Social Mobility and the Set-Up of a Sufi Paradigm



This chapter analyzes the social transformation of Sindh and its impact on the building of a vernacular knowledge centering on Sufism. It argues that the numerous Sindhis who worked in British administration formed a new intelligentsia that was at the vanguard of spreading the Sufi paradigm: both Hindus and Muslims were key actors in the development of the Sufi paradigm. The Shah jo risalo was not only the main reservoir for constructing the Sufi paradigm, but it also became the embodiment of Sindhi identity at the end of the nineteenth century, highlighting two qualities: on the one hand, the interwoven Islamic and Hindu references in vernacular poetry, and on the other hand, the reference to local folklore motifs that “speak” to all Sindhis. The chapter also shows how two representations of Sufism collide: on the one hand, that of Sindhi intelligentsia, for which the Sufi paradigm functions as a cultural matrix to which all Sindhi can adhere, regardless of religion and social condition, and on the other hand, that of British officials who transform Sufism into an archaeological object. During the second half of the nineteenth century, the Sufi paradigm only developed from the Shah jo Risalo, overshadowing other Sufi works and devotional literature.


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© 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

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