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Position of Lucknow in India
Position of Lucknow in India
Coordinate26°51′N 80°57′E / 26.850°N 80.950°E / 26.850; 80.950
ProvinceUttar Pradesh
Total population3,500,00 (2011)
LanguageHindi, Urdu
ReligionsIslam, Hinduism
Historical Information
Important eventsThe formation of a Shi'a government ᛫ The occupation of the city by the British
GraveyardsImambara Ghufran Ma'ab
SeminarySultan al-Madaris ᛫ Jamia Nazmia ᛫ Madrasatul Waizeen ᛫ Mashari' al-Sharayi'

Lucknow is the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, and a center of Shi'as in India. The capital of the Awadh government was first in Faizabad, India, and was then moved to Lucknow. Lucknow is known as the land of Shiite families of scholars and mujtahids, including the Sahib 'Abaqat family and the Ghufran Ma'ab family in India.

After the occupation of Lucknow by Britons and the promotion of different sciences there, Shiite scholars decided to found different Islamic seminaries, including the Seminary of Sultanul Madaris, in order to prevent Islamic sciences from fading in the region. One of the most important Shiite libraries, known as Nasiriyya library, is located in this city. Mourning rituals of the days of Muharram in Asafi Imambara of the city are well-known ceremonies in this region.

Introduction and History

Lucknow is the capital of the State of Uttar Pradesh, and a Shiite center, in India. The city was the capital of the Shiite government of Awadh in 1188/1774-5. When Shiite dynasties of Qutb Shahis and Adil Shahis were toppled down by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, in 1098/1686-7, the Shiite government of Awadh came to power in northern India, which chose Lucknow as their capital, after Faizabad.

Prior to the establishment of the country of Pakistan, main centers of Shiite educations in India were located in Delhi, Rampur, Amroha, Sindh, and Lucknow. Main places of teaching Islamic sciences were mosques, husayniyyas, and houses of teachers, and there were few schools in the present style. It is said that during the reign of Shiite kings of Awadh, Lucknow was the main scholarly center of Shi'as in the Subcontinent.

In 1273/1856-7, the last king of Awadh was removed from power by the British army. The army occupied Lucknow and then arrested Wajid Ali Shah and exiled him and his family to Calcutta, the governmental center of Britain's Eastern India Company. Subsequent to these events, Sultan al-'Ulama' issued the fatwa of war with the British army. However, after people's resistance, they were finally defeated by the British army.

Prominent Figures

Lucknow is known as a land of Shiite scholars and mujtahids in India because of its well-known Shiite families, including the Sahib 'Abaqat family (descendants of Mir Hamid Husayn al-Hindi, the author of 'Aqabat al-anwar) and the Ghufran Ma'ab family. Many of these figures studied in Najaf and Karbala, and then returned to Lucknow.

Sayyid Muhammad Quli Musawi Hindi

Sayyid Muhammad Quli Musawi Hindi (b. 1174/1761 - d. 1260/1844) was born in Kintur. He was a theologian in Lucknow and the founder of the well-known library of Nasiriyya. He wrote over twenty books, the best-known of which is Tashyid al-mata'in in the rejection of section ten of 'Abd al-'Aziz Dihlawi's Tuhfa ithna 'ashariyya.

Sayyid Dildar 'Ali Naqvi

Sayyid Dildar 'Ali Naqvi Sabziwari (b. 1166/1753 - d. 1235/1820), known as Ghufran Ma'ab. He is known as a reviver of Shiism in the Indian Subcontinent, and the first person in India who claimed to be a mujtahid, inviting people to Friday and congregational prayers. The ancestors of Dildar 'Ali, just like many other Sayyid families, had left their homelands and moved to areas around Lucknow, where they stayed.

Sayyid 'Ali Naqi Naqvi

Sayyid 'Ali Naqvi

Sayyid 'Ali Naqvi was born in Lucknow in 1332/1913. He allegedly achieve the degree of ijtihad in his youths, and wrote numerous works concerning Islamic sciences. He was a student of Mirza Na'ini, Aqa Diya' al-Din al-'Iraqi, Sayyid Abu l-Hasan al-Isfahani, and other scholars of Karbala and Najaf. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani and al-Sayyid Hasan al-Sadr referred to him as polymath and researcher.

Mir Hamid Husayn

Mir Hamid Husayn, (b. 1246/1830 - d. 1306/1888) the son of Sayyid Muhammad Quli Musawi Nishaburi Hindi, was a Shiite theologian and scholar in Meerut, near Delhi.

Muhammad 'Abbas Tustari

Mufti Mir Muhammad 'Abbas Musawi Jaza'iri Tustari, born in Rabi' I 1224, April 1809, was an offspring of Sayyid Ni'mat Allah Jaza'iri, the author of al-Anwar al-nu'maniyya. He occupied the position of the head of judges.

