The article is part of a two- volume special issue focusing on the materiality of the afterlife in South Asian religious traditions called "Death Matters: Samadhis, Dargahs and Relics in South Asia," edited by Brian Hatcher, Abhishek Amar, and Mark McLaughlin.
The article unpacks the connections between empire, piety, and pilgrimage in the early modern western Indian Ocean world by examining the history of a reliquary shrine dedicated to a qadam, or footprint relic of the Prophet Muhammad, located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
Classified by the Archeological Survey of India as the ‘Tomb of Mir Abu Turab’ (ASI Monument no. N-GJ-44), the site was a qadamgah in the Mughal period. From the late-16th to the early-18th centuries, it functioned as a place of visitation (mazar) for pilgrims eager to see the naqsh-i qadam-i sharif (the impression of the noble foot), whose white appearance stood in stark contrast against the black stone.
By examining Persian historical narratives, including one authored by the man responsible for the relic’s arrival to South Asia, the article demonstrates how relics mediated Mughal imperium, devotion to the Prophet Muhammad, and sayyid identity in early modern Gujarat.