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Formation of an ideal

Formation of an ideal

Period Most influential cultural figure Events

1747 AD
1766 AD

Shah Waliullah (1702-1762), a scholar of hadith from Delhi, embarked on a program to initiate the masses into “the secrets of religion.” Previously, these secrets had been kept hidden in monasteries. Waliullah named his most important book The Conclusive Argument of God.

In 1747, Ahmad Shah Abdali ascended the throne of Afghanistan and unified tribes to form the first “nation state” in the East. He also demanded that Punjab should secede from the Mughal Empire so that its revenue could go into the maintenance of Kabul. Sindh, Balochistan and Sarhad also shifted their allegiance from the Mughal Court to the Court of Abdali.

1767 AD
1786 AD

Mir Taqi Mir (1723-1810), one of the greatest Urdu poets, attributed most good things to the kafir, or the infidel and non-Muslim: “O Mir, he was a great infidel who first embraced the religion of love…”

By 1767 AD it became obvious that the old order was not going to last long: Bengal had fallen to the British in the Battle of Plassey (1757 AD) and the Mughal Emperor had accepted their authority through the Treaty of Allahabad (1765 AD).

1787 AD
1806 AD

Sachal Sarmast (1739-1829) lived in Sindh and is buried there but he wrote in almost all the languages spoken in Pakistan today: Sindhi, Punjabi, Saraiki, Persian and even Urdu.

Regional identities emerged in the sub-continent in unexpected ways: Sultan Hyder Ali of Mysore and his son Sultan Tipu put up brave fight against foreigners but they had to fight their national battles like regional chiefs. Sikhs, Kalhoras, Talpurs and other provincial rulers were the order of the day in North-West India.

1807 AD
1826 AD

Between 1807 and 1826, we find a growing interest in Urdu prose, mainly due to the influence of Mir Amman of Delhi, who wrote Bagho Bahar in simple Urdu in 1803. He had been commissioned by the British at Calcutta so he tried to adjust this Eastern classic to the tastes of the foreign officers.

The Mughal Emperor accepted protection of the British East India Company in 1803, and the Muslim political rule in India was over. Instability kept growing in the Muslim society as it tried to adjust itself to the loss of hope that power can return to it in foreseeable future.

1827 AD
1846 AD

Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869) assimilated many liberties within the folds of Islam and thus introduced a new collective identity for his people. It was an eclectic identity – “How about including hell in the paradise – to have more variety of landscape, if nothing else?”

The Mughal society at the time of Ghalib was different from that of Mir Taqi Mir. It was no longer a candidate to power.

1847 AD
1866 AD

Bahadur Shah Zafar (1775-1862) had no power over his people except the power of his poetry but they loved him and respected him. He held regular poetry recitals at his Fort, thus facilitating other poets to disseminate their work.

By 1846 AD it was obvious that the ruling Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II (better known by penname Zafar) was going to be the last. The British had announced that the dynasty would have to vacate the Red Fort, now its only possession, at the death of Zafar

1867 AD
1885 AD

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) realized that European science was the last missing link in the dream of offering a “conclusive argument of God” but the European mind could not reconcile spirituality with science and free inquiry. Syed named his landmark work, Essays On the Life Of Muhammad.

The disadvantages of the British rule turned out to be much greater than what the Muslims may have presumed. The former rulers turned into an impoverished minority, Islam lost its role in the evolution of civilization and its very existence became threatened by the Christian missionaries.


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