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Arabic in India: a survey and classification of its uses, compared with Persian.

Arabic in India carries an almost absolute Islamic identity, to the extent that even the study of pre-Islamic pagan poetry is ascribed to a spiritual impetus. This is not surprising, for it is generally acknowledged that the Arabic language has a predominantly sacred character outside the Arabic speaking Middle East. However, the functional manifestation of the language in the subcontinent has great historical significance and has not been systematically explored. (1) To this end, this paper presents a survey of the uses of Arabic in India from its arrival in the eighth century through the twentieth, under the following eight-part classification: liturgy, teaching and study, nomenclature, inscriptions, vocabulary assimilation, composition of religio-scholarly texts, composition of secular-scholarly texts, and marginal utilitarian uses. Details of the uses of Persian--the other major foreign language brought here by Muslims, which flourished side by side with Arabic for many centuries--are offered here as foil, inasmuch as they bring into sharper focus the scriptural face of Indian Arabic.

The first acquaintance of the residents of the Indian subcontinent with the Arab people came about when Arab sailors first docked at Indian ports in order to acquire spices in pre-Islamic times, perhaps as far in the past as 50 C. E. This early trade contact occurred two centuries before Arab was attested as a distinct language in the Arabian Peninsula in the third century. Trade contacts persisted, and at some point in time, through Arab traders, Indians must have gained rudimentary acquaintance with the Arabic language. In the seventh century, the Arabian Peninsula witnessed the birth of Islam, and the majority of Arabs became Muslim. One century later, in 711, the Arab-Muslim Umayyad commander Muhammad b. al-Qasim al-Thaqafi invaded and conquered the western Indian province of Sind. Arab Muslims settled there, and with their colonization of Sind came India's first substantial and sustained contact with both the religion of Islam and the Arabic language. At this time, Indians began to convert to Islam. (2) The initial act required of any convert, the recitation of the Islamic creed of faith, "[la ilaha ill.sup.a] 'llah, [muhammad.sup.un] [rasul.sup.u] 'llah" (There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God), had an Arabic linguistic frame, which meant that Indian converts to Islam came into contact with Arabic through their very first religious experience. Arabic also had religious prestige as the language of Islamic scripture, believed by the majority of Muslims to be inseparable from the message; (3) moreover, familiarity with the Arabic Qur'an was deemed necessary for the correct ritual practice of Islam. (4) For these reasons, Indian exposure to the Arabic language was primarily through the medium of religion, and Arabic came to India as the language of Islam.

Non-sacred Arabic hegemony was promoted in many parts of the world by political, social, and economic factors. So much so, that in some of the lands conquered by the Arab Muslims, such as Coptic-speaking Egypt, (5) Arabic almost entirely displaced and replaced the local languages. In India, however, this did not happen, mainly because Arab Muslims did not have political control over more than the western provinces, and this control was for a limited time. The major Muslim dynasties in India were of Turkic origin, and their cultural language was, in the main, Persian. Other than the colony in Sind, Arab Muslim presence in India was constituted by small and early Arab trader settlements of mostly Yemeni and Basran descent on the Malabar coast (details in section VIII), by limited contingents of Yemeni mercenary soldiers employed by various Muslim rulers, and by occasional Arab visitors. Thus, Arab Muslims never really had a major presence in India. The locals continued for the most part to use their own Indo-European and Dravidian languages, with Arabic playing a subsidiary (albeit religiously significant) linguistic role.

Historically, Arabic has been used in India almost exclusively by its Muslim population, and has been a key force in delineating and shaping Indian Muslim identity (6) Currently, it is used almost solely by the 13.19 million Muslims who form 13.43 percent of the total 1.03 billion Indian population. (7) Conversely, almost all Muslims in India appear to have some acquaintance with Arabic. From the early eighth century, Arabic in India has borne an Islamic identity, which has continued to be elaborated and strengthened through the thirteen centuries of its use under Muslim, Hindu, and British rule. The succeeding dynasties of Muslim rulers--including the Ghaznavids, Ghurids, slave-Sultans, Khaljis, Tughlaqs, and Lodis in and around Delhi, the Bahmanis and Adil-Shahis in the Deccan, the Shah-Mirs in Kashmir, the Sultans in Gujarat, the Ilyas-Shahis in Bengal, and the powerful Mughal emperors who ruled the entire Indian subcontinent--all these dynasties, even though the language of their court administration was one of the Indian languages or Persian, continued to patronize Arabic-Islamic scholars and to promote the study of Arabic for religious purposes. In 1947, after India gained independence from British rule and was partitioned, Pakistan and later Bangladesh developed vis-a-vis Arabic in different directions--such as the proposals voiced in Pakistan by various political groups in the 1950s and 1970s that Arabic be adopted as the national language (8)--which fall outside the scope of this article. In India, in the decades following Independence, Arabic usage was also modified in minor ways, but its Islamic identity was preserved and continues to be preserved today. Considering the future of Arabic usage in India, among the factors inhibiting it is the decline of Persian and Urdu and with it the decline of the Arabic-script reading populace. Some positive influences are India's growing economic prosperity (and subsequent rise in education) combined with Islamic revivalist trends. It will be interesting to see how the conflicting forces play out.

Let us compare the history of Arabic in India to that of Persian. (9) Persian flourished in the subcontinent from the twelfth through the nineteenth centuries (especially from the late sixteenth through the eighteenth), largely with court patronage. It had a prominent place in Indian society at all levels, in both its Muslim and non-Muslim segments, with mainly literary and government functions, as well as Sufi religious ones. The earliest formal relationship between India and Persian was formed with the establishment of Ghaznavid power in Punjab in the early eleventh century, when a high literary tradition of Persian, primarily poetic, took root. By the time of the conquest of north India in the twelfth century by the Turkish Ghurids, Persian had evolved as a literary language throughout Central Asia, and under the patronage of the Delhi Sultans, Persian writers, scribes, and poets flourished through the early fifteenth century, particularly when Sikandar Lodi (r. 1488-1517) completely Persianized the administration. When Chingiz Khan invaded the Perso-Islamic world in the thirteenth century, many Persian speakers migrated to northern India, and a coherent Perso-Islamic identity (in opposition to Arab culture) was linked positively with the term "'Ajam." Under the Mughals, particularly Akbar (r. 1556-1605), there was an efflorescence of Persian literary culture in a large part of India, and Persian became the first language of the king and the court. Akbar formally declared it the language of the Mughal administration at all levels; it thus became an important tool for career advancement, particularly in the civil service. Persian also became a second language, perhaps even something approaching a first language, for many Indians. But with the waning of Mughal power and patronage, Persian declined rapidly in India; particularly when the rising British colonial power replaced it with English as the language of administration and education in India in 1835. Its use in the beginning of the twenty-first century has narrowed to a tiny number of scholars.

A word should be added here about the sources for this study. In addition to synthesizing data from disparate multilingual secondary works such as those listing madrasas (religious schools) of India and bibliographies of Indian-Arabic texts, this paper stems from research conducted in varied primary source materials. Some of these original sources are Arabic books and poetry composed in India, manuscript catalogues of Indian libraries, madrasa curricula, inscriptions on monuments and tombs, and catalogues of inscriptions and coins. Additionally, I have included findings from field work conducted in India for brief periods over the past several years, including interviews with Indian Muslim scholars of Arabic, visits to madrasas and monument sites, observation of Muslim nomenclature, and examination of Arabic vocabulary incorporation.

With brief remarks pointing out the analogous or divergent uses of Persian where relevant, the following pages present a detailed survey and classification of the uses of Arabic in India.


One of the most common uses of Arabic in India is liturgical. This includes Qur'anic recitation, litanies (tasbih), prose prayers (dua), formulaic expressions connected with the ritual prayer (salah), Sufi chants (dhikr), and the chanting of religious poetry (qasida, na't, munajat, and marthiya).

The recitation of the Arabic Qur'an is considered by Muslims a meritorious act and forms an important part of their religiosity. In India, Muslims recite the Qur'an avidly, but generally without understanding the literal meaning. Nevertheless, they still see it as an act that brings the reciter closer to God and wins him or her divine grace (baraka) and light (nur). Qur'anic recitation in India takes place in homes, masjids, madrasas, and other venues, at different times of the day or night, individually or communally, at religious and social gatherings or as part of a daily religious routine, throughout the year, but most especially during the month of Ramadan, audibly or inaudibly, in sophisticated and melodious recitation (tartil or tajwid), or in plain, elementary recital. Since a significant number speak Urdu (in 2003, roughly 25 million) (10) or other Indian languages written in the Arabic script, they can, if they are literate--thus, roughly half of all Indian Muslims (11)--de facto read and write the Arabic script. Since Qur'anic recitation in the original Arabic is an integral part of the mandatory ritual prayer (salah), those who can read and those who cannot all consider it a religious obligation to memorize suras. They most commonly learn by heart the shorter suras, including al-fatiha, al-nas, al-falaq, al-ikhlas, al-kawthar, al-nasr, and al-qadr. They also recite al-fatiha for the benefit of a deceased soul and upon visits to the shrine of a saint.

Uniquely in the Indian subcontinent, Qur'anic suras are subdivided into 557 thematic ruku (lit. bowing). They are so named because they signal the moment of the ruku' within the tarawih prayer performed nightly by Sunni Muslims in Ramadan; through the course of the month, the prayer leader recites the entire Qur'an, dividing his recitation according to these markers--roughly, one ruku' per tarawih rak'a. (12) Muslims outside South Asia generally follow purely length-oriented hizb divisions. The ruku' are also important in the communal Qur'an dawr (lit. cycle or turn) recitation held in several Indian Muslim communities, where each person present audibly recites in turn a ruku' of the Qur'an while the audience listens and follows along. Ruku' divisions are marked only in the Qur'an editions published in India and Pakistan, and they are denoted by the last letter of the word, 'ayn. (A major Indian-Pakistani Qur'an publishing house is the Taj Company, and the ruku' divisions may be observed in their Qur'ans.)

Arabic litanies (tasbih or wird, pl. awrad) are frequently employed. These include Qur'anic verses, such as in [kull.sup.u] [] lamma 'alayha hafiz (Each soul has a protector), wa-idhd [maridt.sup.u] fa-huwa yashfin (If I become ill, He is the one who cures me), and ala bi-[dhikr.sup.i] l-lah' [tatma'inn.sup.u] l-qulub (Indeed, it is by remembering God that hearts are comforted). They also take the form of pious, non-Qur'anic invocations, such as la [hawl.sup.a] [wala quwwat.sup.a] illa [bi-l-lah'.sup.i] l-caliyy(i) l-'azim (There is no strength or power save through God Most High Most Mighty) and allahumma salli 'ala [] wa-[ala al.sup.i] muhammad(in) wa-barik wa-sallim (O God, bless Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad and give [them] grace and well-being). Invocations of the names of Sufi saints are also used as litanies, such as yd 'Abd al-Qadir (O 'Abd al-Qadir!), and in the case of Shi'ite Muslims (particularly, but not exclusively), the names of the Five Pure Ones, such as yd Muhammad (O Muhammad!) and yd (Ali (O Ali!). Other common litanies are short Arabic phrases in praise or supplication of God, such as [subhan.sub.u] l-lah (May God be praised!), [al-hamd.sup.u] li-lah (All thanks and praise are due to God!), or [astaghfir.sup.u] l-lah (I ask God for forgiveness). These phrases and verses are repeated over and over, often forty, or one hundred, or one thousand times, or in another number having symbolic significance. Sometimes, a rosary (also called tasbih, like the verbal noun) is used to count the number of recitations; at other times, the fingers of the right hand are used; (13) occasionally, no count is made.

