This essay casts light on the alternative but unrealized futures imagined through the Indian Muslim encounter with Japan in the inter-war period. Echoing other attempts to destabilize the empire-to-nation teleology of Indo-Pakistani independence, the essay uncovers a set of aspirations, actors, and spaces of comparison by which Indian Muslims sought an independent future for Muslim-ruled princely states such as Hyderabad. Through comparison with similar patterns in other Asian princely states, a case study of Urdu writings on Japan shows how East Asia became a place to imagine for Hyderabad a future that never came to fruition. By locating India in a trans-Islamic pattern of engaging Japan, the essay shows how, between the Russo-Japanese War and the Second World War, Japan provided newly globalized intellectuals with a template for empowering Muslim-ruled polities that either never came into existence or were subsumed by Asia's postcolonial nations.

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