SHAH ‘ABD AL-‘AZIZ -Puritanism, Sectarian Polemics and Jihad
The period studied in the present work, from the death of Shah Wali-Allah in 1176/1762 to the death at Balakot in 1246/1831 of Shah `Abd al-`Aziz’s disciple, Sayyid Ahmad Shahid, is marked by intense intellectual activity geared to examining the basis of the contemporary social, religious and economics institutions. The rapid conquests by the English, the dissolution of the Mughal rule and the decline of Muslim influence accelerated Muslim intellectual efforts to establish new political, social, economic and religious relationship vis_d-vis the foreign conquerors. This period also saw Sunni and Shi`i ideological differences developing into full-scale Sunni- Shi`i polemics, each side accusing the other of being heretics and infidels. The battles of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and Shah Isma`il against the popular religious practices and decadent Sufism culminated with Sayyid Ahmad’s jihad against the Afghan tribes and the Sikhs which created the divide into irreconcilable groups. An exceedingly rich polemical and doctrinal literature, written by the leaders of different movements and their followers, characterises this period. Volumes of their correspondence have been preserved and some contemporary biographical and historical material also survives. Modern authors have written whole books or chapters and articles on the basis of the Sunni material and have commented on the Shils too. The present work gives both Sunni and Shi`i material, presenting the voluminous Shi`i sources for the first time.