The liturgical recitation of Arabic prose prayers (du) composed by medieval Middle Eastern savants and later, Indian ones, is a common practice. Both tasbih and du a, although they may be recited at any time during the day or night, are most often performed at specific times: (i) following the salah, (ii) as part of a morning liturgical ritual, or (iii) just prior to sleeping at night. Before, within, and after the prayer ritual, worshippers recite formulaic Arabic phrases. These expressions differ somewhat according to the denomination of the worshipper. Before the salah is the Arabic call to prayer (adhan and iqama) that contains phrases mostly culled from the shahada; its gist is somewhat comprehensible even to the lay person. After the salah, Arabic du'a and tasbih are recited. These are considered optional and have a wide range.

Chanting of Arabic religious poetry is customary in private or public gatherings, and at various times. Most often, this religious poetry is composed in praise of the Prophet Muhammad--in Arabic and other languages (14)--and is called na't (lit. description), salam (lit. greeting of peace), or qasida (lit. ode). The birthday of the Prophet on the twelfth day of Rabi' al-Awwal is a favorite occasion for recitation of na't. Arabic panegyrics are also composed and sung for the Shi'a Imams and the Sufi saints. Another kind of religious poetry that is often composed in Arabic and chanted is the munajat (Arabic "private dialogue"). In the Da'udi Bohra (Shi'ite Ismaili Tayyibi) community, munajat poems are composed to commune with God and are often recited in Ramadan. In the Twelver Shiite and Nizari Khoja communities, they also include poems addressed in a plea for succor to the Imam. Poetry mourning Husayn (marthiya) is usually recited in Indian languages, but Arabic elegies are also performed.

Sufi orders such as the Naqshbandis and Chishtis often use Arabic in their ritual remembrance of God (dhikr), which contains, among other things, repetitious recitation of the names of God and of certain suras, especially those which begin with the word "Say!" (qul). Sufi orders also use a great deal of Persian poetry in their dhikr sessions. They sing it in concert in the courtyards of Sufi shrines, such as the mausoleum of Salim Chishti in Ajmer. The ghazals and mathnawis of Rumi, Hatiz, and Jami, are also popular, as well as the Persian and Urdu poetry of Indian Sufi shaykhs, particularly Amir Khusraw, and others such as Hamid al-Din Nagawri, Amir Hasan, and Nur Qutb-i Alam. The Sufi-oriented Indian qawwali (similar to sama in Central Asia and Turkey) is a musical recitation of poetry, usually in Urdu and Punjabi, but sometimes fully in Persian, or containing opening verses in Persian and Arabic. Amir Khusraw is credited with the founding of the qawwali genre in the late thirteenth/early fourteenth century. Its repertoire includes songs of hamd (praise of God), na't (praise of Muhammad), manqabat (praise of Ali), marthiya (elegy on Husayn), and ghazal (love poem with two simultaneous registers, secular and spiritual).

Thus, the use of Persian in Indian Muslim liturgy is mostly Sufi and poetic, versus that of Arabic, which although making use of the poetic tradition, as well as prose prayers and pious litanies, is based primarily on Qur'anic sricpture.


The religious need of Indian Muslims to learn Arabic gave rise over the centuries to a large number of religious schools catering only to Muslim students, called maktab and madrasa. (15) (The terms are somewhat fluid, the word madrasa sometimes being used to denote a maktab; other terms used are hifz-khana for Quran memorization schools, and jamia or dar al-ulum for higher education institutes. In premodern times, the term madrasa was also used for secular schools with both Muslim and Hindu students.) Maktabs imparted primary learning focusing on Qur'an recitation and memorization of suras, and, by extension, a basic knowledge of the Arabic language, particularly the script. They also taught Shari'a precepts, particularly those relating to the ritual prayer (salah), the ritual purification (wudu'), the two calls to prayer (adhan and iqama), and formulae recited within the ritual prayer. At more advanced levels, they taught some Qur'an interpretation and prophetic Traditions (Hadith). Maktabs continue to flourish in India today, in masjids or independent institutions, with the inclusion in modern times of a rudimentary secular component, comprising basic arithmetic and elementary literacy in the local vernacular. (16) In addition, today many Muslim children who otherwise go to secular school or do not go to school at all also receive part-time religious education at home by professional mullas/maulvis or parents, or at after-school parttime maktabs. This home instruction is entirely focused on religion, the Qur'an, and Arabic.

Madrasas have generally been for more advanced religious learning and Arabic has been an important component of their curriculum. Many have "Arabic madrasa" as part of their name, such as the Madrasa 'Arabiyya Jami'a Imdad al-'Ulum in Zaydpur, and Madrasa 'Arabiyya Dar al-Ta'lim in Muhallapura Sufipur, both in Uttar Pradesh. (17) By the tenth century, the first ad hoc madrasas in India were established in Sind in the towns of Mansura and Multan, and were associated with the local masjids. In the last decade of the twelfth century, the Turk invader Muhammad Ghuri (d. 1206, founder of real Muslim dominion in India) established formal madrasas in the town of Ajmer in North India. Soon thereafter, his successor's successor Sultan Iltutmish (d. 1236) established the first madrasa in Delhi and one in Badaun, and in the following decades, madrasas sprang up all over northern India. Then, over the next seven centuries of partial or full Muslim rule, until the deposition of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1857 by the British, madrasas proliferated in all parts of India into the hundreds, either associated with, or independent of, masjids. In the nineteenth century, the new colonial power promoted Western-style secular education, particularly English, and the Arabic language (and Persian) diminished in importance. Many madrasas were adversely affected, but several new ones such as Deobandh and then Nadwa (details later) were instituted by Islamic salafy revivalists deliberately to counter the colonial approach and bolster traditional religious education. Paradoxically, most of the important madrasas existing today were established during the British Raj. In these institutions, in the words of a modern scholar, "Arabic, being the language of the original sources of Islam, was to be the major focus of study. It was, so to speak, not only a language but the major linguistic symbol of Islamic identity and Muslim resistance to modernity." (18)

The curriculum followed in these madrasas through the centuries focused on Islam as a subject and Arabic as a tool. Until the fifteenth century, the principal subjects of study in madrasas were the religious sciences (in Arabic) of Qur'an exegesis, Hadith, jurisprudence, Sufism, theology, history, the related subjects of Arabic grammar and literature, and some logic and philosophy, also in Arabic. Approximately the same curriculum was followed all over India. The course was based on Arabic texts with works from the classical (Middle Eastern) canon being studied, such as Tqfsir Ibn Kathir, Zamakhshari's Kashshaf, Tafsir al-Baydawi, al-Muwatta', al-Sahihayn, al-Hidaya fi al-furu', Talkhis al-miftah, 'Awarif al-ma'arif, Fusus al-hikam, Hxdayat al-nahw, Sharh mi'at 'amil, and al-Kafiya. A few modifications to this curriculum were made in the fifteenth century, when a couple of medieval Arabic science texts were added, and again in the eighteenth century by Shah Wali Allah (d. 1760). Some years later, Mulla Nizam al-Din (of Sihali near Lucknow, d. 1748) proposed a new Arabic curriculum, later to become famous as the Dars-i Nizami. (19) He confirmed several Arabic religious and grammatical texts already in use, and, for the first time in Indian madrasa history, added Arabic texts on jurisprudence, logic and philosophy composed by Indian savants, such as Mulla Jiwan of Amethi (d. 1718), Mir Muhammad Zahid al-Harawi (d. 1700), and Mulla Mahmud Jawnpuri. This curriculum was adopted almost immediately all over India and continues to be used to this day with some amendments, including the addition of non-religious subjects such as mathematics and English. In the late eighteenth century, salafi madrasas purged the syllabus of Sufi texts (Arabic and Persian). Shi'ite madrasas follow different curricula with regard to religious texts, but usually the texts used for the study of Arabic grammar and rhetori, perhaps even some literature and philosophy, are the same as those prescribed by the Dars-i Nizami.

The number of full-time Arabic madrasas in 1996 was 757. (20) The best known madrasas of India today are in the northern part of the country in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Deo-bandh in this state is the home of the famous madrasa named Dar al-'Ulum (21) (founded 1866), which has around two thousand students from India and other countries of South and East Asia, a large library (133,070 printed books and 1,563 manuscripts), and focuses almost completely on religious education. (22) A modern Indian scholar calls it a "mother institution"' for Indian Muslim educational centers. (23) Another well-known madrasa in this state is the Dar al-'Ulum Nadwat al-'Ulama' (24) in Lucknow (25) (founded 1893), with 1,500 students, seventy professors, and a strong research orientation. It focuses on religious learning, particularly Arabic, but includes some secular sciences as well. Its focus is on subjects, as opposed to the text-based approach of other, traditional madrasas. Both the above are Sunni institutions, the Deobandh madrasa a strongly salafi one. Two important Twelver Shi'ite madrasas are also in the same town of Lucknow, the Madrasat al-Wa'zin (26) (founded 1919) and the Jami'a Nazimiyya (27) (founded 1890). In Western India, the leading Muslim educational institution is in Surat, the Jami'a Safiyya (28) (founded 1813) of the Da'udi Bohra Tayyibi Shia denomination, with 149 professors and 717 students (440 men, 277 women) from India and outside India in 2006, and a large library. In Central India, the foremost madrasa is the Daral-'Ulum Taj al-Masajid (29) (founded 1948) in Bhopal. South India, especially the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh, also contain several important madrasas.

The method of teaching Arabic in these madrasas is grammar-centered and text-oriented. The focus is on reading and understanding classical Arabic texts. Speaking skills are not emphasized, but stylized prose writing skills (insha') are given some attention. Generally, modern proficiency-based techniques are not used, although there is a slow move towards their utilization. Rote memorization is favored over analysis.

