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Muḥammad Ḥayyā al-Sindī and Muḥammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab: An Analysis of an Intellectual Group in Eighteenth-Century Madīna Author

(s): John Voll Source: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 38, No. 1 (1975), pp. 32-39 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of School of Oriental and African Studies Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/614196 Accessed: 16/04/2009 14:39
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MUHAMMAD

HAYYA AL-SINDI AND MUHAMMAD IBN AN ANALYSIS OF AN INTELLECTUAL

'ABD AL-WAHHAB:

GROUP IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURYMADINA1 By JOHN VOLL
A powerful in revivalistimpulseemerged the Islamicworldof the eighteenth ibn Some of the leaders,like Muhanlmad 'Abd al-Wahhabor Shah century. the of WallAllih in India,arewellknown.However, foundations this revivalism remain relatively obscureand personalitieswho inspiredits leaders remain Hayya al-Sindi, shadowyfiguresin history. One such personis Muhammad movement.A closerexaminawho was a teacherof the founder the Wahhabi of of tion of this Medinese scholarand the intellectualcommunity whichhe was a canprovideinsightinto the conditions whichhelpedto inspirea prominent part revivalist. Even moreimportant,however,such analysisprovidesa basis for someof the relationships discerning amonga numberof the majoreighteenthmovements. century ibn Muhammad 'Abd al-Wahhabcame to Madinaas a relatively young to scholarand studiedunderMuhammad Hayya al-Sindi. He was introduced ibn this teacherby 'Abdallah Ibrahimibn Sayf, anotherscholarwith whomhe Muhammad have described had studied. Scholars Hayya as havingan imporhim in his developing tant influenceon Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab,encouraging and to to determination denouncerigid imitation of medievalcommentaries also taught individualanalysis(ijtihdd).2Muhammad utilize informed Hayya a Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab rejectionof popularreligiouspracticesassociatedwith
'saints' and their tombs that is similar to later Wahhabi teachings.3 It is

Hayya, and his generalintellectualmilieu, apparent,then, that Muhlammad of have some importancefor an understanding the origins of at least the Wahhabirevivalistimpulse. Muhammad Hayya appearsto have had a modest fame in his day as a al-Jabarti historiansof his time like 'Abdal-Rahman teacherof had7th.Major him somenotice,but he was not one of Khalilal-Muradi and Muhammad gave
1 The author expresses his gratitude to the National Endowment for the Humanities, whose grant made research for this paper possible. The Endowment has no responsibility for any view expressed in the article. The editions of frequently cited sources and their short reference form are: al-Jabarti: 'Abd al-Rahmian al-Jabarti, 'Ajd'ib al-thlr fl 'l-tardjim wa 'l-akhbdr (ed. Hasan Muhammad Jawhar and others), Cairo, 1957-68. al-Muhibbi: Muhammad Amin al-Muhibbi, Khuldsat al-athar ff a'ydn al-qarn al-tadl 'ashar, Cairo, 1284/1867-8. (Reprinted in Beirut by Dar al-Sadir.) al-Muradi: Muhammad Khalil al-Muradi, Silk al-durar ft a'ydn al-qarn al-tlhnl ^'ashar, Baghdad, 1301/1883-4. b. 2 Henri Laoust, Essai sur les doctrines sociales et politiques de Takl-d-din Ahmzad TaimTya, 661/1262-728/1328, Cairo, 1939, 507. 3George S. Rentz, Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab (1703/04-1792) and the beginnings of unitarian empire in Arabia, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of California, 1948, 27-8.

