Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Irfan Habib (born 1931) is an Indian historian of ancient and medieval India, following the approach of Marxist historiography. He is well known for his strong stance against Hindu and Islamic fundamentalism.[2] He has authored a number of books, including Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556–1707.

Irfan Habib
Irfan Habib.jpg
Irfan Habib – at his residence in Aligarh
Citizenship Indian
Alma mater
Awards
Scientific career
Fields History
Doctoral advisor C.C. Davies

Contents

Early and personal lifeEdit

 
Irfan Habib – 2007

Irfan was born into an Indian Muslim family, the son of Mohammad Habib, a marxist historian and ideologue belonging to the Communist Party of India, by his wife Sohaila Habib (née Tyabji). Irfan's paternal grandfather was Mohammad Naseem, a wealthy barrister and member of the Congress party, and his maternal grandfather was Abbas Tyabji, sometime Chief Justice of the High Court of Baroda princely state.[citation needed]

Irfan's wife Sayera Habib (née Siddiqui) was Professor of Economics at Aligarh Muslim University.[3] The couple have three sons and a daughter. The elder son is a scientist in America. The third son, Amber Habib, is head of the department of mathematics at Shiv Nadar University,[4] and is married to Abha Dev Habib, a professor at Delhi University. Irfan's second son, Faiz Habib, is a cartographer at the Center of Advanced Study in History.[3] His daughter, Saman Habib, is a scientist.[citation needed]

AcademicEdit

After he returned from Oxford he joined AMU as a member of the faculty. He was Professor of History at Aligarh from 1969–91. He is presently appointed as Professor Emeritus at the Department of History of the AMU. He delivered the Radhakrishnan Lecture at Oxford in 1991. He is an Elected Corresponding Fellow of the British Royal Historical Society since 1997.[citation needed]

Habib has worked on the historical geography of Ancient India, the history of Indian technology, medieval administrative and economic history, colonialism and its impact on India, and historiography.

Amiya Kumar Bagchi describes Habib as "one of the two most prominent Marxist historians of India today and at the same time, one of the greatest living historians of India between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries."[5]

PositionsEdit

He was Coordinator/Chairman of the Centre for Advanced Studies, AMU from 1975–77 and 1984–94. He was Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research during 1986–90.[6] He was the general secretary, Sectional President, and then the General President of the Indian History Congress (1981).[citation needed]

Philosophical and political viewsEdit

Habib identifies himself as a Marxist and uses Marxist historiography in his work.[7]

Habib has also written books about Vedas and Vedic age, he considers Vedas to be a good historical source, which describes the oral transmission in a priestly culture, that valued faithfulness. He further lays out the reasons that the texts were orally transmitted for hundreds of years, then they were finally written down.[8]

Habib had a sustained commitment to secularism. He led the historians at the Indian History Congress of 1998 who moved a resolution against the "saffronisation" of history.[9] He has said that the BJP government at the Centre which was in power from 1998–2004, especially the MHRD Minister himself, were responsible for inventing facts and dates to suit their interpretation of Indian history.[10] To counter Irfan Habib, Murli Manohar Joshi released a book which rebuts the history of what the former minister calls '‘Habib & Co'’.[11]

HonoursEdit

Selected publicationsEdit

Books Authored
  • The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556–1707. First published in 1963 by Asia Publishing House. Second, extensively revised, edition published in 1999 by Oxford University Press.
  • An Atlas of the Mughal Empire: Political and Economic Maps With Detailed Notes, Bibliography, and Index. Oxford University Press, 1982
  • Essays in Indian History – Towards a Marxist Perception. Tulika Books, 1995.
  • The Economic History of Medieval India: A Survey. Tulika Books, 2001.
  • Medieval India: The Study of a Civilization. National Book Trust, 2008.
  • People's History of India – Part 1: Prehistory. Aligarh Historians Society and Tulika Books, 2001.
  • People’s History of India Part 2 : The Indus Civilization. Aligarh Historians Society and Tulika Books, 2002.
  • A People's History of India Vol. 3 : The Vedic Age. (Co-author Vijay Kumar Thakur) Aligarh Historians Society and Tulika Books, 2003.
  • A People's History of India – Vol 4 : Mauryan India. (Co-author Vivekanand Jha) Aligarh Historians Society and Tulika Books, 2004.
  • A People's History of India – Vol 28 : Indian Economy, 1858–1914. Aligarh Historians Society and Tulika Books, 2006.
Books Edited
  • The Cambridge Economic History of India – Volume I: 1200–1750 (co-editor Tapan Raychaudhari)
  • UNESCO History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Vol 5 : Development in contrast: from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. (Co-editors Chahryar Adle and K M Baikapov)
  • UNESCO History of Humanity, Vol 4: From the seventh to the sixteenth century. (With various co-editors).
  • UNESCO History of Humanity, Vol 5: From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. (With various co-editors).
  • The Growth of Civilizations in India And Iran
  • Sikh History from Persian Sources
  • Akbar and His India
  • India – Studies in the History of an Idea
  • State & Diplomacy under Tipu Sultan
  • Confronting Colonialism
  • Medieval India – 1
  • A World to Win – Essays on the Communist Manifesto (co-editors Aijaz Ahmed and Prakash Karat)

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit