Books consider Islamic history and culture from the seventh to the nineteenth century.
Chase F. Robinson, Smithsonian
Michael Cook, Princeton University, New Jersey,
Maribel Fierro, Spanish National Research Council,
Alan Mikhail, Yale University, Connecticut,
David O. Morgan, University of Wisconsin, Madison,
Intisar Rabb, Harvard University, Massachusetts,
Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Princeton University, New Jersey
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Analysing the spread and survival of Islamic legal ideas and commentaries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean littorals, Islamic Law in Circulation focuses on the Shāfiʿī school of Islamic law to explore how certain texts shaped, transformed and influenced the juridical thoughts and lives of a significant community over a millennium in and between Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. By examining the processes of the spread of legal texts and their roles in the society, as well as thinking about how Afrasian Muslims responded to these new arrivals of thoughts and texts, Mahmood Kooria weaves together a narrative with the textual descendants from places as Damascus, Mecca, Cairo, Malabar, Java, Aceh and Zanzibar to tell a compelling story of how Islam contributed to the global history of law from the thirteenth to the twentieth century.
In 874 CE, the eleventh Imam died, and the Imami community splintered. The institutions of the Imamate were maintained by the dead Imam's agents, who asserted they were in contact with a hidden twelfth Imam. This was the beginning of 'Twelver' Shiʿism. Edmund Hayes provides an innovative approach to exploring early Shiʿism, moving beyond doctrinal history to provide an analysis of the socio-political processes leading to the canonisation of the Occultation of the twelfth Imam. Hayes shows how these agents cemented their authority by reproducing the physical signs of the Imamate, including protocols of succession, letters and the alm taxes. Four of these agents were ultimately canonised as “envoys” but traces of earlier conceptions of authority remain embedded in the earliest reports. Hayes dissects the complex and contradictory Occultation narratives to show how, amidst the claims of numerous actors, the institutional positioning of the envoys allowed them to assert a quasi-Imamic authority in the absence of an Imam.
Demonstrating the vibrancy of an Early Modern Muslim society through a study of the natural sciences in seventeenth-century Morocco, Revealed Sciences examines how the natural sciences flourished during this period, without developing in a similar way to the natural sciences in Europe. Offering an innovative analysis of the relationship between religious thought and the natural sciences, Justin K. Stearns shows how nineteenth and twentieth-century European and Middle Eastern scholars jointly developed a narrative of the decline of post-formative Islamic thought, including the fate of the natural sciences in the Muslim world. Challenging these depictions of the natural sciences in the Muslim world, Stearns uses numerous close readings of works in the natural sciences to a detailed overview of the place of the natural sciences in scholarly and educational landscapes of the Early Modern Magreb, and considers non-teleological possibilities for understanding a persistent engagement with the natural sciences in Early Modern Morocco.
Islam's fourth caliph, Ali, can be considered one of the most revered figures in Islamic history. His nearly universal portrayal in Muslim literature as a pious authority obscures centuries of contestation and the eventual rehabilitation of his character. In this book, Nebil Husayn examines the enduring legacy of the nawasib, early Muslims who disliked Ali and his descendants. The nawasib participated in politics and scholarly discussions on religion at least until the ninth century. However, their virtual disappearance in Muslim societies has led many to ignore their existence and the subtle ways in which their views subsequently affected Islamic historiography and theology. By surveying medieval Muslim literature across multiple genres and traditions including the Sunni, Mu'tazili, and Ibadi, Husayn reconstructs the claims and arguments of the nawasib and illuminates the methods that Sunni scholars employed to gradually rehabilitate the image of Ali from a villainous character to a righteous one.