The British colonial government in India de-emphasized religious madrasa education; they focused on the creation of institutions of secular learning which they claimed would make the world's academic and scientific progress accessible to the Muslims of India. Arabic in these institutions was initially somewhat marginalized and "orientalized," both in terms of teaching method and modified curriculum. The change of direction was often administered by Muslim modernist reformers rather than directly by the British. Thus, three modern-style Muslim universities (which were open to non-Muslim students) came into being: Aligarh Muslim University, (30) the first Muslim institution of secular learning, was founded in 1875 in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, by the reformist Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan; it attained the status of a university in 1921, and currently has two full departments of Islamic Studies, viz., Arabic studies and theology. The Jamia Millia Islamiyya (31) has a more clearly Islamic bent, and aims to offer modern secular education simultaneously with religious education. It was founded in 1920 in Aligarh, and moved to Delhi in 1925. The Jamia Osmania University (32) in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, was established in 1917 by the Nizam of Hyderabad; it has a department of Islamic studies in which Arabic is taught, and where research in Islamic studies (mostly Arabic-based) is encouraged. The issues related to the teaching of Arabic in these universities and in other institutions in India have been the subject of several conferences and monographs. (33) Furthermore, the Arabic language is offered as an academic subject in a few non-denominational universities. (34) This phenomenon is less significant from a sacred language point of view, but it is interesting to note that the students who learn Arabic in these universities are most often heritage students who do so for religious reasons.

Let us take a quick, comparative look at the teaching of Persian in India. Increasingly from the thirteenth century, Persian was taught in maktabs and madrasas as well as Sufi khanqahs (lodges). (35) Madrasa pupils studied the Persian literary classics, such as Sa'di's Gulistan and Bustan, Hafiz's Diwan, Jami's Yusuf wa Zulaykha, and Rumi's Mathnawi. They also read ethical texts such as Nasir al-Din Tusi's Akhlaq-i Nasiri, and historical works such as Abu al-Fadl's Akbar-nama, as well as treatises on theology, medicine, tales, prosody, and rhetoric. Epistolography was a key Persian language subject. At the preliminary and secondary stages, the study of Persian preponderated, and, in fact, the medium of instruction in many madrasas was Persian. (36) From the time of Sikandar Lodi in the fifteenth/sixteenth century, the introduction of non-religious themes into the syllabi at middle levels had stimulated a wide application to Persian studies. Large numbers of Hindus joined madrasas to acquire training in the Persian language and literature, with the intention of pursuing civil service careers. (37) Sufi khanqahs also played a critical role in popularizing the Persian language. (38) Devotees studied Persian to be able to read Sufi texts, particularly the teachings of the Sufi masters called malfuzat. Some khanqahs served almost as full fledged madrasas. There was provision for teaching not only Persian and Arabic Sufi texts, but also texts in both languages on Hadith. Qur'an exegesis, jurisprudence, logic, and grammar. (39)

In the nineteenth century, after the end of the Mughal period, the study of Persian in Indian madrasas declined rapidly. When English replaced Persian as the official administration language, the career incentives for studying the latter disappeared. Madrasas which had earlier combined religious and civil service training now functioned mainly as religious institutions. In contrast, the demand for Arabic continued to be strong among Indian Muslims for spiritual reasons. In a 1996 study of religious schools in India, the number of Persian madrasas in India is listed as 12, compared to the 757 Arabic madrasas mentioned earlier. In a side comparison, this study lists 264 Urdu madrasas and 2,275 Sanskrit pathshalas. (40) A glance at some State Board madrasa curricula, as well as the Central Waqf Board madrasa curriculum, reveals the focus of the course to be on Arabic-related material in the fields of scripture (and scripture-related), grammar, and belles-lettres; Persian texts on grammar, belles-lettres, and poetry form a small, often optional part of the syllabus. (41)


Side by side with names of Persian or Indian origin, Muslims in India and converts to Islam often adopt Arabic personal names. (42) In the vast majority of cases, these Arabic names have a religious association: they are often names of important religious personages such as Muhammad (or Ahmad), 'Ali, and Fatima, or names having some religious context, such as Tasnim (name of a river in Paradise). Other names such as Anjum (stars) or Rafiq (companion) are not connected with religion. Parallel to the adoption of the name Maria by women in Spain, many Indian Muslim males who are not named by one of the Prophet Muhammad's names commonly adopt Muhammad as their first name and another, relatively less common one such as Hasan or Halim, as their second. They are usually called by both names together (viz. Muhammad Hasan) or by the second name only.

Compound names are common, usually in an idafa construct, often with a "servant of" first term, frequently with one of the names of God as the second part: 'Abdullah (servant of Allah, male), Amatullah (servant of Allah, female). Probably due to the fact that most Indian Muslims do not understand Arabic grammar and vocabulary well, they sometimes inadvertently adopt the names of God--such as Rahman (the Merciful) and Jabbar (the Most Powerful)--without a "servant of" prefix. In other compound names, the second term is often the name of the Prophet Muhammad or one of his family, such as Ghulam Rasul (servant of the Messenger), Banda-i-'Ali (servant of 'Ali), or 'Abd al-Husayn (servant of Husayn). As seen in these examples, the terms for "servant" are either in Arabic ("abd" and "ama") or in other languages such as Persian ("ghulam" and, less commonly, "banda"), with the result that there are several compound names formed from two languages. Sometimes the first part is an active participle, such as Dhakir-Husayn (one who remembers Husayn, pronounced Zakir-Husayn), or a verbal noun such as Fadl-al-Rahman (grace of the Merciful, pronounced Fazlur-Rahman).

Also prevalent are pseudo-Arabic names that contain two Arabic words in a construct form whose semantic sense is unclear. The following are a few examples: Abu al-Kalam, the name of an Indian Muslim freedom fighter, meaning "Father of Speech"; Islam al-Din, the name of a man from Bihar, meaning "The Islam of religion"; Sami Allah, the name of a man from Uttar Pradesh, meaning "God's namesake," or, if actually "Sami' Allah" with an 'ayn, "The One Who Hears Allah."

In contrast, Persian first names are more often associated in India with the Parsi community, Zoroastrians who migrated from Persia in the eighth century. They often select names of ancient heroes such as Rustam and Jamshid from the Shahnama tradition, and of characters such as Shirin (sweet one) from poetic love mythology. They also use descriptive names with a literary substratum, such as Dilnawaz (gracious one) and Mehru (moonfaced one). Indian Muslims take some Persian names such as Shirin, but do not adopt the names of the Persian kings.

Titles in India have frequently been in Arabic. More prevalent than the few secular ones adopted by kings and ministers--such as Nasir al-Dawla (one who aids the state) and Malik al-Sharq (king of the east)--are titles of religious significance. The Arabic word "din" (religion) has been and continues to be used as a favorite second term of the compound title. It is also quite common in personal names, usually as a namesake of an earlier savant. Religious titles include titles of kings and ministers, but mainly comprise ones conferred on Muslim savants: Nizam al-Din (order of religion), Farid al-Din (unique in religion), Ghiyath al-Din (refuge of religion), Sayf al-Din (sword of religion), Burhan al-Din (proof of religion), and Qutb al-Din (pivot of religion).

In contrast, Persian titles of Indian rulers are usually related to sovereignty, such as Alamgir (conqueror of the universe), Jaqhangir (conqueror of the world), Jahanpanah (succor of the world), Shah Jahan (king of the world), Awrangzeb (ornament of the throne), Bahadur Shah (brave king), and Thurayya Jah (one with the lofty station of the Pleiades). Mughal emperors often had both "something of din (religion)" titles in Arabic and ones related to kingship in Persian. Titles denoting nobility are often also in Persian, such as Mirza (prince, noble), Beg (lord, prince), and Begum (lady).

Thus, comparing Arabic and Persian nomenclature in India, Arabic names and titles are most often related to religion and are from the religious tradition, whereas Persian ones are more often kingly or literary.


Indian Muslim rulers utilized Arabic to inscribe religious texts--particularly Quran verses--on masjids, mausoleums, madrasas, coins, forts, palaces, and regal paraphernalia. (43) The common people also used Arabic for epitaphs, as well as for dedications and ornamentation on various religious buildings. Much of this material has been catalogued. (44)

The earliest Arabic inscription in India is from the eighth century in a masjid in Kovalam (South India). (45) The few early Muslim inscriptions were solely in Arabic. From the thirteenth century, with the establishment of Persianate Muslim power in North India, Muslim inscriptions, with Qur'an verses and the like, began to proliferate. Other than Persian mystical poetry, the religious content continued to be inscribed in Arabic, while secular components such as names and dates were mostly replaced by Persian (and later, Urdu). In the twenty-first century, Muslim communities continue to employ Arabic religious inscriptions. (46)

The thousands of monuments built by Muslims throughout India are lavishly adorned by religious Arabic inscriptions, particularly Qur'anic verses. These monuments include the Taj Mahal at Agra (built 1630--1652) where the sura of Yasin is inscribed, and the mausoleum of the Da'udi Bohra Da'i Sayyidna Tahir Sayf al-Din, the Rawdat Tahira in Mumbai (built 1965), the only place in the world where the entire Qur'an is inscribed on marble in letters of gold. Dedication plaques of masjids, mausoleums, madrasas, forts, and palaces usually contain a verse or two from the Qur'an, often in elaborate tughra calligraphy. Plaques on religious buildings are often entirely in Arabic. Persian masjid dedications are also present, and they typically contain the name of the builder and the date of construction. Fully secular Persian inscriptions are located on cannon guns, noting such things as the date of their manufacture, and their capacity.

Arabic inscriptions on epitaphs and coins are also mostly religious. Epitaphs on mausoleums and graves are regularly in Persian, Urdu, or another vernacular, but, as a rule, they contain some Arabic religious texts, especially Qur'an verses. Some of the religious content of epitaphs is in Persian, particularly lines of Sufi poetry. Coins struck by Muslim rulers often have a similarly dual, secular Persian and religious Arabic, component, The year and denomination are often in Persian, whereas the Islamic creed of faith, the kalimat al-shahada, is in Arabic, as are optative phrases of prayer following the name of the ruler, such as "[khallad.sup.a] [allah.sup.u] [sultan.sup.a] [mulkih.sup.i]'" (May God preserve the power of His kingdom forever).


