The Migration of a Muslim Ritual

Nile Green

in Making Space

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780198077961
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080991 | DOI:
The Migration of a Muslim Ritual

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This chapter examines the migration of the Islamic ritual of the ‘saintly wedding’ or ‘urs from medieval Iran into India. Arriving in India from Iran in the middle ages, ‘urs rituals are still performed by tens of millions of Muslims and Hindus in South Asia to this day and this chapter provides the first attempt to reconstruct the history of this important ritual. Looking at the cultural effects of Muslim migration and settlement, it shows how imported rituals combined with the creation of saintly mausoleum shrines in the creation of a Muslim geography in India. The rituals are traced in texts from medieval Iran, Anatolia (Turkey) and Central Asia, as well as South Asia to show how Indian cultural history was closely connected with a wider Islamic culture area. As a ritual means of ‘making space’, the ‘urs or ‘saintly wedding’ is seen to have been a key tool in the settlement of Muslims into new Indian homelands, eventually winning the patronage of Mughal emperors.

Keywords: Islam; Sufism; Iran; India; South Asia; Central Asia; migration; urs ritual; shrine; saintly wedding; hagiography

Chapter.  11426 words.  Illustrated.

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