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Constructing Islam on the Indus
The Material History of the Suhrawardi Sufi Order, 1200–1500 AD


Francis Robinson
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  • Date Published: August 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107062900

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Reanalyses the role Shi'ism played in the medieval history of Islam and how it has shaped the geopolitical realities prevalent in the region today
    • Provides an understanding of the Sufi-Shi'a nexus in Islam - a subject often not understood - and what tied these two denominations together historically
    • Provides a comprehensive understanding of multi-faith beliefs in Islam, and how these were defined and substantiated
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107062900
    • copublisher: The Royal Asiatic Society
    • dimensions: 239 x 157 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    Foreword Francis Robinson
    1. The Suhrawardi Order
    2. Shams
    3. The Suhrawardi Order in Uch
    4. The Wilayat of 'Ali in Twelver Shi'ism, Sufism and 123 the religion of the medieval Isma'ilis
    5. Multan
    6. The Da'wa and Suhrawardi monuments at Uch
    Notes on referencing
    Interviews and fieldwork

  • Author

    Hasan Ali Khan, Habib University Foundation, Pakistan
    Hasan Ali Khan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art, Humanities and Social Sciences at the Habib University Foundation, Karachi, Pakistan. Trained as an architect, he worked with the Pakistani architect and planner Arif Hasan before gaining a PhD in Arts and Humanities from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His doctorate looked at the beliefs, history and architecture of the Suhrawardi Sufi Order in Multan and Uch between 1200 and 1500. He has taught at the Aga Khan University, Karachi, and the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, has been involved with two major research projects, and is part of the French Interdisciplinary Mission, an ongoing project headed by Dr Michel Boivin of the Centre for South Asian Studies (CNRS-EHESS) working on the history and culture of Sehwan Sharif. Dr Khan's research interests include religious studies, Islamic studies and, more specifically, the Alevi community in Turkey.


    Francis Robinson

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