Much of the Arabic vocabulary that has been incorporated into Indian languages over the centuries has to do with religion, moral values, and issues discussed extensively in the Qur'an. (47) Heaviest absorption appears to be into languages used to a great extent by Muslims, in particular Urdu. The following sample Arabic terms have been simultaneously assimilated into four Indian languages, Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, and Marathi: din (religion), hajj (the Hajj pilgrimage), hajji (one who has made the hajj pilgrimage), iman (belief), jannat (heaven), jahannam (hell), haqiqat (reality), haqq (right), hikmat (wisdom), dunya (this world), risala (message), salam (greeting), shaytan (satan), sadaqa (alms), zulm (oppression), 'adalat (justice), ghusl ([ritual] bath), fasad (corruption), qabr (grave), qalam (pen), kafan (shroud), ladhdhat (pleasure), matam (mourning), maqam (station), mawt (death), wafa (loyalty), wajib (mandatory), wa'da (promise), yaqin (certainty). (48)

Persian religious vocabulary of non-Arabic origin has also been incorporated into Indian languages (such as roza, fasting, and namaz, ritual prayer) as well as a large number of secular Persian words (such as dehat, villages, and gul, rose). Moreover, because all official correspondence in Mughal times was in Persian, people learned the polite forms of address and phrases used in that language, and soon these Persian forms, whether in the original or translated, came to be used in Punjabi, Gujarati, and other regional languages. (49)

Persian was so predominant that the integration of Arabic into Indian languages took place primarily through its mediation--thus Arabic vocabulary that had earlier been absorbed into Persian came into Indian languages as Arabo-Persian words. Evidence of Persian as a vehicle for Arabic assimilation is found in the fact that the Arabic vocabulary absorbed into Indian languages sometimes has a modified lexical meaning not existing in the original Arabic, but present in the Arabo-Persian word (e.g., makan, meaning "house" rather than "place," fursat, meaning "leisure time" rather than "opportunity"). Some scholars believe this mediation to be absolute. (50) The extra step in the transition, however, does not change the fact that the Arabic vocabulary incorporated into Urdu or other Indian languages is heavily religion-oriented.

Religious Arabic phrases are habitually interjected into Urdu (and other Indian-language) speech. These phrases usually contain an "Allah" component, such as al-hamd li'llah (praise be to God), [] li'llah (thanks be to God), ma sha allah (what [wonders] God has willed!), insha allah (if God wills), and [jazdk.sup.a]) 'lldh (may God reward you!). Additionally, the introductory parts of Muslim speeches and sermons are often in Arabic and may be brief, one-sentence openings or longer, multi-paragraph ones. These typically contain the name and praise of God (basmala and hamdala), and benedictions on the Prophet (tasliya); Qur'an and Hadith quotations are used heavily in religious communications, both written and oral, such as religion classes and the Friday sermon.

Many Arabic words which have more general meanings in Middle Eastern Arabic take on a religious connotation in India. Sahifa, which can mean several things in Arabic, including a leaf in a notebook, a page, a newspaper, or a prayer book, signifies here the last sense only. Ziyarat, which means visit, connotes here a visit to the shrine of a saint. Majlis, which means sitting or assembly, indicates here a religious assembly. Other words of general meaning, in both Arabic and Indian languages, can denote a religious meaning in the latter. An example is the word qasida, which--in contrast to its dictionary meaning of the genre of monorhymed, monometered ode, whose themes include love, wine, and praise of political patrons--is often used in India to denote a religious poem in Arabic, particularly praise of the prophet or Imams. (It also denotes a secular praise poem in Persian, Hindi-Urdu, and Sindi.) Similarly, the word kitab, which means any book, often represents here a religious book, picking up on the designation of the Qur'an as The Book or Kitab. In many cases, Arabic words are automatically considered sacred by virtue of their being Arabic. Particularly for those who have not studied the language in depth--which constitutes the majority of Indian Muslims--any Arabic word or phrase is sacred, or, at the very least, belongs in the sphere of the sacred. Moreover, incorporating Arabic (and Persian) words and phrases into Indian-language speech is considered by Muslims a mark of refinement and religious learning.


A glance at the contents of relevant bibliographics demonstrated that a large percentage of the Islamic works composed in India are in Arabic. Conversely, and more germane to the topic, it also demonstrates that the majority of Arabic books in India have been composed on subjects of religious import. (51) Approximately eighty-five percent of the Arabic books of India listed by Brockelmann, (52) for example, are on the subjects of Qur'an and Hadith studies, jurisprudence, Sufism, theology, and the lives of saints, while only 15 percent are books on secular subjects--philology, philosophy, belles-lettres, and medicine--and these too are sustained by the Islamic ethos (as will be explained in section VII). In The Contribution of Indo-Pakistan to Arabic Literature, Zubaid Ahmad lists 360 Arabic books by Indian scholars in the religious sciences (jurisprudence 87, theology 75, Sufism 74, Qur'an 55, Hadith 45, history and hagiography 24), and 217 in secular fields imbued with the Islamic heritage (philology 99, philosophy 56, belles-lettres 22, medicine 22, and mathematics 18). The Arabic-Islamic works take the form of original religious books, commentaries on classical religious texts (usually an Qur'an and Hadith, and commonly in the form of glosses and superglosses), and religious poetry. Some are by Arab immigrants, but the majority is by scholars of Indian ethnicity, some of whom trained in Mecca or Baghdad, and many of whom were Sufis. Also abundant are Indian-language commentaries on, and translations of, classical Arabic religious texts.

The best-known Indian Quran commentaries in Arabic include the two volume Tafsir al-rahman wa-taysir al-mannan (popularly known as Tafsir-i rahmani) by a scholar of Arab Nawa it descent, Ala al-Din Maha iml (d. 1431), and a four-volume commentary that uses only undotted Arabic letters following the Indian penchant for stylized Haririan Arabic writing, titled Sawati al-ilham by the court poet of the Mughal emperor Akbar, Faydi (later Fayyadi, d. 1595). Several Arabic glosses on the Tafsir al-jalalayn were also composed. (53) Quran commentaries in other languages include the sixteen-volume Urdu work Tafhim al-Quran of the reformist Abu al-Ala Mawdudi (d. 1979), and the first Persian commentary in India, al-Bahr al-mawwaj of Qadi Shihab al-Din Dawlatabadi (d. 1445). Translations of the Quran include the Urdu Tarjaman al-Quran by the freedom fighter Abul Kalam Azad (d. 1958), (54) and the earlier Persian translation of Shah Wali Allah, considered by the well-known scholar of Muslim South Asia, Annemarie Schimmel, to be one of the best Quran translations into Persian. Compilations of Hadith are also numerous. Among the most important are a Hanafi tract which has attracted over a thousand commentaries (55) titled Mashariq al-anwar by Hasan al-Saghani of Lahore, and an encyclopedic collection of Hadith arranged according to subject that is still one of the most widely read Hadith works in India titled Kanz al-ummal fi sunan al-aqwal wa-al-af al by the prolific author Ali al-Muttaqi (d. 1568) of Burhanpur. Additionally, several glosses were composed on the Sahihayn of Bukhari and Muslim and on Malik's Muwatta. (56) Among the best-known fiqh works is the multi-authored work on Hanafi law commissioned by the Mughal emperor Awrangzeb (r. 1754-1760), al-Fatawa alamgiriyya. (57) The Tahqiq aradi al-hind by Shaykh Jalal Thanesan deals with fiqh questions (on property and such) specific to India. Several other works in Arabic on the principles (usul) and specifics (furu) of jurisprudence were also composed. In theology, an important work is the Hujjat Allah al-baligha of Shah Wali Allah. Sufi masters also composed their Khilafat-namahs in Arabic. Some Persian Sufi works were translated into Arabic: Jafar al-Sadiq al-Aydrus translated the work Safinat al-awliya of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh (d. 1659), under the title Tuhfat al-asfiya.

Of the Arabic poetry that was composed in India, (58) a large proportion was in praise of the Prophet Muhammad and his family. The prolific poet and author Ghulam Ali Azad Bilgrami (d. 1785) of Aurangabad in the south was given the honorific "Hassan-i Hind" (the Hassan of India) in recognition of his lyrical panegyrics on the Prophet in the tradition of the Prophet's poet Hassan b. Thabit, including a famous lamiyya. (59) Several poets of the Qutbshahi Twelver Shiite Deccan kingdom of Golconda in South India expended a large proportion of their literary energies in praising Ali b. Abi Talib and the Shi a Imams; the Hijazi poet Sayyid 'Ali b. Ma'sum (d. 1705), whose family immigrated to the Qutbshahi kingdom, composed panegyrics on Muhammad and 'Ali. (60) In Western India, several of the religious leaders of the Da'udi Bohra Tayyibi community, especially the Da'is 'Abd 'Ali Sayf al-Din (d. 1817) and Tahir Sayf al-Din (d. 1965), (61) were notable poets, and composed poetry in praise of the Prophet Muhammad, the Imams, and the Da is, elegies for Husayn, and poetry in communion with God called munajat. A poem by Tahir Sayf al-Din titled "The philosophy of the intellect" (falsafat al-'aql) is an eloquent exposition of the rational human being's need for divine guidance.

A large number of libraries (62) in India house Arabic (and Persian) works by Indian and Middle Eastern scholars, including thousands of manuscripts, some very valuable. Some libraries are affiliated with madrasas and universities, or with shrines of saints (dargah), and others are independent, public or private. Some of the most important in North India are the Rampur Raza Library in Rampur (6,000 Arabic mss), Mawlana Azad Library, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh (c. 12,000 Persian and Arabic mss), and Kutubkhana-i Nasiriyya (Twelver Shi'ite), Lucknow (c. 30,000 Persian and Arabic mss). Eminent libraries in Western India are the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute, Tonk, Jami'a Sayfiyya Library (Da'udi Bohra), Surat, Hadrat Pir Muhammad Shah Dargah Library, Ahmedabad, and in Mumbai, the Jami' Masjid Library, the Library of Bombay University, and the.Tayyibi Da'udi Bohra Da'wat library. In Eastern India, important libraries include the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, (63) Patna, the Library of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, and the Oriental Public Library, (64) Bankipore. In South India, three in Hyderabad are notable: the Salar Jung Museum Library (Twelver Shi'ite), the State Central Library, and the Kutubkhana-i-Sa'idiyya. Many smaller libraries also exist, and some that existed through the centuries of Muslim rule in India have been dismantled or absorbed into other institutions. (65)

Several publishing houses take a special interest in publishing editions of Arabic and Persian texts. (66) The foremost such publisher is the Da'irat al-Ma'arif al-Uthmaniyya, Hyderabad-Deccan (founded 1888). Institutions that sponsor publishing houses include the Institute of Islamic Studies, Muslim University Aligarh, Osmania University, Hyderabad; Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, (67) Government of Bihar Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research in Arabic and Persian, Patna; a few are associated with madrasas, such as the Dar al-Musannifin (also called Shibli Academy), Azamgarh (founded 1915). Presses of the University of Lucknow, University of Delhi, and Madras University also publish studies on Arabic works. Two well-known English-language academic journals related to Islamic studies are published in India: Islamic Culture (68) and the Journal of Islamic History. (69)

Original Islamic compositions in Persian are mostly in the Sufi domain. The "malfuzat," utteranees of Sufi masters (shaykhs,) recorded by their disciples, comprise a new genre of Persian mystical literature. (70) Although some compilations of Sufi utterances had been made earlier in other lands, Hasan Sijzi of Delhi gave the genre a definite literary form. His Fawa id al-fu'ad, a summary of what he had heard from his master, Nizam al-Din Awliya, inspired masters of many different mystical orders, and a considerable body of malfuzat literature appeared throughout India. Persian Sufi poetry was also composed by Indians, including Sufi savants and Mughal courtiers; some of these have been listed in the section on liturgy. A smaller (in volume) oral genre, not specifically Sufi, was that of sermons (tadhkir) delivered in good Persian prose, studded with classical poetry, in the courts of kings as well as in army camps and bazaars. The fable (dastan) was also a spiritual, moral genre in Persian. Additionally, some Hindu spiritual works were translated into both Arabic and Persian, such as the Hathagoya, a work on bodily and spiritual discipline.

