By Usha Sanyal
Introduces the mythical chief of the nice 20th-century Sunni circulation.
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Additional info for Ahmad Riza Khan Barelwi: in the path of the prophet
Critics of this theory, of which there were many, argued that this position denies tawhid, the Oneness of God, for it makes humans the partners of God. “The whole universe is pervaded by a common existence, he argued, an existence both immanent and transcendent, but beyond that existence is the Original Existence of God” (Metcalf, 1982: 40). According to Metcalf, his espousal of the wujudi position led to its wide acceptance by later generations of Indian sufis. Shah Wali Ullah also sought to reconcile Sunni and Shi‘i Muslims, at a time of increased Shi‘a influence in the regional courts at Awadh and Bengal.
The founder of the Wahhabi movement was Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (1703–87). His message was an insistence on the unity of God (tawhid), which meant that all forms of superstition (the veneration of saints’ tombs, holy objects, and the like) were contrary to the worship of the one God. He believed that the first generation of Muslims, namely, the Prophet and his companions, were the models of true Islamic practice. He therefore rejected later developments in the history of Islam, particularly sufism and what he viewed as its excesses.
Shari‘at Ullah also believed that sufism should be limited to the few, for its esoteric teachings were likely to be misunderstood by ordinary believers. His teachings have been compared to those of the Wahhabis, whose ideas were familiar to Shari‘at Ullah from his long stay in Arabia. Rural Bengal at this time was in the midst of a severe economic depression brought about by the Permanent Settlement of 1793, which changed landholding patterns and rendered many peasants landless. These circumstances help us understand the anti-British aspects of the movement, for Shari‘at Ullah ruled that in the absence of functioning qazis and given the non-implementation of shari‘a law, Bengal was dar ul-harb (as some interpreted Delhi to have become after its occupation by the British in 1803), and that the congregational noontime prayer on Fridays was therefore not permissible.
Ahmad Riza Khan Barelwi: in the path of the prophet by Usha Sanyal