This article examines the figure of the Indian friend in late nineteenth-century Persian-language modernist writings, specifically those by Fath ‘Alī Ākhūndzādah, Jamāl al-Dīn “al-Afghānī,” and writers published in the Calcutta newspaper Habl al-Matīn. These writings drew on older Persianate ideas of moral refinement and ethical behavior to put forth modern visions of self and collective association. This process posed a self that was Iranian but identifiable according to Persianate notions of collectivity, allowing for simultaneous broader affiliations with Muslims, Indians, and Asians. That the intimate friend involved in this process of Persianate self and collective constitution was Indian suggests the need to consider Iranian and Indian modernity as part of an interconnected process informed by the lingering memory of a shared Persianate past and new modes of engagement into the early twentieth century.

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