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the dominant intellectual leaders of the period. He was, rather, a quiet scholar who attracted a variety of students and who participated in a vigorous community of hadtthscholarshipin Madina. Only a general outline of his life is given in the biographies.4 He was born in a village in Sind, in present-day Pakistan and travelled in the province to get his basic education. From there he went to the holy cities in Arabia, where he settled, first as a student and then as a teacher, becoming, in the praise rhetoric of al-Muradi,the' bearer of the banner of the Sunna in Madina '. As a student, Muhammad Hayya was associated with a number of the prominent teachers of his time. In terms of his own life, the most important of these was Abfi '1-IHasan Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Hadi al-Sindi, like himself an from Sind.5 Abu 'l-Hasan had attained substantial fame as a teacher in emigrant the Prophet's Mosque and Muhammad Hayya became his close associate, eventually taking over his teaching sessions after Abi 'l-H.asan'sdeath. Three other teachers are also mentioned: 'AbdallIh ibn Salim al-Basri, Hasan ibn 'All al-'Ajami, and Abi 'l-Tahir Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Krarni.6 In addition, it is noted that he was initiated into the Naqshabandiyya tariqa by 'Abd al-Rahman al-Saqqaf.7 There is some diversity among the four ' academic ' teachers, but in certain respects they have basic similarities that help to define Muhammad Hayya's intellectual position. They are diverse in terms of madhhaband origin. Two are Hanafi and two are Shafi'i. One was born in India and, while the other three were born in the Hijaz, their families had come to the region relatively recently, 'Abdallah's from Basra, Abi 'l-Tahir's from Persia,8 and Hasan's name could imply a foreign, possibly Persian, background. However, these men had a distinctive feature in common: they appear to have been strongly influenced, especially in hadith study, by the same general school of thought. The most obvious feature in their common background is their relationship to Ibrahim ibn Hasan al-Kiirani, a famous Medineseteacher of that time. Three of the four-'Abdallah, Abu 'l-Hasan, and Abu 'l-Tahir-were students of Ibrahim. (Abiu'l-Tahir was his son.) The fourth, Hasan al-'Ajami, appears to have been older, and studied with Ibrahim's major teacher Ahmad al-Qashashi, as well as other prominent teachers of Ibrdhim.9 A more detailed examination of the instructors of Muhammad Hayya's teachers emphasizes their scholarly linkages even further. While Ibrahim al-Kuiraniseems to have been a dominant
4 Formal biographical entries can be found in al-Muradi, iv, 34, and 'Uthman ibn 'Abdallah ibn Bishr, Kitab 'unwdn al-majd fi tdrrkhNajd, Baghdad, 1328/1910, I, 28-9. The date of his birth is not given, and for his death al-Muradi gives 1163/1750 while Ibn Bishr gives 1165/1752. See also al-Jabarti, I, 182, 210; in, 108, 255. 5 Al-Muridi, iv, 66, and al-Jabarti, I, 214. 6 Biographies of these men are in al-Jabarti, I, 177 and 208-10, and al-Muradi, iv, 27. 7 Al-Jabarti, i, 182. 8 Ibrahim al-Kfirni was said to have been born in Tehran, al-Jabarti, i, 171, and to have been Shahraziiri by origin, al-Muradi,, , 5-6. 9 In all, the two men had five teachers in common: al-Qashashi, al-Babili, 'Isa al-Ja'fari al-Maghribi, Zayn al-'Abidin al-Tabari, and 'Ali al-ShubramiIsi.

