Friday, September 23, 2011

Majālis-i Jahāngīrī

As it turns out my whim of buying this book having randomly seen it in the bookshop next to the Marʿashī Library and having bought it turns out to have been a good thing and a serendipity. Looking through the new book published by Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, one can see the use of the text in finding, for example, evidence of religious debate and interaction at the Mughal court of the Emperor Jahāngīr (r. 1605-27). Alongside the already available Tuzuk-i Jahāngīrī and the Jahāngīrnāma, there are plenty of sources available for a re-evaluation of his court and for the cultural, religious and intellectual life of the period. Unfortunately, for many this may sound like rather old-fashioned Mughal history. It does seem that Jahāngīr and Mughals were far more curious about European culture and Christianity than the old 'Aligarh' school assumed - and the Majālis has led to at least one paper presented at the Indian Historical Congress in 2008 by Shireen Moosvi.

Committed to Rational Traditions in Islam - but is that enough?

John Walbridge is one of the best scholars of Islamic philosophical traditions around and has already made major contributions to the field through his work on Suhrawardī and the illuminationist tradition in the Islamic East. This new book is an excellent example of committed scholarship with a passion for the subject and a desire to demonstrate not only that philosophical traditions have played (and need to play) a central role in the culture of the Islamic world but also that rational approaches to faith (even ones rooted in logic whose study never died out in the scholastic traditions of Islamic pedagogy) are viable and essential in the present.  It is a combative plea as the author states aimed at an educated general reader trying to make sense of Islam in the present and for the Muslim reader to recover his heritage of rationalities. But it is the scholar of the field who is the third type of reader who will probably be most dissatisfied with the final work, aware of some interesting new avenues of thought and engagement with literature but wanting to know more and to see a more complete argument. It's a bit of an academic tease and one wonders whether the author was caught between writing a popular work on the rationality of Islam and trying to bring to the fore his research on the logical traditions and school texts of the later middle period in the Islamic East. Nevertheless, this is a work in a field which is increasingly confessional – and one that one approves heartily of. We can therefore perhaps forgive the rather excruciating title of the book – which does not quite capture anyway what one finds within even if his point about caliphate representing authority and hegemony is well taken.

The book is divided into three parts. The first concerns the formation of the ‘Islamic tradition of reason’ and comprises five chapters that began with interrogating the notion of reason and mind in Islam (he prefers mind as a translation for ʿaql which requires a whole separate discussion) and examines different modalities of rationality in Islamic thought ranging from ḥadīth through to falsafa and mysticism. The second part which stands on its own and represents trends in his research over the last decade or so comprises three chapters that deal with logic and especially the remnant of the tradition in South Asia. The final section of two chapters considers trajectories of ways forward to understand why modes of rationality have ‘declined’ and what future they might have in the twenty-first century and beyond. All in all, the book represents an excellent introduction to the learned culture of Islam and expresses the proposition, as the author puts it, that ‘Islamic intellectual life has been characterized by reason in the service of a non-rational revealed code of conduct’. This in itself is an interesting way of putting it – an old idea and one which he does well to indicate its substantiation (and one with which this reviewer broadly agrees). But the scripturalist might not be terribly happy with recourse to tools beyond his textual universe, and the ‘pure rationalist’ might also be dismayed by the idea that rationality’s only recourse is to defend the non-rational (or the supra-rational). But then we can be confident that such ideal types do not exist: just as pure textual literalists and scripturalists cannot function in a coherent and consistent way, the pursuit of pure reason is a mirage: thought just like text is embedded in contexts which provide horizons of meaning and modes to come to understanding.  Walbridge is careful to state that non-rational does not mean irrational – and indeed one of the major flaws in the field of Islamic philosophy in particular is to dismiss modes of reasoning that are non-rational, whether mystical or scriptural, as ‘irrational’ nonsense.

