Indian Muslims and India
When Flora Annie Steel published India in 1905 it had been 17 years since her residence there as part of the official Anglo-Indian community had ended, and almost 40 years since she first became acquainted with her subject.1 Sold primarily on the back of her phenomenal success as a writer of fiction for an equally Anglo-Indian and Metropolitan audience, it offered the prospective British traveller a poetic conspectus of Indian history, contemporary social ethnography and ‘insider’ shopping tips, packaged with all the proprietorial assurance of a seasoned India ‘hand’. Though rooted in the 1870s and 1880s during which her experience of the country was formed, Steel’s description of twentieth-century colonial India was to survive as a serviceable guide to its contemporary indigenous society for almost 20 years.2 Nowhere was its idiosyncratic Anglo-Indian perspective more surely displayed — and trusted by her readers — than with her depiction of the Muslims of India, a strata of Indian society set at the heart of her most popular novels.3 Indeed, as this study will demonstrate, such a portrait could only have been written by one so intimately bound up with the peculiar emphases of the post-‘Mutiny’ Raj.
KeywordsIndian Society Continuous History Serviceable Guide Late Colonial Travel Guide
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- Rafiuddin Ahmed, The Bengal Muslims, 1871–1906: a Quest for Identity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, repr. 1988; 1981)Google Scholar
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- In Ideologies, Thomas Metcalf gives a cogent precis of the morphology of the pervasive perception of Indian society through religion in the nineteenth century (see especially pp. 132–48). On the role of religion in the evolution of colonial law, see also, Michael R Anderson, ‘Islamic Law and the Colonial Encounter in British India’ in David Arnold and Peter Robb (eds) Institutions and Ideologies (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, 1993), pp. 165–85.Google Scholar
- 26.Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History, trans. J Sibree (New York: Dover, 1956), p. 173.Google Scholar