Uncolonizable

Freedom in the Muslim mind in colonial British India

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Does Islam offer a vision of freedom? What did freedom’s imagination look like to the colonized Muslims of the Indian subcontinent? In this article, I engage the imagination of freedom of two revolutionary middle actors – Fazal Illahi, a mullah, and Iqbal Shedai, a self-styled middle-class rebel. Drawing upon the Islamic concept of the free human, these men developed a concept of azadi (freedom) making the colonized subjects of British India aware of the issues of dignity and natural human rights, which was more expansive in scope than political freedom that was demanded by the national leaders of the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. Further, by collaborating with anti-imperial internationalists in Europe, these men elevated India’s freedom struggle into an international agenda. By engaging the Islamic concept of freedom and making it an inclusive project for decolonization, the middle actors raised a critical question of the relationship between Islam and the state. I read their freedom imagination by engaging Malik Bennabi’s theory of (un)colonializability and the twelfth-century Islamic philosopher Ibn Arabi’s concept of hayrah (perplexity). I argue that Illahi and Shedai’s interpretation of azadi expands our understanding of freedom as an unenclosed horizon of possibilities, yet to be realized in the subcontinent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalSouth Asian History and Culture
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Feb 15 2016

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Muslim
India
Islam
British India
Colonies
Muslims
twelfth century
decolonization
middle class
human rights
leader
interpretation
imagination

Keywords

  • azadi (freedom)
  • Fazal Illahi
  • Iqbal Shedai
  • Islam
  • Malik Bennabi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Uncolonizable : Freedom in the Muslim mind in colonial British India. / Saikia, Yasmin.

In: South Asian History and Culture, 15.02.2016, p. 1-18.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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