The Sunni saint cult and shrine of Ahmad-i Jam has endured for 900 years. The shrine and its Sufi shaykhs secured patronage from Mongols, Kartids, Tamerlane, and Timurids. The cult and shrine-complex started sliding into decline when Iran's shahs took the Shiʿi path in 1501, but are today enjoying a renaissance under the (Shiʿi) Islamic Republic of Iran. The shrine's eclectic architectural ensemble has been renovated with private and public funds, and expertise from Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization. Two seminaries (madrasa) that teach Sunni curricula to males and females were added. Sunni and Shiʿi pilgrims visit to venerate their saint. Jami mystics still practice ʿirfan ('gnosticism'). Analyzed are Ahmad-i Jam's biography and hagiography; marketing to sultans of Ahmad as the 'Guardian of Kings'; history and politics of the shrine's catchment area; acquisition of patronage by shrine and shaykhs; Sufi doctrines and practices of Jami mystics, including its Timurid-era Naqshbandi Sufis.
Persian served as one of the primary languages of historical writing over the period of the early modern Islamic empires of the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals. Historians writing under these empires read and cited each other's work, some moving from one empire to another, writing under different rival dynasties at various points in time. Emphasising the importance of looking beyond the confines of political boundaries in studying this phenomenon, Sholeh A. Quinn employs a variety of historiographical approaches to draw attention to the importance of placing these histories not only within their historical context, but also historiographical context. This comparative study of Persian historiography from the 16th-17th centuries presents in-depth case analyses alongside a wide array of primary sources written under the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals to illustrate that Persian historiography during this era was part of an extensive universe of literary-historical writing.
What makes language beautiful? Arabic Poetics offers an answer to what this pertinent question looked like at the height of the Islamic civilization. In this novel argument, Lara Harb suggests that literary quality depended on the ability of linguistic expression to produce an experience of discovery and wonder in the listener. Analyzing theories of how rhetorical figures, simile, metaphor, and sentence construction are able to achieve this effect of wonder, Harb shows how this aesthetic theory, first articulated at the turn of the eleventh century CE, represented a major paradigm shift from earlier Arabic criticism which based its judgement on criteria of truthfulness and naturalness. In doing so, this study poses a major challenge to the misconception in modern scholarship that Arabic criticism was 'traditionalist' or 'static', exposing an elegant widespread conceptual framework of literary beauty in the post-eleventh-century Islamicate world which is central to poetic criticism, the interpretation of Aristotle's Poetics in Arabic philosophy and the rationale underlying discussions about the inimitability of the Quran.
Offering the first close study of the ʿAqila, a group collectively liable for blood money payments on behalf of a member who committed an accidental homicide, Nurit Tsafrir analyses the group's transformation from a pre-Islamic custom to an institution of the Shari'a, and its further evolution through medieval and post medieval Islamic law and society. Having been an essential factor in the maintenance of social order within Muslim societies, the ʿAqila is the intersection between legal theory and practice, between Islamic law and religion, and between Islamic law and the state. Tracing the history of the ʿAqila, this study reveals how religious values, state considerations and social organization have participated in shaping and reshaping this central institution, which still concerns contemporary Muslim scholars.
From a Christian, Greek- and Armenian-speaking land to a predominantly Muslim and Turkish speaking one, the Islamisation of medieval Anatolia would lay the groundwork for the emergence of the Ottoman Empire as a world power and ultimately the modern Republic of Turkey. Bringing together previously unpublished sources in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, Peacock offers a new understanding of the crucial but neglected period in Anatolian history, that of Mongol domination, between c. 1240 and 1380. This represents a decisive phase in the process of Islamisation, with the popularisation of Sufism and the development of new forms of literature to spread Islam. This book integrates the study of Anatolia with that of the broader Islamic world, shedding new light on this crucial turning point in the history of the Middle East.
In the early sixteenth century, the political landscape of West Asia was completely transformed: of the previous four major powers, only one - the Ottoman Empire - continued to exist. Ottoman survival was, in part, predicated on transition to a new mode of kingship, enabling its transformation from regional dynastic sultanate to empire of global stature. In this book, Christopher Markiewicz uses as a departure point the life and thought of Idris Bidlisi (1457–1520), one of the most dynamic scholars and statesmen of the period. Through this examination, he highlights the series of ideological and administrative crises in the fifteenth-century sultanates of Islamic lands that gave rise to this new conception of kingship and became the basis for sovereign authority not only within the Ottoman Empire but also across other Muslim empires in the early modern period.
The caliphs and sultans who once ruled the Muslim world were often assisted by powerful Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian, and other non-Muslim state officials, whose employment occasioned energetic discussions among Muslim scholars and rulers. This book reveals those discussions for the first time in all their diversity, drawing on unexplored medieval sources in the realms of law, history, poetry, entertaining literature, administration, and polemic. It follows the discourse on non-Muslim officials from its beginnings in the Umayyad empire (661–750), through medieval Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Spain, to its apex in the Mamluk period (1250–1517). Far from being an intrinsic part of Islam, views about non-Muslim state officials were devised, transmitted, and elaborated at moments of intense competition between Muslim and non-Muslim learned elites. At other times, Muslim rulers employed non-Muslims without eliciting opposition. The particular shape of the Islamic discourse on this issue is comparable to analogous discourses in medieval Europe and China.
The doctrine of modern law of the sea is commonly believed to have developed from Renaissance Europe. Often ignored though is the role of Islamic law of the sea and customary practices at that time. In this book, Hassan S. Khalilieh highlights Islamic legal doctrine regarding freedom of the seas and its implementation in practice. He proves that many of the fundamental principles of the pre-modern international law governing the legal status of the high seas and the territorial sea, though originating in the Mediterranean world, are not a necessarily European creation. Beginning with the commonality of the sea in the Qur'an and legal methods employed to insure the safety, security, and freedom of movement of Muslim and aliens by land and sea, Khalilieh then goes on to examine the concepts of the territorial sea and its security premises, as well as issues surrounding piracy and its legal implications as delineated in Islamic law.
Abu Ma'ali al-Juwayni (d.478/1085) lived in a politically tumultuous period. The rise of powerful dynastic families forced the Abbasid Caliph into a position of titular power, and created instability. He also witnessed intellectual upheavals living amidst great theological and legal diversity. Collectively, these experiences led him to consider questions of religious certainty and social and political continuity. He noted that if political elites are constantly changing, paralleled with shifting intellectual allegiances, what ensures the continuity of religion? He concluded that continuity of society is contingent upon knowledge and practice of the Shari'a. Here, Sohaira Siddiqui explores how scholars grappled with questions of human reason and knowledge, and how their answers to these questions often led them to challenge dominant ideas of what the Shari'a is. By doing this, she highlights the interconnections between al-Juwayni's discussions on theology, law and politics, and the socio-political intellectual landscapes that forged them.
The Ibadi Muslims, a little-known minority community, have lived in North Africa for over a thousand years. Combining an analysis of Arabic manuscripts with digital tools used in network analysis, Paul M. Love, Jr takes readers on a journey across the Maghrib and beyond as he traces the paths of a group of manuscripts and the Ibadi scholars who used them. Ibadi scholars of the Middle Period (eleventh–sixteenth century) wrote a series of collective biographies (prosopographies), which together constructed a cumulative tradition that connected Ibadi Muslims from across time and space, bringing them together into a 'written network'. From the Mzab valley in Algeria to the island of Jerba in Tunisia, from the Jebel Nafusa in Libya to the bustling metropolis of early-modern Cairo, this book shows how people and books worked in tandem to construct and maintain an Ibadi Muslim tradition in the Maghrib.
Christians in fifteenth-century Iraq and al-Jazīra were socially and culturally home in the Middle East, practicing their distinctive religion despite political instability. This insightful book challenges the normative Eurocentrism of scholarship on Christianity and the Islamic exceptionalism of much Middle Eastern history to reveal the often unexpected ways in which inter-religious interactions were peaceful or violent in this region. The multifaceted communal self-concept of the 'Church of the East' (so-called 'Nestorians') reveals cultural integration, with certain distinctive features. The process of patriarchal succession clearly borrowed ideas from surrounding Christian and Muslim groups, while public rituals and communal history reveal specifically Christian responses to concerns shared with Muslim neighbors. Drawing on sources from various languages, including Arabic, Armenian, Persian, and Syriac, this book opens new possibilities for understanding the rich, diverse, and fascinating society and culture that existed in Iraq during this time.
Pre-modern Muslim jurists drew a clear distinction between the nurturing and upkeep of children, or 'custody', and caring for the child's education, discipline, and property, known as 'guardianship'. Here, Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim analyzes how these two concepts relate to the welfare of the child, and traces the development of an Islamic child welfare jurisprudence akin to the Euro-American concept of the best interests of the child, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Challenging Euro-American exceptionalism, he argues that child welfare played an essential role in agreements designed by early modern Egyptian judges and families, and that Egyptian child custody laws underwent radical transformations in the modern period. Focusing on a variety of themes, including matters of age and gender, the mother's marital status, and the custodian's lifestyle and religious affiliation, Ibrahim shows that there is an exaggerated gap between the modern concept of the best interests of the child and pre-modern Egyptian approaches to child welfare.
How did women contribute to the rise of the Mongol Empire while Mongol men were conquering Eurasia? This book positions women in their rightful place in the otherwise well-known story of Chinggis Khan (commonly known as Genghis Khan) and his conquests and empire. Examining the best known women of Mongol society, such as Chinggis Khan's mother, Hö'elün, and senior wife, Börte, as well as those who were less famous but equally influential, including his daughters and his conquered wives, we see the systematic and essential participation of women in empire, politics and war. Anne F. Broadbridge also proposes a new vision of Chinggis Khan's well-known atomized army by situating his daughters and their husbands at the heart of his army reforms, looks at women's key roles in Mongol politics and succession, and charts the ways the descendants of Chinggis Khan's daughters dominated the Khanates that emerged after the breakup of the Empire in the 1260s.
The Central Asian slave trade swept hundreds of thousands of Iranians, Russians, and others into slavery during the eighteenth–nineteenth centuries. Drawing on eyewitness accounts, autobiographies, and newly-uncovered interviews with slaves, this book offers an unprecedented window into slaves' lives and a penetrating examination of human trafficking. Slavery strained Central Asia's relations with Russia, England, and Iran, and would serve as a major justification for the Russian conquest of this region in the 1860s–70s. Challenging the consensus that the Russian Empire abolished slavery with these conquests, Eden uses these documents to reveal that it was the slaves themselves who brought about their own emancipation by fomenting the largest slave uprising in the region's history.
Eighth- and ninth-century Armenia and Caucasian Albania were largely Christian provinces of the then Islamic Caliphate. Although they formed a part of the Iranian cultural sphere, they are often omitted from studies of both Islamic and Iranian history. In this book, Alison Vacca uses Arabic and Armenian texts to explore these Christian provinces as part of the Caliphate, identifying elements of continuity from Sasanian to caliphal rule, and, more importantly, expounding on significant moments of change in the administration of the Marwanid and early Abbasid periods. Vacca examines historical narrative and the construction of a Sasanian cultural memory during the late ninth and tenth centuries to place the provinces into a broader context of Iranian rule. This book will be of benefit to historians of Islam, Iran and the Caucasus, but will also appeal to those studying themes of Iranian identity and Muslim-Christian relations in the Near East.
The eighteenth century brought a period of tumultuous change to the Ottoman Empire. While the Empire sought modernization through military and administrative reform, it also lost much of its influence on the European stage through war and revolt. In this book, Ethan L. Menchinger sheds light on intellectual life, politics, and reform in the Empire through the study of one of its leading intellectuals and statesmen, Ahmed Vâsıf. Vâsıf's life reveals new aspects of Ottoman letters - heated debates over moral renewal, war and peace, justice, and free will - but it also forces the reappraisal of Ottoman political reform, showing a vital response that was deeply enmeshed in Islamic philosophy, ethics, and statecraft. Tracing Vâsıf's role through the turn of the nineteenth century, this book opens the debate on modernity and intellectualism for those students and researchers studying the Ottoman Empire, intellectual history, the Enlightenment, and Napoleonic Europe.