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25 July, 2012
Biographical Dictionary of Sufism in South Asia
Dictionary of Sufism in South Asia
A Sufi’s quest
for spiritual identity is distinguishable from the external scholars (‘ulama-i
zahiri), radical reformers, politico-religious activists and average
Muslims whose belief in the fundamentals of Islam in a given religious
environment is simply literal or even superficial in certain cases. Central to
this difference of approach is the Sufi’s life-long concern to conquer his self
for the greater spiritual and ethical good for humankind than the mere
pragmatic and worldly concerns of the ‘ulama in relation to the Shari’ah.
dramatizing divide between Shari’ah and Sufism, unlike Orientalism, this
dictionary intrinsically portrays the abiding contribution of numerous Sufis of
South Asia to Islam and history. Definitive and interpretative, it lends a
certain degree of objectivity to the supernatural role that characterizes the
historical personalities listed in it.
The work is
based on research spanning a period of 27 years, both in India and abroad.
Besides Persian sources, in manuscript and printed form, their Urdu
translations, wherever available, have been used carefully in conjunction with
the original. This dictionary may, then, be the first to provide succinctly and
objectively a fairly comprehensive account of the Sufis, recorded in various
historical sources, in just one volume. The author takes special care to
highlight how certain religious traditions were adapted by the Sufis to the
larger framework of Sufism without violating the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
This work is an
antidote to the tarnished image of Islam in the aftermath of 9/11.
Ishaq Khan is former Professor of History and
Shaikhu’l-‘Alam Chair at Kashmir University. His publications inclue Kashmir’s
Transition to Islam: The Role of Muslim Rishis (3rd edn. 2003)
and Experiencing Islam (1997).