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figure in this scholarly group in the holy cities, he is, in a broader picture, only a focal point within a larger web of intellectual interrelationships, which appear for this group to centre around two prominent teachers of an older generation, Ahmad al-Qashashi in Arabia and Muhammad al-Babili in Egypt. All four of Muhammad Hayy&'sinstructors have close links with these two men. Three of the four were students of al-Babili, along with Ibrahim, and only Ibrahim's son, Abu 'l-Tahir, did not have direct contact since he was too young. If one constructs an' intellectual family tree ', MuhammadHayya had at least eight lines of connexion with al-Babili.10 Similar ties can be seen with al-Qashashi. Ibrahim al-Kurani was his successor in his major teaching post, so the ties with Ibrahim lead to al-Qashashi. In addition to Hasan al-'Ajami's direct connexion with al-Qashashi,there are at least four other instructors of MuhammadHayya's teachers who were students of al-Qashashi. Thus, in the ' family tree ' there are at least six lines linking MuhammadHayya with al-Qashashi. The interconnected nature of this ' academic community' is further emphasized by the fact that five of the six men who are parts of the linkage between Muhammad jHayya and al-Qashashi were also links between him and al-Babili. The picture that emerges from this pattern of student-teacher relationships is one of a relatively closely intertwined intellectual community. There is no evidence to show that this ' school' was in any way formally organized. However, it seems safe to assume that these scholars had at least some basic common views and either knew each other personally or were well known to each other by reputation. This particular group or tradition was centred in Makka and Madina, although most of the men had relatively wide-ranging educations. The most common place to which they went for further education was Egypt, with the result of the close ties with the Egyptian teacher, al-Babili. In addition, many of the group took advantage of the educational opportunities provided by scholars coming to the holy cities on pilgrimage. Thus the names of prominent scholars from throughout the Islamic world appear on some of the teacher lists. A total of 27 names appear in biographies as either teachers of Muh.ammad Hayya or their teachers. Of these, 16 appear as a part of the integrated' family tree ' of student-teacher relations, while 11 appear as teacher of only one of the men and no other direct connexion is indicated in the biographies. This grouping of scholars as a whole has a number of interesting characteristics. The group is more broadly cosmopolitan than the five direct teachers of MuhlammadHayya. Their birthplaces and areas of early study range from India and Persia to Algiers and Morocco. The group as a whole is widely travelled and very few received their full education in just one or two places. Some had direct dealings with political and military officials but none of them held a significant ' official' religious post for any length of time, except for one teacher of Hasan al-'Ajami. That man was the Hanafi Mufti of 'the Hijaz
10In addition to the three direct lines there are at least five chains of authorities through other teachers of his teachers.

AN ANALYSIS OF AN INTELLECTUAL GROUP IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY MADlNA

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regions and al-Madina '.11 Perhaps related to this is the fact that out of the 24 scholars whose madhhabis given or can be reasonably inferred,12 only three, inthis mufti and al-'Ajami, are Hanafi. The third, Abft 'l-Hasan al-Sindi, cluding was of Indian origin. The prominence of the H1Tanafi madhhabin India may his position and also MuhammadHayya's own atypicality in this regard, explain since he was also a Hanafi. The five scholars of Maghribiorigin were Maliki in madhhab. All of the remaining 16 were Shafi'i. Especially in the light of the emphasis often given to the Hanbali background of Muhammad ibn 'Abd alWahhab, it is remarkableto note that none of the teachers, or even the teachers of the teachers, of Muhammad HIayya, is identified as HIanbali. Thus, while the group is not explicitly defined by madhhabaffiliation, it does appear to have some relationship to the legal schools. The core of the group is Shafi'i, with a solid leaven of Maliki scholarship. It was not closed to other schools but their participation was limited. It is also notable that most of these 27 scholars had some Sufi affiliations. This is most frequently described in general terms rather than having the name of a specific tariqagiven. One order that is specifically mentioned is the Naqshabandiyya, into which MuhlammadHayya was initiated. Perhaps the most notable Naqshabandiyya affiliates in the general group are Ibrahim al-Kiirani and Ahrmad al-Qashshi. Thus while little concrete can be said about the specific affiliations of this cluster of scholars, it is possible to note that they were not opposed to Sufism and at least some of them were affiliated with the reformist Naqshabandiyya tradition. This community of scholars is the context within which Muhaiammad Hayya taught. Available sources provide information about 20 students who studied under him in Madina.13 An examination of these men aids in providing a fuller picture of the educational background of Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab. In a broader sense it provides a case study in the spread of influence of the group of scholars of which Muhammad Hayya was a part. The importance of being located in Madina is illustrated by the variety of the students. The Medinese scholarly community in general was able to contact people from throughout the world of Islam because of the Pilgrimage. This means, however, that a list of the students of any HIijazischolar will tend to be heterogeneous and not form a
11Hanif al-Din al-Marshidi is so described in al-Muhabbi, ii, 126.
12 Three of the teachers listed were not identified by madhhab and biographical sketches could not be found. 13 Seventeen men listed in al-Muradi are his students and al-Jabarti adds two more names to the list. Neither of these historians mentions Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab, whose studies under Muhammad Hayya are discussed by Ibn Bishr. Ibn Bishr also mentions that 'Ala al-Din al-Suiratiwas a student of Muhammad Hayya, but since I have been unable to find biographical information about this man, he has not been included in the tabulations. It might also be noted that Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Karim al-Sammain is included in the list of students although al-Muradi does not say that he studied under Muhammad Hayya. The inclusion of al-Samman among the students of Muhammad Hlayya is based on biographical information in a Sammaniyya book which is cited in al-Tahir Muhammad 'All al-Bashir, al-Adab al-Sifif al-Sitddlni, Khartoum, 1390/1970, 44.
VOL. XXXVIII. PART 1. 5