Most of the chapters are tantalisingly short. The very first one which demonstrates the post-9/11 context in which one makes sense of this work raises the question of whether Islam is essentially non-rational and opts for an answer in the negative and a defence of a scholastic tradition of reason at the heart of scholarly pursuit in the faith, criticising along the way the common idea that (still!) persists about al-Ghazālī’s death-blow to reason in Islam – a view that is problematic given recent excellent work by Frank, Moosa, Griffel, Pourjavady, al-Akiti and others that prove clearly al-Ghazālī’s own philosophical and rational credentials.  A clear corollary of his answer is that fundamentalism and its concomitant problem of violence is a peculiarly modern problem – and it is therefore ahistorical to see such phenomena as culturally peculiar to the ‘Muslim mind’. The next chapter on the diversity of reason reads like a selective introduction to the notion of reason and rationality drawing upon a relevant philosophical literature and in a sense defines the terms that are discussed in the work. The following three chapters deal with the major modalities of rationality: the first of these examines ḥadīth epistemology and quite correctly avoids the question of the historicity of those purported narrations (as Wael Hallaq argued many years ago, the authenticity of ḥadīth is a pseudo-problem because the real issue is how we use texts and not necessarily where they come from), the second on the Fārābian falsafa tradition argues that the attempt to subordinate religion to philosophy failed and is illustrated by the complete failure of political philosophy, and the third points towards what did succeed – the mature mystical-philosophical tradition of the Islamic East that became the dominant mode of rationality (and is as such decreed by modern Arab intellectuals such as the late Muḥammad ʿĀbid al-Jābirī as the triumph of unreason).  Walbridge seems to agree partly with such a critique because he locates the decline of physical sciences in Islam to the success of mysticism – but the story is more complicated as Ahmad Dallal has recently argued. The chapters that follow on logic are designed to further the centrality of modes of rationality in scholarly pursuit – but for the actual history one would look elsewhere such as Tony Street’s recent sketches or even Asad Ahmed’s more recent work on logic. The chapter on disagreement is important for the polemic as Walbridge’s argument for rationality implies the need to tolerate difference of opinion and to accept that pre-modern thinkers were actually comfortable with the idea of completing authoritative narratives of reason; the institutionalisation of this process is located by him in the madras.

The final chapters complete the argument. He implies that the decline of institutions of reason in the Islamic world have much to do with the colonial state and the ‘new reason’.  A complete intellectual history of what exactly happened to learned Islamic culture still needs to be written.  The final chapter raises a whole set of issues which are much debate in a large literature of Islam, education and modernity and discussed by the likes of Piscatori and Eickelman, Zaman, and Mahmood. The punchline is worthy of attention. Walbridge makes two points: first that any serious future of modalities of reason in Islam today and in the future will have to recognise the history and heritage of Islamic learned culture – traditional learning cannot just be jettisoned in the name of modernism or fundamentalism or even ‘ijtihād’. Second, any serious revival will probably come from the ‘West’, from America in particular, because of the experience of plurality and the opportunities that Muslims in American have at their disposal. For some time scholars have been arguing that serious Muslim intellectual revival will arise from Europe and North America. I am not so convinced. While there are interesting intellectuals in these places, it is still difficult to find figures who have an impact in the wider Muslim world. It is also quite clear that the competitive advantage of living in Dearborn as opposed to Beirut is not so great. And then one also suffers from the same differences and same problems of traditionalism, conservatism, fundamentalism and modernism in America and elsewhere. In a globalised, cosmopolitan world, Islam may indeed revive in the West as the ḥadīth indicates but one wonders what is meant by the West in the text.

God and Logic in Islam is well worth reading – especially for young Muslims. Even if one agrees with the basic proposition and many of the lines of argument, the argument is not terribly convincing or well substantiated. As indicated earlier, it is unlikely that the specialist in the field will agree with much that is in the book. But in the times in which we live it needs to be said. Increasingly, the intellectual traditions and the heritage of rationalities is being disputed, in works appearing in North America and especially in France, which deny that European rationality and institutions of science and reason owe anything to Islamic learned culture – and the ignorance that many Muslims who live in marginalised communities in Europe have of their heritage contributes to the problem. In such a context, this book is a further timely reminder that the world of Islam did make intellectual contributions and the world of the mind was respected in pursuit and defence of the faith – and was indeed one of the best ways of glorifying the divine.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Scholarship in a sayyid family of Avadh II: Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī

Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī b. Muḥammad Muʿīn Naqvī Naṣīrābādī (1753-1820), better known after his death as Ghufrān-maʾāb and as the progenitor of a leading family of Shiʿi ʿulamāʾ of Lucknow known as the khāndān-i ijtihād, was a leading figure in the Shiʿi learned culture of North India in the post-Mughal period. As the new Shiʿi state in Avadh developed a distinct identity of its own, Naṣīrābādī was responsible for the production of a new religious dispensation, a theology to rival that of the prevalent Sunnī, rationalist culture of the dars-i niẓāmī in which he had been trained. Coming from a family of prominent Naqvī sayyids in the qaṣbah of Naṣīrābād, he studied in Faizabad and in Shahjahanpur (then still in the control of the Rohillas ruled by Ḥāfiẓ Raḥmat Khān until his defeat by Avadh and the British in April 1774) with prominent (mainly Sunnī) teachers of the scriptural and intellectual humanities such as:
i)               Tafażżul Ḥusayn Khān (d. 1800), a leading Shiʿi intellectual and scientist whose forbears came from Iṣfahān though he himself was born in Sialkot and later studied in Benaras with the great literary figure Ḥazīn Lāhījī
ii)              Sayyid Ghulām Ḥusayn Dakkanī Ilāhābādī;
iii)            Shaykh Bābullāh Jawnpūrī;
iv)             Mullā Ḥaydar ʿAlī Sandīlvī (Sunni son of the Shiʿi philosopher Mullā Ḥamdullāh);
v)        and Mullā ʿAbd ʿAlī Baḥr al-ʿUlūm of Farangī-Maḥall (d. 1801), son of the famous Mullā Niẓāmuddīn who established the curriculum balancing the scriptural and intellectual humanities named after him.
He later moved to Lucknow in 1775 where he found a generous patron in the person of Ḥasan Riżā Khān (served 1776-98), the vizier of Āṣaf al-dawla (r. 1775-97). He sent him to study in the shrine cities of Iraq (1779-82) where he gained licenses from leading uṣūlī jurists of the time including:
i)               Sayyid Muḥammad Mahdī b. Murtaḍā Ṭabāṭabāʾī Baḥr al-ʿUlūm (1155-1212/1742-1797),
ii)              Sayyid Mahdī Shahristānī (1130-1216/1718-1801)
iii)            Mīrzā Mahdī Iṣfahānī (1152-1218/1739-1803)
iv)      and Āqā Bāqir Bihbahānī (1116-1205/1704-1790), the person most responsible for eradicating the Akhbārī presence from the shrine cities.
 Although it is often said that Akhbārīs dominated Shiʿi India and that Naṣīrābādi was himself Akhbārī before he returned to India as the first mujtahid of a new uṣūlī era and helped to establish uṣūlī hegemony in India through his actions and his writings, there is little actual evidence for Akhbārī thought in North India (unlike the Deccan where the Quṭb-Shāhīs seemed to patronise figures such as the famous ‘reviver’ of the Akhbārī school, Muḥammad Amīn Astarābādī (d. 1626) who wrote the Dānishnāma-yi Shāhī for his patrons). His contribution in theology lay in three areas of dispute:
i)               displacing the theology of the shaykhzādas in the qaṣbahs which was rational, Sufi and Sunni – ultimately the Farangī Maḥall family of scholars in Lucknow (ʿAbd ʿAlī Muḥammad Baḥr al-ʿUlūm and Mullā Ḥasan) and the school of Shāh Walīallāh in Delhi (Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz) epitomised their approach and hence he disputed with them, debated and wrote refutations of their works;
ii)              displacing the akhbārī tendency of traditionalists – which to a large extent concerned the import of a dispute from the shrine cities of Iraq into North India;
iii)            and moving from a Shiʿi theology of the margins to the heart of empire – establishing a Shiʿi kingship through building institutions of judiciary, establishing the Friday and Eid congregational prayers, centres of learning, an office of religious, jurisprudential guidance and dissemination through the network of his students not least his sons.

He established the new theological dispensation by advocating these methods:

First, importing a controversy from the shrine cities of Iraq, he argued for establishing the uṣūlī method and the use of reason in law and theology. He wrote a number of works attacking Akhbārīs including the main text Asās al-uṣūl and was pivotal in inaugurating the institution of congregational Friday prayers, which were not the norm among the Shiʿa in North India before him. The first such congregation took place in 1200/1786 and a collection of his sermons from that first year was published as an expression of the new public theology entitled Favāʾid-i Āṣafīya. Further such congregations were established in the realm eventually reaching his hometown of Naṣīrābād where a Friday mosque was inaugurated in 1812. He also wrote a Risāla dar vujūb-i namāz-i jumʿa. In Asās al-uṣūl, a work written in Arabic for a scholarly audience (it was lithographed twice in the 1890s and 1900s in Lucknow), his main target was al-Fawāʾid al-madanīya of Muḥammad Amīn Astarābādī (d. 1626); however, he did not rely on the ad hominem and weak arguments deployed by Nūr al-Din al-ʿĀmilī or Bihbahānī in his al-Fawāʾid al-Makkīya. The work is divided into four sections (maqāṣid): the first on the probative force of Qurʾanic verses, the second (and the longest section) on the probative force (ḥujjīya) of ḥadīth – this is in fact the longest section of the text - , the third section on scholarly consensus (ijmāʿ) which was a major point of contention with Akhbārīs, and the fourth on rational instruments for discerning jurisprudence. This last section reveals the theological origins of some debates in uṣūl and includes sections on the status of acts before revelation and on the rational ability to discern good and evil independently. An office was opened in Lucknow to deal with questions of the faithful and a gradual process of Shiʿification of the judiciary initiated. His own informal circle of learning became a formal institution under his son with the name of Madrasa-yi Sulṭānīya, which is a later iteration became the Sulṭān al-madāris established after the annexation much later in 1892.

