Abbasid Studies: Occasional Papers of the School of Abbasid Studies, Cambridge, 6-10 July 2002 edited by James E. Montgomery, School of Abbasid Studies (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 135: Peeters) The `Abbasids fascinate. Their fascination stems, in part, from their elusiveness, their chameleon-like ability to adapt and change, whether it be to suit the tempo of the times (and thereby prolong dynastic survival) or to steer the Islamic community in previously unwonted or uncustomary directions (and thereby to consolidate their hegemony). The `Abbasids represent an ever-shifting pattern of regnai identities, identities articulated through a complex matrix of negotiations and delegations of authority, of syncretistic and idiosyncratic ideologies, of malleable institutions, often very loosely constructed, and of a dazzling array of material and cultural splendours but rarely manifested in the civilized world.
How do we begin to approach the study of a tradition which is liter-ate, and scriptorial (in addition to being scriptural too) as well as oral, and in which all three can be present at any one time, to varying degrees and in various combinations? Christopher Melchert and Joseph Lowry's articles bring out well the permutations to which so innocuous a phrase as qala 'l-Shfi i (al-Shfi i said) can be liable, while Shawkat Toorawa highlights the major change in writerly practices which the Tenth Century heralded. The paradox here, of course, is that our only access to these fluid traditions is through the written word, i.e. through manuscripts. Nowadays, books are stable entities, finished products placed in the public domain with harsh penalties awaiting those who infringe upon the rights of the author conceived as intellectual owner of the book. It is almost a Pavlovian reflex to think of `Abbasid `books' as modern books, especially when printed editions exist, for they are books, are they not? Yet, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that authors revisited the same work on many occasions, that they allowed multiple and varying versions of a work to circulate, that they allowed students to record their words in a multiplicity of sessions, each of which was authoritative, in the sense that it stemmed from the author. In other words, and with the major exception of the Qur'an (quarrels over the text of which are so significant for the cultural notions they reveal in this regard), there is no notion of an `Ur-text' as it was conceived in mainstream philological scholarship of the Nineteenth Century and as it has persisted to our day. Even the Qur'an, the most stable text within Islam, is but a partial copy of the Preserved Tablet (al-lawh al-mahfz), the divine prototype of an `Ur-text'. Not only do dangers of anticipation lie in treating these works as books, there are perils a-plenty in relying on the standard editions produced by our illustrious predecessors. De Goeje's edition of Ibn Khurraddhbih's Kitb al-Maszlik wa-l-Mamlik (Leiden, 1889), for example, is a homogenized composite incorporating elements of the two versions which de Goeje himself identified as having been produced by the author. Elton Daniel's exposition of Houtsma's text of the history of al-Ya'qbi and of the prejudices which an editor can bring to the mate-rial, and which any reader brings to a text, is of paramount importance.
Our notion of the `book' is a cultural construct, one particular to our civilization. We should handle it with extreme caution, for it is, in the words of Michel Foucault, one of those phenomena `that encourage the consoling play of recognitions'.
In several senses, this consideration arises out of the previous. Both terms derive from debates during the late 1960s surrounding the nature and potential of cognitive anthropology. Etic designates an approach to observable phenomena which is predicated upon the presumption, fundamental to logical empiricism, of the objectivity of the observer and which is achieved through the recovery of particular instances of universal notions in short (and to oversimplify), that what I understand by `virtue' will in a major or significant sense be tantamount to what an Athenian living in Plato's Athens would have understood by the term arete' or a Ninth Century intellectual living in Baghdad might mean when he uses the term muruwwa. The implications of this approach is very clearly, I think, exemplified by what I consider to be the problem of the political and the religious in `Abbasid society: when can a decision be described as political and when can it be deemed religious, if temporal (and by implication, political) power is localized in a religious institution like the Caliphate? What interests me most is not the partisan championing of a relativist over an objectivist hermeneutic, but rather what we stand to lose in the habituated application of a cultural commonplace from modem society to a society which could scarcely have entertained any such a notion.
