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