This book highlights the history of Islamic popular devotional art and visual culture in 20th-century India, weaving the personal narrative of the author's journey through his understanding of the faith. The volume begins with an introductory exploration of how the basic and universal image of Mecca and Medina may have been imported into Indian popular print culture and what variants it resulted in here. Besides providing a historical context of the pre-print culture of popular Muslim visuality, the book also explores the impact the Partition of India of 1947 may have made on the calendar art in South Asia. A large portion of the book focuses on the contemporary prints of different localised images found in India and what role these play in the users' lives, especially in the augmentation of their popular faith and cultural practices. It also compares the images published in India with some of those available in Pakistan, since the different trends in both countries reflect important socio-political trajectories.
Finally, the volume provides a short introspection on why such a vibrant visual culture continues to thrive among South Asian Muslims despite the questions raised by the orthodoxy on its legitimacy in Islam, and why images and popular visual cultures are inevitable for popular piety despite the orthodox Muslims' increasing dissociation from them. An illustrated volume, this is arguably the first book of its kind on Indian Muslim poster art. Using rare images and simple narratives, with anecdotes about rituals, ceremonies and cultural traditions running parallel to research findings, it will appeal to the lay reader as well as the specialist.
Yousuf Saeed is an independent film-maker and researcher based in New Delhi.
Introduction: The Duller the Better 1. The Image of Mecca in India 2. Popular Culture of Indian Muslims Before Print 3. Heroes, Portraits and Miraculous Powers 4. Images of Use and Use of Images 5. Images of the Two Nations 6. Postscript: Why Images Thrive in the Muslim World Despite...? About the Author. Index