Standard political histories of whatever stamp will tend, for example, to interpret an action of a notable figure from the past as the consequence of a choice or a decision undertaken by that figure. Indeed, one could characterize this approach to history as the valorization of the concepts of choice and the autonomy of the individual. Modem Western societies tend to entertain what may be termed a `libertarian' notion of choice (i.e. the affirmation of freedom and the denial of determinism). For example, al-Ma'mn could have chosen to stay in Mery to rule the Empire as Caliph or to return to Baghdad, a choice which he made in Jumada II, 202 (December, 817). But we should at least pause to consider whether, in a heavily determinist society in which action was taken in consultation with astrological predictions and in which the issue of divine Providence was never questioned or abandoned, al-Ma'mn was free to choose otherwise than to return to Baghdad in Safar, 204 (August, 819), almost six years after the death of his brother al-Amin? Furthermore, did he have freedom in choice or freedom in action (which latter he exercised for six years by not returning)?' After all, the point at issue in the theological controversies concerning al-qadar wa-'l-qad' is not the issue of free will as opposed to predetermination but rather the location of human responsibility within a providential universe governed by Allah's omniscient foreknowledge of events. The complexities of choice, for example, as a notion which we think we recognize but the nuances of which we eliminate through anticipation and recognition are nicely brought out in Peter Adamson's article on al-Kindi. Surely choice in a providential religion and astrological culture is an issue of burning importance for `Abbasid historiography? Indeed, are we to think that `choice' for a Hanafi or a Mu'tazili was the same process as that for a Hanbali, or an Ash`ari?
I am repeatedly struck by how traditional, in terms of our methods, our disciplines are. The history versus historiography debate, for example, has alerted us to the presence of topoi, to the use of rhetorical devices in the creation of narrative and to the relevance of the forms in which content is expressed, but we persist in our belief that through careful and informed sifting of the evidence, like detectives in a murder case with only circumstantial evidence to rely on, we can still work out and decide what `really' happened. Again, I do not mean to fly in the face of standard practice, but we ought to cultivate the realization that the texts with which we struggle are anything but translucent or unsullied. Indeed, I find them to be recalcitrant, evasive, and often consciously impenetrable. In this respect, our disciplines lag far behind say recent developments in the Classics or Medieval English. In our fields, when a theory or an approach is chosen, it often acts as an ideological mincer through which everything is forced.
In my capacity as editor of this volume, I have imposed the following divisions on the contributions, grouping them under the rubrics of Institutions and Concepts, Figures, and Archaeology of a Discipline. These divisions are, of course, entirely artificial, and do not correspond with the programme which we devised for the Conference. To be sure, my inclusion of some of the papers under a given category may at times seem quixotic. The considerable overflow between and interdependence of these categories reflect, in a manner which I find to be representative, the character of `Abbasid society which was, in keeping with many other pre-modem societies, at best but semi-institutionalised. Such institutions as existed were constantly changing, adapting and evolving. Many enjoyed an astonishing longevity. It may thus surprise some readers that I have included Julia Bray's paper on al-Tanikhi and Mu'tazilism under the rubric of Institutions and Concepts, though, as she brings out very well, Mu'tazilism could not only take the form of an inflection in a thinker's view of the world, it could also be a family tradition encapsulating long-cherished beliefs and as such attain to the status of an unofficial rather than a formal institution. Paul Heck's analysis of Ibn al-Muqaffa', al-Mawardi and Qudama b. Ja`far would fit easily in the context of the chronologically arranged section on Figures, were it not for his concentration on their presentation of the role of the ruler as the representative of the law. Equally, I was tempted to make a case for the inclusion of Herbert Berg's study of Ibn `Abbas under Institutions, for he understands the figure of Ibn `Abbas to be tantamount to an institution of `Abbasid polemical self-justification, evoked to legitimize their right to rule, and as such more than a figure-head and perhaps rather what one literary critic (it may have been T.S. Eliot) described as a zone of consciousness.
Figures and institutions exist in a symbiotic relationship, for it is individuals who articulate, actualize and amend the institutions, while the institutions are designed in the first place to determine how individuals participate in society. One of the ways in which individuals interact with institutions is through the construction and maintenance of disciplines without lawyers, for example, there would be no law. Disciplines would not exist were it not for figures to realize them, and so the figure of al-Shafi i looms large in the contributions by Christopher Melchert and Joseph Lowry, while Devin Stewart's bold excavations of the formal beginnings of Islamic jurisprudence provide a veritable portrait-gallery of early jurisprudents.
in the Portrayal: Representations of Jews and Muslims in Eleventh-
and Twelfth-Century Islamic Spain by Ross Brann (Princeton University Press)
unveils a fresh and vital perspective on power relations in eleventh- and
twelfth-century Muslim Spain as reflected in historical and literary texts of
the period. Employing the methods of the new historical literary study in
looking at a range of texts, Ross Brann reveals the paradoxical relations
between the Andalusi Muslim and Jewish elites in an era when long periods of
tolerance and respect were punctuated by outbreaks of tension and hostility.
The examined Arabic texts reveal a fragmented perception of the Jew in eleventh-century al-Andalus. They depict seemingly contradictory figures at whose poles are an intelligent, skilled, and noble Jew deserving of homage and a vile, stupid, and fiendish enemy of God and Islam. For their part, the Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic texts display a deep-seated reluctance to portray Muslims in any light at all. Brann cogently demonstrates that these representations of Jews and Muslims-each of which is concerned with issues of sovereignty and the exercise of power-reflect the shifting, fluctuating, and ambivalent relations between elite members of two of the ethno-religious communities of al-Andalus.
