By Usha Sanyal
Introduces the mythical chief of the good 20th-century Sunni stream.
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Additional resources for Ahmad Riza Khan (Makers of the Muslim World)
After his return to India in 1823, Sayyid Ahmad toured the north for two years, organizing and making preparations. He proceeded in a westerly direction, intending to wage jihad from what is today Afghanistan. The shari‘a stipulates (following the Prophet’s example) that jihad be waged from a Muslim-ruled territory adjacent to a non-Muslim one. Accordingly, the target of the jihad movement was the Panjab, then ruled by the Sikh leader Ranjit Singh rather than the British. In 1831, after a series of military successes, Sayyid Ahmad was killed along with six hundred others as a result of skirmishes with local Afghans who resented the reforms (and taxes) sought to be imposed on them.
044 10/12/2004 5:11 PM Page 32 32 AHMAD RIZA KHAN BARELWI Entitled Taqwiyat al-Iman (Strengthening the Faith) and Sirat al-Mustaqim (The Straight Path), the first was published in Persian, but soon translated into Urdu, while the second was actually written in Urdu. The central theme of the Taqwiyat al-Iman is the claim that the Muslims of the time had deviated from the principle of tawhid, strict monotheism, by a number of objectionable practices representing a form of shirk (associationism or polytheism, the opposite of tawhid).
The Farangi Mahall ‘ulama believed that knowledge of these sciences was “crucial to the study of legal theory and jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) and of theology (‘ilm al-kalam), and expertise in them helped make many ... other disciplines accessible” (Zaman, 2002: 76). They also de-emphasized the study of sufism. The reason, Robinson explains, was that the ‘ulama at Farangi Mahall were seeking to train future lawyers, judges and administrators ... [whose] skills were in demand from the increasingly sophisticated and complex bureaucratic systems of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century India.
Ahmad Riza Khan (Makers of the Muslim World) by Usha Sanyal