan: A Reinterpretation of Muslim Theology (New Delhi, 1978), pp. 30-32. 3. Abu Yahya Imam Khan Naushaharawl, Tarajim-i 'Ulama'-yi Hadis-i Hind (Delhi, 1938-1939), p. 151. 4. Muhammad Ihtishamu'l-Hasan Kandhlawl, Halat-i Mashd'ikh-i Kandhlah (Delhi, 1963-1964), pp. 50-56. See Muhammad Ikram, Rud-i Kausar (Lahore, 1968), p. 577 for a list of 'Abdu'l-'Aziz's students. 5. Zuhuru'l-Hasan Kasoli, ed., Arwah-i Saldsah (Saharanpur, 1950), p. 144. The elder compared him to the Naqshbandi pir, Shah Ghulam 'AIi, whom, in comparison to Shah 'Abdu'l-'Aziz, he found wanting. 47 'Ulama in Transition ample, when asked about the legitimacy of pointing with the index finger during the attestation of faith in the can­ onical prayer, 'Abdu'l-'Aziz explained his support for that practice primarily on the basis...


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