From the mid-18th century, the political landscape of the Persianate world underwent dramatic transformations. While decentralized states gradually emerged across Central Asia, the Durrani Afghans began carving out an empire from eastern Iran to north India. This turbulent period also witnessed the proliferation of an intricate network of shrines, Sufi centers and madrasas associated with the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi (‘revivalist’) Sufi order, which had originated in the Mughal heartlands.
This talk will focus on the career of one of the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi scholars-saints who emerged in this period, popularly known as Hazrat Jio Sahib Peshawari, who forged a network of institutions which spanned from the Punjab and the Pushtun tribal belt to the Volga, attracting a range of adherents from ascetics and celebrated scholars, to the rulers of Kabul and Bukhara. Through figures like Hazrat Jio Sahib Peshawari, the religio-scholastic milieu of the Mughal Empire mediated through the Afghan empire injected Central Asia with a new corpus of literature, epistemologies, practices, and in the case of Bukhara, even helped engender a new model of governance and kingship reflecting Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufi ethics.
Waleed Ziad is a doctoral candidate in Yale University’s Department of History, as well as a research scholar in law and an Islamic law and civilization research fellow at Yale Law School.