The Shi'a Muslims of the United Provinces of India, c 1890-1940

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Jones, Justin Rhys 

This dissertation examines religious, social and political change among the Shia Muslims of the United Provinces of colonial India, c. 1890-1940. Focusing especially, upon the towns of Lucknow and Amroha but discussing the region as a whole, it traces the formation of a community identity among Shia Muslims, and questions how disparate Shi'a populations were able to construct a consciousness of solidarity. The dissertation is based on a combination of archival and printed sources in English and Urdu. The first chapter assesses processes of sectarian organisation and the formation of a number of Shia institutions and societies in Lucknow in the thirty year period from 1890, including several madrasas and the All India Shi'a Conference. The second chapter examines manifestations of religious renewal among Indian Shi'as. Forms of religious proselytisation are discussed, particularly the contribution of the printing press and the changing role of preaching. The development of religious conflict is outlined, through examinations of religious debates and the reformation of Muharram rites. A third chapter examines Shia responses to the so-called 'Aligarh movement', considering reactions to educational reform and the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh. A fourth chapter discusses Shia responses to the campaigns of jihad and pan-Islamism current among many Muslims in the early twentieth century. Together, these two chapters demonstrate the expansion and politicisation of sectarian differences, and the attempts by some Shi'as to organise separately from wider Muslim institutions. The final chapter assesses a series of Shi'a-Sunni conflicts in Lucknow in the 1930s. It examines some of the contributory factors and discusses the conflicts in the light of the processes of sectarian organisation discussed in earlier chapters. The conclusion evaluates the implications of the thesis for our understanding of Indian Shia Muslims and, more generally, of sectarian identities and conflicts in Indian Islam.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge