Appropriations and Contestations of the Islamic Nomenclature in Muslim North India

Elitism, Lexicography, and the Meaning of The Political

in Contributions to the History of Concepts


This article comprises a twofold attempt: the first is to establish a semantic field that revolves around the concept of siyāsat—roughly equivalent to the political—in Muslim South Asia; the second is to trace semantic shifts in this field and to identify circumstances that may have prompted those shifts. It is argued here that the terms that constitute the semantic field of the political oscillate between two sociolinguistic traditions: a strongly Islamicate Arabic one, and a more imperially oriented Persian one. Another linguistic shift is indicated with the replacement of Persian by Urdu as the dominant literary idiom in and beyond North India since the eighteenth century. The aim is to serve only as a starting point for a more intensive discussion that brings in other materials and perspectives, thus helping to elucidate the tension between normative aspirations by ruling elites and actual political praxes by variant socioeconomic groups.

Only recently have first attempts been undertaken to apply the approaches of a European history of concepts to extra-European contexts, with a growing emphasis on the Indian subcontinent.1 A start has been made with semantic fields capturing emotions and the related concepts of civility and progress. For this article, general inspiration is drawn from the quest of noted political scientist Sudipta Kaviraj for significant semantic shifts in the notion of politics or the political.2 Kaviraj, in turn, seems initially inspired by a—albeit rather loose—reception of Reinhart Koselleck’s concept of a saddle period (Sattelzeit),3 and consequently he embarks on an exploration into possible periods of significant semantic change of the political in Indian history.

Based on an investigation into the literary language of Hindi and Bengali, Kaviraj is—at least implicitly—suggesting three such periods of profound shifts in the semantic field of the political in early and later modernity, framed here as “a brief history of modern power.”4 He does, however, not substantiate any further why, for him, certain events in political history would be of relevance for a history of concepts. As such, the suggestion of those three periods appears rather to be an imposition of preconceptions, based on structural changes in the political culture rather than an unadulterated observation of linguistic developments in the concept of the political as a complex semantic field, which in turn might lead to a quite different periodization.

However, despite my points of disagreement with Kaviraj’s exposition, it contains one element that proves conducive for the task at hand. I am referring to the fact that the pivot in Kaviraj’s exposition, the Hindi term rājºnīti, is explicitly linked to its premodern Sanskrit usage and is strongly impacted by religious and socioreligious criteria—here especially the varṇāśramadħarma (the Indian framework for social stratification commonly called the “caste system”). Similarly, the terms used by non-Dravidian Muslims in the subcontinent originate almost exclusively from Arabic and have clear religious and socioreligious connotations, which were never fully lost in the semantic developments over time. Yet, what will be discussed in this article are certain oscillations between an exclusively Islamic extreme on the one hand, and on the other an equally exclusive imperial extreme, reflecting elitist attempts to establish a valid language regime for the lands under their domination. Of course, neither of the extremes has ever been fully realized beyond the formulation of ideological aspirations. Nonetheless, it is argued here that one can find periods in which the normative aspirations in the respective language regime have leaned more to one of the two sides.

For this article, in addition to Kaviraj, I also draw inspiration from the enterprise of Koselleck and his coauthors insofar as my focus will be on elite representations of semantic change. This approach must inevitably be supplemented by nonelite contributions to provide a clearer picture of complex sociopolitical constellations in which normative claims of conceptual validity were, and are, negotiated. Taking inspiration from the authors of the monumental Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe (henceforth GG), the textual body for the following investigation consists of conscious top-down attempts to establish a language regime that claims validity for an entire polity as its frame of reference. These normative claims, it will be argued, benefit from the adoption of religiously sustained concepts—here originally Arabic Islamic ones—that, however, clash with alternative patterns of sustaining normative claims that have been derived from the pre-Islamic Persian imperial tradition. Both lexicons, it will be shown, became deeply intermingled in Muslim North India since at least the early sixteenth century. Semantic shifts in the following centuries would oscillate between these two poles: an Islamic one that was more strongly informed by Arabic semantics, and an imperial one that drew inspiration from Persian semantics, many of them originating in pre-Islamic times. A new phase of profound shifts in the semantic field of the political—now increasingly embracing Hindustani or Urdu as a new dominant idiom—was very much triggered by British High Imperialism, benefitting from the abolition of direct Muslim rule in the north of the subcontinent, and the subsequent emergence of anticolonial independence movements around the time of World War I.

The conceptual pivot of the following investigation is siyāsa(t),5 a quite complex and even elusive term that appears to refer to a rather broad range of possible contexts. The various auxiliary concepts that shape the semantic field of the political, in turn, depend very much on the respective context that siyāsa may allude to. If, for instance, siyāsa signifies a distinct space, then concepts of public and private may come into play; as a set of institutions, or also as a distinct practice, all those concepts would apply that indicate the defining qualities of leadership and administration as well as particular tasks that fall into the remit of siyāsa; related concepts here would be power and might, as well as justice and equity. Unfortunately, the highly normative materials used here do not provide an unambiguous meaning of siyāsa, which makes it difficult in turn to establish a more clearly defined semantic field of the political. For the present investigation, therefore, the focus will be on administrative terms, concepts of rule and leadership, those of control, and, finally, those that aim at encapsulating the ethical supremacy of a ruler. In order to succeed in establishing a field that comprises all four of these dimensions, a semasiological approach to the broader semantic field of siyāsa had to be pragmatically combined with an onomasiological investigation into the historical equivalences to the more narrowly defined politics. The former, however, takes its starting point from imperial lexicography, and thus a highly normative kind of material that would very much benefit from further studies on other and perhaps less normative literary genres that could then be related to the literature used here.

The Corpus, or Lexicography as a Discursive Practice

As a first step in identifying a conceptual universe of the political in Muslim North India, the focus of this article is on an elitist and normatively imbued textual corpus. In this, the approach follows the suggestions of the authors of the GG, who clearly placed emphasis on early modern dictionaries and encyclopedias, as well as philosophical and, although to a much lesser extent, theological works that would strongly inform the content of the various lemmas and encyclopedic entries.6 However, we need to be constantly alert to the fact that dictionaries and encyclopedias are not neutral seismographs for profound semantic changes, but come with rather heavy ideological baggage. This was well acknowledged by the, in this regard, emblematic French encyclopédistes, who made no pretense of their elitist aspiration to establish a new language regime against what they considered to be the previously valid yet no longer timely ones: “This work [the Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers] … the purpose of [which] is to collect knowledge disseminated around the globe; to set forth its general system to the men with whom we live, and transmit it to those who will come after us, so that the work of preceding centuries will not become useless to the centuries to come,”7 and “will over time certainly cause an intellectual revolution.”8 Thus, better perhaps than anywhere else, in the Encyclopédie project we can see a confluence of a systematic collection of past and present knowledge with an aspiration to establish the paradigm for similar endeavors in the future, expressed in a confluence of lexicographical practice and philosophical justification of societal values.

Such views, however, are not usually sustainable. Diderot, editor of the Encyclopédie project, himself admitted that an encyclopdia aims at “propos[ing] to fix the meaning of the terms of a language, by defining those which can be defined, through a short, meticulous, clear, and precise enumeration or the qualities of ideas attached to them.”9 This, in turn, requires that the terms and concepts comprised in an encyclopedia have already been out in the social and political space. We will therefore have to ask for the various specific genres in which such terms and concepts are coined, discussed, and, finally, established in a particular meaning, because their lexicalization appears to be the final step in what shall be considered here a discursive practice.10 After all, the process toward lexicalization is ultimately one of negotiating and eventual enforcement of normative validity claims that are inseparably tied to political and social practices of knowledge production. This has most recently been made the center of Walter N. Hakala’s important work for the South Asian context.11

In the Muslim context in general, those practices are usually rooted in the texts of divine revelation, be they verbal (matlū) or, as precedents of actions (sunnāt), nonverbal (ghayr-matlū).12 These texts, however, require constant reinterpretation in the light of changing contexts; those concerned with this task are, depending on their respective angle and approach, either philosophers, theologians, or jurists.13 It is, then, their works that we need to turn to, as it is in these works that the normative foundations were elucidated in correspondence with the respective social and political contexts in which they have been produced.

These works have had a strong impact on another literary genre that can roughly be characterized as advice literature (naṣīḥāt, ādāb, and akhlāq), aiming at explaining how the normative foundations carved out by philosophers, theologians, and jurists should be applied to political rule. Transitions especially between the producers of these two types of material are rather fluent, and rooted in the complex functional relationship between rulers and (religious) scholars of these three different orientations.14 However, with this type of material—advice literature as well as its theoretical foundation—we remain still within the realm of the prescriptive, meaning that we can hardly obtain any information about whether the good counsel was eventually acted upon. This is where the official historiographies, especially grand chronicles, come into play: as indicators, namely, for the endorsement of normatively charged terms and concepts during a particular reign. Moreover, the fact that these chronicles are usually commissioned works,15 which force the authors to please their respective patrons, suggests that indeed only the affirmed meaning of a term is reproduced, and thus we may obtain a fair idea of the self-perception of political rule from the rulers themselves.

The institutionalization of such affirmed meaning in dictionaries and encyclopedias, finally, sells these meanings to the readership of dictionaries and encyclopedias as objectified and generally valid. It is in this final step that the initially still debatable normativity—both as language regime and standards of action—becomes established, and then it becomes binding for the communicative praxis of a wide and usually rather anonymous audience, regardless of the social position within a given polity. Moreover, such authoritatively enshrined words and their meaning have a direct impact on wider literary production; almost all of the proper16 Indo-Persian dictionaries consulted here clearly indicate as their target audience the literary elites of the courts, over and above the poets.17 On the other hand, dictionaries contribute significantly to the establishment of a literary canon by their selective references to prevalent usages of the terms incorporated.18

What has been said about the dictionaries in the Indo-Persian context applies to encyclopedias (da’irāt, or mawsū‘āt) only to a limited extent. After all, this literary genre remained structurally consistent across the centuries, beginning with the Iḥṣā’ al-‘Ulūm of Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī (d. 339/950) and all the way to at least the eighteenth century.19 At the center of Muslim encyclopedic activities was the highly complex classification of the sciences and not the definition of complex terminology in the sense of the French Encyclopédic. Most Indo-Persian works of this kind seem to more or less continue with the classification of the sciences, occasionally including discussions of natural phenomena, yet remain largely silent on those philosophically inspired concepts that interest us here.20 While we may therefore keep our focus more on the Indo-Persian and, later, Urdu dictionaries than on the encyclopedias, the fact that the formal division between the two genres is, or was, not as clear-cut as one may hope needs to be taken into account. Thus, for example, the Farhang-i Qavvās of Fakhr al-Dīn Mubārakshāh Qavvās Qazvīnī (d. unknown), dating back to the reign of Sultan ‘Alā al-Dīn Khiljī (r. 1296–1316 CE)21 and widely considered to be the second major New Persian dictionary,22 comes closer to a contemporary understanding of an encyclopedia rather than a dictionary, although it does not cover abstract political concepts. Nonetheless, as we shall see below, it is in fact an encyclopedia rather than a dictionary that provides us, at least for the time being, with the most expansive definitions of those terms that may be considered to belong to the semantic field of the political in a Muslim context. First, however, a closer look at the origins of these terms.

