Sha¯h Walı¯ Alla¯h (1703-62) was a major intellectual figure of eighteenth-century Islam in India and a prolific writer in Arabic and Persian. He may be considered a precursor to certain trends in critical Islamic studies such as understanding the development of religious interpretation in historical and thematic perspective. At the same time he exemplifies the late medieval synthesis combining Islamic learning of revealed knowledge (Qur a¯n and h. adı¯th studies), logical and rational analysis, and mystical illumination as sources of truth. His life and thought exemplify the pattern of scholars from the far reaches of the Islamic world coming to the pilgrimage centers of Mecca and Medina where they exchanged ideas and experiences. This in turn inspired the diffusion of intellectual trends such as an eighteenth-century revival in h. adı¯th studies and, it has been suggested, facilitated the development of global trends of Islamic activism.