Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sources on the North Indian Shiʿi Hierocracy V: Tadhkirat al-ʿulamāʾ

In a blog post that I wrote on Warathat al-anbiyāʾ, the first in this series on sources on Shiʿi ʿulema in North India, I noted that the edition included appended to it an edition of Tadhkirat al-ʿulamāʾ of Sayyid Mahdī b. Najaf ʿAlī Riżavī ʿAẓīmābādī (d. c. 1270/1853), a student of ʿUmdat al-ʿulamāʾ Sayyid Muḥammad Hādī, grandson of Ghufrān-maʾāb. As his name suggests, Sayyid Mahdī was originally from Patna and was one of the elites of that city who were closely linked into the networks of Avadh under the nawabs. Important writers on the North Indian Shiʿi hierocracy such as Āqā Buzurg Ṭihrānī, Sayyid Iʿjāz Kintūrī and Sayyid ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Ḥasanī draw upon the Tadhkira. The text that is published was redacted on 7 Rabīʿ II 1263/March 1847 (the edition mistakenly gives the number 1293 in parentheses) in Rasūlpūr in Jaʿfarnagar in Etawah district. The important notices include Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī and his students (heavily reliant on Āyīna-yi ḥaqqnumā - in fact in a number of places he confirms the date of the completion of that text as 1231 H), Sulṭān al-ʿulamāʾ Sayyid Muḥammad his son, his other sons Sayyid al-ʿulamāʾ Sayyid Ḥusayn and Sayyid ʿAlī, Sayyid Muḥammad Hādī (the teacher of the author), and Mufti Sayyid Muḥammad ʿAbbās Shūshtarī (the author of Awrāq al-dhahab discussed here). Among these family portraits is a short notice on a prominent student of Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī, namely Sayyid Aḥmad ʿAlī (d. 1295/1878) of whom he says:

he was the confluence of being a sayyid and a perfect scholar, the manifestation of godly character traits and praiseworthy virtues, a perfect scholar and a virtuous sage, insightful jurist, a leader in the teaching of the religious sciences and the leading instructor of the sciences of the seminary, the scholars' resource in matters of theology, the source of compliance for scholars in matters of law, a perfect matter of both poetry and prose in both Arabic and Persian, pious and manly in a peerless manner such that he attracted the pleasure of the divine.

He was born in 1206/1791 in Muḥammadābād in Jaunpur. In 1224/1809 he moved to Lucknow and became a student of Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī. He wrote a number of works mainly in Persian such as a refutation of Akhbārīs, a paraphrase of the Risālat al-dhahab attributed to Imām Riḍā, a translation of the Ithnāʿasharīya on prayer by al-Shaykh Bahāʾ al-Dīn al-ʿĀmilī (d. 1621), and various treatises on controversies both internal to Shiʿi circles (on the permissibility of establishing the Friday prayer and allowing a sinful prayer leader to convene it) and external such as the proper mode of performing ablutions for prayer (contra the Sunni Ḥanafīs) as well as a refutation of one of the chapter of the Tuḥfa-yi ithnāʿasharīya of Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz. 

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