By Usha Sanyal
Introduces the mythical chief of the nice 20th-century Sunni circulate.
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Extra info for Ahmad Riza Khan (Makers of the Muslim World)
While the political dominance of the British in India,and their debates about the intrinsic value or lack thereof of “Oriental” learning, were a powerful impetus for reform among Indian Muslims, there was also another source which came from the Islamic world itself, namely, the Wahhabi movement in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Arabia. The influence of this movement on Indian reform movements was felt through the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, through extensive periods of study by a small number of Indian Muslims at Mecca and Medina, and by the general improvement in communications which occurred in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In addition, he also promoted practices which he deemed Islamic, such as the remarriage of widows (the uppercaste Hindu prohibition on the remarriage of widows had no scriptural sanction in the Qur’an). He even helped to bring about the remarriage of women he knew. The second phase of Sayyid Ahmad’s career was overtly political, for he decided in the early 1820s to wage a jihad against the new non-Muslim rulers of India (first the Sikhs in Panjab, then the British). He and his associates planned for it carefully.
The judgments of the ‘ulama were not enforceable in court. For instance, without a qadi it now became impossible to have marriages annulled. As a result, women began to declare themselves apostates from Islam, since apostasy automatically terminated a marriage. In the 1930s, Maulana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (d. 1943), a famous Deobandi scholar (‘alim), tried to solve this problem by arguing that apostasy had no effect on the marriage contract, while at the same time proposing both that the conditions under which marriages could be dissolved should be made less stringent and that in the absence of a qadi, ‘ulama or other “righteous Muslims” acting together could dissolve a marriage in his stead.
Ahmad Riza Khan (Makers of the Muslim World) by Usha Sanyal