Entangled Normativities: “Islamic” and—or versus—“Imperial” Nomenclatures

The common term used for politics among North Indian Muslims is siyāsat, a Persianized form of an Arabic verbal noun from the verbal root √s-w-s, which literally means “to tend” or “to manage”23 This term initially referred to the management of herd animals in a pastoral-nomadic society, a fact that is corroborated by the old Hebrew sûs (horse)24 and the early Arabic active participle sā’is (animal trainer or manager).25 At some time during the formative period of Islam, the term was applied to human beings, as indicated in a commonly accepted authoritative saying of the Prophet Muḥammad (ḥadīth). In it, the Prophet employed the metaphors of shepherd and flock, and stressed that overall “you all are a shepherd and responsible for your respective flock” (kullukum rā‘in wa-kullukum mas’ūlun ‘an ra‘iyyatih),26 thus establishing a (slightly disproportionate) mutual responsibility—here supposedly with an emphasis on religious advancement—as the social glue that keeps a Muslim polity together. Yet, mutuality is not the only aspect that had been derived from this ḥadīth: it also clearly indicates that the polity is stratified to such an extent that “the commander is the shepherd of the people and responsible for his flock” (fa’l-amīr alladhī ‘alá ‘l-nās rā‘ī wa-huwa mas’ūlun ‘an ra‘iyyatih).27

In fact, it is this very notion of hierarchy in the concept of siyāsa that the prose writer and Abbasid courtier ‘Abdallāh ibn al-Muqaffa‘ (executed ca. 139/756) emphasized. For this rather recent convert to Islam of Persian origin, siyāsa consisted first and foremost in a ruler’s noncoerced authority outside any regulative framework.28 The roots for this particular understanding, which in fact seems to legitimize monarchical rule outside a clear religious context, may be found in the imperial pre-Islamic Sasanian understanding of politics; this point, however, would require some much deeper investigation. What is nonetheless interesting and can, in fact, support the hypothesis of the pre- Islamic imperial Iranian impact on this particular notion of the political are the various complementary terms that the former Zoroastrian Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ has used here. After all, they indicate that already at this early point in time, we encounter a confluence of distinct Islamic socioreligious concepts and other more worldly ones. For example, while in most instances the ruler is depicted as “commander of the faithful” (amīr al-mu’minīn), a title presumably adopted first by the second Medinese caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (assassinated 23/644),29 or as “guide” (imām), Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ has also frequently labeled him “holder of power, or might” (sulṭān).30 This term does not immediately suggest a religious “commodity,” all the more so as it possesses Akkadian and Syriac equivalents.31

By the ninth century CE, when the canonization of the ḥadīth was undertaken, the terms siyāsa and sulṭān were already enshrined in one of the earliest known Arabic dictionaries, the Kitāb al-‘Ayn, attributed to Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Farāhīdī (d. 170/786).32 It is interesting to note that while the definition of siyāsa reflects the pre-Islamic usage of the term “management,” sulṭān is clearly related to political authority. With reference to the Quranic verse 69:29, in which a person laments about the loss of his entire might (halaka ‘annī sulṭānih) on Judgment Day, al-Farāhīdī defined the term as “power of disposal [qudrat al-malk] (like the boss mare has over the other mares, or the boss camel over the [other] camels), and similarly the power that is ascribed to a king.”33

While this excursion into early Islamic history seems a bit far-fetched for the Indo-Muslim context at the core of this article, the role of an Arabic Islamic nomenclature for the formation of an Indo-Muslim political identity should not be underestimated. After all, the wealth of standard Arabic dictionaries in manuscript collections across the subcontinent suggests an awareness of the—rather constructed—interdependence between the Arabic linguistic universe and an Islamically connoted conceptual framework for the justification of political rule.34 Yet, what needs some further elucidation is the conceptual undercurrent that informs the eventual take on siyāsa as either a social practice of mutual responsibility or a top-down administration of disempowered subjects; both undercurrents became frequently referred to in the imperial dictionaries and encyclopedias to sustain certain political agendas by those whocommissioned the compilation of those works in the first place. Either subcurrent is informed by respective political praxes in either the Arab pastoralnomadic tribal societies or the ruler-centric elitism in pre-Islamic Iran; depending on origins and persuasions of the author, an exposition on siyāsa was informed by one or the other, while either one would claim sustenance from religious interpretation. Thus, for an early author of Persian origin like Ibn al-Muqaffa‘, the top-down interpretation of the Prophet Muḥammad’s own metaphor of shepherd and flock resembled the unconditional submission of believers to God: submission to political rule thus becomes a religious imperative.35 This notion, in fact, tied in with the understanding that the head of a polity was not only a “commander” (amīr), or worldly ruler able to use force, but first and foremost a “guide” (imām), and as such responsible for safeguarding the religion and steering the community toward salvation.36 It is this latter aspect that medieval Arab Muslim thinkers—all of whom have found wide reception in Indo-Muslim scholarly circles and beyond—stressed, either implicitly or explicitly, depending on their proclivities. In the Persianate world, and in Muslim North India in particular, the notion that stresses the crucial importance of religious jurisprudence (fiqh) for the welfare of the polity—enshrined in the concept of “common good” (maṣlaḥa) as the ultimate end of the revealed law (maqṣūd al-sharī‘a)37—appears to have played a much lesser role than a philosophical notion of good governance that proved to be much more flexible in aligning political practice with political aspiration.38 Indeed, this would form a most worthwhile future inquiry: does the linguistic form of a lemma—in this case Arabic—determine its semantics even when taken over in other idioms—here Persian—or does a “Persian semantic universe” also shape the semantics of the Arabic terms? Such a research direction would, of course, require systematic metareflections on multilingualism and the significance of translation, which then feed into a strong methodical framework that is able to clearly capture what, for now, seems still rather elusive. It shall suffice at this point to bear in mind the notion of good governance that styles a ruler almost as an affectionate father of those under his government when looking a bit closer into the Indo-Muslim context.

Persianization(s) and Counter-Persianization(s) in Medieval and Early Modern South Asia

Little textual evidence seems available on the time around the early Muslim conquest of Sind and lower Punjab under the Umayyad military commander Muḥammad ibn Qāsim al-Thaqafī (d. 96/715) in 705 CE. The famed Chach’nāmah, also known by a number of different titles, was written by ‘Ali ibn Hamid-i Kūfī (fl. around 613/1216) only about five centuries later and does not provide many clues on an eventual early Indo-Muslim conception of the political.39 The situation in the Dravidian South might have been different but must for practical reasons remain outside the scope of this article. Thus, the earliest prominent texts that, moreover, already reveal some development in the perception of the political date one and two centuries, respectively, after the Chach’nāmah. While, as the title already suggests, the Ādāb al-Harb va ‘l-Shajā’ah of Muḥammad ibn Manṣūr Mubārakshāh “Fakhr-i Mudabbir” (d. 633/1236) was written within the context of the emergence of the first Delhi Sultanate and in reminiscence of the Ghaznavid and Ghurid military excursions into North India, the Fataāvá-yi Jahān’dārī of Z̤iyā’ al-Dīn Baranī (d. after 758/1357) relates to a time when Muslim rule in North India was a continuous reality already for more than a century. Both texts may be considered roughly as “Mirrors for Princes,” Baranī’s explicitly so,40 and as such they transport a certain normative understanding of good governance at their respective times.41

While both works present the controversial Maḥmūd ibn Sebüktegïn of Ghaznī (d. 421/1030) as the epitome of good rule, they nonetheless reflect clearly the changed context in what is considered to be good rule and reflect, therefore, rather the counsel both authors wished to provide to their respective actual rulers, Shams al-Dīn Iltutmish (r. 1211–1236 CE) and Fīrūz Shāh Tughluq (r. 1351–1388 CE).42 As the title of his work already suggests, strength in military pursuit was for Fakhr-i Mudabbir one, if not the, benchmark for the greatness of a ruler. The examples provided for illustration were predominantly taken from the early days of Islam, up to the Medinese and early Umayyad caliphates, although it is interesting to note that he remained silent on the conqueror of Sind, Muḥammad ibn Qāsim. Since for Fakhr-i Mudabbir impromptu military raids (lashkar) under the banner of Islam were at the core of the “royal craft,” the “management” (siyāsat) of the subdued territories constituted only one quality of rule, standing equally beside the administration of justice (‘adl) that is supplemented by clemency (ḥilm), forgiveness (‘afū), mercy (shafaqat), and compassion (raḥmat).43 The exemplary function of the ruler—labeled alternatively sulṭān or pādͥshāh—is justified by an explicit recourse to the above Prophetic ḥadīth of the shepherd and the flock: its meaning is explained as the desire of the kings and governors (pādͥshāhān va valiyān) to administer remedies to the grievances of their subjects in accordance to the sharī‘a wherever explicit provisions have been made, or else in accordance with their own prudence.44 What transpires here is that Fakhr-i Mudabbir did not question the institution of kingship, nor did he seem to have felt the need to develop arguments for its necessity.

This has apparently not changed much a little over a century later with Baranī, for whom too “no possession of the world [jahān’dārī, dominion] is feasible without the ways of those who possess the world, their might and magnificence [saṭvat va ‘aẓamat-i jahān’dārān], and it has not been feasible for anyone on earth.”45 Criterion for feasibility, in turn, was for Baranī the administration of justice (‘adl), which is inseparably linked to religion; in fact, “justice prevents tyranny and oppression through the commandments of religion [ba-aḥkām-i dīn].”46

However, as opposed to Fakhr-i Mudabbir, the emphasis in Baranī seems to be not so much how to seize the world but rather how to keep it, as the term jahān’dārī obviously implies. Thus, stress is put on the qualities of a ruler, not of a conqueror; hence, much ink was devoted to the elaboration of courtly structures and the importance of constant counseling by the learned ones. What is interesting, though, is that Baranī acknowledged a great discrepancy between his normative expectation and the political reality in the Sultanate of the Tughluqs. On a normative basis, he remained adamant that the precondition for “good governance in kingship” (maṣāliḥ-i jahān’dārī) was the firm establishment of Islam—the “truth” (ḥaqq), as he called it—which needed to be firmly established across the dominion. Yet, he also conceded that, in political practice, non-Muslims were treated almost equal to Muslims, something that would be at odds with the axiomatic claim for leadership radiated from the Islamic normative tradition.47 It was perhaps this acknowledgment of imbalance between normative expectation and empirical observation that eventually led to the evolution of a more pragmatically oriented political nomenclature, which to some extent maintained Islamic garb while embracing non-Islamically grounded semantics of imperial terminology. In other words, the nomenclature, devised by a numerical minority, needed to be practicable also for Indians of different religious persuasions. Authors like Baranḥ, however, seemed still unable to overcome the discrepancy between normative expectation and empirical observation. Thus, while the Fatāvá-yi Jahān’dārī can well be considered a milestone in the shaping of a Persianized Muslim political culture48 on the Indian subcontinent, Baranī still firmly rejected the pre-Islamic Persian notion of governance (pādͥshāhī) and emphasized the necessity of orienting any political endeavor to Prophetic precedence (sunnat-i nabī).49 Later authors, however, would take—or would be made to take—a more pragmatic stand and embrace also indigenous concepts of the political, which they then presented in Persian garb.50 As a result, the camp of scholars concerned with the notion of the political in Muslim North India would split into two major factions, one more normatively inclined, the other more pragmatically. At times, either side would represent the official policy, while the other would be accused of either deviating from Islamic precepts or being hard-nosed on the persistence on Muslim supremacy.

The considerations on pragmatism or its rejection lead us to a brief appraisal of the space in which elite discourses were shaped: the court society.51 In this complex social figuration, powers and validities were negotiated among a widely stratified elite community, pivoting around a ruler and his or, in rare cases, her immediate family. Access to proportionally less power and prestige was dependent on the favor of the monarch, which led to a wide network of favoritism and patronage. We have strong reasons to assume that lexicographers, at least those under review here, were part of these complex and multilayered networks, and that it was within their remit to negotiate the imperial aspirations of the ruler and that of his, or her, subordinates within courtly society. In the Indian context, this also meant navigation among various regional, religious, and linguistic groups of courtiers who had all to be kept in good spirits, which required great diplomatic tact by the ruler as well as all his, or her, subordinates, including the lexicographers.

It appears, however, that this was not yet the prevalent take on the establishment of a distinct elitist language regime in the days of Fakhr-i Mudabbir and Baranī. Their inconsistency in use of terminology for the semantic field of the political seems to suggest their era as a transitional one, and this is also corroborated by the ten dictionaries compiled at the courts of the Delhi Sultanate. Of the seven dictionaries consulted for this article, beginning with the aforementioned Farhang-i Qavvās, hardly any provides us with a substantial discussion of the terms related to the semantic field of the political.52 Entries on related terms are scarce and, if existent at all, extremely brief. Reasons for this might be twofold. First, these dictionaries list exclusively lemmas of Persian (in fact, Dari) and Chaghatay Turkish provenance,53 thus sparing the terms of Arabic origin that have been identified as belonging to the semantic field of the political. Second, and more revealing, the terms have not yet been established with any fixed and, moreover, relevant meaning. It seems that this second reason indeed holds some value, as below findings will indicate. However, a few interesting observations can nonetheless be made from the dictionaries of the Delhi Sultanate period. First, the few brief entries on terms belonging to the semantic field of the political are all ruler-centered: he is the one who deserves attention, be it as “decision maker” (ḥujjat)54 or as “mighty of the cycle (of rule)” (ṣāḥib-i dawlat) whose only overlord would be no one but God, the “Lord of (all) cycles” (ṣāḥib-i dawlatī).55 Second, this ruler centricity is reinforced by the notion of the common people (‘avāmm) as “mob” or “rabble” (awbāsh),56 who are not qualified for agency, and who inevitably require guidance.57

The first dictionary that covers terms of the political, including siyāsah itself, appears to be the Mu’ayyid al-Fuzalā of Muḥammad ibn Shaykh Lā͘d of Delhi, compiled in 1519, that is, only some six years before Bābur’s victory over the Lodīs at Panipat and the first rule of the Mughals.58 In reference to early bilingual Arabic-Persian dictionaries, such as the Tāj al-Maṣādir of Abū Ja‘far Bayhaqī (d. 544/1150) and the late thirteenth-century ṣurāḥ min al-ṣiḥāḥ of Jamāl al-Qarshī (d. after 702/1303), and very much in line with the normatively grounded dichotomy of shepherd and flock, siyāsah has been defined here as the “entrustment with supervising the flock” (ra‘iyyat’dārī kardan) and “preservation of the flocks” (nigāh’dāsht-i ra‘āyā).59 On the other hand, terms like dawlah or ḥukm and their various derivatives are not defined in political terms, while sulṭān is introduced as a synonym to army (sipah).60

With this, we are finally entering the era of the Mughals, for which we know of at least nineteen important dictionaries, the majority of which date between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries.61 Interestingly, the first two major ones date to the reign of Jalāl al-Dīn Akbar (r. 1555–1605), that is, to the period when Mughal rule in the subcontinent had finally consolidated. It is also the period in which political and administrative principles were established and typically presented in the Ā’īn-1 Akbarī of Abū ‘l-Faẓl ‘'Allāmī’ Fahāmī (assassinated 1011/1602), a leading representative of what one may label the “acculturalistic” faction in Akbar’s court and, among others, the court chronicler. While in this work, considered to be an excised part of the voluminous Akbar’nāmah, the principle of ṣulḥ-i kull (lit. “peace with all,” but in fact denoting a strategy of “checks and balances”) had been established as the core political maxim, Muslim political terminology is almost entirely absent. Instead, Abū ‘l-Faz̤l devoted a significant proportion of his work to the discussion of non-Muslim thoughts and practices within the Mughal polity, within it a lengthy exposition of the Hindu political concept rājnīti as “the institution through which command is executed [āʾīn-1 farmānʾravāʾī ]62

Whereas none of the political terms derived from Arabic have been employed here, the entire passage reads like a “Mirror for Princes,” that is to say, it contains advice on good governance yet keeps any reference to religion to a bare minimum by stressing only the piety of a ruler.63 The one term of Arabic origin that war discussed earlier relates to a ruler’s duty toward his subjects: “He should guard [his] subjects [raʿiyyat] from injury caused by clerks, robbers, highway brigands and other miscreants.”64 What might be concluded for this analysis from Abū ‘l-Faz̤l’s explication on rājnīti are two interrelated things. First, none of the distinct Hindu religious elements that constitute the concept in the Sanskrit and Prakrit contexts65 have even been mentioned here. Second, by presenting the non-Muslim Indian “art of politics” in terms that appear to resonate well with Akbar’s own understanding of Muslim piety, the advice bestowed becomes applicable for a Muslim ruler in a Muslim-minority situation and helps thus to integrate one’s own political practice better into the prevailing conditions. Thus, it is hardly surprising that this passage concludes:

In this manner the rules for the administrators of the realms of power [kārʾpardāzān-i salṭanat-i dastūrʾhā] have been laid down and vividly presented in a heart-ravishing speech that highlights entirely [the qualities of] wisdom [āgahī], recognition of merit [qadardānī], courage [purʾdilī], mild temper [kamʾkhishmī], reserve in speech [kam’gūʾī], ardor [jadd’kārī] and benevolence [khayr’andīshī].66

Tendencies such as these, where originally non-Islamic Persian terms were used to make a semantic field of the political, became manifest in the major dictionaries of this time. This was even more so the case when, in May 1597, the aged Akbar himself commissioned Jamāl al-Dīn Īnjū “ʿAz̤ūd al-Dawlah” with the compilation of a dictionary that would help the emancipation of Persian as a cultural idiom from the thus far still dominant Arabic.67 Consequently, all the religiously connoted terms and expressions derived from Arabic were not considered in what Muzaffar Alam has called “the first comprehensive Persian lexicon.”68 The cultural reference point appears to have rather been the Persianate world of Iran and Central Asia. The enormous benefit of a such enforced Persianization was that, without the need to explicitly rescind the normative foundations of Islamic political thought, political rule could draw on the pre-Islamic concepts of divine kingship; this occurs quite clearly from lemmas such as pādͥshāh, the common designation for a political ruler in Iran all the way back to the Achaemenidan Empire between 550 and 330 BCE, which does not preclude semantic developments in this term.69 On the other hand, it was probably the genius of Īnjū to still relate to the Islamic notions of a ruler by defining him as “protector and shepherd [pās va pāsbānī]”70 while using exclusively Persian words, thus charging an initially non-Islamic term with respective religious meaning. Moreover, the ruler’s functional resemblance to God was established by him being the “shepherd over what has been created” [pāsbān-i khalq],71 a notion that is reinforced even more by the synonymously used term khudāvand, a term ostensibly reserved for God alone in the earlier linguistic periods of Persian.72 It appears thus as if Īnjū’s dictionary corroborates the widespread understanding, perpetuated mainly by his opposing faction in court,73 of Akbar as a ruler whose legitimacy was derived not from Islamic precepts but rather from pre-Islamic Iranian and Turk-Mongol concepts of governance.

The such initiated Persianization of the administrative language in the Mughal lands had pragmatic implications too. The “de-Islamization” of nearly all concepts relating to governance greatly facilitated the ability of non-Muslim social and political elites to play an increasingly active part here, a development that continued well into the eighteenth century, as will be discussed in more detail below. On the other hand, they would have been contested by those who saw themselves as guardians of Islam and emphasized the superiority of sharīʿa compliance over anything else.74 For the moment, however, we shall put these reactions aside and continue in our quest to identify points in time at which semantic shifts through processes of Persianizations of the originally Arabic Islamic nomenclature may have occurred.

The reign of Akbar’s successor to the throne, Nūr al-Dīn Jahāngīr, between 1605 and 1627, is widely seen as a continuation and further solidification of this understanding of governance.75 Instrumental in this respect were certainly the three major works of advice on government composed at the imperial center during this period: the Maw‘iẓah-yi Jahāngīrī of Muḥammad Bāqir Khān Najm-i Sānī (d. 1047/1637), completed in 1612; the Akhlāq-i Jahāngīrī of Nūr al-Dīn Qāz̤ī al-Khāqānī, compiled between 1620 and 1622; and finally the Risālah-yi Nūriyyah-yi Sulṭāniyyah of ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq ‘Muḥaddis̠’ Dihlavī (d. 1052/1642). Significantly, however, while all three works had been explicitly dedicated to Jahāngīr,76 other than with the Āʿīn-1 Akbarī there is indication neither that the works were commissioned by the Mughal ruler nor that he actually received them. This fact has certainly had an impact on their respective content, even more so as all three works appear very much in the tradition of earlier Persian “Mirrors for Princes,” such as the Siyāsatʾnāmah of Nizz̤ām al- Mulk (assassinated 485/1092), the Naṣīḥat al-Mulk of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 505/1111), the Akhlāq-i Nāṣirī of Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsiī (d. 672/1274), and the Akhlāq-i Muḥsinī of Ḥusayn bin ʿAlī Vāʿizẓ Kāshifī (d. 910/1504).77 Finally, despite the fact that Najm-i S̠āni enjoyed direct patronage of the monarch,78 the point of reference for all three authors was apparently the religious tradition that they adhered to, and not so much the political practice in the Mughal Empire. Thus, Najm-i S̠ānī was quite clear that a ruler (sulṭān) “must consider that he occupies the throne [only] in order to dispense [justice], not to lead a life filled with pleasure.”79 The administration of justice (ʿadl va inṣāf) in turn depended on “being watered by showers from the cloud of management [siyāsat],” which, finally, needed also to be “based on the laws of justice.”80 For Najm-i Sānī, the goal of siyāsat was not only to contribute to the “adornment of land and community” but ultimately to administer the “common good of religion and state” [maṣlaḥat-i dīn va dawlah].81 Hence, politics became once again subjected to normative Islamic precepts.

This revivalist tendency is notable also at least in the Risālah-yi Nūriyyah-yi Sulṭaniyyah. Gone was the philosophically grounded reflexive notion of siyāsat as expression of self-management and self-containment, which seems to have had an increasing impact on the conception of governance to Akbar.82 In this respect, ʿAbd al-Haqq Dihlavī, but also the Qāz̤ī al-Khāqānī, even reevoked the image of the religious warrior by adding efforts in the propagation of Islam and disposal of its enemies, frequently illustrating their points with examples from the Prophet, his Companions, and other early Arab Muslim personalities.83 In the case of the Akhlāq-i Jahāngīrī, however, these references were also heavily supplemented with examples of pre-Islamic Persian and also various Timurid rulers, a fact that suggests a slightly different viewpoint of its author on the conceptual issue of good governance.

This most voluminous work of the three under review stands indeed in stark contrast to the Risālah of the Muḥaddis Dihlavī insofar as it appears to have continued to endorse a notion of siyāsat and its related concepts that was less based on Islamic precepts than on the disposition of the ruler. For the Qāz̤ī al-Khāqānī, siyāsat, “an important one of the necessities of rule and the dearest objective of citizenship,”84 was inseparably linked to justice (ʿadl va inṣāf), to be administered to the “flock” by its “shepherd.” While in this context he explicitly referred to the above-discussed ḥadīth “kullukum rāʿin,”85 which at first glance suggests a firm Islamic foundation of his argument, the discussion of justice reveals that apparently the Qāz̤ī alKhāqānī had been much less inclined to accept Islamic sharīʿa as the ultimate and sole basis of good governance. Much more in line with earlier philosophical deliberations on that matter,86 justice appears here again much more as a personal disposition of a ruler and less as some externally defined legal entity,87 while siyāsat would then amount to the mere external application of the justice inherent—as defining quality—in the ruler.

From a theoretical perspective, however, the divergence between “Islamic normativity” (sharīʿa)88 and individual disposition (ḥāl) was hardly as extreme and irreconcilable as it seems at a cursory glance.89 After all, both tendencies could be construed as two sides of the same coin, that is, the justification of elite leadership. Its premise can be derived from the Quran as well as from philosophical ethics in the Hellenistic tradition:90 by designation, only some are capable of moral refinement that culminates in the full embodiment of justice. This ability, in turn, became the ultimate criterion for leadership of those who, by their respective disposition, lack this capacity; both sides constitute the Arabic-Islamic dichotomy of a “shepherd and his flock” (rāʿin wa-raʿiyyatuh) that was upheld throughout the Mughal period and even beyond.91 What authors like Muzaffar Alam perceive as a dichotomy of natural propensity and normativity may in fact have only been shifts in the emphasis of a ruler’s disposition as “just” to a ruler’s action as “administration of justice,” or vice versa.

Of course, one should not assume that the theories on governance outlined in the three major “Mirrors for Princes” from the reign of Jahāngīr corresponded necessarily with the political and cultural practice at the imperial court at Lahore; in fact, various studies suggest that Jahāngīr continued and even consolidated various controversial practices of his father, Akbar.92 Despite the image that the advice literature leads us to believe for Jahāngīr’s reign, the court chronicles from that period—here first and foremost Jahāngīr’s own memoirs, Tūzuk-i Jahāngīrī, and its continuation, Iqbālʾnāmah-yi Jahāngīrī by Muʿtamad Khān (d. 1049/1639)—appear to still confirm the view that during the reigns of Akbar and Jahāngīr a significant parting from the Arab legacy, associated not only with Islamic precepts but also strongly with an ethnically rather homogenous and alien cultural environment,93 took place.94 Consequently, what has been labeled here the “Islamic nomenclature” was substituted with Persian equivalents of imperial and non-Islamic origin that were rooted in a culturally distinct environment and tradition. This, in turn, leads me to consider these two reigns, roughly between 1575 and 1630, as a period of conscious attempts to establish top-down a particular language regime with regard to the political. However, whether this is sufficient to argue for its eventual application in practice, and thus for consequential semantic change in this concept and its auxiliaries in Muslim North India, remains to be proven.

With the accession to the throne by Shihāb al-Dīn Muḥammad Shāhjahān in 1628, and even more so with Awrangzīb in 1659, it seems as if there was some return to the “Islamic nomenclature” as the basis for the conceptualization of the political that seems to have continued at least until the ultimate termination of Mughal rule by the British in 1857–1858. For the reign of Shāhjahān, at least three dictionaries have so far been identified, and one of them, the Farhang-i Rashīdī of ʿAbd al-Rashīd Tħaṭħavī (d. 1077/1666), completed in 1636, was considered by H. Blochmann to be of even more sustained importance. More important still, with the Shahld-i ṣādiq of Muḥammad Ṣādiq ibn Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ Iṣfahānī Āzādānī (d. 1060/1650) we possess an encyclopedia from this time that contains a lengthy section of seventy-nine folios on those terms that constitute the semantic field of the political, or, as it is captioned, “On Leadership, Authority, Sovereignty, Conduct and Everything Related.”95 Interestingly, most of the related terms and concepts that this minute taker (vāqiʿahʾnavīs) of the Mughal provincial court at Dacca discusses here relate to the duties of a ruler within an Islamic frame of reference. Besides, most of Āzādānī’s references and illustrative examples either have been taken from the formative period of Islam or had long been integrated into the Islamic framework of reference; this clearly suggests a conscious return to the “Islamic nomenclature” that is rooted in the Arabic language, despite the continued prevalence of Persian as the idiom of Mughal elite culture.96 Yet, to conclude from lexicographical efforts to an actual linguistic practice could be treacherous, and thus a deep analysis of court protocols (akhbārāt) for an evaluation of the degree of their actual implementation would certainly be worthwhile.