Comparing Arabic and Persian Islamic writing in India, Persian works comprised commentaries and translations of Arabic texts, and a copious body of poetic and malfuzat Sufi texts; religious composition was one of the many parts of the Indian Persian library. Arabic works, on the other hand, comprised all the above genres, but also contained works on Hadith, jurisprudence, and theology, as well as religious poetry of a non-Sufi bent. Religious composition formed the larger part of the Indian Arabic library.


Secular-scholarly and secular-literary uses of Arabic in India that are manifested in the production and study of non-religious Arabic works are also underpinned by a religious motivation. The proto-Wahhabi Damascene theologian Ibn Taymiyya had remarked that "the Arabic language is not just the communicative medium of Islam; it is also an expression of the rational, ethical and belief systems which Islam embodies." (71) In the perception of Indian Muslims, since Arabic is the sacred language of the Qur'an, anything composed in Arabic is religious, and therefore part of religious learning. Accordingly, non-religious Arabic learning in India also stems from its religious essence. Arabic scholarship is equated with Islamic scholarship, and experts in the Arabic language are often the same scholars considered authorities in religion. As such, both the language and its scholars are regarded with veneration, and the Arabic literary heritage is deemed to be the Islamic literary heritage. (72)

Indian litterateurs explicitly connect their secular Arabic literary efforts to Islam. In his study of Arabic belles-lettres in India, Ahmad Idris explains that since Arabic scholarship developed around Islamic studies, authors presented their work as a service for religion, connecting the subject of the book with religion in one way or another. (73) He quotes the following (somewhat convoluted) remarks by the poet Ahmad al-Rasulpuri in the introduction to his poetic Diwan, explaining that his (secular) poetry is a religious effort:
 It is not concealed that the science of Arabic is among the sciences
 of the Islamic religion, just as it is not concealed that from the
 earliest times, the Muslims of India expended effort in the path of
 studying the Arabic language and publishing literary data. Why ever
 not, when between Islam and knowledge of the Arabic language there is
 a relationship any person who wishes knowledge of religion and
 Shari'a cannot do without. (74)

Moreover, it is the religious scholars in India who have produced the (relatively much smaller) body of non-religious Arabic literature, presumably as part of their religious effort. Through the centuries, and in addition to their religious compositions, they have continued to compose Arabic literary works that are not overtly influenced by religion: elegies, panegyrics, and love lyrics (ghazels) in the field of poetry, (75) and quasi-picaresque novels called maqamat in the field of prose, such as al-Maqamat al-hindiyya by Abu Bakr b. Muhsin (d. 1715) (76) and al-Mandqib al-haydariyya (maqamat) by Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Shiwani. They have composed innumerable works in Arabic on other subjects, such as medicine, (77) philosophy, and grammar. (78)

Indian Muslims also consider the study of all texts Arabic to be a religious exercise. Madrasa students pay particular attention to the study of Arabic grammar and rhetoric as these are vital in deciphering the Islamic scriptures and theological texts. They also read poetry and bellettrist prose, as this promotes understanding of the literary features of the Qur'an and its "miraculous" nature. They particularly favor the collected Diwan of al-mutanabbi and the Hamasa anthology of Abu Tammam, and often memorize many or all of the Maqamat of al-Hariri. They have also translated Arabic secular works such as the Kalila wa Dimna into Indian languages, and also into Persian, and written studies on earlier Arabic belles-lettres in different Indian languages, particularly Urdu. (79) They continue to study Arabic works on various secular subjects such as philosophy, logic, medicine, mathematics, and history, considering these to be important for promoting religious understanding, being part of the Islamic ethos. In his monograph on Indian madrasas, Ziyauddin Desai discusses the religious orientation of the curriculum, the subjects studied, and the role of Arabic, as follows:
 By the very nature of the curriculum in which religious sciences
 occupied the prominent position--the Quran being considered the
 source and fountain-head of Islamic learning--Arabic not only formed
 one of the important subjects of study but in the higher classes even
 the prescribed text books on non-religious sciences were in Arabic.
 Thus, most of the text books in Quranic Commentary, Tradition,
 Theology and Islamic Law (Fiqh) as well as on Logic (Mantiq),
 Philosophy and similar subjects were in Arabic. This emphasis
 necessitated the accent to be laid on the study of Arabic Grammar and
 Syntax. The Arabic belles-lettres did not occupy that prominent a
 place; nevertheless, selected books on Arabic literature were taught
 as part of the course. (80)

Furthermore, the Arabo-Persian nasta'liq or (less commonly) naskh script is used to write various Indian languages. (81) Sometimes it is adopted by the entire language user group, as in the case of Urdu, Kashmiri (Purik), Pashto, and Sindhi, and at other times by particular user groups, as in the case of Gujarati (Lisan al-Da'wat), Tamil (Arwi), Malayalam (Mappila), Punjabi, Konkani, and Sanskrit, the latter for a short time in the nineteenth century. This usage has a religious association as well, being confined for the most part to Muslims--in the case of Urdu to a large extent, and in the case of languages like Tamil and Gujarati almost exclusively.

The production of Persian non-religious work in India, literary and otherwise, was an enormous enterprise. Some of the genres that proliferated were works on history, philology, and lexicography (sixty-six dictionaries produced between the tenth and nineteenth centuries). Persian poetry (panegyric or qasida, and love poetry or ghazal) was a particularly important part of the cultural landscape, and there were no booksellers in Agra, Delhi, and Lahore in Mughal times who did not sell anthologies and collections of Persian poetry. With its expanding territory, Persian writing was gradually Indianized. Much has been written about the sabk-i hindi (Indian Style) of Persian literature, but the discussion has centered on rhetorical issues to the exclusion of religious ones. In the late Mughal period, literary salons formed an integral part of Indian culture. Comparing Persian and Arabic non-religious composition in India, the composition and study of secular Arabic works appear to be limited (relative to the explicitly religious), and linked to religious ends, whereas the composition and study of Persian works appear to stem mostly from cultural motives.


There do exist in India a small number of purely secular, utilitarian usages of Arabic, but these are so limited in application that we can consider them marginal.

For a brief period from the eighth century forward, Arabic was the spoken language of a small Arab migrant community called the Nawa' it or Naityas (from the Arabic nuti, meaning mariner). (82) They settled on the southwestern Malabar or Konkani coast of India in the areas which today fall south of Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra, northern Karnataka, and Goa. These Arab settlers soon became culturally and linguistically assimilated into the fabric of Indian society without really influencing the use of Arabic in India. For many generations, they have spoken Daldi, which is a sub-dialect of Konkani, which, in turn, is a dialect of Marathi, an Indo-Aryan language; they are not more familiar with Arabic than their neighbors of Aryan and Dravidian descent. The Mappillas of Kerala went the same route, now speaking Malayalam, as well as the Ilappais or Labbais of Tamil Nadu, who now speak Tamil.

From the late twentieth century, another small group gained an interest in learning basic Arabic for communication purposes, viz., Indians (both Muslim and non-Muslim) who work in the Arabian Gulf countries. (83) Connected to the Gulf States phenomenon, another somewhat curious usage of Arabic in India is the publication since 1957 of a non-religious Arabic journal, Thaqafatu'l-Hind (Indian Culture), by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (incidentally, from 1968, the Council has had a Hindu President). The purpose of the journal is political and economic, to address the growing financial interest of India in the Arab Gulf States through the promotion of cultural understanding. The cover page of the journal states that "the objects of the Indian Council, as laid down in its constitution, are to establish, revive and strengthen cultural relations between India and other countries by means of (1) promoting a wider knowledge and appreciation of their language, literature and art; (2) establishing close contacts between the universities and cultural institutions; and (3) adopting all other measures to promote cultural relations." Thaqafatu'l-Hind publishes articles on such diverse topics as Indian Muslim history, Shakespeare, Gandhi, Nasser, and the Hindu scriptures. It has also published several articles on relations between India and the Arab world. (84) Almost all its articles have been translated by its editors into Arabic from other languages such as English or Urdu.

In comparison with the marginal use of secular Arabic, non-religious, non-scholarly usages of Persian were strong from the thirteenth century. As early as the fourteenth century, Amir Khusraw remarked that Persian speech and idiom enjoyed uniformity of register throughout the four thousandparasangs of India. (85) Particularly during the reign of the emperor Akbar, and until the end of Mughal rule (thus from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries), Persian flourished in mundane and intellectual, cultural and bureaucratic, milieus almost throughout the entire subcontinent. As the officially sponsored language of the Mughal court and its administration, Persian was a second language for a large percentage of Indians living in Mughal India, Hindu and Muslim alike.


1. Liturgy Qur'an recitation. Sufi poetry: Ghazals.
 Litanies. Prose Qawwalis.

 Religious poetry.
 Invocations. Sufi

2. Teaching and Fields of study: Qur'an Fields of study Sufi
Study (makthabs exegesis. Hadith texts. Poetry. History.
and madrasas) Theology. Sufi texts. Ethics.
 Curriculum: Dars-i
 Nizami, early 18th

3. Nomenclature Used by Muslims only. Used by Parsis and
(names and Usually have religious Muslims.
litles) association. Names: Literary Association,
 Names: Religiously Titles: Usualy linked
 important personages. to sovereignty.
 Titles: Often in the
 form "... of religion

4. Inscriptions Qur'an verses. Islamic Usually secular: dates,
(monuments. creed of faith provenance, etc. Some
masjids, coins, (shahada). Sufi poetry.
epitaphs, etc.)

5. Vocabulary Much religious (and Religious and secular
(assimilated some secular) words words incorporated.
into India incorporated.

 Religious Arabic
 Phrases interjected
 into everyday speech
 and formal prose.

 Some Arabic words with
 general dictionary
 meanings have special,

 Mark of refinement and

 Assimilation largely
 through Persian.

6. Composition 85% of all Arabic Malfuzat. Sufi poetry.
of religious composition religious.

 Fields: Theology. Translations of Arabic
 Exegesis. Hadith. scripture and
 Jurisprudence. Poetry. theological works, and
 Commentaries on commentaries
 religious texts. Sufi thereupon.

7. Study and Fields of study and Fields of study and
composition of composition: composition: History.
secular-scholar Philosophy. Grammar. Philology.
works Belles-Lettres. Given Lexicography. Grammar.
 religious complexion. Poetry. Given mostly
 cultural, some
 religious complexion.

