Muslims In The Deccan: A Historical Perspective
Global Media Publications
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Omar Khalidi’s new book on Deccan Muslims fulfils a long-felt need for knowledge about Deccan Muslims
area in west-south India known as Deccan has a long association with Muslims,
who over the centuries had their share of good and bad times. The last two
centuries brought possibly more trials and tribulations than all others put
sizeable section of this population felt the devastating impact of the fall of
the Hyderabad state before the Indian army in 1948. An entire system of
patronage was destroyed in the "police action" and several hundred thousand
people, whose livelihood depended on the jobs of their bread earners with the
princely state, were thrown into destitution.
the Muslims began to overcome their hardships as democracy flourished, and the
70s saw the opening of new job markets in a thriving Middle East. Although many
Deccan Muslims had found their feet once again by the end of the 70s, and
continue to prosper well into the present century, all Deccani Muslims were not
equally benefited from the new opportunities.
of anti-Muslim violence (often state-backed), inadequate education and other
socio-political factors have deeply hurt the prospects of Deccani Muslims.
is interesting to know that however traumatic the fall of Hyderabad could have
bee to the Muslims of Hyderabad city, poor Muslims in the hinterland did not
necessarily think of Hyderabad’s fall as a calamity. To them it only
represented the fall of the city-based elite, something that did not affect the
book is largely a collection of articles by Dr Omar Khalidi of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. These articles had already been published in journals
over the last two decades. That is why the individual articles can be read as
stand-alone pieces also.
collection of articles by Dr Khalidi focusses on distinct ethnic groups among
Deccani Muslims (the Yemenis, the "Ethiopians" [Habashis], the Shias, the
Pathans, and, of course, the Konkanis). However, the book seems to suggest that
all Muslims in Deccan are of foreign origin. This is rather problematic.
there are enough indigenous Muslims in the area is common knowledge. No wonder,
to the many indigenous Muslims, like those in Telengana, the end of Hyderabadi
dispensation did not warrant mourning.
All said and done, the book is a valuable contribution to the understanding of an important subject. The academic rigour is evident from the extensive End Notes. Well produced, but a little steeply priced, the book should prove valuable for academic as well as lay readers. g