Indian Sufism since the Seventeenth Century Saints, Books, and Empires in the Muslim Deccan by Nile Green (London: Routledge, 2006. 210 pages.)

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Sajjad H. Rizvi



Based on his doctoral dissertation submitted to the University of London,
the present book is a wonderful study of the Sufis ofAurangabad (and, more
generally, in the Deccan realms of Hyderabad’s Nizams) and their consequent
legacy in independent India. Green builds upon earlier research on the
Muslim Deccan undertaken by Carl Ernst (Sufism at Khuldabad, which is
adjacent to Aurangabad) and Richard Eaton (Sufis of Bijapur) and brings to
the fore insights from religious studies on the nature of holy men and their
interaction with politics, words, and worlds.
The Deccan has a rich Muslim heritage: Persianate from the fourteenth
century and then dominated by the Mughals and their successor states from
the end of the seventeenth century. This heritage also accounts for the significance
of Sufis and their shrines in the region: theAurangabad shrines are an
important facet of this landscape, and this book is a welcome introduction to
them. Green also furthers the theoretical position of Ernst and Eaton: the centrality
of the cult of saints for Sufism means that the studies should focus on
shrines as “realms of the saint.” Sufism is thus not merely about masters and
disciples or obscure and metaphysical arguments about gnosis, enlightenment
and themarvellous; rather, it concerns sacred spaces and geographies of
spiritual vitality and currency centered on the saints’ shrines.
Starting fromAurangzeb’s conquest of the Deccan and establishment of
his capital at Aurangabad (the former Khirki of the Nizam Shahs) and following
through to the legacy of the Panchakki shrine in the 1990s, Green’s
work comprises five chapters that weave together an incisive textual analysis
of Persian and Urdu sources, readings of architecture as repositories of
Sufi text, and fieldwork among Aurangabad’s Sufis ...

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