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A Corpus of Historiography

Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed

By Mushirul Hasan
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2008, pp 252,334,313,383, Rs.1195.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 8-9 August-September 2011

Mushirul Hasan is one of the most prolific historians specializing in the study of 'modern Indian history'. His corpus of work is vast and consists of several monographs. The fact that he has authored/ edited twenty volumes only with one publisher (Oxford University Press), among others, should give the reader an idea of his output. It is, therefore only fitting that OUP has published a single volume of four of his well known works. Hasan's work has largely concerned itself with exploring, analysing and assessing the South Asian Muslims and the politics of religion during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He has doggedly pursued this research area for well over three decades now since the completion of his doctoral degree at Cambridge. The volume under review spans Hasan's published works of over a decade starting from his well researched work on the status and condition of post-partition Muslims in India (Legacy of a Divided Nation: India's Muslims Since Independence) to his most recent work on Indian Muslims following a global concern with the image of Islam (Moderate or Militant: Images of India's Muslims). Between the publication of these two books he turned his attention towards the qasbas of Awadh (From Pluralism to Separatism: Qasbas in Colonial Awadh) and the Muslim intellectual renaissance in nineteenth century Delhi (A Moral Reckoning: Muslim Intellectuals in Nineteenth-Century Delhi). What binds these four works together is an empathy with the Indian Muslim and his role in the process of nation building, and in the creation of attitudes and the development of a plural culture which eventually loosened towards the time when partition took place. The subsequent role of Muslims in India has also been examined. Through his work Hasan sheds light on the inadequately researched role that South Asian Muslims played in the intellectual and political history of the subcontinent. While his writing is passionate, and occasionally laced with evident lament and nostalgia, there is no loosening of his academic rigour, and his method of historical analysis is solid. He patiently hacks and chips away at his sources and finds a wide variety of possible source material to construct his arguments. While his understanding and use of the theory of history is sound, he also does not ignore the questions of class, caste, status and adab which are so important in understanding Indian Islam. What is most important for this reviewer is that Hasan's work ...

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