The history of Islam in India has resulted in impassioned debates between scholars- from the
secularists to the Hindu right. Arguing that these histories tend to project modern concerns back
in time, Raziuddin Aquil conducts a dispassionate investigation of the period between the
thirteenth and the nineteenth centuries, from the heyday of Muslim political domination of large
areas of the Mughals, accompanied by the transformations colonialism brought in its wake.
Using texts from the medieval and early modern periods, Aquil uncovers connections between a
variety of factors- the religious orthodoxy or the ulama; Muslim rulers attempts to deal with
competing religious ideologies; the emergence of Sikhism and its tenuous relationship with Islam;
and the development of Urdu as a language of the of the people. Situating his arguments in the
long-term struggles within Muslim societies between reason and faith, Aquil contends that some of
the issues explored here have come down to us from medieval times while others have been
transformed completely into concerns that are purely modern in origin.
Penetrating and readable, In the Name of Allah tackles the legacy of Muslim rule in India and in
the process presents Islam as a complex and continually changing tradition.
Raziuddin Aquil is fellow in history at the centre for studies in social sciences,
Calcutta, and is the author of SUFISM, culture, and politics: Afghans and Islam in Medieval North
India (2007) and co-editor (with Partha Chatterjee) of history in the Vernacular (2008).
This book emerges out of research project conducted at the Center for Studies in social science,
Calcutta (CSSSC). The aim of the project was to move away from the rather constructed framework
of the agenda-driven conventional history of medieval India to think of the larger questions on
Islam and medieval Indian history, questions which are of serious concern to contemporary
reflections on how to make sense of a complex past and its controversial inheritance. It was
also, in a measure, inspired by Partha Chatterjee's critical appreciation of the creative
energies of a people who have lost in the race of modernity, the terms of which were dictated by
an aggressive west. I have immensely benefited from professor Chatterjee's encouragement and
guidance for the major part of the research for this book, and I wish to dedicate this volume to
him as an expression of my deep sense of gratitude for his kindness and generosity.
Earlier versions of several chapters were experimented with in workshops, seminars and
conferences over the years and I would like to thank the organizers and participants in these
events for giving me the opportunity to share my work as well as tolerating raw ideas. I would
particularly like to mention Amit Dey, Arvind Sinha, Bodil Frederiksen, David Curley, Dilbagh
Singh, George Thadathil, Gyan Pandey, Ipshita Chanda, Isabel Hofmeyr, Jon Hyslop, Kavita Panjabi,
Lakshmi Subramanian, Manas Ray, Nirmal Kumar, Pius Malekandathil, Preben Kaarsholm, Rajat Datta,
Ritwika Biswas, Shirin Maswood, Susanta Ghosh, Tapati Guha-Thakurta and Yogesh Sharma.
Severa scholars have seen one or more chapters in draft versions. I have especially tortured
Anjan Ghosh, Himadri Banerjee, Indrani Chatterjee, Kumkum Chatterjee, Mubarak Ali, Muzaffar Alam,
Narayani Gupta, Richard Eaton, Satish Saberwal, Shail Mayaram, Shinder Thandi, Sumit Guha and
Werner Menski. As usual, Partha Chatterjee read a very early draft of the whole manuscript and
suggested interesting ways to deal with crude formulations. Tilottama Mukherjee has also helped
polish early drafts of most of the chapters.
My ever-growing list of friends was always there for support in times of crisis and anxieties,
whether caused by a 'Jihadi' blast in the name of Allah or American/Western onslaught for
'divine' justice, and I remember with thanks Anuradha Chanda, Arupjyoti Saikia, Najmul Hoda,
Padmanabh Samarendra, Rekha Natarajan, Shashank Sinha, Sohel Firdos and Sunandan Chakraborty. The
'South India Lobby' at CSSSC, though always dwindling and somewhat shaky, has helped in resisting
the dominant propositions and I would especially like to thank Ramesh Bairy, Sanal Mohan and
Udaya Kumar for their crucial support.
Thanks are also due to Abhijit Bhattachary, Arshad Rizvi, Malvika Gulati, Prabir Basu, and Sujata
Mishra for their many courtesies at different stages of research for this book. I take this
opportunity to pay my tributes to the unsung heroes of CSSSC, who make things happen at this
extraordinary institution. I especially remember Biswanath Nag, Debo Prosad Mitra, Jayati Nayak-
Yagnik, Priyanka Basu, Sambhu Nath Nag, Sanchita Bhattacharyya, Soumitra Chatterjee and Surajit
Bose. Their useful little inputs together proved to be of great value.
I should not forget to thank Sugata Marjit and Surajit Mukhopadhyay, Director and Registrar
respectively of CSSSC, for their support and encouragement while working on the manuscript during
these past couple of years.
Last, but not the least, it has been a pleasure to work with the editors at Penguin Books.
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