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Messianism, rationalism and inter-Asian connections: The Majalis-i Jahangiri (1608–11) and the socio-intellectual history of the Mughal ‘ulama

Abstract : Relying on the Majalis-i Jahangiri (1608-11) by ʿAbd al-Sattar b. Qasim Lahauri, this essay explores some of the discussions the Mughal Emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-27) conducted with a wide range of scholars, from Brahmans and ʿulama to Jesuit padres and Jewish savants. By far the most numerous, the debates bearing on Islam and involving Muslim intellectuals are especially significant on several accounts. First, because they illuminate how, following in the steps of his father Akbar (r. 1556-605), Jahangir was able to conciliate his messianic claims with a strong engagement with reason and to turn this combination into a formidable instrument for confession and state building. These conversations also provide promising avenues to think afresh the socio-intellectual history of the Mughal ʿulama inasmuch as they capture the challenges and adjustments attendant on imperial patronage, depict the jockeying for influence and positions among intellectuals (particularly between Indo-Muslim and Iranian lettrés), and shed light on relatively little known figures or on unexplored facets of more prominent individuals. In addition, the specific role played by scholars hailing from Iran-and, to a lesser extent, from Central Asia-in the juridical-religious disputes of the Indian court shows how crucial inter-Asian connections and networks were in the fashioning of Mughal ideology but also the ways in which the ongoing flow of émigré ʿulama was disciplined before being incorporated into the empire.
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Corinne Lefèvre. Messianism, rationalism and inter-Asian connections: The Majalis-i Jahangiri (1608–11) and the socio-intellectual history of the Mughal ‘ulama. Indian Economic and Social History Review, SAGE Publications, 2017, 54 (3), pp.317-338. ⟨10.1177/0019464617710744⟩. ⟨halshs-01955942⟩

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