8. Utilitarian First language for tiny From 16th c. to 1835.
 groups of Arab settlers official language of
 in 8th, 9th c. on Mughal administration,
 Malabar coast. Migrant thus most of Indian
 workers to Gulf States subcontinent. Language
 in 20th c. leading to of high culture, spoken
 interest in study of and studied by almost
 Arabic as a language of all educated elite.

Overall Primarily Religious Primarily Cultural/
 Secondarily Religious


The Mughal scholar Jamal al-Din Inju (d. c. 1686) had placed Persian alongside Arabic as the language of Islam. (86) However, unlike the case of Arabic with its broad, multiple, but almost solely religious usages, the religious significance of Persian in India was mainly confined to the sphere of Sufi writings and rituals. Moreover, its limited Islamic identity was overshadowed by its use as the language of high culture and government administration. The dichotomy in the Indian usage of Persian and Arabic along the lines of religion vs. culture/bureaucracy becomes even clearer when it is known that many Mughal litterateurs who composed in both Arabic and Persian used Arabic for religious writings and Persian for secular ones. An example is Akbar's court poet Faydi, who wrote his Quran commentary in Arabic, as mentioned earlier, and his love-epic Nat-Daman in Persian. What is more, the cultural hegemony of Persian ended definitively with the end of the Mughal Empire in the nineteenth century, a milestone year in its decline being 1835, when the British replaced it with English in public administration.

The religious Sufi use of Persian in India had earlier suffered a blow in the late Mughal period itself, with the reformulation of Sufism. (87) Akbar's (r. 1556-1605) syncretic religious policies had evoked an orthodox reaction, represented by theologians like Abd al-Haqq Dihlawi (d. 1642), who reintroduced in India an emphasis on the study of Hadith; and Naqshbandiyya Sufis like Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi (d. 1624), who brought Indian Sufism close to non-Sufi Sunni Islam. The conflict of eclectic and orthodox trends of Mughal culture is to some extent reflected in the essentially personal trial of strength between Dara Shikoh and Awrangzeb, resulting in the latter's victory and the establishment of a theocratic regime.

The Awrangzebian de-emphasizing of Sufi Islam was further bolstered when, from the late eighteenth century onward, parts of the Indian Muslim populace came under the growing influence of Arabian Wahhabi salafi thought. Indian scholars such as Sayyid Ahmad Barelwi (1786-1831) and Shah Wali Allah traveled to the Hijaz for the Hajj, studied there for a while, and returned bearing this influence. (88) The salafis emphasized a return to "pure" (Qur'an-and Hadith-oriented, Arabic) Islam, and rejected what they perceived as impure accretions. Among these professed heresies were practices connected with Sufism. Since Sufi scholarship and ritual in India were linked with Persian literature, certain Indian Muslim reformers, even while using Persian in their own writings, began discouraging the study of Persian as something alien to Islam. They contrasted it negatively with Arabic, which they venerated as the language of the Islamic scripture. At the end of his novel Tawbatun Nasuh (A True Repentance), the Urdu writer Nazir Ahmad (d. 1912) had his protagonist repent of his worldly ways, this repentance being manifested in his burning of all his Persian books. But the best example is perhaps that of the influential early eighteenth-century intellectual Shah Wali Allah, who, after his fourteen-month trip to Arabia, shifted his scholarly focus squarely to (Arabic) Hadith. Even though a Sufi master himself, he appears to have become puristic in this second stage of his life, and he was the inspiration for the formation of the salafi Deobandh school (his son's students were among its founders). (89) In his Luminous Essay (al-Maqala al-wadiyya), he writes the following strong words: (90)
 Arab lineage and the Arabic language--both, for us, are sources of
 pride, because they bring us closer to the best of prophets and
 apostles ... Thanks may be rendered to God for this great favor by
 not abandoning the customs and traditions of the first Arabs, who
 were the [forefathers of the Prophet]. ...

 Among us [Indians], he is fortunate who cultivates an association
 with the Arabic language, [its] morphology, syntax, and works of
 literature; who obtains an understanding of the Hadith and the
 Qur'an. As for Persian and Indian language works ... reading them is
 error upon error ... [At the very least], one should realize that
 what they contain is worldly knowledge. ...

The difference in the relative perceptions of Arabic and Persian in the nineteenth century--the first through the lens of scriptural religion, the second through the combined lens of Sufi Islam and Mughal high culture/administration--is the main reason why, after the end of the Mughal period, Persian almost disappeared in South Asia, even as a classical language of learning, while Arabic maintained its position.

(1.) For a brief overview of the features and history of Arabic in India, see my entry on "India" in Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, ed. Kees Versteegh (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 2: 325-31.

(2.) A detailed analysis of historical, political, social, and economic development of the Indo-Islamic world is provided in Andre Wink, Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World (Leiden: Brill, 1990-2004), 2nd ed., vols. 1--3; Annemarie Schimmel, Islam in the Indian Subcontinent (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1980). See also S. Maqbul Ahmad et al., "al-Hind," The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed. ([EI.sup.2]) (Leiden: Brill, 1960--2004), esp. sub-entries: Aziz Ahmad, "Islamic Culture" and K. A. Nizami, "Islam." Short overviews of the Indo-Islamic world are Scott Kugel, "South Asia, Islam in," in Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, ed. Richard Martin (Macmillan Reference USA, 2004), 2: 634-41; Perween Hasan, "South Asian Culture and Islam," 2: 641-44.

(3.) A fundamental reason for this perception is the direct connection made by the Qur'an itself between its revelation and the Arabic language. Cf. Quran 26: 192-95 (my translation and emphasis):


"Verily, it is the revelation of the Lord of all the worlds. The Trustworthy Spirit has descended with it upon your heart [O Muhammad], so that you be among the Warners, in a clear Arabic tongue." See also Qur an 42:7 and 12:2: "an Arabic Quran." Kees Versteegh, in his study of the Arabic language, remarks that "In all Islamic countries, the influence of Arabic is pervasive because of the highly language-specific nature of Islam. Since the Revealed Book was inimitable, it could not be translated, and those who converted to Islam had to learn its language." He goes on to discuss briefly the role of Arabic in Africa, Iran, Ottoman Empire and Turkcy, the Indian subcontinent, and East Asia. See K. Versteegh, The Arabic Language (Edinburgh: Columbia Univ. Press, 2001), 226ff. See also Arabic as a Minority Language, ed. Jonathan Owens (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2000).

(4.) One of the many authors arguing for the necessity of the Arabic language to the practice of Islam is Anwaral-Jundi, al-Fusha lught at-Qur an (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Lubnani, 1982).

(5.) Arabic did not entirely displace the local language in other countries over which the Arabs held political dominion for lengthy periods, such as Persia. The reasons for the different reception of Arabic in Egypt and in Persia have not been fully explored.

(6.) Cf. Muhammad Qasim Zaman, "The Role of Arabic and the Arab Middle East in the Definition of Muslim Identity in Twentieth Century India," The Muslim World 87.3/4 (2001): 272-98.

(7.) Census of India 2001: The First Report on Religion Data (New Delhi: Jayant Kumar Banthia, Registrar General and Census Commissioner [2004]).

(8.) For details of Arabic study and usage in Pakistan, see Arabic in Pakistan, ed. Habibul Haq Nadvi, National Congress for Promotion of Arabic in Pakistan (Karachi: Univ. of Karachi, 1975); and Tariq Rahman, "The Teaching of Arabic to the Muslims of South Asia," Islamic Studies 39.3 (2000): esp. 416ff.

(9.) For Persian in India until the advent of the British, see Muzaffar Alam, "The Culture and Politics of Persian in Precolonial Hindustan," in Literary Cultures in History: Reconstruction from South Asia, ed. Sheldon Pollock (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 2003), 131-98. The brief outline here is culled from this article. The best full-length history of Persian in India, according to Alam, is Muhammd 'Abdu'l Ghani, Pre-Mughal Persian in Hindustan (Allahabad: Allahabad Law Journal Press, 1941); idem, A History of Persian Language

and Literature at the Mughal Court, vols. 1-3 (Allahabad: The Indian Press, 1929-30).

(10.) "Indian Languages" (retrieved July 15, 2003, from

(11.) Literacy among Indians in general is 75.3% male, 53.7% female (2003 estimate): Muslim literacy rates are lower, at 67.6% male, 50.1% female. Census of India 2001. Until the twentieth century, literacy rates were some times as low as 10-20%

(12.) The only person to have written about the tarawih-related division of the ruku' appears to be M. Amir Ali, "Organization of the Qur'an" (retrieved July 15, 2004, from Some of the following details are from his article, and are supplemented by data gleaned in an interview I conducted in June 2004 with a Mumbai-based Qur'an reciter. In the tarawih. Indian Sunni Muslims complete the recitation of the entire Qur'an in twenty-seven nights. I surmise this is so because they consider the 27th to be Laylat al-Qadr, an auspicious night in which to complete the recitation of the Qur'an, and also because Ramadan could theoretically end anytime after the 27th, at the sighting of the new moon. For the final remaining nights after the 27th, they repeat the last few suras. The tarawih has twenty rak'as; 20 multiplied by 27 yields 540. and this means that if one ruku' is recited per rak'a, just seventeen ruku's are left over of the total 557 rukii's. and these seventeen are added on at any point in the recitation. Since the ruku' divisions are based on theme, it would be difficult to get an exact 540 part division. Some details about the ruku' divisions are also provided by Hashim Amir Ali, "The Qur'an in Secular India," Islam, and the Modern Age 63 (1975): 83-84.

(13.) Fingertips and knuckles, front and back, make thirty-three counts; done thrice, this yields ninety-nine; one final recitation makes one hundred.

(14.) See Ali Asani, "In Praise of Muhammad: Indigenizing the Arabic Qasida in Urdu and Sindhi," in Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and Africa, ed. S. Sperl and C. Shackle (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1996), 1:351-61.

(15.) Two comprehensive works on the madrasas of India are Kuldip Kaur, Madrasa Education in India: A Studyof its Past and Present (Chandigarh: Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, 1990), and Ziyaud-Din Desai. Centres of Islamic Learning in India (New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India, 1978). An encyclopedia on the subject is K. C. Sharma, Encyclopedia of Madrasa Education in India (New Delhi: Vista International, 2007), 5 vols. T. Rahman. "The Teaching of Arabic," provides a useful overview of the chronological development of Arabic teaching in India and Pakistan. Of the multitude of Urdu books on the subject, particularly useful are Muhammad Qamar Ishaq, Hindustan ke ahamm madaris (New Delhi: Institute of Objective Studies, 1996); Qamar al-Din, Hindustan ki dini darsgahen (New Delhi: Hamdard Education Society, 1996).

(16.) See Kaur, Madrasa Education, 253.

(17.) See Ishaq, Hindustan ke ahamm madaris, 25 (Sufipur), 41 (Zaydpur).