Second, and most importantly given the rivalry at court, he opened an attack on Sufis to discredit the possibility of considering Shiʿism and Sufism as compatible. He wrote a scholarly work in Arabic al-Shihāb al-thāqib and a more accessible risāla in Persian (Risāla-yi radd-i madhhab-i ṣūfīya), both written for his patron Sarfarāz al-Dawla Ḥasan Riżā Khān, the vizier of Āṣaf al-Dawla, and the patron also of two major Sufi figures Shāh ʿAlī Akbar Mawdūdī Chishtī (d. 1795) who led own jumʿa and Shāh Khayrullāh Naqshbandī. Unlike other anti-Sufi tracts, his polemics did not concern practices on the whole (expect for the use of music in ritual), but rather given the dominance of the Ibn ʿArabī school and the ḥadīth-based scholarship of the rational Sunnī dars-i niẓāmī tradition in Avadh, his attack centred upon the idea of waḥdat al-wujūd and the proofs often adduced from the Qurʾan and from ḥadīth in its favour. This monism dominated Sufism in Avadh through figures at court (and Mawdūdī’s own al-Fawāʾid al-Mawdūdīya – there is a manuscript copy in the British Library – demonstrates his adherence to this tendency), the tradition of Shāh ʿAbd al-Razzāq (d. 1724) of Bānsa patronised by the Sunni theologians of Farangī-Maḥall, and the tradition associated with Shah Mīna (d. 1467) and his shrine in Lucknow – a leading figure of this tradition was Dildār ʿAlī’s contemporary Irtiżā ʿAlī Khān Gopāmāwī (d. 1836), a Sufi and philosopher of the school of Mullā Ṣadrā, who wrote a prominent devotional work Favāʾid-i Saʿdīya.

Third, he defended Shiʿi theology against the famous polemic of Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, the Tuḥfa-yi isnāʿasharīya, and took on the Sunni rational tradition in a major work of theology entitled Mirʾāt al-ʿuqūl fī ʿilm al-uṣūl better known as ʿImād al-Islām, a scholarly work in Arabic that was lithographed at the turn of the 20th century through the efforts of his descendent Sayyid Āqā Ḥasan who also arranged for an Urdu translation which was also published. His responses to Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz’s Tuḥfa-yi isnāʿasharīya included Ṣawārim-i ilāhīyāt on chapter 5 on philosophical theology, Ḥusām al-islām on chapter 6 on prophecy, Iḥyāʾ-yi sunnat on chapter 8 on resurrection, Risāla-yi Dhū-l-fiqār on chapter 12 on tabarra and walāya, Khātima-yi ṣawārim on imāma and ghaybat. His son Sulṭān al-ʿUlamāʾ later added Bawāriq-i mūbaqa on chapter 7 on imāma, Ṭaʿn al-rimāḥ and Bāriqa-yi dayghamīya on chapter 10 on indictments, Ṭard al-muʿānidīn on chapter 12 on walāya and tabarra. Although the polemics set off a chain of refutations and counter-refutations, these were the best Shiʿi reponses alongside Sayyid Ḥāmid Ḥusayn’s more voluminous ʿAbaqāt al-anwār. ʿImād al-Islām was an altogether more ambitious work taking as its target Nihāyat al-ʿuqūl, the mature work of philosophical theology of the great medieval Sunni theologian Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 1209). It is perhaps the greatest achievement in kalām of the Shiʿi scholarly tradition of India.
Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī’s legacy lay primarily in the network of his students and his sons and descendants who dominated the intellectual scene in Avadh prior to the annexation and continued to do so in the present. He had five sons:
1)     Sayyid Muḥammad who was born 1199/1784 in Lucknow. He became known as mujtahid al-ʿaṣr, a quasi-official post of the leading cleric (title of ṣadr al-ṣudūr), and was given the title of Sulṭān al-ʿulamāʾ. He died in 1284/1867, and was posthumously known as Riżvān-maʾāb. He wrote works against Akhbārīs and also al-ʿUjāla al-nāfiʿa on Shiʿi kalām. He formalised his father’s teaching circle, establishing the Madrasa-yi Sulṭānīya whose post-annexation avatar became the Sulṭān al-madāris, which still exists and was founded in 1892.
2)     Sayyid ʿAlī was born in Lucknow in 1200/1786. He travelled to Karbalāʾ often, lived and studied and died there in 1259/1843. There is evidence that he associated with Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī (d. 1843) in Karbalāʾ which accounts for a primary link between the Shaykhīs and Avadh [although for obvious reasons the family biographers omit this]. He wrote a two volume exegesis entitled Tawḍīḥ al-majīd fī kalām allāh al-ḥamīd and hence was given the title of Sayyid al-mufassirīn.
3)     Sayyid Ḥasan was born in 1205/1791 and died 1260/1844, having written some theological works.
4)     Sayyid Mahdī was born Lucknow 1208/1793 and died young in 1231/1816. His son Sayyid Muḥammad Hādī 1813-1858 was a significant jurist of the family.
5)     Sayyid Ḥusayn was born in 1211/1796. He was important and became a mujtahid and died in 1273/1856. He was known as Sayyid al-ʿulamāʾ and posthumously titled ʿIllīyīn-maʾāb.  His sons were an important branch of the family: Sayyid ʿAlī Naqī d. 1893, titled Zubdat al-ʿulamāʾ; Sayyid Muḥammad Taqī known as Mumtāz al-ʿulamāʾ 1818-72, and Sayyid ʿAlī. The recent famous scholar Sayyid ʿAlī Naqī Naqqan ṣāḥab, who was Dean of the Department of Shia Theology at Aligarh University, was a scion of this branch. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Scholarship in a sayyid family of Avadh I: Musavī Nīshāpūrī of Kintūr