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particular academic group, since many would only stay in Madinafor a relatively short time before returning home. At the same time, it was thus possible for Medinese scholars to have at least some influence over the development of Islam in many different areas. The list of students of Muhammad Hayya under study here has a recognizable bias. It is compiled primarily on the basis of biographical information appearing in the works of al-Muradiand al-Jabarti. As a result, all 20 men have some connexion with the eastern Arabic-speaking world and none of the men listed by these two historians settled as mature scholars outside of that region. However, some hint of the broader nature of MuhiammadHIayya's 'student body' can be seen in the birthplaces. Three of them were born in the eastern Islamic world 14 and three came from the regions of Rum. The remaining 14 all came from the eastern Arab world, but even here there is substantial diversity. Four were born in Madina and four came from Aleppo, and the other six came from different places: one each from Yaman, Najd, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Nablus, and Damascus. It is noteworthy that while a number of these students had North African teachers and Muhammad H.ayya himself appears to have had associations with North African scholars, none of his listed students are of North African origin. Since both al-Muradi and alJabarti are quite conscious of the activities of Maghribischolars, this may indicate something more than just data bias. It is possible that a Hanafi teacher like Muhammad Hayya with 'eastern' connexions would not attract Maliki scholars in the same way that some of his Shafi'i colleagues would. In general terms of madhhabaffiliation, none of Muhammad Hayya's listed students were Maliki. In contrast to the general scholarly community of which he appears to have been a part, the majority of his students (twelve) were Hanafi and only five were Shafi'.15 Of the twelve Hanafis, seven either came to hold ' official ' religious positions or became in some way closely associated with the Ottoman state.l6 Four of the other five were Sufi shaykhs or teachers of Sifism,17 and only one was a regular teacher of hadith.18 In contrast to this, all five of the Shafi'l students had little or no direct connexion with ' religious officialdom' and were basically scholar teachers in the various legal sciences.'9 was not Among the three other students, one was a Sufi recluse, whose madhhab
14Two were born in DIghistan and one in India. 15No madhhabwas listed for one of the students and two were HIanbali. 18 Two become Hanafi Muftis of Madina. (Al-Muradi, III, 134-5; iv, 60. See also 'Abd alRahman al-Ansari, Tuhfat al-muhibbin wa 'l-as4dbf ma'rifat nid li 'l-Madaniyyfn in al-ansab (ed Muhammad al-'Arfsi al-Matwi), Tunis, 1970, 36-7 and 201.) One became Hanafi Mufti in Damascus (al-Muradi, mI, 219-28). One was Deputy Qadi of Madina for a short term (al-Muradi, in, 230-1, and al-Ansari, 300), and another was a servant of the Daftardar in Madina (al-Muradi, in, 216-17, and al-Ansari, 226). The sixth ultimately held an official teaching appointment in Istanbul (al-Muradi, I, 37-9), while the seventh was a recognized political adviser in that capital (al-Jabarti, nI, 254-56). 17Al-Muradi, I, 255; in, 201-2, 260-2; iv, 50-1. 18Al-Muradi, in, 215. 19Al-Muradi, n, 291-2, 328-9; in, 63-4, 65-6; iv, 60-1.

