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Powell, Avril Ann (1983) Contact and Controversy Between Islam and Chirstianity in Northern India, 1833-1857: The Relations Between Muslims and Protestant Missionaries in the North-Western Provinces and Oudh. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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In the period 1833 to 1857 some 'ulama from the three north Indian cities of Lucknow, Agra and Delhi were drawn into open controversy with Protestant missionaries in the region. Initial contacts which began in Lucknow in 1833, were turned into prolonged and bitter encounter in the North-Western Provinces, by the dissemination from Agra of publications against Islam by a German Pietist missionary, the Reverend Carl Pfander. The two-fold objective of the thesis is to throw light on the backgrounds and motives of his 'ulama opponents, and to examine the types of argument they used in response to his evangelical challenge. The response came initially from some Lucknow Shi'i 'ulama, and in the second stage from some Muslim residents of Agra who served in the East India Company's subordinate services, notably in clerical capacities in the law courts. By the early 1850s concern had spread to some prominent Sunni 'ulama of Delhi who were led by Maulana Rahmat Allah Kairanawi and a Bengali medical doctor, Muhammad Wazir Khan. An examination of the arguments which were used by the 'ulama shows that although the 'Mohammedan controversy' drew on some traditional objections to Christianity, a number of new as well as local factors determined the emphasis which was placed on claiming the irrationality of Christianity and the corruption of its scriptures. Important here was the 'ulama's contact with recent European biblical criticism which they utilized in their own attacks on the Bible. A debate held in Agra in 1854, which was hailed as a victory by the Muslims, marked the climax of religious controversy during this era. Within three years the risings of 1857 in north India, in which some of the leading controversialists were implicated, rendered both 'ulama and missionaries unable or reluctant to re-open the controversies.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:19

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