Lexicographically, however, siyāsat had now obviously found its way back into the terminological cosmos of the officially approved Mughal political thought, as “foundation of the leadership” [asās-i riyāsat],97 which, in turn, is not complete without siyāsat, defined as the “shepherding” (pāsbānī) that commoners necessarily require. Shepherding, in turn, appears to relate first and foremost to the administration of justice, the quality of which is dependent on the moral integrity of the pādͥshāh.98 Leadership is remarkably defined not by dwelling on its etymology, that is, by stressing the top-down image that arises from the Arabic verbal root √r-ʾ-s (to head), but by emphasizing the need of the people (khalq) to fully subdue and, for the sake of communal integrity, to not challenge it.99 Significantly, Āzādānī’s cautionary example to illustrate the disastrous effects that such challenges would inevitably have on the community is the dispute between the Prophet’s nephew ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and son-in-law Muʿāwiya ibn Abī Sufyān, which had ultimately led to the never resolved confessional disintegration of the community of believers (umma). This example indicates yet again the normative Islamic matrix that underlies Āzādānī’s understanding of all political terms and concepts. Yet again, the high moral standards of a leader are stressed, and in this regard “fidelity” (vafā-yi ʿahd adā-yi amānatʾpaẕīr) is the basis of morality.100

By the middle of the eighteenth century, the majority of the terms and concepts derived from Arabic that constitute the semantic field of the political in Persianate Muslim India have been well established, indicated not least by the Bahār-i ʿAjam (completed in 1608) of the Munshi Tek Chand (d. ca. 1196/ 1782), “one of the grandest dictionaries ever written by one man,”101 as Blochmann has somewhat dramatically remarked. The fact that the definitions provided in this important lexicon have been derived almost exclusively from poetic works indicates that terms and concepts, such as siyāsat (management), dawlat (cycle of rule), ʿāmm (commoner), and khāṣṣ (elite), or sulṭān and malik (holder of might), along with various derivatives, have well been in use by the poets throughout the early modern Persianate world.102 Alongside these Arabic political terms and concepts, Tek Chand also had original Persian ones included that were employed by Iranian and Indo-Persian poets. His references range from the famed Abū ‘l-Qāsim Firdawsī (d. 411/1020), Amīr-i Khusraw of Delhi and Niẓām al-Dīn Awliyāʾ (both d. 725/1325) to Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad Asīrī Lāhījī (d. 912/1506) and Jalāl al-Dīn Tabāṭabāʾī (d. 1046/1636), thus covering the entire Muslim era in North India well into the reign of Shāhjahān.103 This indicates that literary genres seem to be less clearly demarcated than one would hope and that lexicographical activities are informed also by the use of terms in various other literary forms of expression. Yet, this may not come as too much of a surprise, as encyclopedias and dictionaries claim comprehensive authority over the meaning of concepts in various fields of expression.104

Tek Chand was not the only non-Muslim who contributed to the attempts of establishing an employable political and administrative vocabulary in Mughal North India during the eighteenth century, thus indicating that the Persianization of this originally Arabic Islamic nomenclature since the reign of Akbar, and its subsequent “de-Islamization,” contributed strongly to the active participation of non-Muslim elites in shaping the discourse on governance. Another prominent case in point is Raʾī Ānand Rām “Mukhliṣ” of Delhi (d. 1750), a Hindu Kħatrī with close ties to the Mughal court of Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad Shāh (r. 1719–1748).105 In fact, Alam and Subrahmanyam convincingly argue that his Mirʾāt-i Iṣṭilāḥ, not unlike the Bahār al-Aʿjam of Tek Chand, was at least implicitly aiming at establishing an ideal benchmark for the proficiency in Persian of the scribe of the imperial chancellery (munshī), an important profession that many non-Muslims were engaged in.106 It might therefore not be accidental that Mukhliṣ spiked his work with examples from the Mughal administrative practice, thus undermining the elitist aspiration to impose a certain language regime upon everyone working in the Mughal ad- ministration.107 This link to courtly practices—rather than political theory—is further indicated by the fact that Mukhliṣ used an abundance of poetic examples to illustrate the lemmas in his work, thus relating the semantic universe of the poet to that of the imperial administrator. It seems as if the elitist top-down approach of the earlier dictionaries and encyclopedias began not to be increasingly informed by various language practices, relating these new works much stronger to lifeworld experiences. This is even more indicated by the fact that obvious politically connoted terminology, fairly present in the Bahār-i Aʿjam, is conspicuously rare in the Mirʾāt-i Iṣṭilāḥ,108 thus suggesting in addition that its implicit purpose might lie elsewhere, a point that we will take up again in the conclusion.

The lexicographical efforts undertaken by Tek Chand and Mukhliṣ for Persian, however, were confronted with analogous endeavors at around the same time by religious scholars like the Ḥanafite qāz̤ī of Tħānah Bħāvan Muḥammad Aʿlá ibn ʿAli Tħānavī (d. 1191/1777), for whom biographical information is scarce.109 These ventures seem to have catered to an increasing divide between the officially affirmed and increasingly lifeworld-related administrative Persian idiomacy and the Arabic semantic benchmarks for all that relates to rule in compliance with the Islamic normativity. One may interpret the emergence of works like Tħānavī’s Kashshāf Iṣṭilāḥāt al-Funūn, completed in 1745, in two ways. One, the religious scholars distanced themselves increasingly from the Mughal courts, where all affairs—including lexicographical activities—had to be dealt with pragmatically and in view of ever-changing circumstances. This way, the ever more vocal guardians of religious precepts would create the solipsistic discourse that they were much criticized for from the nineteenth century onward by reform-inclined personalities such as Sir Sayyid Aḥmad Khān (d. 1315/1898). Second, one could also relate the compilation of Arabic lexicographical works like Tħānavī’s to the critical appraisal of the state of affairs in Mughal India from a normative religious perspective by religious celebrities like Shāh Valiyallāh of Delhi (d. 1176/1762), who was not directly subservient to courtly pragmatics.110 While the absence of any reference to the Indian situation in Tħānavī’s preface to his Kashshāf seems to support the first interpretation,111 the second may still be a subcurrent that motivated its compilation. After all, Tħānavī’s work closely follows the Arabic classics on the taxonomy of religious sciences,112 and, moreover, ties the political nomenclature back to its religious implications. Thus, while, for example, siyāsa is acknowledged as a governance-related term, Tħānavī emphasized the responsibility of the “source of governance [and] leader of the flock [maṣdar al- sās al-wālī al-raʿiyya]” for the fidelity and eventual salvation of its members.113 Its meaning is exclusively established in the field of religious sciences that originates in the Islamic recasting of Aristotle’s Politikē by al-Fārābī.114

Besides this ostensible fragmentation of the lexicographical pursuit into more pragmatics-informed Persian and more normativity-informed Arabic, the eighteenth century also saw the increasing emancipation of Hindustani, the later Urdu, as a literary language that aspired to stand equally to Persian. The secessionist tendencies in many of the imperial provinces, especially of Awadh, contributed significantly to this development, which is reflected in the emergence of the first known dictionaries, all of which appear to have been bilingual Hindustani and Persian.115 A closer look into these lexicons, the earliest of which dates from the end of Awrangzīb’s reign, clearly indicates what Hakala calls “the late Mughal transition in lexicography towards the inclusion of a broader and more representative corpus of terms that more closely resembled the spoken language.”116 Nonetheless, I shall maintain my point here that as long as lexicographical pursuit of the political was in service of the ruling establishment, and as such part of courtly activities, the old tension between a more Islamically oriented and thus exclusivist, and a more pragmatic and inclusive orientation prevailed, and would eventually also inform lexicographical activities outside the confines of the court.

The Challenge of Hindustani and Urdu: Toward New Shores?

The increasing impact of the then little standardized Hindustani as a literary idiom and language of the elites provided for a discursive dynamics of its own. Before politics could interfere and its functional elites demand a definite determination of terms and concepts, poets of various local traditions with imperial aspirations, predominantly of Delhi and Lucknow, set out to negotiate among themselves the proper use of terms and, thus, to establish their regional tradition as the ultimate one.117 This competition was still very much in swing at the turn of the twentieth century, as can be seen in the rather mocking remarks Sayyid Aḥmad of Delhi (d. 1319/1901)118 made in the Far- hang-i Āṣafiyyah against Amīr Aḥmad ‘Mināʾī’ (d. 1318/1900), a famed poet of Lucknow, who gave his retort in the preface to his unfinished Amīr al-Lughāt119 The difficulties in establishing a compromise of what was to be understood as the Urdu lexicon of the political may thus have been the main reason why political functional elites kept relying on the more or less established Persian and Persianized Arabic terminological conventions that they themselves,120 as increasingly self-confident fief-holding vassals (jagīrdārān), had embraced when styling themselves rulers in either the imperial or Islamicate manner throughout most of the eighteenth century. While this reliance on established conceptual conventions in Persian and Persianized Arabic may well have been the case, the negotiation processes that were prompted by the increasing use of indigenous languages contributed significantly to eventual semantic shifts in concepts thus far associated with the field of the political This was very much decided some decades before the abolition of formal Muslim political rule in North India, because by then new actors—not necessarily part of courtly society anymore—had established themselves vis-à-vis the traditional courtly elites.121

Yet, the reputation of the court as the place of the societal elites still had a strong enough pull to strive for association with it. This practice applies to the imperial court of Delhi and to those in nominal provinces of the Mughal dominion, as well as increasingly to the circles of the British colonial establishment. Again, and this appears to be a defining feature of patronage, in return for a socially and culturally prestigious association with a court, unusually also tied to financial gratification, its clients would do everything to serve the interest of their respective patrons.122

However, while the former service elites—including poets as part of the courtly entertainment—would maintain their elitist aspirations by serving the agendas of those who would guarantee them the prevalence of their status, the counterdiscourse was shaped with increasing confidence by religious actors from the lower strata of the Indo-Muslim society.123 These actors, many of whom belonged to various local religious institutions, oftentimes in rural areas, now competed increasingly with who they perceived to be opportunistic elites in the fast-developing cities over the monopoly of definition. Moreover, the negotiation processes were now clearly impaired by British scholars and colonial administrators (Sayyid Aḥmad Dihlavī, for example, began his lexicographic activities as an assistant to Samuel William Fallon [d. 1890], author of the 1879 New Hindustani-English Dictionary),124 who brought with them a stock of new alternatives for eventual semantic adjustments that would gain further momentum at the turn of the twentieth century through the nascent national movement. A closer investigation into the contribution of British concepts to semantic shifts in notions of the political in Muslim North India would therefore be quite worthwhile.

Hand in hand with the shift in language from Persian to Urdu as the dominant literary idiom of the North Indian Muslims went the hotly contended formation of a new cultured and, eventually, political elite. While the earliest Urdu dictionaries emerged still within the courtly framework and, consequently, targeted first and foremost court poets as the trustees of the literary standard,125 this was to change widely with the increasingly massive encroachment of colonial forms of administration into Mughal rule and the incorporation of substantial parts of the subcontinent into the British Empire.126 With the responsibility of salvation—the herdsmanship over the flock—now thrown back at the whole Muslim community, new functional elites emerged out if it that competed for communal leadership. Among those groups, the ʿulamāʾ were only one, although quite an important one.127 Others were Muslims in the colonial administration, commercial groups, and those who took to new professions, such as journalism. Their success or impasse was very much determined by their ability to communicate with an audience that was as large as possible, and Urdu was to become the linguistic means in this pursuit, not least because it was not fraught with the exclusivism of Persian and Arabic. Consequently, this newly gained importance of a still fairly nonstandardized Urdu was thus reflected in the first major dictionary that claimed comprehensiveness, Sayyid Aḥmad Dihlavī’s Farhangi Āṣafiyyah, which lays explicit claim to cover “judicial and commercial usages and the necessary vocabulary of the professionals and artisans”128 by perusing a vast number of various materials from past and present.

