Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Sources on the North Indian Shiʿi Hierocracy VI: Tarājim mashāhīr ʿulamāʾ al-Hind

Like the Warathat al-anbiyāʾ of Sayyid Aḥmad al-Hindī (d. 1947, discussed in the first of this series of blogposts), this text written by his kinsman Sayyid ʿAlī Naqī Naqavī (d. 1988), known as Naqqan ṣāḥib, in Najaf is a useful source for the ʿulamāʾ of North Indian not least from three lineages that I have already discussed on my blog in the context of the ʿulamāʾ of Avadh - the family of Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī (d. 1820), the lineage of Mīr Ḥāmid Ḥusayn Mūsawī (d. 1888), and the family of Muftī Sayyid Muḥammad ʿAbbās Shushtarī (d. 1889).  

I had been trying to get a hold of the text for some time so it was a matter of serendipity that I came across a reference to its publication in Karbala a few years ago via a survey of recent articles in a journal printed by the shrine of Ḥażrat ʿAbbās. I am grateful to my friend Mehdi Hamza for sourcing a copy for me. 

Naqqan ṣāḥib is a well known figure for those familiar with Shiʿi Islam in North India, the subject of a Virginia PhD dissertation in 2011 by Rizwan Zamir and a recent article in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society by Justin Jones

He was also a well known khaṭīb during the Muḥarram season. Here is a video from among the many of his speeches. 
[Most of these videos have been ripped from old VHS tapes and hence are rather poor in quality - 40 years old...]

The text in question was completed in Najaf on 17 Shaʿbān 1347/29 January 1929 and contains notices on 32 ʿulamāʾ divided into six successive generations from Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī to the time of the author. The first and longest entry is on his illustrious ancestor Sayyid Dildār ʿAlī. Other important entries include Mīrzā Muḥammad 'Kāmil' Dihlavī (d. 1235/1820) the first Shiʿi polemicist to respond to the Tuḥfa-yi isnāʿashariyya of Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, and Sayyid ʿAlī al-Ḥāʾirī, the exegete who settled in Lahore. The editors - who are not named - do a useful job of supplementing material by cross-referring to other accounts of these ʿulamāʾ. Compared to other works, it has a far more extensive discussion and listing of the scholarly works of these ʿulamāʾ and of their connections to the hierocracy in Najaf and Karbala. The editors also provide a very lengthy introduction to the author - far longer than the text itself as well as detailed appendices and a facsimile of some pages of the lithograph of the text that first appeared in 1350/1932 in Najaf (which actually mentions 53 figures discussed in the text).