By Usha Sanyal
Introduces the mythical chief of the good 20th-century Sunni move.
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Additional resources for Ahmad Riza Khan Barelwi: in the path of the prophet
On both issues we find everything from complete acceptance to total rejection. The reformers’ emphasis on authoritative texts, namely, the Qur’an which Muslims regard as the literal word of God, and secondarily the traditions of the Prophet (hadith), led to the first translations of the Qur’an. The Qur’an is learned and memorized in the original Arabic, but in India Muslims spoke Persian in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, or Urdu starting in the mid-nineteenth century, or a regional Indian language such as Bengali or Tamil.
1840), who returned to Bengal in 1821 after living in the Hijaz in western Arabia for many years. 044 10/12/2004 5:11 PM Page 34 34 AHMAD RIZA KHAN BARELWI among Bengali weavers and peasants, he preached renewed commitment to the duties of Islam (daily prayer, the Ramadan fast, and the pilgrimage, among other things). Shari‘at Ullah also believed that sufism should be limited to the few, for its esoteric teachings were likely to be misunderstood by ordinary believers. His teachings have been compared to those of the Wahhabis, whose ideas were familiar to Shari‘at Ullah from his long stay in Arabia.
A host of popular practices, such as prostration before a tomb, going on pilgrimage to a holy person’s tomb and making food offerings in honor of the deceased, and the like are cited as examples of the third kind of shirk. However, Sayyid Ahmad did not condemn sufism per se, only its perceived excesses. 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).