People familiar with Shiʿi scholarship in North India will have heard of the famous polemical defence of Shiʿi theology entitled ʿAbaqāt al-anwār fī imāmat al-aʾimmat al-aṭhār or the library associated with the author and his family, the Nāṣirīya in Lucknow (presented run by Sayyid ʿAlī Nāṣir Mūsavī better known as Agha Roohi). A family of Mūsavī sayyids from Khurāsān, namely Nishāpūr, settled in Kintūr in Barabanki east of Lucknow and very much in the heart of Avadh in the 14th century (incidentally that is pretty much the same time as the main branch of my paternal ancestors Rażavī sayyids from Nishapur as well settled in the Delhi area before moving on to Allahabad and other parts of eastern UP including Ghāzīpūr). Interesting one of the descendants of this family, famous because of his own grandson, was Sayyid Aḥmad Mūsavī (d. 1869), the grandfather of Sayyid Rūḥullāh Khumaynī (d. 1989). Sayyid Aḥmad was born in Kintūr and later moved to the shrine cities of Iraq as many scholars did in around 1830 as British encroachment in Avadh increased; he later eventually settled in Khomein in 1839. On his death in 1869, his body was transferred to Karbalāʾ for burial in the shrine city.

But I want to focus to the main branch of the family. Sayyid Muḥammad Qulī son of Muḥammad Ḥusayn, known as Mīr Muḥammad Qulī (1775-1844) joined British service early on and served as a judge in Meerut. He had studied with the famous mujtahid of Lucknow Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī Naṣīrābādī (d. 1820). He was appointed to the top clerical post of ṣadr al-ṣudūr in 1837 and eventually retired to Lucknow a year before his death. A jurist in his own right, he was the author of a number of refutations of the anti-Shiʿi polemic penned by Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (d. 1823) the Tuḥfa-yi ithnāʿasharīya including Tashyīd al-maṭāʿin li-kashf al-ḍaghāʾin, al-Sayf al-nāṣirī, Taqlīb al-makāʾid (lithographed in Calcutta, 1846), and Taṭhīr al-muʾminīn ʿan najāsat al-mushrikīn. The former has been published by the press established by the Mūsawī Jazāʾirī Shūshtarī family whose branch settled in Lucknow and were related to the Kintūrīs. The best study of Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz's polemic and Shiʿi responses remains the late Sayyid Athar ʿAbbas Rizvi's Shah ʿAbd al-ʿAziz: Puritanism, Sectarian Polemics and Jihad (Canberra: Maʿrifat Publishing House, 1982). Mīr Muḥammad Qulī was one of the first Shiʿi ʿulamāʾ to recognise the threat posed by the polemic in inciting violence against Shiʿi symbols, commemorations and also people - further evidence from the past, as we see in the present that violent language of othering, of takfīr and attacks on Shiʿi symbols ultimately leads to the killing of the Shiʿa as well.

