This paper examines the ways in which sectarian differences were approached by three major Hindustani poets: Sauda, Mir and Ghalib. These poets evoked, acknowledged, played upon, and even enjoyed Sunni-Shi‘ite differences without the situation always reaching some kind of instantaneous flashpoint of sectarian “tension”. Contrary to recent arguments that sectarian affiliation can be discerned through evidence of ritual practice of pilgrimage and paying respect to the shrines of certain historical personages of spiritual importance, in the Indian environment, as no doubt elsewhere also, it appears difficult to pin down sectarian affiliation from rituals and expressions of respect and devotion to the Prophet’s household.

Published: 2016-12-03