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given,20the second was a prominent Hanbali teacher of hadlthin Nablus,21and the remaining student was Muhammadibn 'Abd al-Wahhab himself, a Hanbali whose family had had and maintained close connexions with local ruling princes in central Arabia. Similar diversity can be seen in terms of the associations of this group of students with the Sufi tradition. Of the 20 scholars, 12 are explicitly noted as participating directly in some way in *ufism. Seven are identified as members of major tartqas,three either taught or wrote Sufi books, one was a miracle-working Sufi recluse, and one was said to be 'beloved of the people of the tariqas '22 Within this grouping there is no apparent correlationbetween Suifiaffiliationand either geographic origin 23 or nwdhhab.2 Even in the case of the two Hanbalis, one, Muhammadal-Saffarini, had association with a tariqa. This was not unusual among eighteenth-century jHanbalisin the Syrian region.25 There are relatively few tartqas that are explicitly mentioned. The most frequently noted is the Naqshabandiyya. Four of the seven are said to be members of this order. The second order of apparent importance in this group is the Khalwatiyya, with the other three men noted as affiliates. Although two of the students were members of more than one order, none of the seven is said to have been a member of both the Khalwatiyya and the Naqshabandiyya. One man from each of these two orders was described as having Qadiriyya connexions. The only other orders mentioned by name are the 'Aydarisiyya and the Wafa'iyya, which are other tartqas of the Naqshabandi/Qadiri, 'Abd al-Rahman al-'Aydarus.26 Although the number of Khalwatiyya and Naqshabandiyya listed members is small, these particular students also help to define the religious scholarly community of which MuhammadHayya was a part. The Naqshabandi students are among the more prominent members of that period in the eastern Arab world: Isma'il al-Uskadari was the ' shaykh of the Naqshabandi group in Madina ',27 while 'Ali al-Muradi was the senior member of the leading Naqshabandi family in Syria and the Hanafi Mufti of Damascus for many years, and
20
21

Al-Jabarti,

II, 249-50.

Al-Muradi, iv, 31-2, and al-Jabarti, in, 106-10. 22 Al-Muradi, m, 63. 28 Of the 12 with Suifi connexions, nine were born in the eastern Arab world, two in the lands of Rum, and one in India. There were eight men for whom no special Suificonnexion is mentioned. Of these, five were born in the eastern Arab world, two in the more eastern regions of the Islamic world, and one in Rum. Thus it would be very difficult to make any significant correlations of Sufi affiliation with region of origin. 24 In terms of madhhab, seven of the Hanafis had Sufi affiliations mentioned, five had not. Among the Shafi'is, three had them mentioned and two had not. Even the Hanbalis were split, one and one. 26 For a more intensive discussion of the attitudes and positions of these eighteenth-century Hanbalis, see John Voll, ' The non-Wahhabi Hanbalis of eighteenth century Syria ', Der Islam, XLIX, 2, 1972, 277-91. 26 'All Mubarak, al-Khuttat al-Tawflqiyya al-jadfda, Cairo, 1306/1888-9, v, 11-14. 27Al-Muradi, I, 255.

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had the Ottoman Sultan as a patron.28 'Abd al-Rahman al-'Aydaruis,a third Naqshabandi, was a-prominent member of the great 'Aydarus family which provided teachers and religious leaders for communities stretching from India to Cairo. The fourth listed member of the order was an Indian scholar who settled in Damascus under the patronage of the Muradifamily.29 Thus Muhammad HIayya,:himselfa Naqshabandi, can be said to have been associated, both through his teachers and his students, with some of the most prominent and influential groups within that tarlqa as it was established in the eastern Arab world. Although Muhammad Hayya's connexions with the Khalwatiyya do not appear to be as close, it is certainly worth noting that two of his three Khalwati students were associated with that order through the leading reviver of that tradition, Mustafa al-Bakri. One of these was Muhammadal-Samman;.aleading student of al-Bakri.30 In addition, Mustafa himself studied under one of Muhammad Hayya's teachers, 'Abdallah al-Basri, and one of the sons of Ibrahim alKirani, as well as other men in the community of scholars with whom Muhammad Hayya was associated. Thus, while the ties are more generalized, the new revivalist Khalwati tradition of Mustafa al-Bakri also appears to play a part in Muhammad H.ayya's personal milieu. Through examining his students and his teachers, the position of Muhammad Hayya al-Sindi thus becomes clearer. He was a quiet teacher of hadith in Madina but was in contact with and a part of some of the major movements of his day. Many of his students became men of some importance, as notables in the religious 'establishment ', as tariqa leaders, or as teachers of hadith. Although Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab is now the best-known ' revivalist' among his students, he was not the only student with that approach. The others included Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Karim al-Samman, the student of al-Bakri whose own tariqa, the Sammaniyya, had influence in Yaman and the eastern Sudan, and Muhammad al-Saffarini, who came to dominate Hanbali scholarship in Nablus, one of the smaller centres of the madhhab. Al-Saffarini was said to have been 'victorious for the Sunna and a suppressor of
innovation
.31