With regard to those terms that we have ascribed to the semantic field of the political, however, apparently substantial enough shifts in meaning or incorporation of new and unprecedented concepts had not taken place to sustain the importance of the events of 1857–1858 for substantial shifts in the semantic field of the political After all, a closer look into the Farhang-i Āṣafiyyah reveals quite clearly that at the end of the nineteenth century, most of the terms derived from Arabic and Persian have retained their earlier meaning widely unchanged.129 For instance, the notion of justice (ʿadl)—identified above as a core quality of community cohesion—was still defined as “passing judgment in the light of belief and religious conviction”130 and hence remained clearly within the confines of the top-down understanding of governance within the Islamic framework.131

However, such implicit reference to the normative Islamic heritage, derived from a sense of continued allegiance to the Muslim government of the past must not obstruct our view for the various subtle points in the Farhang-i Āṣafiyyah that, despite the gross adherence to the traditional meaning of terms relating to the political, suggest that the abolition of Mughal rule might nonetheless have triggered a process of eventual changes in this semantic field. In light of the above, we shall for now certainly maintain our skepticism about whether 1857–1858 can really qualify as the pinnacle of a period of profound semantic change for Muslim North India with regard to the field of the political. Yet, we may still want to look more closely into what appears as a nucleus of possible semantic shifts in Sayyid Aḥmad’s explanation of the lemma democratic leadership (riyāsat-i jumhūrī). The elucidation of this concept certainly reflects Aḥmad’s anticipation of the constitutional developments in Ottoman Turkey and Qajar Iran in 1876 and 1905, respectively, although he did not refer to either case and pointed instead to the United States as prototype of

a sultanate that is not entirely under [the command of] the king [bādͥshāh]; a sultanate based on an assembly [panchāyatī salṭanat] in which the flock curtails its king, names him “president” [prezi͘dinṭ] or “head of the assembly” [mīr-i majlis]; a sultanate in which [the power of] the king is not absolute [muṭlaq al-ʿnān]. In such a [form of] leadership the ordinary crowds [ʿāmm raʿāyā] would be permitted to issue positive laws, and nothing is above these laws; in such a sultanate the flocks would consider proposals made by their own king.132

Despite the certainly noteworthy novelty of the subject, it is obvious that even here the terminological points of reference remained firmly within the Islamic nomenclature; yet Sayyid Aḥmad clearly demonstrates his familiarity also with the conceptual universe of his British colonial overlords and may have attempted to integrate both into one system of meaning. However, while actual Muslim political rule in the subcontinent has come to an end, there remained still a potential reference point for Indian Muslims in the religious-political institution of the caliphate, the “guardianship of an age [valī-yi ʿahdī],”133 then nominally held by the Ottoman sultan in imperial Istanbul.134 As a matter of fact, intelligence reports from the British colonial administration, alerting the authorities in London of the loyalties of their Muslim subjects to a ruler who was soon to become an official enemy of the empire, were plentiful.135

It was in confluence with the various factions contesting for community leadership in the early twentieth century that the notion of khilāfat (succession, trusteeship) began eventually to shift. While the abolition of the historical caliphate in 1924 by the Atatürk-led newly established Grand National Assembly of Turkey did not erase the term from use, the resulting lack of any corresponding empirical entity opened the gates for an increasing semantic variety.136 It seems therefore plausible to me to consider the end of caliphal paramountcy as a period of substantial semantic shift, and this not only for Muslim India but likely for much of the Muslim world. Since then, the political concepts of the “Islamic nomenclature” needed to be—and, in fact, were—radically redefined,137 because they could not relate to actual Muslim rule or religiously defined suzerainty. Yet, a deeper investigation into this matter is beyond the scope of this article and must remain a desideratum for future research.

Concluding Thoughts

Admittedly, the argument developed over the previous pages is based on a number of premises that in themselves could well be a matter of further academic discussion. The first one of these is the axiomatic assumption that for any polity claiming at least a degree of Islamicity their political nomenclature needs inevitably to relate to an Islamic normative framework; whether or not it actually does must be subject to further investigation. Consequently, the starting point would be an investigation into the constituents of the Arabic-Islamic semantic field of the political It has been shown how this field has been measured against competing normative frameworks in the course of the linguistic transfer from Arabic into Persian as the prevailing administrative language in the vast region that would constitute the Persianate cosmopolis. Here, the second premise comes into play, namely, that the semantic field of the political in Persian, highly developed around the imperial notion of (divine) kingship in pre-Islamic Iran, required a directed effort to semantically adjust it to its Arabic-Islamic pendant, in order to situate concrete political praxes within an Islamic normative framework. At the same moment, the linguistic shift to Persian as the dominant administrative idiom also allowed for the establishment of a nomenclature somewhat at odds with its Arabic-Islamic counterpart, alongside the shaping of distinct discourses on governance devoid of the pointed religious connotations of the Arabic-Islamic lexicon. The emerging tension between the two conceptions provides various actors in the literary arena with opportunities either to affirm the ostensible dissociation from the Islamic nomenclature or to urge for the rapprochement of the two frameworks.

Alongside these two premises went a restriction of the materials to imperial ones only, based on the final premise that it is first and foremost the central court of a given polity that aims at establishing the monopoly of definition over the semantics of all those terms and concepts that constitute the field of the political Of course, this shall not imply that all that came out of the court was unanimously accepted; after around 1750, the Mughal court’s authoritative claims paled significantly against those made by the increasingly self-affirmative contenders for a monopoly of definition in former imperial provinces (such as Avadh and the Deccan) and newly emerging ethnic polities (such as the kingdom of the Sikhs in wider Punjab and the various Maratha chiefdoms). Attempts at canonization never went uncontested either inside or outside the courtly circles. The fact that authors like Ānand Rām Mukhliṣ in the early eighteenth century flourished at the interface of court and the wider—very much urban—society may serve as an indication here. After all, Mukhliṣ’s claimed intention to introduce proper Persian terms that are not much used anymore in the then contemporary language138 obscures the author’s further-reaching interests. After all, the abundance of inserted reports on occurrences in the Mughal realms during the lifetime of the author indicate his historiographical interest, which could help to relate lexicographical considerations to a wider cultural and political practice. Here, a multitude of potentially overlapping semantic universes, shaped by distinct social and economic belonging of a communication community, becomes visible. A necessary task for future research would therefore be to separate these semantic universes as clearly as possible from one another and, in a second step, to investigate them all separately, before they could be brought back into communication with one another. A vivid example here would be the semantic universe of the Sufis, which more often than not runs parallel to the top-down discursive strand discussed here. Thus, for instance, the prominent notion of sulṭān (holder of power) as a term for a spiritual leader in the Sufi context139 appears quite distinct, yet the semantic parallels to the Islamic ruler as “shepherd” on the path to salvation in the Hereafter are difficult to deny.

The proposed disentanglement of semantic universes, however, poses similar difficulties as the top-down approach that was followed in this article. It must be conceded that the latter rests very much on the premise that, in the context of a political and social elite, terms and concepts have a defining significance for sociopolitical contexts, thus marginalizing the impact that multifarious social, political, and linguistic realities inside and outside the confines of the central court had on the efforts to establish a normative language regime. Equally problematic may be the axiomatic preconception of distinct social, economic, and cultural groups (for example, Sufis, poets, females, workmen, or tribal members) who are ascribed equally distinct language regimes that would claim no less normative force. It appears as if this dilemma would be difficult to overcome completely. A step in the right direction seems therefore to be the acknowledgment that all the various perspectives are worth pursuing, their sum then constituting a picture that may reflect the complex and multilayered historical realities in an as close as possible approximation.

Yet another avenue worth pursuing is a closer investigation of the various dictionaries and encyclopedias discussed above in a rather woodcut-like manner, as well as the broadening of this textual basis by including similar attempts on a more local level. At least two, if not three, insights could be gained from this. First, when putting the dictionaries in conversation with other forms of literary practice, we may be able to investigate the degree in which a linguistic praxis shapes the lexicographical endeavors to establish a valid language regime, or to what degree the semantic fixations in dictionaries and encyclopedias have informed the various linguistic praxes on the ground.140 Second, such a correlation of linguistic praxes, expressed not least in a multitude of literary forms, with the attempts to standardize language through lexicographical means will also contribute to a greater sensitivity toward all that remains excluded, or constitutes, from a top-down perspective, a sightscreen against which the new language regime is to be established. In this endeavor the contrast of imperial lexica with their regional counterparts might produce some significant insights into the contestations over who owns, and who disowns, a certain language, such as Arabic, Persian, or Urdu.

Finally, a closer investigation into the internal structure and reference authors of each individual dictionary and encyclopedia might help to discover discursive formations within the lexicographical praxis, which may reflect on the eventual status that such works will then be ascribed by various involved actors; the elevated position accorded to Munshī Tek Chand’s early seventeenth-century Bahār-i Aʿjam shall serve as a case in point here.141 The value of such investigations into cross-references are already found in the indications of certain poets and novelists in later dictionaries, such as the Muhaẕẕ-ab al-Lughāt, which plays a decisive role in affirming Lucknow’s supremacy in providing a general standard for Urdu, vis-à-vis its Delhite competitors, such as the Farhang-i Āṣafiyyah142

This article has evolved from a working paper presented first to the “History of Concepts in South Asia—Initiative” at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, 28 September 2012, and to the “Symposium on Literature and History in Persianate South Asia” held at the University of Oxford, 15 May 2015. I am most grateful to all the input I have received from those present on either occasion, as well as to the referees of Contributions to the History of Concepts.

The Romanization of the various relevant languages in non-Latin scripts follows largely the ALA-LC conventions for each respective language; an “h” struck out (ħ) indicates aspiration of the preceding consonant. Life dates of Muslim authors are given according to the Islamic lunar calendar, also known as the Hijri calendar, and in some places labeled with “sh” (shamsī), as well as the solar Common Era.


A first survey, revolving around the semantic field of civility and covering the Middle East, North India, and East Asia, is Margrit Pernau, Helge Jordheim, Orit Bashkin, Christian Bailey, Oleg Benesch, Jan Ifversen, Mana Kia, et al., Civilizing Emotions: Concepts in Nineteenth-Century Asia and Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); also see Mohinder Singh, “Temporalization of Concepts: Reflections on the Concept of Unnati (Progress) in Hindi (1870–1900),” Contributions to the History of Concepts 7, no. 1 (2012): 51–71; Mohinder Singh, “Conceptualization of the Social in 19th Century India: Reflections on the Concept of ‘Samaj’ in Hindi,” Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences 19, no. 1 (2012): 123–140; special issue on “Concepts of Emotions in Indian Languages,” Contributions to the History of Concepts 11, no. 1 (2016). In summer 2013, the German Orient Institut Beirut hosted a workshop on “Conceptual History and Historical Semantics in Middle Eastern Contexts: Aims, Methods and Potentials,”–06-17.pdf.


See Sudipta Kaviraj, “On the Historicity of ‘the Political’: Rajaniti and Politics in Modern Indian Thought,” in Comparative Political Thought: Theorizing Practices, ed. Michael Freeden and Andrew Vincent (London: Routledge, 2013), 24–39.


See Otto Brunner, Werner Conze, and Reinhart Koselleck, eds., Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe: Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, 8 vols. (Stuttgart: Klett, 1972–1997).


See Kaviraj, “Historicity,” 33–34. It needs to be conceded that the periods are cast rather loosely here, namely as “the state in the first phase of colonialism, when British rule was still not consolidated,” followed by the establishment of British sovereignty, and culminating in the “rise of mass politics, in the form of the Swadeshi movement.” The systematic problem, however, remains.


The standard Arabic spelling is siyāsa, while in Persian and Urdu it would be siyāsat or siyāsah.


See Reinhart Koselleck, “Einleitung,” in GG, vol. 1, xiii–xxvii, here xv.


Denis Diderot, s.v. “Encyclopédie,” Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 17 + 11 vols., trans. Philip Stewart, ed. Denis Diderot and M. D’Alembert (Paris: Briasson et al., 1755), 5:635–648, here 635.


Denis Diderot, Lettres à Sophie Volland, 2 vols., 12th ed., ed. André Babelon (Paris: Gallimard, 1950), 2:8 (letter dated 26 September 1762). All translations are my own unless otherwise noted.


Diderot, Encyclopédie, 5:635.


See, e.g., Michel Foucault, L’Archéologie du savoir (Paris: Gallimard, 1969), 171–172.


See Walter N. Hakala, Negotiating Languages: Urdu, Hindi and the Definition of Modern South Asia (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016).


See Muḥammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfiʿī (d. 204/820), al-Risāla li’l-Imām al-Muṭallibī, ed. Aḥmad Muḥammad Shākir (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-ʿilmiyya, n.d. [Reprint of the edition Cairo, 1358/1939]), 79–80.


See, e.g., Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī, Iḥṣāʾ al-ʿUlūm, ed. ʿUthmān Amīn (Paris: Dār bībliyūs, 2005), 107–108, where the crafts of jurisprudence (fiqh) and theology of causation (kalām) are discussed as clearly related to the revelation as their ultimate foundation: fiqh as an explication of practical matters that have not been explicitly mentioned, but can be deduced from those that have been explicitly mentioned; kalām as an explication and defense of explicitly mentioned beliefs and actions.


