The Shiites pp 153-165 | Cite as

Muharram Liturgies and Hindu-Muslim Relations in Hyderabad

  • David Pinault


Although it is somewhat less celebrated than Lucknow as a center of Indian Shiite culture, Hyderabad in recent years has become arguably the best place in which to observe the celebration of Muharram in India. This is in part because of communal violence in other parts of the country. During the summer of 1989 no riots or other serious incidents marred Shiite observances in Hyderabad during the crucial first ten days of Muharram, whereas a number of other locations reported civil disturbances occurring especially on Ashura.1 In Lucknow over 600 persons were reported arrested for defying a government ban on public Muharram processions.2 Shiite community leaders had preached sermons in Lucknow calling for defiance of the ban; Kalbe Hussain, general secretary of the “youth wing” of the Shi’a Ali Congress, derided the prohibition on Muharram processions as a “partisan ban imposed on the Azadari processions in order to appease the Sunni lobby.”3 In describing the arrests in Lucknow, The Times of India reported that “responding to the call by the top Shia priest, Maulana Syed Kalbe Jawad, the protesters today [Ashura, August 13, 1989] raised anti-government slogans while courting arrest.”4


Communal Violence Municipal Authority Chief Minister Indian Express Religious Festival 
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  1. 8.
    Zahir Ahmed, Life’s Yesterdays: Glimpses of Sir Nizamat Jung and His Times (Bombay: Thacker & Co., Ltd., 1945), 198.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Asghar Ali Engineer, “Hyderabad Riots—An Analytical Report,” in A. A. Engineer, ed., Communal Riots in Post-Independence India (Hyderabad: Sangam Books India, 1984), 288–295; Theodore P. Wright, Jr., “Revival of the Majlis Ittihad-ul-Muslimin of Hyderabad,” in Omar Khalidi, ed., Hyderabad: After the Fall (Wichita: Hyderabad Historical Society, 1988), 132–141; Ratna Naidu, Old Cities, New Predicaments: A Study of Hyderabad (Delhi: Sage Publications, 1990), 23–27; “Three Dead in India in Scattered Clashes,” New York Times, September 19, 1984, p. All; “2 Die in Brawling in Turbulent Indian City,” New York Times, September 24,1984, p. A5.Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    Naidu, op. cit., pp. 125–133.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Ibid., pp. 132–133; Engineer, op. cit., p. 294.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    Naidu, op. cit., p. 128.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    See also Sadiq Naqvi, Qutb Shahi Ashurkhanas of Hyderabad City (Hyderabad: Bab-ul-Ilm Society, 1987), 69–71.Google Scholar
  7. 20.
    T. Vedantam, ed., Census of India 1971, Series 2, Andhra Pradesh: A Monograph on Muharram in Hyderabad City (Delhi: Government of India Press, 1977), 12–13.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Ibid., p. 69.Google Scholar
  9. 27.
    See for example M. L. Nigam, “Indian Ashur Khanas: A Critical Appraisal,” (where the author suggests that Bhakti devotionalism and ritual practices such as the rathyatra or public procession of idols helped incline Hindus to the acceptance of Shiite Muharram practices and the veneration of Husain); and Sadiq Naqvi, “The Socio-Cultural Impact of Karbala,” both in Red Sand, Mehdi Nazmi, ed. (Delhi: Abu Talib Academy, 1984), 115–123 and 211–220. See also Nadeem Hasnain and Abrar Husain, Shias and Shia Islam in India (Delhi: Hamam Publications, 1988), 151–156.Google Scholar

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© David Pinault 1992

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  • David Pinault

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