Ashraf Ali Thanawi: Islam in Modern South Asia (Makers of by Muhammad Qasim Zaman

By Muhammad Qasim Zaman

Ashraf `Ali Thanawi (1863-1943) used to be the most in demand non secular students in Islamic background. writer of over one thousand books on varied points of Islam, his paintings sought to protect the Islamic scholarly culture and to articulate its authority in an age of momentous spiritual and political swap. during this authoritative biography, Muhammad Qasim Zaman deals a complete and hugely obtainable account of Thanawi's multifaceted occupation and inspiration, when additionally delivering a invaluable advent to Islam in smooth South Asia.

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Challenging colonial rule through political agitation was ill-advised not only because Muslims did not have the might to back up such challenges, but also because they could jeopardize the rights and freedoms they enjoyed under the terms of their implicit contract with the British. This was not a counsel of unmitigated quietism. Rather, it was a matter of making a clear determination of whether the Muslims had any reasonable chances of success and whether launching on ill-conceived challenges to colonial rule would aggravate rather than ameliorate their circumstances.

The master made no bones about the importance of what he had to say to the disciples and visitors. Written records of what purported to be the Sufi master’s actual words (malfuzat), uttered in the course of his regular sittings with his disciples, constitute a longstanding literary tradition in Indian Sufism (Steinfels 2004); and later Sufis have often taken writings of this genre as a basis for their own mystical training. There are several collections of Thanawi’s malfuzat, the most comprehensive of which is titled Daily Elaborations for the Benefit of the People (al-Ifadat al-yawmiyya min al-ifadat al-qawmiyya, abbreviated in this book as “I”), a ten-volume record of what he said during his private and public sessions over the course of almost an entire year, 1932 (cf.

Critics of this doctrine have long seen it as compromising the utter transcendence of an unrelentingly monotheist faith (tawhid), a danger that has seemed especially grave in an environment dominated by Hindu pantheism. Thanawi’s stay in Mecca with Imdad Allah was a time when Ibn ‘Arabi’s view of the “unity of being” loomed especially large on his consciousness (AS, 1: 184–186). He would later return to Ibn ‘Arabi, though less to seek inspiration from him and more to try to defend the Spanish Sufi master against his detractors.

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Ashraf Ali Thanawi: Islam in Modern South Asia (Makers of by Muhammad Qasim Zaman
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