See Jan-Peter Hartung, “Enacting the Rule of Islam: On Courtly Patronage of Religious Scholars in Pre- and Early Modern Times,” in Court Cultures in the Muslim World: Seventh to Nineteenth Centuries, ed. Albrecht Fuess and Jan-Peter Hartung (London: Routledge, 2011), 295–325, here 295–298.


See, e.g., Shaykh Abū ’l-Fazl ʿAllāmī, Akbar’nāmah, 3 vols., ed. Mawlavī ʿAbd al-Raḥīm (Calcutta: Bapṫist M’shan Press, 1877–1886), 1:9.


Texts that cannot clearly be classified as dictionaries or vocabularies seldom indicated a target audience. See, e.g., Fakhr al-Dīn Mubārakshāh Qavvās Qazvīnī, Farhang-i Qavvās, ed. Naẕīr Aḥmad (Tehran: Intishārāt-i bungāh-yi tarjumah va nashr-i kitāb, 1353sh/1974), 1–3 (text).


See Sayyid Ibrāhīm Muḥammad Balkhī, Umam al-Maʿānʿ (undated MS BL London I.O. Islamic 1,989), fol. 1b; Ibrāhīm Qivām [al-Dīn] Fārūqī, Sharaf ‘nāmah-yi Ibrāhīmī (undated MS BL London Add. 7,678), fol. 4a; ʿĀṣim Shuʿayb ʿAbdūsī, Mujmal al-ʿAjam (undated MS BL London Or. 265), fols. 62b–161a, here fol. 2a; Muḥammad ibn Shaykh Lād Dihlavʾ, Mu’ayyid al-Fuz̤alā, 2 vols. (Lucknow: MaṭbaʿMunshī Naval Kishor, 1884), 1:2–3; Mīr Jamāl al-Dīn Ḥusayn Īnjū Shīrāzī, Farhang-i Jahāngīrī, 3 vols., ed. Raḥīm ʿAfīfī (Mashhad: Chīpkhnah-yi dīnishgāh-i Mashhad, 1351sh), 1:2; Munshī Tek Chand, Bahār-i ʿAjam, 2 vols. (Lucknow: Maṭbaʿ Munshī Naval Kishor, 1879), 1:2–4.


For the example of the establishment of the literary standard (bon usage) of French after 1789, see Bodo Müller, Das Französische der Gegenwart: Varietäten, Strukturen, Tendenzen (Heidelberg: Winter, 1975), 23–24.


Research into this literary genre is still rather young; for an overview of the current state of research see the various contributions in Gerhard Endreß, ed., Organizing Knowledge: Encyclopædic Activities in the Pre-Eighteenth Century Islamic World (Leiden: Brill, 2006), especially the programmatic chapter by Josef van Ess, “Encyclopadic Activities in the Islamic World: A Few Questions, and No Answers,” 3–19.


According to C. A. Storey and François de Blois, Persian Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey, 3 vols. (London: The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1958–1997), vol. 2, part 3, 360–370, most Indo-Persian encyclopedias seem not to date much before the eighteenth century anyway. In contrast to, e.g., the Tāj al-ʿArūs of Bilgram-born Murtaḍá al-Zabīdī (d. 1205/1791), they remained surprisingly traditional. See Stefan Reichmuth, The World of Murtaḍā al-Zabīdī (1732–91): Life, Networks and Writings (Cambridge: Gibb Memorial Trust, 2009), 223–268.


See Qavvās Qazvīnī, Farhang, 1.


According to Solomon I. Baevskii and John R. Perry, Early Persian Lexicography: Farhangs of the Eleventh to the Fifteenth Centuries (Folkestone: Global Oriental, 2008), 69, the Farhang-i Qavvās was preceded only by the tenth century Lughat-i Furs of Aḥmad ibn ʿAlī Asadī Ṭūsī (d. 465/1072–1073). The latter work was first edited and published by Paul Horn as Asadî’s Neupersisches Wörterbuch Lughat-i Furs: Nach der einzigen vaticanischen Handschrift (Göttingen: Weidmann, 1897) and reprinted in 1336sh (1957) by Ṭahūrī in Tehran.


See Bernhard Lewis, “Siyāsa,” in In Quest of an Islamic Humanism: Arabic and Islamic Studies in Memory of Mohamed al-Nowaihi, ed. Arnold H. Green (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1984), 3–14, here 3.


Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 5th ed., ed. K. Ellinger and W. Rudolph (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft , 1997), Ex 14:9, Jgs 5:22, 2 Sm 15:1, 1 Kgs 10:28, Is 2:7, 5:28, 30:16, Hb 1:8, Jb 39:18. An already metaphorical use of the term is found in ibid., Ps 20:8, here representing the infidel forces, and Ps 32:9, here as an allegory of recalcitrance.


See al-Khalīl ibn Aḥmad al-Farāhīdī, Kitāb al-ʿAyn: Murattaban ʿala ḥurūf al-Muʿjam, 4 vols., ed. ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd Handāwī (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-ʿilmiyya, 1424/2003), 2:206.


Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Kitāb al-imāra, Bāb faḍīla al-imām al-ʿādil wa-ʿuqūba al-jā.ir wal’ḥathth ʿalà ‘l-rifq bi’l-raʿiyya wa’l-nahy ʿan idkhāl al-mashaqqa ʿalayhim, Ḥadāth 4, no. 4,617; also Sunan Abā Dāwūd, Kitāb al-kharāj wa’l-imāra wa’l-fayʾ, Bāb mā yulazimu alimām min haqq al-raʿiyya, Ḥadīth 1, no. 2,928; al-Jāmiʿ al-Tirmidhī, Kitāb al-jihād, Bāb mā jāʾfi’l-imām, Ḥadīth 1, no. 1,705; Musnad al-Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, Ḥadīth no. 6,020.




See ʿAbdallāh ibn al-Muqaff aʿ, Āthār Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al- ʿilmiyya, 1409/1989), 319. In this context, one may think of the Roman notion of imperium (power or might) as the ultimate quality of a ruling statesman. See, e.g., Wolfgang Kunkel and Roland Wittmann, Staatsordnung und Staatspraxis der Romischen Republik II: Die Magistratur (Munich: Beck, 1995), 21–28.


See Wilferd Madelung, The Succession to Muḥammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 57–77.


See Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, Āthār, 311, 316, 320. While it needs to be stressed that the abstract noun sulṭān appears a number of times in the Quran (e.g., in 14:10–11, 22; 15:42; 16:99–100; 17:65; 34:21), it is mainly associated with pre-Islamic magical practices of empowerment or disempowerment, a fact that is also reflected in the occurrence of this term in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry. See Albirt [Albert] and Salmān Muṣālaḥa Ārāzī, al-ʿIqd al-Thamīn fī Dawāwīn al-Shuʿarāʾ al-Sitta al-Jāhiliyīn (Jerusalem: al-Jīmiʿa al-ʿibriyya fī Ūrushalīm, 1999), 581 (here in another derivative form al-salīṭ[bold]).


See Jeremy Black, Andrew George, and Nicolas Postgate, A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian, 2nd ed. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2007), 351 (lemma: šalāṭu); Robert Payne-Smith, Thesaurus syriacus, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1879), 2:4,179–4,180 (lemma: shulṭānā).


On this work and its place in the history of Arabic lexicography, see John A. Haywood, Arabic Lexicography: Its History and its Place in the General History of Lexicography (Leiden: Brill, 1965), 28–40.


al-Farāhīdī, al-ʿAyn, 2:264.


Two prominent cases in point are Majd al-Dīn al-Fīrūzābādī’s Qāmūs al-Muḥīṭ wa’l-Qābās al-Wasīṭ, completed in 812/1410, and its predecessor, Tāj al-Lugha wa-Sihāh al-ʿArabiyya by Abū Naṣr Ismāʿīl al-Jawharī (d. 398/1007). For their place and importance, see Haywood, Arabic Lexicography, 68–75 and 84–91. Both have been standard items in courtly libraries and adjacent chancelleries of Muslim North and Central India, supplemented by works on Arabic grammar, widespread beyond the confines of religious educational institutions (dīnī madāris). I thank Christopher D. Bahl (SOAS, University of London) for generously sharing his observations and material findings.


See Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, Āthār, 310.


See Patricia Crone, Medieval Islamic Political Thought (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004), 21–23.


This perspective would be advocated by jurists and traditionalists, such as the renowned Damascene scholar Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328), who argued with explicit reference to the religious framework when calling for “management of the polity in accordance with the revealed law” (siyāsat al-sharʿiyya). See, e.g., Taqī al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Taymiyya, Kitāb al-Siyāsa al-Sharʿiyya fī Iṣlāḥ al-Raʿī wa’l-Raīiyya, ed. Lajnat iḥyāʾ al-turāth al-ʿarabī (Beirut: Dār al-jīl, 1408/1988), 9–25; an explicit quote of the ḥadīth “kullukum rāʿin” on p. 13. For the since widely accepted definition of maṣlaḥa as the end of sharīʿa, see Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad al-Ghazālī, al-Mustaṣfá min ʿIlm al-Uṣūl, 2 vols., ed. Muḥammad al-Bilbaysī al-Ḥusaynī (Bulāq, 1322–1324sh; repr., Baghdad: Maktabat al-muthanná, 1970), 1:286–287.


Philosophers like al-Fārābī have been more implicit here when they evoked the Platonic ideal of the philosopher-king who leads his people to perfect bliss (saʿāda). See Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī, Kitāb Ārāʾ Ahl al-Madīnat al-Fāḍila, 6th ed., ed. Albīr Naṣrī Nādir (Beirut: Dār al-mashriq, 1991), 127–130; Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī, Kitāb al-Siyāsa al-Madaniyya, ed. ʿAlī Bū Mulaḥḥim (Beirut: Dār wa-maktabat al-hilāl, 1994), 87–98.


See Manan Ahmed [Asif], “The Many Histories of Muhammad b. Qasim: Narrating the Muslim Conquest of Sindh” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2008), 102–107. The recently published version, The Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016), was not available to me.


This is not least indicated by the use of the term naṣīḥat for each of the twenty-five chapters. See Z̤iyāʾ al-Dīn Baranī, Fatāvá-yi Jahān’d’rī, ed. Salīm Khān (Lahore: Dānish’gāh’i Panjāb, 1972).


Sunil Kumar, “The Value of the Ādāb al-Mulūk as a Historical Source: An Insight into the Ideals and Expectations of Islamic Society in the Middle Period (A.D. 945–1500),” The Indian Economic and Social History Review 22, no. 3 (1985): 307–327, here 327n27, has—as have others in the field—highlighted more than three decades ago the tight relationship between “actuality” and “ideality” in “Mirrors for Princes,” stressing that they “delineate the expectations of a society at a certain period … [and] seek insurance in its implementation … in the threat of Divine retribution.” Also see Nilanjan Sarkar, “‘The Voice of Maḥmūd’: The Hero in Ziyā Baranīs Fatāwā-i Jahāndārī,” The Medieval History Journal 9, no. 2 (2006): 327–356.


See Fakhr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Manṣūr [Fakhr al-Mudabbir], Ādāb al-Ḥarb va ’l-Shajāʿah, ed. Aḥmad Suhaylī-yi Khvansārī (Tehran: Iqbāl, 1346sh/1967), 16; Baranī, Fatāvá, 2, only hints at his involvement in court, but since the text breaks off here, we do not quite know to whose court in particular he was referring.


See Fakhr al-Mudabbir, Ādāb, 116–126.


See ibid., 116–118.


Baranī, Fatāvá, 126.


Ibid., 66.


See ibid., 164–174.


The “political culture” needs to be kept analytically distinct from the concept of the political, even though in reality both may not be mutually exclusive. Yet, in this article I wish to consider “political culture” as a set of actual practices that were either a priori informed by, or a posteriori informing, the notion of the political as enshrined in lexicographical and encyclopedic works, and are thus distinct from the concept itself.


See ibid., 139–140.


See, e.g., Hakala, Negotiating Languages, 33–75.


The dominant studies that aim at conceptualizing court and courtly society are still Norbert Elias, Die höfische Gesellschaft : Untersuchungen zu Soziologie des Königtums und der höfischen Aristokratie (Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1969); and Roland G. Asch and Adolf M. Birke, eds., Princes, Patronage and the Nobility: The Court at the Beginning of the Modern Age (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991). For the Muslim context, see Fuess and Hartung, Court Cultures.


