To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Focusing on the eighteenth century, this chapter uses the surviving books from the manuscript library of the Buffalo Agency to reveal how Ibadi intellectual, religious, and commercial life in Ottoman Cairo intersected with that of their non-Ibadi contemporaries. Beyond funding the endowment for students at the Buffalo Agency, Ibadi merchants were also often the ones responsible for gifting or commissioning the books in its library. The books themselves included roughly equal numbers of Sunni and Ibadi titles. It traces the relationship of Ibadis with the famous (Sunni) al-Azhar Mosque and how the library of the Buffalo Agency reflects this relationship. In all cases, from the production of books to their endowment and use by students, Ibadis mirror the social and religious trends of their Sunni contemporaries in the Ottoman period.
This chapter examines the last phase of the Buffalo Agency’s existence from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. It refracts this institution’s history through an existing body of historical literature that explores the intersections among print technology, Islamic reform and ecumenicalism, and political life in the history of Ibadi and other Muslims communities in Egypt in the context of colonialism. The chapter examines these themes by telling the stories of two people whose lives are largely unknown. The first figure, Saʿīd al-Shammākhī, served as the director of the Buffalo Agency in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1871, however, he was appointed agent (wakīl) for the Husaynid bey of Tunisia in Egypt and served as a line of communication between the governments of the two Ottoman provinces. The second figure is Muḥammad al-Bārūnī, owner of the first Ibadi printing house in Cairo. In terms of its operation, its financing, and its choice of titles, this Ibadi press functioned in much the same way as other late Ottoman presses in Egypt. Through the stories of these two men, the chapter situates Ibadis in the changing technologies and politics of late nineteenth century Ottoman Egypt.
This chapter presents the Buffalo Agency, a trade agency, school, and library that was owned and operated by Ibadi Muslims in Ottoma-era Cairo. It presents the book’s main argument; namely, that the history of the Buffalo Agency shows how Ibadi Muslims participated fully in the religious, economic, legal, and political life of Ottoman Egypt. Their ability to maintain cohesion as a community while also engaging fully with Ottoman society was in part due to their unusual status as both members of a religious minority and part of the Muslim majority. The chapter then situates this argument in the three conversations to which the book contributes: Ottoman history in Egypt, minority communities in the empire, and the history of Ibadi Islam. The chapter next introduces the main historical sources used to support the argument: shariah court records, manuscript evidence from private libraries, and archival documents. Methodologically, the chapter grapples with the tension between the emphasis on the material history of Ibadis in Egypt and my need to rely on digital facsimiles of many of the sources.
This chapter begins with the arrival of Ibadi student Saʿīd al-Bārūnī in Cairo in 1798, just before the invasion of the French army under Napoleon. It follows the life of Saʿīd in Cairo during the tumultuous decades of the early nineteenth century, including the departure of the French and the rise to power of the Ottoman governor Muḥammad ʿAlī. Following his return to the Maghrib, the chapter continues the story of the Agency by turning to a private letter written to Saʿīd by one of his students, Muḥammad al-Bārūnī, who was studying at the Agency in the 1850s. The books and letters connected to the Agency in this period reveal much about the world of Cairene Ibadis in the mid-nineteenth century, including the state of education at al-Azhar, the changing demographics of the Ibadi community, and signs of a growing relationship between the Ibadi community of the Indian Ocean and that of northern Africa.
The Buffalo Agency came to an anticlimactic end at the close of the 1960s when the building itself was demolished to make way for new construction in the Tulun district.1 Although the Ibn Tulun Mosque itself remains standing, much of the neighborhood surrounding it has been rebuilt. The area where the Agency once stood is today a collection of homes, mobile-phone shops, and grocery stores that make up every other part of the modern city of Cairo. A visitor to the area today would never know that a vibrant community of Maghribi Ibadis had operated a trade agency, school, and library in that neighborhood for over three centuries.
This final chapter follows the journey of Jerban student Sālim Bin Yaʿqūb (d. 1991) from Tunisia to Egypt, where he lived at the Buffalo Agency in the twilight years of its existence in the 1930s. The chapter draws on a diverse body of materials including manuscripts from his private library, his research notes, and a recorded interview from the 1980s with him about his time in Cairo. He spent much of his life in the decades following his return from Egypt to Tunisia preparing materials for a book just like this one. Bin Yaʿqūb’s story is thus at once that of the gradual disintegration of the Agency and its library and the earliest attempt to preserve the memory of the Ibadi community in Cairo and the Buffalo Agency before it disappeared. Although he died before writing it, the idea for his book both inspired and laid the foundation for this one.
This chapter lays out the broad contours of the history of North African migrants to Ottoman Cairo from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. It focuses its attention on both Ibadis and non-Ibadis from the Maghrib residing in Egypt to paint a picture of the world they inhabited. More precisely, it focuses on the Tulun district of the city of Cairo, where the Buffalo Agency was located. Ibadis and other Maghribis bought and sold property in the neighborhood, went shopping in its markets, prayed in its mosque, welcomed friends and family coming from their homeland, and said goodbye to those departing for other Ottoman cities such as Izmir, Istanbul, and Mecca. In drawing attention to these aspects of everyday life, the chapter sheds light on Ibadi and Maghribi communal identity, their remarkably expansive networks in the Mediterranean, their professional and religious lives as Ottomans, and their relationship to the Ottoman government as it changed over these centuries.
This chapter demonstrates how Ibadis, whether merchants or scholars, participated in the everyday legal life of Ottoman Cairo by using its shariah courts. It does so by focusing on two Ibadis living in seventeenth-century Cairo: a merchant named ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Baḥḥār and a scholar named Muḥammad Abī Sitta. The variety of ways in which both men used the court system demonstrates its importance to Ibadi merchants and scholars in the Ottoman period. The chapter’s overarching theme is how Ibadis used the legal tools of Ottoman Cairo, waqf property, and inheritance courts to navigate their everyday lives.
Ibadi Muslims, a minority religious community, historically inhabited pockets throughout North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the East African coast. Yet less is known about the community of Ibadi Muslims that relocated to Egypt. Focusing on the history of an Ibadi-run trade depot, school and library that operated in Cairo for over three hundred years, this book shows how the Ibadi Muslims operated in and adapted to the legal, religious, commercial, and political realms of the Ottoman Empire from the seventeenth to early twentieth centuries. Using a unique range of sources, including manuscript notes, family histories and archival correspondence, Paul M. Love, Jr. presents an original history of this Muslim majority told from the bottom up. Whilst illuminating the events that shaped the history of Egypt during these centuries, he also brings to life the lived reality of a Muslim minority community in the Ottoman world.