Winner of the Albert Hourani Book Award
Sufis created the most extensive Muslim revivalist network in Asia before the twentieth century, generating a vibrant Persianate literary, intellectual, and spiritual culture while tying together a politically fractured world.
In a pathbreaking work combining social history, religious studies, and anthropology, Waleed Ziad examines the development across Asia of Muslim revivalist networks from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. At the center of the story are the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufis, who inspired major reformist movements and articulated effective social responses to the fracturing of Muslim political power amid European colonialism. In a time of political upheaval, the Mujaddidis fused Persian, Arabic, Turkic, and Indic literary traditions, mystical virtuosity, popular religious practices, and urban scholasticism in a unified yet flexible expression of Islam. The Mujaddidi “Hidden Caliphate,” as it was known, brought cohesion to diverse Muslim communities from Delhi through Peshawar to the steppes of Central Asia. And the legacy of Mujaddidi Sufis continues to shape the Muslim world, as their institutional structures, pedagogies, and critiques have worked their way into leading social movements from Turkey to Indonesia, and among the Muslims of China.
By shifting attention away from court politics, colonial actors, and the standard narrative of the “Great Game,” Ziad offers a new vision of Islamic sovereignty. At the same time, he demonstrates the pivotal place of the Afghan Empire in sustaining this vast inter-Asian web of scholastic and economic exchange. Based on extensive fieldwork across Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan at madrasas, Sufi monasteries, private libraries, and archives, Hidden Caliphate reveals the long-term influence of Mujaddidi reform and revival in the eastern Muslim world, bringing together seemingly disparate social, political, and intellectual currents from the Indian Ocean to Siberia.
Brilliant…An outstanding book, which makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Sufism, modern Islamic thought, and the social and political history of the Persianate world.
Ziad does an exceptional job of demonstrating how the Persianate zone was intrinsically bound by dynamic Sufi networks in the eighteenth to twentieth centuries and how these networks provided a place for the exchange of various forms of knowledge and the establishment of institutional structures that continue to be influential until this day.
An important work…Ziad provides a riveting account of how history has buffeted the fortunes of the Mujadidi Sufis, from Punjab to the Peshawar valley, Kabul, Bukhara and Turkey.
Hidden Caliphate announces the arrival of a major new scholar. By focusing on the more recent past of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Ziad recenters the study of the Sufi tradition, which all too often has been relegated to the realm of metaphysics and poetry. He brings a contested period to light with encyclopedic insight. I heartily recommend this book.
A major achievement. In this innovative, well-written book Ziad shows us a region knit together by the networks of the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufis. He is the first to set out their massive influence across Central Asia, Afghanistan, and northwest South Asia, and in the process reveals how limited was the understanding of the colonial powers in the Great Game.
Equipped with an impressive array of primary sources, Ziad skillfully dismantles restrictive notions of region and sovereignty and casts aside binaries such as that of Sufis and ulama. He then offers us a breathtaking view of a Persian cosmopolis held together by vibrant networks of Naqshbandi Sufis in the politically turbulent eighteenth century. This hugely important book should be read across a range of disciplines.
A pioneering study of the Mujaddidi Sufi networks that spanned the eastern Islamic world, from Siberia to India, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Grounded in a prodigious range of sources, Hidden Caliphate shows how the order’s doctrinal, ritual, and institutional dimensions offered intellectual and social cohesion for Muslims across this vast region before and after the advent of colonial domination.
Refreshingly original, Hidden Caliphate shows how the Mujaddidi Sufis combined high textual tradition with ecstatic Sufism and local rituals and thus built a seminal authority to unite diverse communities across Central Asia, Afghanistan, and South Asia. Ziad brings a vital new perspective on a region long understood only through the narrow lens of European imperial histories.
A brilliant transregional study of the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi scholastic–religious networks (the batini khilafat) in Khurasan, Hindustan, and Transoxiana that significantly advances the field of Persianate studies. Ziad traces sacred networks of cultural and economic exchange as well as the leadership structure that helped maintain a degree of stability during a time of political decentralization. A must-read for all interested in Sufism, the Persianate sphere in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the history of the Afghan empire.
- 2022, Winner of the Albert Hourani Book Award
- 2023, Winner of the AIPS Book Prize
- 368 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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