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Wali Allah, Shah

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

    Wali Allah, Shah

    (d. 1762 )

    Most prominent Muslim intellectual of eighteeenth-century India and a prolific writer on a wide range of Islamic topics in Arabic and Persian. He was accepted into the Naqshbandi tariqah at fifteen and performed the hajj when he was twenty-eight. Upon his return to India, Wali Allah taught in a madrasa and served as a Sufi guide. His most influential work, Hujjat Allah al-balighah, sought to reform Islamic studies through the new exegetical literature in hadith studies; this book is still studied from the Arab Middle East to South and Southeast Asia. After his death, Wali Allah's teachings were carried on by his sons and grandson. Today all major religious movements in Muslim South Asia claim Wali Allah as an intellectual progenitor. Groups such as the Deobandis assert his teachings on intellectual and mystical Islam. Puritanical and anti-Sufi movements such as the Ahl-i Hadith stress his return to shariah's fundamentals and rejection of Sufi excesses and foreign elements. Politically oriented Islamic groups emphasize his ideas on socioeconomic justice and political activism.

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