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Constructing Islam on the Indus
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Book description

This book represents the first serious consideration of Ismaili-Shia esotericism in material and architectural terms, as well as of pre-modern conceptions of religious plurality in rituals and astrology. Sufism has long been reckoned to have connections to Shi'ism, but without any concrete proof. The book shows this connection in light of current scholarly work on the subject, historical sources, and most importantly, metaphysics and archaeological evidence. The monuments of the Suhrawardi Order, which are derived from the basic lodges set up by Pir Shams in the region, constitute a unique building archetype. The book's greatest strength lies in its archaeological evidence and in showing the metaphysical commonalities between Shi'ism/Isma'ilism and the Suhrawardi Sufi Order, both of which complement each other. In addition, working on premise and supposition, certain reanalysed historical periods and events in Indian Muslim history serve as added proof for the author's argument.

Reviews

‘This is a genuinely exciting study which makes convincingly original use of an impressive range of evidence - including architectural and iconographic materials as well as literary and historical sources - to uncover a previously hidden aspect of the coming of Islam to the subcontinent through the highly original teachings of the missionary organisation of Ismailism.'

Christopher Shackle - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

‘Bringing together textual, architectural and ethnographic sources in a highly original way, this book makes an argument that will redefine the way we understand early Muslim history in South Asia. Focusing on the esoteric dimension of discourse during this period, Hasan Ali [Khan]'s careful reading of words, symbols and practices reveals the existence of an extraordinary and hitherto uncharted world of religious and sectarian relations in the Indus Valley, underlining its heterodox nature in particular. Against the received story of Islamic conquest and orthodoxy, he offers us a nuanced and sophisticated narrative of cross-cutting allegiances and intertwined knowledges that serves as a virtuoso demonstration of how medieval historians should approach their work.'

Faisal Devji - University of Oxford

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