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Excavations at Abreu Garcia provide a detailed case study of a mound and enclosure mortuary complex used by the southern proto-Jê in the southern Brazilian highlands. The recovery of 16 secondary cremation deposits within a single mound allows an in-depth discussion of spatial aspects of mortuary practices. A spatial division in the placement of the interments adds another level of duality to the mortuary landscape, which comprises: (1) paired mound and enclosures, (2) twin mounds within a mound and enclosure, and (3) the dual division in the mound interior. The multiple levels of nested asymmetric dualism evoke similarities to the moiety system that characterizes modern southern Jê groups, highlighting both the opposition and the complementarity of the social system. The findings offer deeper insight into fundamental aspects of southern proto-Jê social organization, including the dual nature of the community, the manifestation of social structure in the landscape, and its incorporation into mortuary ritual. The results have implications for research design and developing appropriate methodologies to answer culture-specific questions. Furthermore, the parallels among archaeology, ethnohistory, and ethnography enable an understanding of the foundation of modern descendent groups and an assessment of the continuity in indigenous culture beyond European contact.
In their rapid spread across Asia, Africa and southern Europe from the seventh century CE, Muslims came to work with many local cultures and local religious traditions. Often, Muslims came to express their faith through these local cultures, using local myths and local idioms to express their meaning. At other times, they might work closely with local traditions, fashioning a multi-faith harmony. Sufis were usually at the forefront of the process of interaction; their success was, to a large extent, measured by the number of local supporters they could attract. Theoretical underpinning for the process was found in Ibn al-'Arabi's idea of wahdat al-wujud (the unity of being) which spread rapidly from the thirteenth century. At times, the shari'a-minded found fault with these local expressions of Islam, declaring them to be shirk or rejections of the oneness of God. But the shari'a-minded were relatively few and local expressions of Islam were usually powerfully intertwined with local social and political power. For the greater part of Muslim history, Islam was expressed through local cultures and in harmony with them.
From the eighteenth century, the manner of Muslim engagement with local religious traditions came increasingly to be challenged. The source was the great movement of revival and reform which spread throughout the Islamic world, its main starting points being the teaching of Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792) in Arabia and Shah Wali Allah (1703–1762) in South Asia. Among the targets of this movement were all forms of behaviour that could be interpreted as challenging the oneness of God: the worship of trees or stones, the following of customs which had no sanction in Islamic law. A common battleground was behaviour at saints’ shrines; no one should behave in a way which suggested they were worshipping the saint. At its extreme, the movement of reform became opposed to Sufism itself. Debates about the interpretation of Ibn al'Arabi became more frequent. Reformed Islam became increasingly exclusive rather than inclusive. The process of reform, in various manifestations, has continued down to the present.
Hasan Ali Khan is concerned to lay before us the world of inclusive and pluralistic religious practice which existed in the Indus Valley up to recent times.
The Shiʿi communities of South Asia, roughly 60 million people, represent, after those of Iran, the second largest grouping of Shiʿas in the Muslim world. Until recently our knowledge of them has not matched their numbers. Indeed, they, and here I refer to the Twelver Shiʿas rather than the Ismaʿilis, have suffered from the paradox of being both highly visible but in scholarly terms largely invisible. Where the Shiʿa live in South Asian towns and cities, arguably, no community has been more visible or more audible: visible because of their great processions at Muharram; and audible, certainly at Muharram, but also throughout the year in their majalis, as they recount the events of Karbala, often transmitting them by loudspeaker to the muhalla.
Up to the 1980s these significant religious communities had attracted just two major works of scholarship: Hollister's, The Shiʿa of India (1936) and Engineer's The Bohras (1980). This dearth of scholarship began to change in the mid-1980s. First there was S. A. A. Rizvi's major two-volume survey of India's Twelver Shiʿas (1986), followed by Juan Cole's path-breaking study of the establishment of the Shiʿi state of Awadh from the eighteenth century (1988). From the 1990s attention turned to Shiʿi commemorative practice with Vernon Schubel's study of Shiʿi devotional rituals (1993), David Pinault's studies of ritual and popular piety (1992) and devotional life (2001) which were followed in similar vein by Toby Howarth's examination of Shiʿi preaching in Hyderabad (2005) and Syed Akbar Hyder's exploration of the role of Shiʿi martyrdom in South Asian memory (2006). Subsequently there have been two important studies of the Khoja Ismaʿilis: Marc van Grondelle's demonstration of the role of British imperial power in turning them into a successful transnational community (2009) and Teena Purohit's demonstration of how the Khoja Ismaʿilis were created in their particular Muslim form by the removal of pluralistic religious practices from their devotions (2012). The year 2012 saw Justin Jones' authoritative work on the creative responses of Lucknow's Twelver Shiʿas after the British brought Shiʿi political power to an end.
The Shi‘i communities of South Asia, roughly 60 million people, represent, after those of Iran, the second largest grouping of Shi‘as in the Muslim world. Until recently our knowledge of them has not matched their numbers. Indeed, they, and here I refer to the Twelver Shi‘as rather than the Isma‘ilis, have suffered from the paradox of being both highly visible but in scholarly terms largely invisible. Where the Shi‘a live in South Asian towns and cities, arguably, no community has been more visible or more audible: visible because of their great processions at Muharram; and audible, certainly at Muharram, but also throughout the year in their majalis, as they recount the events of Karbala, often transmitting them by loudspeaker to the muhalla.
From the beginning of the Islamic era, Muslim societies have experienced periods of renewal (tajdid). Since the eighteenth century, Muslim societies across the world have been subject to a prolonged and increasingly deeply felt process of renewal. This has been expressed in different ways in different contexts. Amongst political elites with immediate concerns to answer the challenges of the West, it has meant attempts to reshape Islamic knowledge and institutions in the light of Western models, a process described as Islamic modernism. Amongst ‘ulama and sufis, whose social base might lie in urban, commercial or tribal communities, it has meant ‘the reorganisation of communities… [or] the reform of individual behavior in terms of fundamental religious principles’, a development known as reformism (Lapidus 2002: 457). These processes have been expressed in movements as different as the Iranian constitutional revolution, the jihads of West Africa, and the great drives to spread reformed Islamic knowledge in India and Indonesia. In the second half of the twentieth century, the process of renewal mutated to develop a new strand, which claimed that revelation had the right to control all human experiences and that state power must be sought to achieve this end. This is known to many as Islamic fundamentalism, but is usually better understood as Islamism. For the majority of Muslims today, Islamic renewal in some shape or other has helped to mould the inner and outer realities of their lives.
Starting from the position that authority is constantly a work in progress, this paper examines authority in Muslim South Asia at a time when Muslims felt the challenge of rule by another civilization. It examines the strategies in sustaining their authority: of religious leaders, of Unani hakims and of literary leaders. In all three areas there is a rejection of the Persianate Mughal past and an embracing of Arab models, of the Prophetic model, and in various ways a drawing on British models and British authority. The paper also looks at the strategies of the rulers noting, amongst other things, how the British drew heavily on Mughal models just as Indian Muslims were letting them go, and how, since independence, Muslim rulers have drawn on a mixture of Western, Arab and Prophetic sources. There is also a running discussion throughout the paper of the revolutionary shift towards rooting authority in society at large, and the development of techniques to do so.