ISLAM IN SOUTH ASIA:
An Introduction

Spring 2009; MDES W3004; 3 points
MW 2:40-3:55 pm
Prof. Frances Pritchett

This course assumes no previous background in Islamic or South Asian studies. It will explore the coming of Islam to South Asia, its growth over time, and the development of South Asian Muslims' cultural, social, religious, and political life from the 11th century through the 21st. Readings will include not only scholarly works but also material (in translation) from chronicles, biographies, memoirs, novels, stories, and other primary sources.
Grades will be based on: first, two short (6-7 page) papers (20% each), which will be drawn from readings in primary sources, with much choice available; second, class attendance, oral presentations as assigned, and thoughtful discussion (20%); and third, a final exam (40%). Reading will amount to about 125-150 pages a week and will be of varying levels of difficulty.

The course has a very substantial website, located *here*. Because of the amount and kinds of material on it, the website has to be password-protected and open only to enrolled students (through Courseworks). If you are not an enrolled student, you can still find links to many relevant and publicly available resources through Prof. Pritchett's main website: http://www.columbia.edu/~fp7.

Much of the reading for the course (apart from a small number of books, listed below, to be purchased from Labyrinth) will be available through the website, as will a large number of maps, images and hyperlinks. Further information about the website and all other arrangements for the course will be provided in class. There may be a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum (specially arranged for us, since their Islamic Galleries are currently closed for renovation); a special visit to the Rare Books collection at Butler; and/or other such events, as opportunity offers.

~~ COURSE TOPICS ~~

WEEK ZERO: SETTING THE SCENE
The geography of western Asia and South Asia; the birth of Islam; sea routes; the Caliphate's expeditions to Sind in the 8th century. 
Readings from: Ikram, background materials

WEEK ONE: EARLY DAYS
The Khyber pass; Mahmud Ghaznavi; Ghazni and Lahore in the 11th century; short-lived but ambitious kingdoms in eastern Afghanistan.
Readings from: Ikram, Thapar, Ernst
Primary-source text: al-Hujwiri, Kashf ul-Mahjub

WEEK TWO: THE SULTANATE(S)
Early successes in the 13th century, rapid evolution, constant fluctuations, an equally swift breakup-- and to the northwest, the Mongols always looming.
Readings from: Ikram, Eaton
Primary-source text: Manjhan's Madhumalati

WEEK THREE: AKBAR AND HIS TIMES
An astonishing emperor-- with his Rajput-based politics, his religious eclecticism, his omnivorous interests, he was almost too creative for his own good.
Readings from: Ikram, Eaton, Alam
Primary-source text: Abu'l-Fazl, Akbar-namah

WEEK FOUR: THE MUGHAL EMPIRE
A large-scale collaborative project, supported by many local rulers for their own reasons, that might almost be called the "Mughal-Rajput empire."
Readings from: Ikram, Eaton, Richards
Primary-source text: Jahangir, Jahangir-namah

WEEK FIVE: AURANGZEB AND BEYOND
Succession struggles, troubles in the Deccan, European powers nibbling at the coasts, a slow but terminal decline-- does Aurangzeb deserve all the blame?
Readings from: Ikram, Eaton, Lal
Primary-source texts: Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire; Aurangzeb, Farewell

WEEK SIX: THE BRITISH ARRIVE
Mercantilism and expansion-- the East India Company is an important new player but fits quite well (at first) into the old power-politics games.
Readings from: Metcalf, Alam, Srikanth
Primary-source text: Dean Mahomed, The Letters of Dean Mahomed

WEEK SEVEN: REACTIONS
Not only the bloody revolt of 1857, but a complex range of other responses to the multifarious and ever-expanding reach of Company rule.
Readings from: Metcalf
Primary-source text: Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Causes of the Indian Revolt

WEEK EIGHT: URDU POETRY
A look at classical Urdu ghazal, one of the glories of world lyric poetry, and at the life of Ghalib, its last and greatest master.
Readings from: Naim and Petievich, Pritchett, Russell
Primary-source texts: Ghalib, Dastanbu (and letters, and one ghazal)

WEEK NINE: NEW IDEAS
A crucial moment of decision: should Muslims throw in their lot with the newly-formed "Indian National Congress," or should they organize separately?
Readings from: Metcalf, Hurst
Primary-source texts: Hali, An Immortal Life; Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, two crucial speeches

WEEK TEN: OTHER VOICES
What about Shi'ite Muslims? What about Muslim women? What roles have they played in South Asia, and how have they made their voices heard?
Readings from: Oldenburg, Cole, Hasan, Schimmel
Primary-source texts: Thanavi, Bihishti Zevar; Chughtai, "The Wedding Shroud"

WEEK ELEVEN: TOWARD INDEPENDENCE
The momentum builds, but what's the best way to get rid of the British? And how to decide what political structures should replace them?
Readings from: Metcalf, Rajmohan Gandhi, Akbar Ahmed
Primary-source texts: Iqbal, Jinnah, speeches; Manto, "Toba Tek Singh"

WEEK TWELVE: NOWADAYS
Plenty of blame to go around: the always-troubled Afghan-Pakistani border, the still-intractable struggle over Kashmir; but some grounds for hope
Readings from: Metcalf, Mishra, Traub, Kaplan
Primary-source text: Husain, Basti

WEEK THIRTEEN: OVERVIEW
Details to be announced; class members will be involved in choosing and presenting the materials.
Primary-source texts: readings from: Hasan & Asaduddin, Naim, some modern Muslims
 

COURSE WEBSITE: For access, log in through "Courseworks"
(The main course website URL  is password-protected)
 

List of texts to be purchased from BookCulture (formerly Labyrinth)
 

Richard M. Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Aditya Behl and Simon Weightman, trans. Manjhan's Madhumalati: an Indian Sufi Romance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Muzaffar Alam, The Languages of Political Islam: India 1200-1800. New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2004

Barbara D. and Thomas R. Metcalf, A Concise History of India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002; OR:
A Concise History of Modern India (Cambridge 2006), the second edition (with title change). Either one will be fine.

Ismat Cughtai, The Quilt and Other Stories. Tahira Naqvi, trans. Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY: Sheep Meadow Press, 1994.
 

 

 
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