Contents – Lucknow’s Many Muslims (Issue 7)
Index - Lucknow's Many Muslims (Issue 7)
Index - Lucknow's Many Muslims (Issue 7)
By Prof. Nadeem Hasnain & Aseem Hasnain
Scholars have placed Lucknow as a space primarily constituted by the coming together of Awadhi and Persian ways of meaning making, but open to influences from many other quarters. Lucknow’s past and present show influence from the Kayastha communities from the Indo-Gangetic Plains, who formed the backbone of the Nawabi and, later, colonial bureaucracy, Kashmiri Brahmins, who served the court, and various Shia and Sunni cleric-scholar-poet refugees from Delhi and the Deccan, who came in search of patronage
By Mehru Jaffer
I imagine Lucknowiyat to be the art of receiving the other without prejudice and to cultivate a genuine interest in the way of life of other human beings without being judgmental. When I find myself celebrating virtues of charity, tolerance, generosity, good neighbourly conduct and taking solace in spirituality inspired by concepts like insaane-e-kamil, or perfect human being, it is not my Muslimness that is foremost in my heart but the more wholesome view of the world of Lucknowiyat.
By Saiyed Anver Abbas
Like other places, in Lucknow, too, calligraphers were required to demonstrate their calligraphic excellence in the Tahsili form to present verses from the Quran in larger size as inscriptions on religious buildings. Lucknow saw a Tughra inscribed on a religious building for the first time when an imambara was built by Mir Zain-ul- Abidin Khan during Nawab Asaf-ud -Daulah's rule. The Imambara was decorated with Tughra in the Ghair Tahsili form with attributes of Allah, the titles of the Prophet and the name of his daughter, Fatima, along with the names of twelve Imams.
By Nishat Haider
When the court and capital of Awadh was shifted from Faizabad to Lucknow by Asaf al-Daulah in 1775, Lucknow became the locus of tawaif-bazi (courtesan culture). In his book Tarrikh-e-Farahbaksh, Mohammad Faiz Baksh observed that the decline of Mughal Empire in the last quarter of the eighteenth century led to the mass exodus of female performers, tawaifs, nautch girls, the poets and artists from Delhi to Lucknow. Ensconced in the lavish houses in the bazaars of Chowk and Qaiserbagh, the tawa’ifs established themselves as a notable group of women in the eighty-odd years that the Awadh dynasty had Lucknow as its capital city, under the extravagant patronage of the Nawab, the connoisseurs of art, noblemen, merchants, and the elite. The tawa’ifs are not simply prostitutes or entertainers.
By Joel Lee
I was intrigued, then, to find the old Lal Begi conundrum still agitating Lucknow census enumerators sixty years after all that was supposed to have been settled. I was even more intrigued when the friends I began to make in the Balmiki community led me to their Lal Beg shrines. These were small but active shrines: shrines at which Muslims from neighboring bastis discreetly officiated, reading the fatihah and rendering sacrificial animals halal. The old caste prophet was not dead, after all.
By Christopher Taylor
In modern India, critics of madrasa education have termed it a ‘medieval’ and disorganized form of learning with little emphasis on job skills or modern subjects. Yet, existing urban madrasas such as Nadwa in Lucknow are accepting more students every year and new ones are opening in even more remote villages. This growth suggests that a sizable number of Muslims do not view madrasas as part of a burdensome past to be cast away in order to join India’s modern future. For many people I spoke with in Lucknow during my two years living there, Nadwa is still a valid route for educational advancement.
By Akhilesh Dixit
A strong supporter of education, Salim bhai keeps on asking vegetablesellers and other small shopkeepers to send their children to school rather than let them loiter at their shops. He believes that once educated, these kids will have the ability to question the misdeeds of our political and religious leaders who have turned the community into a mere vote bank. He sums up, “Ab main maulviyon ke ilm ki to izzat karta hoon magar unki nahi” (Now I don’t respect the clerics. I just respect knowledge).
By Himanshu Bajpai
The joy, the enthusiasm, and the energy with which Muslims in Lucknow have been known to celebrate Holi is one of the reasons why Lucknow has long been famous for its communal harmony. In the heart of the old city, Chowk’s famous Holi-baaraat (marriage procession) has been supervised and arranged for by Hindus and Muslims together since 1947. This procession, a symbol of Lucknow’s shared festivals, passes through predominantly Muslim areas like Chowk, Victoria Street, Akbari Gate, and Raja Bazaar.
By Navras Jaat Aafreedi
While a Holocaust film retrospective, the first ever in South Asia, was in progress at two universities in Lucknow - the Bābāsāhéb Bhīmrāo Ambédkar University and the University of Lucknow - in September – October 2009, the two most popular Urdu daily newspapers there, Rāshtriya Sahāra and Aag, published stories denying the Holocaust. The articles were largely based on the arguments made by the well-known Holocaust deniers, viz., David Irving, Harry Elmer Barnes, David Hoggan, Paul Ressinier, and Arthur R. Butz.
By Stefanie Strulik
Muslim middle class started to flourish again with the oil boom in the Middle East and labour migration and returning remittances. The ‘new’ Muslim middle class at times expressed its pursuit for upward social mobility in the form of a new religiosity and conservative understanding of Islam, as acquired during labour migration in the Gulf or Saudi Arabia.