Ibrahim Laknuyi

Ibrahim Laknuyi was born in Lucknow. He was a jurist and in charge of religious affairs of people in Lucknow. He was given the title of Sayyid al-'Ulama' by Sultan Wahid Ali Shah, the last Shiite king of Lucknow.

Important Shiite Centers

Asafi Imambara

Asafi Imambara
Husayniyya of Ghufran Ma'ab

In India, Imambaras are places in which Shi'as gather to hold rituals, especially during the Muharram month. The great Imambara of Lucknow, known as Asafi, and its Imamabara Kuchak are the most important Imambaras. When the capital was moved to Lucknow, Shiite and Iranian scholars and rulers tried to turn the city into a center for glorious mourning rituals on different religious occasions. It is reported that Nawwab Asif al-Dawla spent a great deal of money to promote religious rituals; for instance, for the mourning rituals of the Muharram month, the government spent over 600,000 rupees every year.

Another religious location in Lucknow is the Husayniyya of Ghufran Ma'ab. It is a burial of place of scholars of Lucknow, including Sayyid Dildar 'Ali.


Nasiriyya Library

Entrance of Nasiriyya Library

Sayyid Muhammad Quli Musawi Hindi, the father of Mir Hamid Husayn, was the founder of Nasiriyya library. The library was later administrated by Mir Hamid's son, Husayn, and after Nasir Husayn's death, it came to be known as Nasiriyya library. The library contains about 45000 Persian and Arabic manuscripts and printed books. Because of the significance of this library, 'Allama Amini traveled to Lucknow and transcribed around four thousand manuscripts of the library.

Mumtaz al-'Ulama' Library

Mumtaz al-'Ulama' library belongs to Muhammad Taqi b. Sayyid Husayn b. Sayyid Dildar 'Ali. With about two thousand manuscripts, it is one of the most important libraries of Lucknow and India.

Madrasatul Waizeen Library

Madrasatul Waizeen Library contains twenty thousand printed books and about 1500 manuscripts.

Seminary Schools

The entrance of Madrasat al-Wa'izin

After the British conquest of India and the collapse of the Shiite government of Awadh in 1858, western sciences were promoted in India. To counter them and to defend the Shiite school, Shiite scholars there founded the Seminary of Sultanul Madaris with efforts by Mawlana Sayyid Abu l-Hasan years later, then they founded the schools of Nazimiyya and Mashari' al-Shara'i' with his and Mirza Muhammad 'Abbas 'Ali Khan's encouragements in 1890-91, and then they founded Madrasatul Waizeen under the supervision of Najm al-'Ulama' in 1919 in Lucknow. The three schools are said to have had a central role in the education of Islamic sciences in India. In seminary schools of Lucknow, transmitted and rational sciences were taught up to the degree of ijtihad.

Other schools in Lucknow include the Tanzimul Makatib seminary, the Ghufran Ma'ab seminary, and Jami'at al-Zahra' for women.

Scholarly Works by Shi'as

According to some researchers, the research on Islamic sciences thrived during the Shiite government in Lucknow. The following books indicate the growth of research in this period:

  • 'Aqabat al-anwar by Mir Hamid Husayn Hindi concerning theology and beliefs,
  • Lawami' al-tanzil by Sayyid 'Ali Ha'iri,
  • Rawa'ij al-Qur'an a Quranic exegesis by Mufti Muhammad 'Abbas,
  • Exegeses of different suras of the Qur'an by Sayyid al-'Ulama' Husayn b. Dildar 'Ali
  • Mawlana Dildar 'Ali's exegesis and 26 works,
  • Works by children of Mawlana Dildar 'Ali, different works by 'Ali Ha'iri, including:
  • Ghayat al-maqsud (4 volumes concerning beliefs),
  • 125 volumes concerning literature and other Islamic disciplines by Mufti 'Abbas,
  • Three volumes of Hadiqat al-Islam by Muhammad Husayn Muhaqqiq Hindi, and 14 other works by him.

Scholarly Decline of Lucknow

The religious education in Lucknow was allegedly acceptable. Before the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the Shi'as of this country were influenced by the scholarly school of Lucknow, and some of their doctrines were close to Sufism. After the independence of Pakistan and the tendency of its clergy to seminary of Najaf and later to those of Qom and Najaf, their Sufi tendencies faded, and their ritual, social, and political dimensions were highlighted.

In the second half of the twentieth century, Lucknow was no longer a pioneer. The decline was coincident with the Independence of Pakistan from India, and the migration of many Shi'as from India to Pakistan. In this period, the Britons and then Hindus of India put a lot of pressure on Muslims, including Shi'as.


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