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Shama-I-Shabistan-I-Raza as a Book of Problem Solving


· Fouzia Farooq Ahmed Quaid-I-AzamUniversity (Islamabad, Pakistan)


07/28 | 15:30-15:50 UTC+2/CEST


Shama-i-Shabistan-i-Raza (paraphrased translation: The Candle (Guide) to the Esoteric (Practices) of Razais a manual of rohani (spiritual) amliyat (acts), tawizat (amulets), falnama (omens) and Khawbnamah (dream interpretation) that were practiced by the founder of Barelvidenomination of Sunni Islam Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi (1856-1921)and other grandees of Barelvi school of thought. This book is considered to be one of the major work of amliyat genre. Using this book, which was compiled byAhmad Raza’s close disciple Iqbal Ahmed Nuri in Urdu in [1970] and later also published in Devanagri script, I will explore the Indo-Islamic tradition of amliyat. I will argue that this book, and the amliyat genre more broadly, offer us insights into the psychological, social and physical problems people have faced in north India and their faith based solutions. I will begin with a careful reading of the content and morphology of the sections of the book that deal specifically with the creation of amulets of various kinds - naqsh (imprints), tawizat (amulets), wazaif (holy verses for recitation). I will show how the text relates to Islamic scripture, and strategically negotiates the line between permissible (nuri) and impermissible (nari) magic. I will also discuss the other contents of the Shamatext, and proceed to place the Shama-i-Shabistan-i-Razawithin the broader landscape of South Asian magical texts. In doing so, I will offer a specific entry into the process of vernacularisation of Islam in South Asia, but also add to the history of social, emotional and physical wellbeing and healing in the region.