The dictionaries of this period consulted so far are the Farhang-i Qavvās of Fakhr al-Dīn Mubārakshāh Qavvās Qazvīnī (late thirteenth century CE), the Ādāt al-Fuz̤alā of Qāz̤ī Khān Badr Muḥammad Dihlavī (dated 822/1419), the reportedly seminal Farhang-i Zafān’gūyā va Jahān’pūyā of Badr al-Dīn Ibrāhīm (dated before 837/1433), the Umam al-Ma‘ānī of Sayyid Ibrāhīm Muḥammad Balkhī (dated 856/1455), the Sharaf‘nāmah-yi Ibrāhīmī of Ibrāhīm Qivām [al-Dīn] Fārūqī (dated 833/1430 or 878/1474), the Mujmal al-ʿAjam of ʿĀṣim Shuʿayb ʿAbdūsī (dated 894/1493), and the Muʾayyid al-Fuz̤alā of Muḥammad ibn Shaykh Lāḋ of Delhi (dated 925/1519).


See, e.g., Fārūqī, Sharaf’nāmah.


See Balkhī, Umam, fol. 68a (lemma: sulṭān).


See Qāz̤ī Khān Badr Muḥammad Dihlavī, Ādāt al-Fuz̤alā (undated MS BL London Or. 1,262), fol. 39a (lemmas: dawlatī and dawlat-i khudāyī).


See Badr al-Dīn Ibrāhīm, Farhang-i Zafān’gūyā va Jahān’pūyā, ed. S. I. Baevskij (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo “Nauka,” 1974), fol. 47b.


This notion corresponds by and large to that in the classical Arabic dictionaries, where the term is linked to rather unruly, uncivilized, and raiding tribesmen. See al-Farāhīdī, al-ʿAyn, 4:44; Abū ‘l-Faḍl ibn Manz̤ūr, Lisān al-ʿArab, 20 vols. (Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿa al-kubrá al-mīriyya, 1300–1307sh), 8:261.


See Heinrich Blochmann, Contributions to Persian Lexicography (Calcutta: Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1868), 7–9; Baevskii and Perry, Lexicography, 99.


Muḥammad ibn Shaykh Lāḋ Dihlavī, Muʾayyid al-Fualā, 2 vols. (Lucknow: Maṭbaʿ Munshī Naval Kishor, 1884), 1:509–510.


See ibid., 1:338–339 (lemmas: ḥākim and ḥukm), 343 (lemma: ḥukūmah), 411 (lemma: dawlah), 513 (lemma: sulṭān); cf. Aḥmad ibn ʿAlī Bayhaqī, Tāj al-Maṣā;dir, 2 vols., ed. Hādī ʿĀlimzādah (Tehran: Muʾassasah-yi muṭlaʿah va taḥqīqāt-i farhangī, 1987), 1:50 and 85 (here dawlah in its literal meaning as cycle), 2:1–2; Muḥammad ibn ʿUmar ibn Khālid, Ṣurāḥmin al-Ṣihāḥ, ed. ʿAbdallāh Munshī (Tehran, 1286sh), 185–186, 270, and 278.


Among the nineteen imperial Mughal dictionaries listed and discussed by Blochmann (1868), eight were classified by him as most important. The following have not been used in the present article: Madār al-Afāz̤īl of Ilāhdād-i Fayz̤ī (compiled 1593), Burhān-i Qāṭiʾ of Muḥammad Ḥusayn Tabrīzī ‘Burhān’ (completed 1652), Farhāng-i Rashīdī of ʿAbd al-Rashīd Ṫħaṫħavī (completed 1653), and Ghiyās̠ al-Lughāt of Muḥammad Ghiyās̠ al-Dīn Rāmpūrī (completed 1826).


ʿAllāmī, Āīn-i Akbarī, 2 vols., ed. H. Blochmann (Calcutta: Bapṫist Mīshan Press, 1872–1877), 2:144.


See ibid., 2:145: “gūyand farmān’ravā khudā’andīsh … bāshad.”


Ibid.: “va raʿiyyat rā az gazand-i navīsandah va duzd va rahzan va dīgar-i bad’kārān nigāh’bānī kunad.”


For the elements constituting rājanīti, see Kaviraj, “Historicity,” 28–31.


ʿAllāmī, Āʾīn, 2:146.


See Mīr Jamāl al-Dīn Ḥusayn Īnjū Shīrāzī, Farhang-i Jahāngīrī, 3 vols., ed. Raḥīm ʿAfīfī (Mashhad: Chāp’khānah-yi dānishgāh-i Mashhad, 1351sh), 1:3–4 and 14–22.


Muzaffar Alam, The Languages of Political Islam: India, 1200–1800 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 132–133. Elsewhere, the Farhang-i Jahāngīrī is credited with having been one of the two standard lexicons for the first half of the seventeenth century, the other being the Majmaʿ al-Furs of Muḥammad Qāsim Kashānī “Surūrī” (compiled 1600). See ibid., 145.


See Herbert Cushing Tolman, Ancient Persian Lexicon and the Texts of the Achaemenidan Inscriptions Transliterated and Translated, with Special Reference to their Recent Re-Examination (New York: American Book Company, 1908), 107 (lemma: pādiy = to protect, sustain) and 84 (lemma: xšāyaθiya = king); D. N. MacKenzie, A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary, rev. ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1986;), 63 (lemmas: pādixšā[y] = ruler, powerful, authoritative; ~īh = sovereignty, authority).


Īnjū Shīrāzī, Farhang, 1:225 (lemma: pādishāh).


Ibid., 1:226.


See ibid., 1:396 (lemma: shāh); cf. MacKenzie, Pahlavi, 95 (lemma: xvadāy = lord).


I am not aware of research that has been done on this courtly opposition. Usually, this faction is construed around the court historian ʿAbd al-Qādir Badāʾunī (d. ca. 1024/1615), who, in his Muntakhab al-Tavārīkh, presented an alternative account of Akbar’s reign to the Akbar’nāmah of the ruler’s favorite, Abū ’l-Faz̤l.


Examples for such reactions are manifold. See, e.g., Badāʾunī, Muntakhab al-Tavārīkh, ed. Mawlavī Aḥmad ʿAlī, 3 vols. (Tehran: Anjumān-i āsār va mafākhir-i farhangī, 2001), 2:134–190; al-Shaykh Aḥmad Sirhindī, Maktūbāt-i Imām-i Rabbānī, ed. Ḥusayn Ḥilmī ibn Saʿīd Istanbūlī, 2 vols. (Istanbul: Işik Kitâbevi 1977), esp. 1:121–127 (nos. 46–48), 148–153 (nos. 64–46), 156–158 (nos. 70–71), 181–182 (nos. 82–83), and 307–312 (nos. 193–195).


See, e.g., Heike Franke, Akbar und Ǧahāngīr: Untersuchungen zur politischen und religiösen Legitimation in Text und Bild (Schenefeld: EBV, 2005), 293–330.


See Sajida Sultana Alvi, ed., trans., and annot., Advice on the Art of Governance: Mau´iz̤ah-i Jahāngīrī of Muḥammad Bāqir Najm-i Sānī [sic]: An Indo-Islamic Mirror for Princes (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1989), 144–145; Nūr al-Dīn Qāz̤ī al-Khāqānī, Akhlāq-i Jahāngīrī (undated MS BL London I.O. Islamic 1,547), fol. 3b; Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq Muḥaddis- Dihlavī, Risālah-yi Nūriyyah-yi Sulṭniyyah, ed. Muḥammad Salīm Akhtar (Islamabad: Markaz-i taḥqīqāt-i fārsī-yi Īrān va Pākistān, 1405/1985), 26.


See Alvi, Advice, 26–29. On the prominence of Vāʿiẓ. Kāshifī’s and Ṭūsīs “Mirrors” in Mughal India, see Alam, Languages, 50–54. On the formative importance of that of al-Ghazālī, written in the same sociopolitical circumstances as the Siyāsat’nāmah, for the genre of advice literature, see Ann K. S. Lambton, State and Government in Medieval Islam: An Introduction to the Study of Islamic Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), 117–129.


See Navvāb Ṣamṣām al-Dawlah Shāh Navāz Khān, Maʾāsir al-Umarā, 3 vols., ed. Mawlavī ʿAbd al-Raḥīm (Calcutta: Maṭbaʿ-i urdū gāʾīḋ, 1888–1896), 1:408–412.


Alvi, Advice, 148: “bāyad kih bar takht nishastan rā az bahr-i dād dādan na az bahr-i shād zīstan dānistah.”


Ibid.: “darakht-i ʿadl bi-rashḥāt-i saḥāb-i siyāsat tāzah va sirāb’ast kih ān siyāsat bar qānūn-i ʿadālat bāshad.” Interestingly, in her translation Alvi renders siyāsat with either “discipline” or “control” (see ibid., 46–47). While it can hardly be denied that both concepts play a role in siyāsat, Alvi’s briefly explained rendition seems a little too narrow to grasp the whole meaning of the term.




See Alam, Languages, 74–75.


See Dihlavī, Risālah, 31 and 38–39; al-Khāqānī, Akhlāq, fols. 372b–384b.


Ibid., fol. 384b: “siyāsat az ahm-i muhimmāt-i jahān’dārī va aḥabb-i maqāṣid-i shahriyāt ast.”


See ibid., fol. 385a.


Alam, Languages, 46–54, stresses the significant impact of Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī’s Akhlāq-i Nāṣirī on the formation of Mughal political thought. However, his arguments in support of that view can, in my eyes, only be considered circumstantial evidence.


See al-Khāqānī, Akhlāq, fols. 264a–302a, here esp. 274af. and 384b–393a; cf. Khvājah Naṣr al-Dīn Ṭūsī, Akhlāq-i N–ṣirī, 5th ed. (Tehran: Intish–r–t-i khvārizmī, 1373sh), 258–259.


This rendering of the term sharīʿa follows the convincing arguments of Baber Johansen, “The Muslim Fiqh as a Sacred Law: Religion, Law and Ethics in a Normative System,” in Contingency in a Sacred Law: Legal and Ethical Norms in the Muslim Fiqh (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 1–76, here 39.


Such an image emerges, for example, from Alam, Languages, 5–15, 26–80, who juxtaposes the legalistic with the philosophico-ethical view on governance in the medieval and early modern Persianate world in general, and in Muslim North India in particular.


A Quranic verse commonly referred to in this regard is 6 (al-Anʿām):165: “It is He who had made you deputies of the earth [khalāʾif al-arḍ ]: He had raised some above others by ranks [darājāt], so that He may test you in what He had given you.” The Hellenic and Hellenist legacy in this regard is well represented in, e.g., al-Fārābī, Madīnat al-Fāḍila, 122–123 and 127–130.


For the Persian context, see al-Khāqānī, Akhlāq, fol. 385a; for the later Urdu context, see, e.g., Sayyid Ah. mad Dihlavī, Farhang-i Āṣafiyyah: ʿArabī, Fārsī, Turkī, Hindī, Sanskrit awr Angrezī Lughīt-i Makhṭūṭah bah Urdū, 4 vols. (Delhi: National Academy, 1974), 2:391 (lemma: riyāsat-i jumhūrī); Muḥammad Mrīzā Muhaẕẕab Lakħnavī, Muhaẕẕab al-Lughāt, 13 vols. (Lucknow: Muḥfiẓ-i urdū bukdīpo, 1958–1982), 6:40 (lemmas: raʿāyā and riʿāyat) and 43 (lemma: raʿiyyah).


See, e.g., the slightly exaggerated view presented by Franke, Akbar und Ǧahāngīr, 251–330.


Here, we need to bear in mind that also the camel-centered nomadism in the Arab tribal societies diff ered substantially from the horse-centric hunter-gatherer nomadism in the Eurasian steppe from where the Mughals originated. Cf. Walter Dostal, “Die Araber in vorislamischer Zeit,” in Der islamische Orient: Grundzüge seiner Geschichte, ed. Albrecht Noth and Jurgen Paul (Würzburg: Ergon, 1998), 25–44; and Peter B. Golden, An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples: Ethnogenesis and State-Formation in Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia and the Middle East (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1992), 1–14 and 313–317.


See Nūr al-Dīn Muḥammad Jahāngīr, Jahāngīrʾnāmah, yaʿnī Tūzuk-i Jahāngīrī, ed. Muḥammad Hā;shim (Tehran: Intishārāt-i bunyād-i farhang-i Īrān, 1359 sh/1980), esp. 2; Muʾtamad Khān Bakhshī, Iqbālʾnāmah-yi Jahāngīrī, 3 vols., ed. Mawlavī ʿAbd al-Ḥayy and Mawlavī Aḥmad ʾAlī (Calcutta: Asiatic Society, 1865). Franke, Akbar und Ǧahāngīr, 251–253, has rightly pointed out the stylistic particularities of these accounts, and has reasonably suggested also considering here the visual artifacts that were produced during Jahāngīrī’s reign. See ibid., 293–330.


