SHARED KNOWLEDGE TRADITIONS AND THE EMERGENT MUSLIM IDENTITIES IN BRITISH INDIA IN FRANCIS ROBINSONS’ WRITINGS
History Department, Lahore College for Women University, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.
This article celebrates Francis Robinson’s tremendous contribution to the field of learning about Islamic societies. In particular, this article explains Francis Robinson’s vision and analyses he has offered about the shaping and re-shaping of Muslim knowledge identity formation during British rule in India. For this purpose, argument is built on the basis of representative sample writings of Francis Robinson in different forms, including books, articles and edited volumes from 1980s to 2013. The discussion drawn from the consulted writings of Robinson reveal that seeking knowledge has always been considered an act of worship and salvation in the lives of Muslims. During colonial rule the Muslim ulamas and leaders envisioned in education their deliverance from and co-existence with the British rulers in the Indian sub-continent. Using print for the said cause, there were scores of knowledge identities which emerged during the said period enabling Muslim ulamas to maintain their projected Muslim knowledge identities. Consequently, by the mid twentieth century, the revivalist knowledge identities that came to the surface were those promoted by the traditionalists like Deobandis, Ahl-i Hadith and Farangi Mahallis supporting traditional Islamic knowledge, and modernists like Syed Ahmad Khan, Ashraf Ali Thanvi and Maulana Maududi promoting the cause of modern Islamic education. Such efforts had led to the revival of Islamic knowledge traditions based on Quran and Hadith as well as the consensual knowledge forms supporting principles of Western modern individualism. Francis Robinson’s expansive scholarship provides an intriguing narrative for debate and reflection on Muslim renaissance during British rule in the Indian subcontinent.
Key words: Shared knowledge; Muslim knowledge identities; British India; Ulama.