However, his two sons became far more famous. First, Sayyid Ḥāmid Ḥusayn (1830-88), the youngest son, had studied jurisprudence and fiqh in Lucknow with Sayyid Ḥusayn son of Dildār ʿAlī Naṣīrābādī (d. 1856), philosophy with Sayyid Murtażā (d. 1860) son of Sayyid Muḥammad Sulṭān al-ʿUlamāʾ and hence a grandson of Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī, and literature and other humanities with Sayyid Muḥammad ʿAbbās Jazāʾirī Shūshtarī (d. 1889),  and later went to study in the shrine cities of Iraq. He wrote Asfār al-anwār ʿan waqāʾiʿ afḍal al-asfār on his travels in Iraq, and Zayn al-wasāʾil and al-Dharāʾiʿ in fiqh. He is primarily famous for the ʿAbaqāt al-anwār which was also written in refutation of Tuḥfa-yi ithnāʿasharīya. The work consists of 12 sections dealing with 12 ḥadīth in support of the Shiʿi case and in refutation of the polemic. The first two volumes on Ghadīr lithographed at Newal Kishore in Lucknow in 1294/1877 is available here. The second volume of part five on the famous saying of the Prophet identifying ʿAlī as bāb madīnat al-ʿilm was lithographed in 1317/1898 is available here. The whole text was not completed (only 11 lithographed volumes have been published) especially there was an initial section on Qurʾanic proofs for the imamate which was never written. The contemporary scholar Sayyid ʿAlī al-Mīlānī has written both a summary and a commentary on the text. That text is available here. In search of materials for the text, Sayyid Ḥāmid Ḥusayn travelled widely and collected manuscripts - his library was inherited by his son Sayyid Nāṣir (1867-1942) and established as the Nāṣirīya library in Lucknow, was recognised as Shams al-ʿUlamāʾ by the government of India in 1916 and a major leader in Lucknow. The contemporary scholar Muḥammad Riżā Ḥakīmī wrote an intellectual biography of Ḥāmid Ḥusayn which was published in 1980.

Second, Sayyid Iʿjāz Ḥusayn was born in 1825 in Meerut where his father had been posted as a judge. He died in 1870 and was buried in Lucknow in the graveyard of Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī. Unlike his younger brother he was not known as a major theologian, although he had studied with Sulṭān al-ʿulamāʾ and his younger brother Sayyid Ḥusayn, both sons of Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī in Lucknow. However, he did write three significant works which are essential research tools on the networks of ʿulama and works available at the time. The first one is Kashf al-ḥujub wa-l-astār ʿan asmāʾ al-kutub wa-l-asfār first printed at the Asiatic Society in Calcutta in 1911. Before the publication of Āqā Buzurg Ṭihrānī's al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-shīʿa and more modern works, this was the main source for research into Shiʿi texts especially those available in India. The second is Shudhūr al-ʿiqyān fī tarājim al-aʿyān, a major two volume biography of scholars. The third, although it is associated with him despite the text being anonymous, is Āʾīna-yi ḥaqq-numā, another account of scholarly networks based on the work of students of Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī.

Mīr Muḥammad Qulī's eldest son is probably the least known. Sayyid Sirāj Ḥusayn (1823-65) like his father worked in the British judiciary and administration and was one of the first Shiʿi ʿulamāʾ to engage with the new learning in English and translated works of science in Persian and Urdu. He was also associated with Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and encouraged by the moves to establish Aligarh (although he died before its foundation). It was his son Sayyid Karāmat Ḥusayn (1852-1917) who became a pioneer encouraging the education of girls in the next generation as one of the key responses to the shock of the loss of power and prestige with the advent of formal empire after 1857. He also served as a professor of law at Aligarh.

These are some of the key sources that one needs to draw upon for research into the intellectual history of Shiʿi Islam in India. The two volume work of Sayyid Athar ʿAbbas Rizvi still remains the standard but there is still much to do on the actual development of ideas and on networks of scholars. This is the first of a number of notes on scholarship in Avadh.

UPDATE 1/12/16: Tashyīd al-maṭāʿin has now been published and can be downloaded from here.