Muḥammad Ṣādiq Iṣfahānī Āzādānī, Shāhid-i Ṣādiq (undated MS BL London, I.O. Islamic 1,537), fol. 117b: “dar riyāsat va salṭanat va ḥukūmat va ādāb va taʿalluqāt-i ān.”


The strategic role and importance that Mughal rulers from Akbar onward assigned to Persian has been emphasized by Alam, Languages, 122–140. For a diff erent take, see Stefano Pellò, Ṭūṭiyān-i Hind: Specchi identitari e proiezioni cosmopolite indo-persiane (1680–1856) (Florence: Società Editrice Fiorentina, 2012), 11–19. Arabic, however, remained the idiom of religious learning well intocolonial times, if not beyond; the Shahīd-i Ṣādiq provides ample proof for the fl uidity of the boundaries between both languages.


Āzādānī, Shahīd, fol. 126a.


See ibid., fols. 126a–127b.


See ibid., fols. 117b–118b.


See ibid., fol. 118a.


Blochmann, Contributions, 28.


See Tek Chand, Bahār, 1:470 (lemma: dawlat) and 340 (lemma: ḥukm); 2:122 (lemma: sulṭān), 136 (lemma: siyāsat), 216 (lemma: ʿāmm va khāṣṣ), and 408 (lemma: malik).


See ibid., 1:298 (lemmas: jahānʿārāʿī, jahān-i pādishā, jahān’bān, jahān’bakhsh, jahānʾparvar, jahān’pahlū, jahān’pahlavān, jahānjavī, jahān’javiyyah, jahān’khusraw, jahāndār).


In this regard, it would certainly be worthwhile to correlate the notion of the political, with all its auxiliaries, of Tek Chand’swork with those that are explicitly meant as lexicons of poetical language, such as the early nineteenth-century Laṭāʾif al-Lughāt of ʿAbd al-Laṭīf ibn ʿAbdallāh ‘Kabīr.’


For biographical information on Ānand Rām “Mukhliī,” and an investigation into his travelogue, the Safarʾnāmah-yi Mukhliṣ, see Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “Discovering the Familiar: Notes on the Travel-Account of Anand Ram Mukhlis, 1745,” South Asia Research 16, no. 2 (1996): 131–154, here esp. 141–153.


See Muzaff ar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “The Making of a Munshi,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 24, no. 2 (2004): 61–72, here esp. 62 and 70–71. This is vividly indicated by the succinct discussion of the importance of manṣib (rank), discussed under the lemma iqṭāʿ (fief), in Anand Rām Mukhliṣ, Mirʾāt al-Iṣṭilāḥ (paginated MS BL London Or. 1,813, dated December 1850), 35–39, as well as the following illustrations of his deliberations by the examples of Awrangzīb and Navvāb Āṣaf Jāh I of Hyderabad (d. 1161/1748). See Mukhliṣ, Mirʾāt al al-Iṣṭilāḥ, 39–44.


See ibid., 260, for the illustration of the lemma davāndan (to dispatch; lit.: to cause to run) by the example of the former governor of the Punjab, Ṣafdar Muḥammad Khān, who, in 1746, had been dispatched by Muḥammad Shāh to Iran.


In fact, the wider discussion of manṣib (rank) (35–44) forms the only part in which issues of governance are directly discussed.


For a rather short and general biography, see ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Ḥasanī, al-Iʿlām bi-man fī Taʿrīkh al-Hind min al-Aʿlām, yaʿnī Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir wa-Bahjat al-Masāmiʿ waʾl-Nawāz̤ir, 8 vols. (Rāʿī Baraylī: Daʿirat al-Shaykh ʿAlamallāh, 1412–1413/1991–2013 [reprint of the 1947 edition]), 6:285–286.


See, e.g., al-Shāh Waliyallāh al-Muḥaddith al-Dihlawī, Tafhīmāt al-Ilāhiyya, 2 vols. (Bijnor: Madīnat-i Barqī Press, 1355/1936), 2:111–112; al-Shāh Waliyallāh al-Muḥaddith al-Dihlawī, Ḥujjat Allāh al-Bāligha, 2 vols., ed. Sayyid Sābiq (Beirut: Dār al-jīl 1426/2005), 1:24: “It discourages me that I live in an age of ignorance, clientelism, and following the [individual] passions [fī zamān al-jahl waʾl-ʿaṣabiyya, wa-ittibāʿ al-hawā], in which every person has a high opinion of his own deviant opinions [ārāʿihi al-raddiyya].”


See al-Shaykh Muḥammad Alī [sic] ibn ʿAlī al-Tħānavī, Kashshāf Iṣṭilāḥāt al-Funūn, ed. Aḥmad Jawdāt (Istanbul: Maṭbaʿat bi-dār al-khilāfa al-ʿaliyya, 1318sh), 5–59.


Cf., e.g., al-Fārābī, Iḥṣāʾ


al-Tħānavī, Kashshāf, 733.


See ibid., 734.


See Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, “Some Problems of Urdu Lexicography,” Annual of Urdu Studies 7 (1990): 21–30, here 28–29; also Hakala, Negotiating Language, xix–xxiv and 33–75.


Hakala, Negotiating Language, 33.


For the language of Delhi as the benchmark for Urdu and justification for claims to continuous cultural hegemony, see Dihlavī, Āṣafiyyah, 1:12–16. For a counterargument that elevates the Urdu of Lucknow, see Lakħnavī, Muhaẕẕab, vol. 1, ba-jīm.


See Dihlavī, Āṣafiyyah, 1:42–43. The Farhang-i Āṣafiyyah was completed around 1895.


See Amīr Aḥmad Ṣāḥib ‘Amīr Mināʾīʾ,Amīr al-Lughāt, 2 vols. (Agra: Maṭbaʿ mufīd-i ʿāmm, 1891), 1:1–7; also see Faruqi, Urdu Lexicography, 22. Mināʾīʿs dictionary remained discontinued after the letters alif maddah and alif only. The conflict between Delhi and Lucknow is still echoed in Lakħnavī much later, Muhaẕẕab, vol. 1, jīm-dal, which, through the support of such figures like the first minister of education, Abū ‘l-Kalām ĀzĀd (d. 1377/1958), became the standard dictionary in the Indian Republic, where it was published for the first time between 1958 and 1989.


See Hakala, Negotiating Language, 33–34.


See, e.g., C. A. Bayly, Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion 1770–1870, rev. ed. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992), 174–183, 369–401, and 481–494; Margrit Pernau, Bürger mit Turban: Muslime in Delhi im 19. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008), 77–78 and 201–207.


See the systematic considerations in Wolfgang Reinhard, Freunde und Kreaturen: Verflechtung als Konzept zur Erforschung historischer Führungsgruppen: Römische Oligarchie um 1600 (Munich: Vögel, 1979), 30–41; Antoni Mączak, “Patronage in Herzen des frühneuzeitlichen Europa,” in Klientelsysteme im Europa der frühen Neuzeit, ed. Antoni Mączak (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1988), 83–90; Antoni Mączak, “From Aristocratic Household to Princely Court: Restructuring Patronage in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” in Asch and Birke, Princes, 315–327.


See Hartung, “The Praiseworthiness of Divine Beauty: The ‘Shaykh al-Hind’ Maḥmūd al-Ḥasan, Social Justice and Deobandiyyat,” South Asian History and Culture 7, no. 4 (2016): 346–369, here 349–353.


See Dihlavī, Āṣafiyyah, 1:37; also see Hakala, Negotiating Language, 155–187.


See, e.g., Sirāj al-DīnʿAlī Khān “Ārzū,” NavĀdir al-Alfāẓ maʿa Gharāʾib al-Lughāt-i ʿAbd al-Vāsiī Hāṅsavī, ed. Sayyid ʿAbdallāh (Karachi: Anjumān-i taraqqī-i urdū, 1951), 3–4.


This, however, may have been different in the numerous semiautonomous Princely, or Native, States under Muslim rule; yet fundamental research on this is still required.


The institution in question is the Imārat-i Sharīʿah at Phulvāi Sharīf in Bihar. See Muhammad Qasim Zaman, “South Asia and the Idea of the Caliphate,” in Demystifying the Caliphate, ed. Madawi Al-Rasheed, Carool Kersten, and Marat Shterin (London: Hurst, 2012), 57–79, here 61–64. On competing institutions, see, e.g., Jan-Peter Hartung, “Standardising Muslim Scholarship: The Nadwat al-ʿUlamāʾ,” in Asserting Religious Identities: India and Europe, ed. Satish Saberwal and Mushirul Hasan (New Delhi: Manohar, 2006), 121–144.


Dihlavī, Āṣafiyyah, vol. 1, frontispiece: “adālatī va bī-gummātī muḥvarāt, ahl-i pīshah va ahl-i ḥirfah kī z̤urūrī iṣṭilāḥāt.”


See ibid., 2:66 (lemma: jahāṇ’panĀh [sic]), 67 (lemma: jahāngīr), 167–168 (lemmas: ḥukūmat, ḥukūmat jatnā, and ḥukūmat karnā), and 174 (lemmas: khāṣṣ khāṣṣ log and khāṣṣah); 3:90–91 (lemmas: sultṭān, sultṭān jī, sulḥnah, sulṭnī, and salṭanat) and 262 (lemma: ʿĀmm log); 4:402–403 (lemmas: mulk, malik, and mulūkiyyat). Nearly all these terms retained their meaning as enshrined by Sayyid Aḥmad Dihlavī. See Lakħnavī, Muhaẕẕab, 4:295–296 (lemma: ḥākim), 332–335 (lemmas: ḥukm, and ḥukūmat), and 354–355 (lemmas: khāṣṣ khāṣṣ log, and khāṣṣah); 6:457 (lemmas: sulṭān, sulṭānah, sulṭānī, and salṭanat); 12:339 (lemmas: mulk and malik).


Dihlavī, Āṣafiyyah, 3:265: “īmān awr diyānat ke sātħ fayṣalah karnā.”


It is worth noting, however, that ʿadl and inṣāf have not been explicitly tied to siyāsat, which has been defined here with an overwhelmingly strong emphasis on the punitive aspect of the “guardianship of and supervision over the dominion” [mulk kī ḥifāẓat va nigarānī] (ibid., 3:141).


Ibid., 2:391–392; see also ibid., 2:50 (lemma: jumhūrī sulṭanat), where France is mentioned as yet another example; cf. the lemma sulṭanat-i jumhūrī in Lakħnavī, Muhaẕẕab, 6:457.


Dihlavī, Āṣafiyyah, 2:202.


See Zaman, “Caliphate,” 58.


See M. Naeem Qureshi, Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics: A Study of the Khilafat Movement, 1918–1924 (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 25–57.


See, e.g., Jan-Peter Hartung, “Who Speaks of What Caliphate? The Indian Khilafat Movement and Its Aftermath,” in Al-Rasheed et al., Demystifying the Caliphate, 81–94.


One may think here of the reinterpretation of terms like khilāfat (trusteeship), mulūkiyyat (power, dominion, also kingship), siyāsat (management), millat (nation), qawm (people), ḥukūmat (government), or ʿadālat/inṣāf (justice/equity) by Indo-Muslim thinkers such as Muḥammad Iqbāl (d. 1357/1937), Abū ʾl-Kalām Āzād, or Sayyid Abū ʾl-Aʿlá Mawdūdī (d. 1399/1979). For the latter two, see ibid., 87–92.


See Mukhliṣ, Mirʾāt al-Isṭilāḥ, 7.


See, e.g., the notion of sulṭān al-tarikīn (holder of the power of the ascetics), attributed to Ḥāmid al-Dīn ibn Aḥmad Nagorī (d. 673/1274) by the aforementioned ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq Muḥaddis Dihlavī, Akhbār al-Akhyār fī Asrār al-Abrār (Tehran: Anjumān-i āsār va mafākhir-i farhangī, 2005), 1–2; or that of sulṭān-i z̤ikr (holder of the power of remembrance [of the Divine]) by Rukn al-Dīn ibn ʿAbd al-Quddūs Gangohī, Laṭāʾif al-Quddūsī (Delhi: Maṭbaʿ-i mujtabāʾī, 1311/1894), 15–17.


Ulrich Ricken, “Zum Verhältnis vergleichender Begriffsgeschichte und vergleichender Lexikologie”, in Begriffsgeschichte · Diskursgeschichte · Metapherngeschichte, ed. Hans Erich Bödeker, 2nd ed. (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2002), 50–72, here 55–71, discusses the lexicology of the semantic field revolving around the concept of Enlightenment in theFrench and German contexts and suggests at least a degree of mutuality between literary language and the lexicographical fixation of these terms and concepts.


See the perpetuation of the appraisal of this work by scholars like Blochmann and even Alam and Subrahmanyam, above, notes 58 and 106. Yet, the basis of this appraisal still remains to be convincingly revealed.


See Lakħnavī, Muhaẕẕab.

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