The local experiences of reformist Islam in a “Muslim” town in colonial India: the case of Amroha
Modern Asian Studies
Cambridge University Press
This article discusses shifts within Islamic life, ritual and practice in the town of Amroha in the United Provinces of India, during the eventful period of approximately 1860-1930. Based primarily upon Urdu writings produced about or by residents of the town during this period, it examines the ways in which wider religious reformist movements such as those associated with Aligarh, Deoband and Bareilly were received and experienced within nearby smaller, supposedly marginal urban settlements. The article argues that broader currents of religious reform were not unquestioningly accepted in Amroha, but were often engaged in a constant process of dialogue and accommodation with local particularities. The first section introduces Amroha and its population, focusing upon how the town’s integrity was defined and described. The second section examines a plethora of public religious rites and institutions emerging during this period, including madrasas and imambaras, discussing how these were used by eminent local families to reinforce distinctly local hierarchies and cultural particularities. A third section considers public debates in Amroha concerning the Aligarh movement, arguing that these debates enhanced local rivalries, especially those between Shia and Sunni Muslims. A final section interrogates the growing culture of religious disputation in the town, suggesting that such debate facilitated the negotiation of religious change in a transitory social environment.
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008. Published version reproduced with the permission of the publisher.
Vol. 43, Issue 4, pp. 871 - 908
Place of publication