World Philologies Seminar
Do 17 Jan 2013 | 15:00–18:00

Rishi/Sufi Narratives and the Emergence of Muslim Identity in Medieval Kashmir

Mudasir Mufti (Zukunftsphilologie Fellow 2012-2013); Chair: Murat Inan (Zukunftsphilologie Fellow 2012-2013)

Freie Universität Berlin, Raum J24/122d, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

The lecture and seminar will examine some of the important Muslim hagiographies as instances of self-representation at a time when a new religious order was supplanting the earlier one in Kashmir. These accounts provide a clue to the contextual pressures that shaped some idealized versions of sainthood, often highlighted in the stories of Muslim saints vanquishing and converting the Brahmans by displaying superior miracles.  Whether it is appropriating Lalla as a great Muslim woman saint or justifying celibacy and strict vegetarianism within an Islamic paradigm, or Nuruddin's converting numerous Brahamans to Islam, all point to their being ideologically surcharged narratives which played a vital role in the construction of religious identities.
Approaching these texts as discursive rather than transparent and reading them as a part of the process of Islamisation even if they seem to be mere representations of that process reveals how they served as road maps towards a new socio-religious identity which was expected to conform to the models embedded in these narratives. Sanctity thus emerges as a form of power constructed by and embedded in textuality which the lecture-cum-seminar aims to examine.

Mudasir Mufti is a Senior Assistant Professor in the Department of English, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, where he completed his Masters in 2002 and PhD in 2009. For his doctorate he worked on two British dramatists, Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard, from a postmodernist perspective, looking into the problems of language, power, subjectivity, memory and history as reflected in the works of these playwrights. Mufti’s interests include literary theory, translation, religious studies and Classical Persian and Arabic literatures. Mufti has translated Mullah Tahir Ghani (d. 1669), the foremost Persian poet of Kashmir, for Penguin, India, which will be published in January 2013. As a fellow of Zukunftsphilologie 2012-2013, he is currently working on some important hagiographical texts of Kashmir written from 16th to 19th centuries. Mufti is focusing on the biographies of Sufis and Rishis of Kashmir to reassess their role in the creation and consolidation of a new religious order. He will try to see how these texts can be read as instances of self-representation aiming to construct and control the identities, beliefs and desires of an emerging social order and will also re-examine the historical validity of such ideas as pluralism and syncretism in the context of Kashmir.

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