ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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'Prophecies' in South Asian Muslim Political Discourse: The Poems of Shah Ni'matullah Wali

Three "prophetic" Persian poems ascribed to a Shah Ni'matullah Wali have been a fascinating feature in the popular political discourse of the Muslims of south Asia. For nearly two centuries these poems have circulated whenever there has been a major crisis in, what may be called, the psychic world of south Asian Muslims. The first recorded appearance was in 1850, after the "Jihad" movement of Syed Ahmad had failed in the north-west, followed by serial appearances after the debacle of 1857, the dissolution of the Ottoman Caliphate and the failure of the Khilafat and Hijrat movements in 1924, the Partition of the country and community in 1947, and the Indo-Pak war of 1971-72. Curiously, these poems have re-emerged in Pakistan in 2010, and have found wider circulation on the internet. This paper traces the evolution of these poems since 1850, contextualises their appearances and offers some explanation for their hold on the minds of the Urdu-knowing Muslims of south Asia.49

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