(18.) T. Rahman, "The Teaching of Arabic," 411. This issue is addressed in detail in Barbara Daly Metcalf. Islamic Revivalism in British India: Deobandh, 1860--1900 (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. 1982). See also re marks on this subject by S. M. Yusuf, "Arabic Language and Literature in the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent," Iqbal 16.1 (1967): 61-62; S. A. H. Abidi, "Arabic and Persian Studies," in Oriental Studies in India, ed. R. N. Dandekar and V. Raghavan (New Delhi: International Congress of Orientalists, 1964), 53.

(19.) For details of the Dars-i Nizami, see Qamar al-Din, Hindustan ki dini darsgahen, 345-52; Desai, Centres of Islamic Learning, 14-15; and Francis Robinson, The 'Ulama of Farangi Mahall and Islamic Culture in South Asia (Delhi: Orient Longman, 2001), 48-50, 248-51.

(20.) Qamar al-Din, Hindustan ki dini darsgahen, 70.

(21.) An important monograph on the Deobandh madrasa is Metcalf, Islamic Revivalism. See the Deobandh Arabic curriculum in Kaur, Madrasa Education, 121-24.

(22.) Asaf Fyzee calls the Deobandh madrasa an institution devoted to "pure religious learning," A. Fyzee, "Islamic Studies in India," Melanges Louis Massignon (Damascus: Institut francais de Damas, 1957). 2: 204.

(23.) Kaur, Madrasa Education, 57.

(24.) Ibid., 63-65. An international conference on Arabic literature was held at the Nadwa in 1981; its proceedings were published as al-Adab al-Islami: fikratuhu wa minhajuhu, ed. Abu al-Hasan 'Ali al-Hasani al-Nadwi (Lucknow: al-Amana al-Daima li-Nadwat al-Adab al-Islami al-'Alamiya, 1981).

(25.) See F. U. Farooqi, Lucknow: A Centre of Arabic and Islamic Studies during the Nineteenth Century (New Delhi: Falah-e-Darayn Trust, 1999).

(26.) Kaur, Madrasa Education, 67-68.

(27.) Ibid., 61.

(28.) See on the Jami'a Sayfiyya Tahera Qutbuddin, "The Da'udi Bohra Tayyibis: Ideology, Literature, Education and Social Practice," in A Modern History of the Ismailis, ed. Farhad Daftary (forthcoming, J.B. Tauris, 2008). See also Kaur, Madrasa Education, 53-54.

(29.) See Kaur, Madrasa Education, 71-72.

(30.) Cf. Theodore P. Wright, Jr., "Muslim Education in India at the Crossroads: The Case of Aligarh," Pacific Affairs 39.1/2 (1966): 50-63. An attempt to use modern teaching methods in Arabic teaching can be observed in M. R. K. Nadwi and A. Ashfaq, Arabic Language: An Introduction to Selected Teaching Materials in English (Including Audio-Visual Media) (Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim Univ. Press, 1993). A textbook for Arabic literature at Aligarh University is Anon., al-Muntakhab min al-shi'r al-'arabi al-qadim wa-al-hadith (Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim Univ. Press, 1990), an anthology with thirty-eight poets, classical and modern, biographies and poetry, including poetry by seven Indian poets, mostly from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

(31.) See the Arabic curriculum of the Jamia Millia Islamiyya in Kaur, Madrasa Education, 77-78.

(32.) See the Arabic curriculum of the Jamia Osmania University in ibid., 128-30.

(33.) See Mashakil ta'lim al-lugha al-'arabiyya fi al-ma'ahid al-hindiyya ma' al-tarkiz al-shadid 'ala al-manahij wa-al-nuzum wa-al-ahdaf, ed. Mu'in al-Din al-A'zami, also titled Proceedings of the Seminar on the Problems of Teaching Arabic in Indian Institutions with a Focus on Systems, Aims and Methods (Hyderabad Deccan: Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, 1982); Usul wa-turuq tadris al-lugha al-'arabiyya fi mukhtalif al-mustawayat, ed. M. al-A'zami, also titled Proceedings of the all India Seminar/Workshop on the Principles and Methods of Teaching Arabic at Various Levels (Hyderabad Deccan: Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, 1985); Muhammad Sali, A Diagnostic Study of the Difficulties of Pupils in the Learning of Arabic in the Secondary Schools of Kerala, Ph.D. thesis (Kerala Univ., 1984); Ahmed Kutty, "Development of Arabic Education in Kerala. A Survey," Journal of Kerala Studies 56.9 (1984): 77-91.

(34.) Forty-one Indian universities out of a present total of around 194 offer Arabic at B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. levels; students are normally permitted to register for an Arabic course, provided they can find an outside professor to tutor them. See S. A. Rahman, "Arabic in India: Retrospects and Prospects," Muslim and Arab Perspectives International Islamic Magazine 3 (1996): 157. See also the Arabic curricula of these universities in Kaur, Madrasa Education, 124-26.

(35.) See the list of Persian texts studied in Awrangzeb's time from a 1688 work titled Khulasat al-maktab (MS), listed in Kaur, Madrasa Education, 111-12. A list of the most common Persian texts studied in madrasas in the Mughal period is provided in Alam, "The Culture and Politics of Persian," 163. See also Desai, Centres of Islamic Learning, 16.

(36.) Desai, Centres of Islamic Learning, 11; Kaur, Madrasa Education, 112.

(37.) Alam, "The Culture and Politics of Persian," 162-63. Hindus might even have taught Arabic and Persian. 'Abd al-Qadir Bada'uni (b. 1540) mentions an Arabic and Persian teacher of this period he calls by the Hindu caste name "Brahman"; Muntakhab al-tawarikh, ed. Ahmad 'Ali and Nassau Lees (Calcutta: Bibliotheca India, 1869), 2: 323.

(38.) See Alam, "The Culture and Politics of Persian," 147-48.

(39.) Kaur, Madrasa Education, 10.

(40.) Qamar al-Din, Hindustan ki dini darsgahen, 70-71.

(41.) See the curricula of the Central Wakf Board and the State Boards of West Bengal and Bihar in Kaur, Madrasa Education. 355-98.

(42.) Given names are almost always Muslim, and often Arabic. Trade and place names are not distinctively Muslim, and often, though not always, carry the relative adjectival suffix "wala" (lit., "belonging to"), such as Kanchwala (glass trader), and Ujjainwala (family originally from Ujjain).

(43.) An overview is provided by Burton-Page, "Kitabat (i) inscriptions (10) India," [El.sup.2].

(44.) Some catalogues of the Arabic and Persian inscriptions of India are Qeyamuddin Ahmad, Corpus of Arabic and Persian Inscriptions of Bihar (A.H. 640-1200) (Patna: K. P. Jayaswal Research Institute, (1973); Ziyaud-Din Desai. A Topographical List of Arabic, Persian and Urdu Inscriptions of South India (New Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan. 1989); Abdul Karim, Corpus of the Arabic and Persian Inscriptions of Bengal (Dhaka: Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 1992); Subhash Parihar, "Arabic and Persian Inscriptions from Sirhind," Islamic Studies 38.2 (1999): 255-63; Asoke Kumar Bhattacharya, Cultural, Historical, and Political Aspects of Perso-Arabic Epigraphy in India (Calcutta: Firma KLM Pvt. Ltd., 1999); idem, Arabic, Persian and Urdu Inscriptions of West India: A Topographical List (New Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan, 1999): Syed Abdur Rahim, Arabic Persian and Urdu Inscriptions of Central India: A Topographical List (New Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan, 2000). Coin catalogues include R. B. Whitehead, ed., Catalogue of Coins in the Panjab Museum, vol. 2: Coins of the Mughal Emperors (Lahore: Clarendon Press, 1914); Nelson Wright, ed., Catalogue of the Coins in the Indian. Museum Calcutta, vol. 2: The Sultans of Delhi, Contemporary Dynasties in India. (New Delhi: Indological Book Corporation, 1972); idem, ed., Catalogue of the. Coins in the Indian Museum Calcutta, vol. 3: Mughal Emperors of India. (Lahore: Clarendon Press, 1972); John Allan, ed;, Catalogue of the Coins in the Indian Museum Calcutta, vol. 4: Coins of Awadh, Mysore, Bombay, Rajputana and Central India (Lahore: Clarendon Press, 1976).

(45.) The text reads: "Ismail--109 [727]--b. Malik Dinar" (in three lines). See M. Abdullah Chaghatai, "Khatt (iv) In Muslim India," [El.sup.2], from Majalla Tilsanin 1:51.

(46.) Since Independence, the government of India appears to have deliberately de-emphasized the Islamic Indian heritage; several monuments with Arabic inscriptions--such as the Red Fort in Delhi--are falling into decay due to inadequate maintenance.

(47.) Arabic words incorporated into Marathi are listed in Muhammad Ajmal Khan, "al-Kalimat al-'arabiyya waal-farisiyya fi al-lughat al-hindiyya," pt. 4: "al-lugha al-marathiyya," Thaqafatu'l-Hind 13.1 (1962): 88--95; he has earlier published similar articles--which I have been unable to locate--listing the incorporation of Arabic into other Indian languages.

(48.) A modified pronunciation frequently accompanies the assimilation, often with the addition of vowels between two consecutive consonants, or with doubled consonants (in Gujarati: 'aql[right arrow] akkal; 'umr [right arrow] umar).

(49.) Kaur, Madrasa Education, 161.

(50.) Versteegh, The Arabic Language, 237.

(51.) Studies and bibliographies of Arabic Islamic literature in India include Carl Brockelmann, Geschichte der Arabischen Literatur (GAL), Suppl. II (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1938), 309-12, 598-628, 849-64; S. Sabahuddin, "List of Works on Hadith compiled in India in Arabic, Persian or Urdu before 1857," Islamic Culture 20 (1946): 208-12; Muhammad Ishaq, India's Contribution to the Study of Hadith Literature (Dhaka: Univ. of Dacca, 1955); M. G. Zubaid Ahmad, The Contribution of Indo-Pakistan to Arabic Literature (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1946/1968); Annemarie Schimmel, Islamic Literatures of India, vol. 7, fasc. 5 in series A History of Indian Literature, ed. Jan Gonda (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1973), 1-8, 48-52; Ismail K. Poonawala, Bibliography of Ismaili Literature (Malibu, Calif.: Undena Publications, 1977); Shahabuddin Ansari, '"Islam and Islamic Studies: An Annual Bibliography of Articles," Islam and the Modern Age 13.4 (1982): 252-303; 14.4 (1983): 299-372; 15.4 (1984): 209-300; 17.1/2 (1986): 33-131; Mohammed Haroon, Islamic Literature: Indian Contribution (New Delhi: Indian Bibliographies Bureau, 1996); Ali Asani, "India," in Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, ed. Julie Meisami and P. Starkey (London: Routledge, 1998), 1: 395-96; S. A. Siddiqui, "Contributions of Indian Muslims to Islamic Studies," The Muslim World League Journal 30 (2002): 34-39.