Brann's accessible prose is enriched by his splendid translations; the original texts are also included. Power in the Portrayal is the first to study the construction of social meaning in Andalusi Arabic, Judeo-Arabic, and Hebrew literary texts and historical chronicles. The novel approach illuminates nuances of respect, disinterest, contempt, and hatred reflected in the relationship between Muslims and Jews in medieval Spain.
Ross Brann is the Milton R. Konvitz Professor of Judeo-Islamic Studies and the Chair of Near-Eastern Studies at Cornell University. His books include The Compunctious Poet, recipient of the 1992 National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Studies. He wrote Power in the Portrayal with the support of the Guggenheim Foundation.
Thought and Its Place in History by De Lacy O'Leary (
The author shows clearly how this startling cultural
transmission occurred, what influences promoted it, and what cultural
modifications occurred along the way resulting in a portrait of medieval
Muslim thought that illustrates its commonalities with Judaic and Christian
thought as well as its points of divergence. He shows how a particular type of
Hellenistic culture made its way through the
Fascinating and well-documented in its details of cultural
migration and evolution, Arabic
Thought and Its Place in History offers a well-balanced perspective on the
mutual influence of Arabic and Western worlds during the Middle Ages.
Poverty and Charity in Medieval Islam: Mamluk Egypt, 1250-1517 by Adam Abdelhamid Sabra (Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization: Cambridge University Press) The study of poverty and charity in Islamic history has made significant advances in recent years. Adam Sabτa's book represents the first full-length treatment of the subject. By focusing on Mamluk Cairo, the author explores the attitude of medieval Muslims to poverty - why and how they gave alms - and the experience of being poor in an Islamic society. He also considers the role of pious endowments (wagfs) in providing food, education, and medical care to the poor of medieval Egypt. This is α fascinating account of α world far removed from the affairs of emirs and υlama hitherto the traditional province of Mamluk studies. This trend, in conjunction with the comparisons the author affords of poverty and destitution in Europe and China during the same period, will entice α broad range of scholars from within the field and beyond.
The equivalent to the mendicants within the Islamic world were the sufis. Sufi ideas about living lives of poverty and acting charitably towards all others precede the development of similar concepts in the medieval West, probably because the Islamic world was more highly urbanized and its economy more commercialized in the ninth and tenth centuries. As we have seen, the development of Sufism went through α number of stages. By the late eleventh century, the doctrine of poverty as α key to renouncing the world reached the peak of its intellectual development in the writings of al-Ghazzali. By the end of the following century, however, the institutionalization of Sufism into orders was underway. At the same time, elite patronage undermined the status of the sufis as pious ascetics. In part, this development resulted from the merging of the sufi and larger ulama communities, and from the increasing professίonalization of the latter.
Nonetheless, the practice of poverty as an alternative value system to that of social status and material success never completely lost its attractiveness. As some sufis merged with the religious establishment or integrated themselves into the artisanate and merchant class, new groups such as the Qalandariyya and Haydariyya presented still more radical interpretations of poverty and self-denial as models for piety. Still, these groups were themselves unable to avoid absorption into the mainstream. Gradually, the pious reputation of some of these men led to their being sought out by the military elite for patronage. Such groups were frequently victims of their own success.
While elite patronage tended to blunt the enthusiasm for poverty as α religious statement, it had α positive role to play in the provision of charity to the poor. The Mamluk period saw the greatest period of growth during Cairo's history in the role of the pious foundations. Of particular importance was the use of wagf to establish the greatest hospital in the history of medieval Cairo, the Bimaristan al-Μahsuri, as well as to create more than fifty Qur'an schools for orphans, and endow more than twenty tombs which provided bread to the poor on α weekly basis.
The thirteenth century was α period in which charitable institutions flourished in Europe. The most important of these institutions was the hospital. By the early fourteenth century, Paris, estimated at α population of 200,000, had sixty hospitals serving the poor. These hospitals were founded by the clergy, feudal aristocracy, and, increasingly, by merchants. Cairo, on the other hand, had perhaps two or three hospitals that we know of, serving α population of similar proportions. To some degree, this difference is due to the fact that many of the French hospitals were quite small. By contrast, Cairo's hospitals were grand affairs, established by powerful rulers, and possessing huge endowments to pay for their services.
Unlike some of Europe's cities, Cairo possessed no hospitals established by bourgeois patrons.
