07 November 2007


ISLAM AND HEALING: Loss and Recovery of an Indo-Muslim Medical Tradition 1600–1900


Indo-Muslim medicine—or the Unani tradition—developed in South Asia alongside Mughal political culture. While it healed the body, it also had a profound bearing on the social fabric of the region. Seema Alavi’s book shows the nature and extent of this Islamic healing tradition’s interaction with Indian society and politics from roughly 1600 to 1900.

Drawing on Persian texts for the pre-colonial phase, Alavi moves beyond the standard colonial archive to deploy unused Urdu texts, pamphlets, local newspapers, and private family records. Alavi shows precisely how, in the period of high colonialism, established practitioners kept their tradition alive. Their struggles to preserve and recast the Mughal legacy, control knowledge, and consolidate doctrinaire languages of power when confronting print culture and Western education are compellingly documented and analysed. In the present context, where West-dominant globalization demonizes both Islam and cultural alternatives, the implications of this book are profound.

SEEMA ALAVI is a professor of history at Jamia Milia Islamia. Her Cambridge PhD was revised and published as THE SEPOYS AND THE COMPANY many years back, and she has published several books and learned essays since then, as well as been a visiting fellow at Harvard.

81-7824-195-1 / Hardback/ Rs 695 / 400pp / Published in Dec 07 / For sale in South Asia only / Copublished by Palgrave Macmillan, London