Accepted paper:

Emergence of the Shia Personal Law Board: reflections on Shia politics in Lucknow


Saiyed Hasnain (University of Lucknow)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the emergence of the All India Shia Muslim Personal Law Board, this paper deals with factional politics among Shias of Lucknow. This factionalism has a pan India bearing on Muslim politics in general and Shia politics in particular.

Paper long abstract:

Lucknow has long been the centre of Shia culture and politics in South Asia. Even after they lost political authority in 1857, Shias continued to influence, though in much decreased degree, the economy and polity in Lucknow till independence in 1947 after which they were marginalised. In the new democratic set up political parties favoured the majority Sunnis because of electoral interests.

When the ulema of Nadwa seminary, Lucknow, established the All India Muslim Personal Law Board in 1973, Shias and other sects were also given representation to present it as a representative body of Muslims. Right from the beginning the office of vice-chairman was given to a Shia religious leader. Uptill now, this position was given to the ulema of a particular family since they were seen as moderates vis a vis sectarian differences. This resulted in resentment among other Shia ulema who felt left out leading to the formation of a separate Shia Personal Board in 2005. The key pretext was that the Shia problems and issues were neglected in the Muslim Personal Law Board. It was formed under the leadership of a prominent Shia moulvi of Lucknow who mobilised the Shia ulema of the country and coopted them in this body. This development is deeply enmeshed in the local factional politics of the Shias.

The proposed paper deals with the factional politics of the Shias of Lucknow which has a pan India bearing on Muslim politics in general and Shia politics in particular.

panel P07
Contemporary Lucknow: life with "too much history"