Urdu studies of the same include Jamil Ahmad, Harakat al-ta' lif bi al-lugha al-'arabiyya fi al-iqlim al-shimali al-hindi fi al-qarnayn al-thamin 'ashar wa al-tasi 'ashor (Damascus: Wizarat al-Thaqafa, 1977); Shabbir Ahmad Qadirabi, 'Arabi zaban o abad 'ahd-i mughliyya men (Lucknow: Nizami Press, 1982); Athar Sher, 'Arabi Farsi awr 'ulum islamiyya men Bihar ka hissa (Patna: Idara-e Tahqiq-e 'Arabi o Farsi, 1983); Zubayr Shams Tabriz Khan, 'Arabi adab men Hindustan ka hissa 'ahd-i saltanat-i Dihli men 1206 ta 1526 (Lucknow: Nizami Press, 1989); Ahmad al-Faruqi, Musahamat dar al-ulum bi-Deoband fi al-adab al-'arabi hatta 'am 1400H/1980CE (New Delhi: Dar al-Faruqi, 1990).

(52.) Brockelmann, GAL, Suppl. 2, 309-12, 598-628, 849-64.

(53.) E.g., Salamullah Dehlvi, al-Kamalayn hashiyat al-jalalayn; Turab Ali, al-Hilalayn hashiyat al-jalalayn.

(54.) Abul Kalam Azad, Tarjuman al-Quran, 3 vols. (Lahore, 1931-1936).

(55.) Schimmel, Islamic Literatures of India, 3.

(56.) Cf. Siddiqui, "Contributions of Indian Muslims to Islamic Studies," 38.

(57.) Complied c. 1760 to 1828 by a group of scholars led by Shaykh Nizam.

(58.) A comprehensive study of Arabic poetry in India is Ahmad Idris, al-Adab al-arabi fi shibh al-qarra al-hindiyya hatta awali al-quran al-ishrin (Cairo: Ayn lil-Dirasat wa-al-Buhuth al-Insaniyya wa-al-Ijtimaiyya, 1998). Other studies include M. A. Muid Khan, The Arabian Poets of Golconda (Bombay: Univ. of Bombay Press. 1963); M. A. K. Masumi, "'Nazra ala shu ara al-arabiyya fi al-hind," Thaqafatul-Hind 17 (1966): 91-114; Muhammad Yonsuf Kokan, Arabic and Persian in Carnatic 1710-1960 (Madras: Hafiza House, 1974); Muhammad Faruq Bukhari, Kashmir men arabi shir o adab (Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, 1993).

(59.) Diwan (MS), Asafiyyah library, Hyderabad. Cf. Masumi, "Nazra ala shu ara al-arabiyya fi al-hind," 98-112.

(60.) Khan, The Arabian Poets of Golconda, 121-22.

(61.) Sayyidna Tahir Sayf al-Din, Diwan: Jawahir al-balagha al-ladunniyya, 2 vols. (Dubai: Anjuman-i Najmi, 1414 H [1993]).

(62.) For details about most of the existing libraries named here in the text, see Desai, Centres of Islamic Learning, 95-125.

(63.) See Catalogue of the Arabic and Persian Manuscripts in the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, 37 vols. (Patna: The Library, 1970ff.).

(64.) See Catalogue of the Arabic and Persian Manuscripts in the Oriental Public Library at Bankipore, 34 vols. (Patna: Superintendent, Govt. Print., Bihar, 1908ff.).

(65.) See S. A. Zafar Nadvi, "Libraries during the Muslim Rule in India," pt. 1, Islamic Culture 19.4 (1945): 329-47; pt. 2, Islamic Culture 20.1 (1946): 3-20.

(66.) For details, see Abidi, "Arabic and Persian Studies."

(67.) See A. Zaibunnisa, ed., A Descriptive Catalogue of the Islamic Manuscripts, pt. 2: "Arabic manuscripts" (Madras: Government Oriental Manuscript Series, 1995), 10-52.

(68.) Islamic Culture, Hyderabad Deccan, quarterly, 1927ff.; first published by the Nizam's government; from 1948, published by the Islamic Culture Board, Hyderabad. Deccan; from 1997, published by the Academic and Cultural Publications Charitable Trust, Hyderabad; currently edited by Shahid Ali Abbasi; articles in English on Islamic cultural issues, including topics related to Arabic language and literature, by scholars from India and worldwide. Includes some editions and translations of texts.

(69.) Journal of Islamic History, Delhi, publication of the Institute of Islamic and Arab Studies, Society of Islamic History, 1995ff.; papers in English and Arabic on Islamic history, from early Islam to modern times; articles by contributors from India and outside India, particularly from scholars affiliated with universities in the Middle East.

(70.) On the Persian malfuzat literature of India, see K. A. Nizami, "Malfuzat," El (2); idem, "Historical Significance of the Malfuz Literature," in his On History and Historians of Medieval India (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1988). 163-97; Ziyauddin Desai, Malfuz Literature as a Source of Political, Social, and Cultural History of Gujarat and Rajasthan in 15th Century (Patna: Khuda Bakhsh Library, 1991).

(71.) Ibn Taymiyya, quoted in al-Jundi, al-Fusha lughat al-Qur'an, 256.

(72.) See the editorial detailing this aspect in the first issue of the journal Islamic Culture.

(73.) Idris, al-Adab al-'arabifi shibh al-qarra al-hindiyya, 15-16.

(74.) Ibid., 1, my translation.

(75.) See examples of such poetry in Idris, al-Adab al-'arabi fi shibh al-qarra al-hindiyya.

(76). See translations of two Indian maqamas in R. Y. Ebeid and M. J. L. Young, 'Arabic Literature in India: Two Maqamat of Abu Bakr al-Hadrami, Studies in Islam 15.1 (1978): 14-20.

(77.) See, for example, anon., Unpublished Arabic and Persian Books on Graeco-Arab Medicine written in India from 634/1236 to the end of 19th Century (New Delhi: Institute of History of Medicine and Medical Research, [1969]): M. Azeez Pasha, ed., Union Catalogue of Arabic and Persian Medical Manuscripts in the Libraries of Hyderabad (Hyderabad. Deccan: Osmania Medical College, 1966).

(78.) For example. Qadi Shihab al-Din Dawlatabi (d. 1445) wrote a commentary on Ibn Hajib's (d. 1249) Kafiya; he also composed al-Irshad fi al-nahw, which later became a standard grammar book in Indian madrasas.

(79.) Some Urdu studies by Indian scholars on Middle Eastern Arabic literature are 'Ali Ahmad Rif'at, 'Arabi adab (Bhadalpur: Urdu Academy, 1962): Muhammad al-Rabi al-Hasani al-Nadwi, al-Adab al-'arabi bayna ard wa-naqd (Lucknow: Maktabat Dar al-'Ulum li-Nadwat al-'Ulama', 1965); Ihtisham Ahmad Nadwi, Jadid 'arabi adab ka irtiqa (Rai Breli District: Masud-ul-Hasan, 1969).

(80.) Desai, Centres of Islamic Learning, 11.

(81.) For details on the use of the Arabic script to write Indian languages, see Suniti Kumar Chatterji. "Sanskrit in Perso-Arabic Script; A Side-Light on the Medieval Pronunciation of Sanskrit in Kashmir and Northern India." Indian Linguistics 7 (1939): 317-40; N. S. Gorekar, "Indian Vernaculars in the Arabico-Persian Script," Indica 2.1 (1965): 35-46; M. M. M. Mahroof, "Arabic-Tamil in South India and Sri Lanka: Language as Mimicry," Islamic Studies 32.1 (1993): 169-89; Stuart McGregor, "The Progress of Hindi," pt. I: "The Development of a Transregional Idiom," in Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia, ed. Sheldon Pollock (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 2003), chap. 16.

(82.) See details on these groups in Nawab Aziz Jang Bahadur, Tarikh al-Nawa it (Hyderabad, Deccan: Villa Academy, 1902/1976); M. M. Alwaye, "al-Marakiz al-ula li'l-thaqafa al 'arabiyya fi al-hind,'' Thaqafatu'l-Hind 15.4 (1964): 55-64; R. E. Miller, "Mappilla," [El.sup.2]; M. Mines, "Labbai," EI; I. Poonawala, "Naityas," [El.sup.2]; G. Bouchon, "Quelques aspects de l'islamisation des regions maritimes de 1'Inde a i'eqoque medievale (XII-XVIe s.)," Purusartha9 (1986): 29-36; Mohammad Koya, "Muslims of Malabar with Special Reference to their Distinctive Character" (Ph.D. thesis, Calicut Univ., 1988); Wink, Al-Hind, 1: 67-86.

(83.) Cf. T. Rahman, "Rahman, "The Teaching of Arabic," 158-61.

(84.) Some of these articles, all published in Thaqafatu'l-Hind, are: Humayun Kabir, "al-'A1aqat al-hindiyya alarabiyya," 19.2 (1968): 57-61; Maqbool Ahmad, "Bima-dha tadin al-hind li l-arab?" 18.2 (1967): 18-26; Tara Chand,"al-Alaqat al-hindiyya al-arabiyya qawiyya mundhu fajr al-islam," 14.4 (1963): 1-11; Yahya al-Khashshab, "al-Alam al-arabi wa-al-hind," 15.4 (1964): 48-54.

(85.) Amir Khusraw, "Dibacha-i ghurrat al-kamal," in Khusraw-nama, a special issue of Majalla-i tahqiqat-i farst,ed. Sharif Husayn Qasimi (Delhi: Dept. of Persian, Delhi Univ., 1988), 173.

(86.) Farhang-i Jahangiri, ed. Rahim Afifi (Mashhad: Mashhad Univ. Press, 1975), 1: 16.

(87.) Cf. some details in Aziz Ahmad, "Hind: Islamic Culture," [EIsup.2].

(88.) The founder of this movement, Muhammad b. Abd al-Wahbab of Najd, lived from 1703-1791. The Wahhabis became the dominant religious and political force in the Arabian Peninsula around 1746, when the family of Sa'ud combined their political force with Wahhabi teachings. In 1773, the Principality of Riyadh fell to the Sa'ud family, and ushered in the era of the first Saudi state, establishing Wahhabism as the strongest religio-political force in the Arabic Peninsula. For details, see Ayman al-Yassini. "Wahhabiyah," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, ed. John Esposito (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1995), 4: 307-8.

(89.) Paradoxically, Shah Wali Allah was also the inspiration for the founding of Aligarh Muslim University by the secular reformists.

(90.) Shah Wali Allah, "Al-Maqala al-wadiyya fi al-nasiha wa al-wasiyya," in Majmu'a-ye wasaya arab'a, ed. Muhammad Ayyub Qadiri (Hyderabad Sind: Shah Wali Allah Academy, 1964), 51, 53; Urdu translation, 81, 83-84. The work--ironically--is in Persian. On his life and works, see Marcia Hermansen, "Wali Allah, Shah," in Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, 4: 311-12.


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