Muslim Women, Reform and Princely Patronage: Nawab Sultan Jahan Begam of Bhopal

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This engaging study examines Muslim women's participation in socio-religious reform movements in India in the early twentieth century. The state of Bhopal, a Muslim principality in central India, was ruled by a succession of female rulers throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The last of these Nawab Begams, Sultan Jahan (1858-1930, r. 1901-1926), emerges as the main figure in this history in the basis that she not only ruled her state effectively from behind the veil, but also provided essential leadership and patronage to a burgeoning network of Indian women reformers. Her location at the conjuncture of several historical worlds - princely, colonial, Muslim-means that her political life and thinking serves as a starting point for examining a broader development occurring among Muslim women, whether poor, privileged, or princely, both within India and throughout the Islamic World.

Siobhan Lambert-Hurley highlights the importance early Muslim female activists placed in balancing continuity and innovation. Operating within an Islamic framework, these women built on customary norms and reformist patterns set by their male predecessors and contemporaries in order to introduce incremental change in terms of female education, veiling, marriage and motherhood, and women's political rights. In elucidating this theme, special significance is attached to changing attitudes to class, gender, and communal identities. This book makes an important contribution to modern South Asian and Islamic history in that it analyses the first generation of Indian Muslim women to contribute to a reformist discourse, particularly at the regional level, while complicating perceptions of princelyIndia as an anachronistic backwater.

About the Author:
Siobhan Lambert-Hurley is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Nottingham Trent University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415401920
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 2/23/2007
  • Series: Royal Asiatic Society Books Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Siobhan Lambert-Hurley is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Nottingham Trent University. Her research focuses on women, gender and Islam in South Asia with a particular emphasis on education, social and political organizations, the culture of travel, missionaries, and personal narratives. Her other publications include Rhetoric and Reality: Gender and the Colonial Experience in South Asia (co-edited with Avril A. Powell) (2006).

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Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgements     ix
List of abbreviations     xiii
Frontispiece: Map of Bhopal     xiv
Frontispiece: Map of princely states and Muslim centres     xv
Introduction     1
Models and inheritances     13
State and society     44
Scholars and schools     73
Veiling and seclusion     100
Medicine and motherhood     124
Rights and duties     144
Conclusions     176
Genealogy of the Ruling Family of Bhopal     182
Glossary     184
Notes     188
Bibliography     226
Index     246
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