By Roger Allen
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Extra info for A Period of Time: A Study and Translation of Hadith 'isa Ibn Hisham by Muhammad Al-muwaylihi (St. Antony's Middle East Monographs)
It is true that in our times a sajja¯danishı¯n may be in service in a temporal establishment, has a family and may not necessarily live in the darga¯h. He is supposed to spend a few nights in a year at the maza¯r of his ancestor saint, and participate in maulu¯d, ‘urs and other festive ceremonies. A great deal has been written about the cult of saints by Western travellers, the South Asian men of letters and publicists and, of course, by scholars: this phenomenon seemed to be too broad-based and picturesque to be ignored.
In a comparatively later period social cataclysms also became a cause of mass ziya¯rat: thus, during the uprising of 1857–59 when Awadh became one of centres of antiBritish struggle, sepoys prayed for victory at the grave of Ghazi Miyan, the warrior for faith (Gazetteer of Oudh 1985: 234). The excessiveness of the cult of saints threatened to eradicate the distance between the temporal and the spiritual. The sacred was 19 THE INDIAN TOMB constantly lost in the profane because of an inevitable mixing-up of ritual with everyday life.
Through this hole the saint, who died in the twelfth century, talks to the most pious pilgrims or even extends his hand for greeting! Near the doors of the tomb there are also two graves: one of a lion, on whose back the saint supposedly rode into Multan from Afghanistan in the year 1080, and the other of a snake, whom he used to hold in his hand instead of a staff. A visit to the graves of the animals is a part of the rite of ziya¯rat of the saint’s tomb. e. polytheism. In the strict monotheism of Islam, worship of objects and people, even though saints, was looked upon as a terrible sin and infidelity (kufr).