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Refractions of Islam in India: Situating Sufism and Yoga
Refractions of Islam in India: Situating Sufism and Yoga

Refractions of Islam in India: Situating Sufism and Yoga

by Carl W Ernst

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Sage Publications


9789351508915 - Year: 2016 - Pages: 498



Carl W Ernst
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Author: Carl W Ernst
Publisher: Sage Publications
Year: 2016
Language: English
Pages: 498
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9789351508915


The essays explore Sufism as it developed in the Indian subcontinent, including translations of previously unavailable texts, and revealing unexpected insights into the lives, practices, and teachings of Indian Muslims over nearly a thousand years. They also trace remarkable moments in the history of Muslim engagement with Indian religious and cultural practices.

This includes not only Muslim participation in Indian art and literature, but also the extraordinary role that Sufis have played in the practice of yoga. Employing new approaches to religious studies that avoid essentialism and ideological concepts of religion, and shorn of unnecessary jargon, these compelling essays will be easily accessible to a larger audience.


Publishing a volume of one's collected essays is an occasion for reconsideration of the trajectory of a scholarly career. In this case, Refractions of Islam in India gathers three decades of studies focusing on South Asian Sufism, and on Muslim reflections on the culture and religions of India. To my mind, and in my experience, this more than millennial tradition cannot be explained as the encounter of two separate cultures, notwithstanding the exclusivist claims underlying the partition of India from Pakistan, and the consequent acceleration of the politics of communalism.

A thorough consideration of the historical and cultural dossier prior to the ascendancy of European colonialism tells a different tale; in this narration, religion was not a separate identity, but a presence suffusing the rest of life, like light refracted in amber or glass. So striking is the lack of a sense of foreignness that it takes an effort to avoid reading contemporary conflicts into these texts from centuries ago.

This is not to say that there were no articulations of difference in pre-modern India; indeed, there were and are countless locations of identity defined along the lines of faith and devotion, caste and ethnicity, class and status. But the modern obsession with a binary opposition between Islam and Hinduism (or Buddhism) is remarkably inadequate to explain the rich and complex interactions that characterized much of what we now call South Asian Islam.





Part I: Sufism and Islam in South Asia

1. From Hagiography to Martyrology: Conflicting Testimonies to a Sufi Martyr of the Delhi Sultanate

2. Forgotten Sources on Islam in India

3. The Interpretation of the Classical Sufi Tradition in India: The Shama'il al-atqiya' of Rukn al-Din Kashani

4. Persecution and Circumspection in the Shattari Sufi Order

5. The Daily Life of a Saint, Ahmad Sirhindi (d. 1624), by Badr al-Din Sirhindi

6. Islam and Sufism in Contemporary South Asia

7. Reconfiguring South Asian Islam: From the 18th to 19th Century

Part II: Sufism, Yoga and Indian Religions

8. Sufism and Yoga According to Muhammad Ghawth

9. Admiring the Works of the Ancients: The Ellora Temples as Viewed by Indo-Muslim Authors

10. The Islamization of Yoga in the Amrtakunda Translations

11. Muslim Studies of Hinduism? A Reconsideration of Persian and Arabic Translations from Sanskrit

12. Situating Sufism and Yoga

13. Two Versions of a Persian Text on Yoga and Cosmology: Attributed to Shaykh Mu`in al-Din Chishti

14. Fragmentary Versions of the Apocryphal “Hymn of the Pearl” in Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Urdu

15. Accounts of Yogis in Arabic and Persian Historical and Travel Texts

16. Fayzi's Illuminationist Interpretation of Vedanta: The Shariq al-ma‘rifa

17. Being Careful with the Goddess: Yoginis in Persian and Arabic Texts

18. The Limits of Universalism in Islamic Thought: The Case of Indian Religions

19. A 14th-Century Persian Account of Breath Control and Meditation

20. Traces of Shattari Sufism and Yoga in North Africa

21. Indian Lovers in Arabic and Persian Guise: Azad Bilgrami’s Depiction of Nayikas

22. A Persian Philosophical Defense of Vedanta

Bibliography of the Publications of Carl W. Ernst


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