The Archaeology of the Sufi Paradigm



This chapter focuses on the first step in the emergence of the Sufi paradigm. It began by the printing of a key work of vernacular Sufism—the Shah jo Risalo authored by Shah Abd al-Latif (d. 1752). The publication was funded by the commissioner in Sindh, Sir Bartle Frere, and undertaken by a German missionary, Ernst Trumpp. The objective was to make a reference text available to British officers and missionaries who wanted to learn Sindhi. This text perfectly reflected the religious situation in Sindh, where Muslims and Hindus frequented the same shrines that they could sometimes even share. The publication of this text would initiate a process of objectification of Sufism that would constitute the first stage of the Sufi paradigm. The chapter will also provide evidence that contrary to what the majority of the British and Europeans claim, the Sufi paradigm in Sindh was not built on the exclusive Persian Sufi pattern, as demonstrated by the Shah jo Risalo, who uses many local folk themes transformed into Sufi symbols. The chapter will conclude with a summary of the contents of the Sufi paradigm at this early stage.


  1. Ajwani, L. H., History of Sindhi literature, New Delhi, Sahitya Academy, 1970.Google Scholar
  2. Asani, Ali, “At the crossroads of Indic and Iranian civilizations: Sindhi literary culture,” in S. Pollock, Literary Cultures in History, Berkeley, Calif., 2003, pp. 612–646.Google Scholar
  3. Burton, Richard F., Sindh and the races that inhabited the Valley of the Indus, London, W. H. Allen, 1851.Google Scholar
  4. Gidumal, Dayaram, Something about Sind, Karachi, Commercial Press, 1882.Google Scholar
  5. Schimmel, Annemarie, Sindhi literature, Wiesbaden, Otto Harrasowits, 1974.Google Scholar
  6. Schimmel, Annemarie, Pearls from the Indus. Studies in Sindhi culture, Jamshoro-Hyderabad, Sindhi Adabi Board, 1985.Google Scholar
  7. Shackle, Christopher, “Keynote Address”, Sikh Formations, 2015, Vol. 11, Nos. 1–2, pp. 14–22.Google Scholar
  8. Shah Abd al-Latif, Shah jo Risalo, ed. Ernst Trumpp, Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1866.Google Scholar
  9. Sorley, H. T., Shah Abd al-Latif of Bhit. His poetry, life and times, London, Oxford University Press, 1940.Google Scholar
  10. Trumpp, Ernst, “Sorathi, ein Sindhi Gedicht aus dem grossen Divan des Sayyid Abdul-Latif, bekannt unter dem Namen Shah jo Risalo oder: Buch des Shah”, Die Zeitschriften der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 17/1863, pp. 245–315.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for South Asian StudiesSchool for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS)/National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)ParisFrance

Personalised recommendations