Scholars often search for possible sources of the ideas and inspirations of important historical figures. In terms of Islamic fundamentalism, many attempts have been made to show how the Wahhabis influenced other revivalist
Al-Muradi, fm, 219-28. 29 Al-Muradi, hi, 260-2. 30 For a general discussion of the Khalwatiyya at this time, as well as comments about al28

Samman, see B. G. Martin, ' A short history of the Khalwati Order of Dervishes', in N. Keddie (ed.), Scholars, saints and Sufis, Berkeley, 1972, 275-305. The two Bakriyya Khalwatis are discussed in al-Jabarti, in, 106-10, and al-Muradi, iv, 60-1. The third was associated with a local branch in Aleppo which does not appear to have had very close ties with Mustafa al-Bakri. Although Mu$tafa's shaykh in the Khalwatiyya was born in Aleppo (al-Muradi, iI, 123), there is no mention of this student of Muhammad Hayya studying under either al-Bakri or his shaykh. Rather, he was the khalffa of his own father in the local order (al-Muradi, iv, 50-I).
31

Al-Jabarti,

HI, 106.

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OF AN INTELLECTUAL

GROUP

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movements, but less has been done in analysing the context out of which Wahhabism itself grew. It certainly is possible to note the potential fundamentalism of the Hanbali tradition, especially as defined by Ibn Taymiyya. It is, however, not at all clear that the spirit of Ibn Taymiyya was the dominant one among the Hanbalis of the eastern Arab world in the eighteenth century.32 It was a part of Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab's inspiration, but one might also see inspiration for vigorous reform coming from the study of hadith as presented by Muhammad HIayya. Through this teacher, Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab certainly must have had an introduction to a broader world of religious scholarship within which ideas of reform were developing. This picture is limited, however, if one simply looks at the brief information about Muhammad Hayya himself. When the group of which he is a part is analysed, the point becomes stronger. Through MuhammadHayya, the founder of the Wahhabiyya can be seen in contact with the eighteenth-century revivalist impulses of the Naqshabandiyya and Khalwatiyya traditions. This line of analysis provides an even broader set of less direct connexions. The community of teachers in which Muhammad Hayya participated played a quiet but important role in the Islamic world of that era. When the great Indian reformerSh:ah Wall Allah came to Arabia, he studied hadlth under Muhammad Hayya's teacher, Abu 'l-Tahir Muhammadibn Ibrahlm al-Kfurni.33 At a slightly earlier date, the students of Ibrahlm al-Kfuran included Shaykh Yusuf, who later led a holy war against the Dutch in Indonesia and was exiled to South Africa, and 'Abd al-Ra'uifof Singkel, who was a major influence in the revival of orthodox Sufism in Sumatra.34 Thus, through Muhammad Hayya al-Sindi and his scholarly tradition, one can place the founder of the Wahhabi movement in a world of Islamic revivalism that stretches from Indonesia to Africa. These various eighteenth-century movements assumed varying forms depending on local conditions and the personalities of the leaders. There is, however, a remarkable convergence of background around the small group of teachers of hadithin the holy cities. Men like Muhammad Hayya do not often have a prominent place in history, but a careful analysis of their life and context can provide an opening to a better understanding of the major movements in history.
Voll, ' The non-Wahhabi Hanbalis', 277-91. 33Aziz Ahmad, ' Political and religious ideas of Shah Wali-ullah of Delhi ', Muslim World,
32

LII, 1, 1962, 22. 34 G. W. J.

Drewes, 'Indonesia: mysticism and activism', in G. E. von Grunebaum (ed.), Unity and variety in Muslim civilization, Chicago, 1955, 290-1.