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Observations on the Mussulmauns of India Descriptive of Their Manners, Customs, Habits and Religious Opinions Made During a Twelve Years' Residence in Their Immediate Society   By:

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OBSERVATIONS ON THE MUSSULMAUNS OF INDIA

Descriptive of Their Manners, Customs, Habits and Religious Opinions Made During a Twelve Years' Residence in Their Immediate Society

by

MRS. MEER HASSAN ALI

Second Edition, Edited with Notes and an Introduction by W. Crooke

1917

WITH SENTIMENTS OF GRATITUDE AND PROFOUND RESPECT THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE HUMBLY DEDICATED, WITH PERMISSION,

TO HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCESS AUGUSTA;

BY HER ROYAL HIGHNESS'S MOST OBEDIENT, FAITHFULLY ATTACHED, AND VERY HUMBLE SERVANT,

B. MEER HASSAN ALI.

[1832.]

PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

In the present reprint the text of the original edition of this work has been reproduced without change, even the curious transliterations of the vernacular words and phrases having been preserved. The correct forms of these, so far as they have been ascertained, have been given in the Notes and in the Index Glossary. I have added an Introduction containing an account of the authoress based on the scanty information available, and I have compiled some notes illustrating questions connected with Islam and Musalman usages. I have not thought it necessary to give detailed references in the notes, but a list of the works which have been used will be found at the end of the text. As in other volumes of this series, the diacritical marks indicating the varieties of the sound of certain letters in the Arabic and Devanagari alphabets have not been given: they are unnecessary for the scholar and serve only to embarrass the general reader.

I have to acknowledge help from several friends in the preparation of this edition. Mr. W. Foster, C.I.E., has supplied valuable notes from the India Office records on Mir Hasan 'Ali and his family; Dr. W. Hoey, late I.C.S., and Mr. L.N. Jopling, I.C.S., Deputy Commissioner, Lucknow, have made inquiries on the same subject. Mr. H.C. Irwin, late I.C.S., has furnished much information on Oudh affairs in the time of the Nawabi. Sir C.J. Lyall, K.C.S.I, C.I.E., and Professor E.G. Browne, M.A., have permitted me to consult them on certain obscure words in the text.

W. CROOKE.

INTRODUCTION

Very little is known about the authoress of this interesting book. She is reticent about the affairs of her husband and of herself, and inquiries recently made at Lucknow, at the India Office, and in other likely quarters in England, have added little to the scanty information we possess about her.

The family of her husband claimed to be of Sayyid origin, that is to say, to be descended from the martyrs, Hasan and Husain, the sons of Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet, by her marriage with her cousin german, 'Ali. The father in law of the authoress, Mir Haji Shah, of whom she speaks with affection and respect, was the son of the Qazi, or Muhammadan law officer, of Ludhiana, in the Panjab. During his boyhood the Panjab was exposed to raids by the Mahrattas and incursions of the Sikhs. He therefore abandoned his studies, wandered about for a time, and finally took service with a certain Raja where she does not tell us who was then raising a force in expectation of an attack by the Sikhs. He served in at least one campaign, and then, while still a young man, made a pilgrimage thrice to Mecca and Kerbela, which gained him the title of Haji, or pilgrim. While he was in Arabia he fell short of funds, but he succeeded in curing the wife of a rich merchant who had long suffered from a serious disease. She provided him with money to continue his journey. He married under romantic circumstances an Arab girl named Fatimah as his second wife, and then went to Lucknow, which, under the rule of the Nawabs, was the centre in Northern India of the Shi'ah sect, to which he belonged. Here he had an exciting adventure with a tiger during a hunting party, at which the Nawab, Shuja ud daula, was present. He is believed to have held the post of Peshnamaz, or 'leader in prayer', in the household of the eunuch, Almas 'Ali Khan, who is referred to by the authoress.

His son was Mir Hasan 'Ali, the husband of the authoress... Continue reading book >>




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