The City of Haidar as a Shi’i Paradise: Divine Sovereignty, Built Space and Shi’i Materiality in Qutb Shahi Hyderabad

29 April 2022

In this presentation, the speaker argues that Hyderabad, the city of Haidar, was newly built by Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 as an explicitly Shi’i city.

Connecting ritual action, Hyderabad’s urban topography, and the performance of Qutb Shahi’s kingship, we will explore the explicit relationship between religious architecture—what we might call space and place—and Shi’i image-objects that established Hyderabad as a Shi’i paradise in the Indian subcontinent.

View the video below.



Karen Ruffle

Karen Ruffle is Associate Professor of South Asian Islam in the Departments of Historical Studies and Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on devotional texts, ritual practice, and Shi’i material practices in South Asia. Her books include Everyday Shi’ism in South Asia (2021) and Gender, Sainthood, and Everyday Practice in South Asian Shi’ism (2011). Her current projects include a monograph titled Building the City of Haidar: Kingship, Urban Space, and Shi’i Ritual in Qutb Shahi Hyderabad and a large-scale study of South Asian Shi’i material culture and sensorial practices titled, Barakah Bodies: Shi’i Materiality, the Sensorium, and Ritual in India and Pakistan.