One of the most distinctive facts about charity in Mamluk Cairo is the total absence of the merchant class from the endowment deeds. While prominent merchants were called upon by the sultans to play α role in famine relief in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, by the early fifteenth century they no longer appear as important patrons in this area either. The key role in providing charity to the poor was played by the military elite. This group included not only persons who currently held office, but also their descendants. In particular, women descended from Mamluk families played an important role in founding tomb endowments. There are α number of possible explanations for the charitable assistance provided by this sector of the military elite. Since tomb waqfs became particularly important in the mid-fifteenth century, at α time when the state's commitment to providing assistance to the awlad al-nas was waning, these charitable acts can be interpreted as part of α strategy to use the endowments to perpetuate family status. In addition, the practice of tomb visitation was of increasing importance in the spiritual lives of all classes of Cairene society, and the endowment of α tomb wagf allowed the military elite to perpetuate their worldly patronage beyond the grave. Where the sufis concluded that worldly goods were an obstacle to salvation, the secular elites were determined to use their property for just that purpose. In α sense, this development was encouraged by the religious status of the poor, since that status inspired the wealthy to seek out the poor to obtain their prayers.
The significance of death for charity has parallels in China and Europe as well. In Song China, many families built tomb monasteries. The members of α family were buried next to or within α Buddhist chapel. In exchange for the patronage that the family bestowed upon the monastery, the monks prayed for the repose of the pious ancestor's sου1. Some of these tomb monasteries continued to operate for centuries.
In medieval Europe, the equivalent of α tomb wagf was monastic patronage. Here again, α member of the elite would donate lands to benefit α monastery in exchange for the monks holding regular masses for the souls of the benefactor and his or her relatives." ι Such donations were also regarded as acts of penance which could compensate for having lived α sinful life. In all of these cases, the religious motive was similar; one patronized the holy poor to obtain their prayers for one's soul. In addition, these donations clearly helped to maintain the cohesiveness of the lineage by associating it with α perpetual institution. In the case of wagf, this cohesive-
ness was strengthened by the fact that the founder's descendants continued to receive payments from the endowment.
Another important factor in encouraging acts of charity by the elite was the competitive nature of the Mamluk political system. Like that of the religious scholars, the poor's loyalty could be bought with patronage. Since only Cairo was of any political significance in the palace coups of the Mamluks, this concentration of power in the capital tended to lead to α similar concentration of patronage and charity.
Despite the importance of the pious endowments in providing for the poor, much of the charity distributed in Mamluk Cairo was given in an informal manner. Begging was α common phenomenon about which medieval Muslim authors produced α large literature. In addition, there were many occasions, such as holidays and visits to the cemeteries, when people gave alms as α matter of course.
As α result of its informal character, much of Mamluk charity is hidden from the eye of the historian. One can only speculate about how and to what degree people practiced obligatory and voluntary almsgiving. Nonetheless, the quantity of literature generated by this subject seems to lend credence to the idea that almsgiving was an important social practice in Mamluk Cairo and throughout the medieval Middle East.
The importance of private almsgiving never diminished during the Mamluk period. This persistence of private charity contrasts with the cases of many European cities in the early modern period. In Europe, both Catholic and Protestant, municipal institutions took over the administration of charity and actually banned private charitable giving for fear that the poor would "cheat" and conceal the alms they received in private so as to continue to be eligible for municipal assistance. The able-bodied were forced to work; when such work did not exist, it was created by means of public work projects.
All of these elements were present in Mamluk Cairo, but they never constituted α concerted policy. Cairo possessed no municipal institutions, but various systems of relief were centralized, especially during times of famine. Begging, especially begging by able-bodied men, was banned on more than one occasion, but no serious effort was made to enforce such bans. Finally, the poor were frequently employed in public works projects such as building mosques or digging canals, often involuntarily. No one, however, thought to combine these elements into α reform of charity in Mamluk Cairo.
Unlike many European cities of the sixteenth century, Cairo's elite showed no interest in providing permanent aid to the unemployed wage earners who populated the city's streets. In Europe, the increasing size of the proletariat and the growing role of market relations played important roles both in creating the problem of urban poverty, and in motivating the bourgeoisie to find α solution. One key element was the desire of the authorities to force the poor to accept work in exchange for aid. Another important aspect of the new policy was the desire to limit the movements of increasingly large numbers of vagrants who would expect to be cared for by municipal institutions.
Charity has always aimed, among other things, at controlling the social disruptions caused by poverty. What was new in sixteenth-century Europe is that charity became α centrally organized form of social control, run by municipalities and parishes. This cannot be said about charity in Mamluk Cairo. While intermittent efforts were made to control them, the poor of Mamluk Cairo were never subject to such α well-organized system of surveillance and control. It is highly significant that the major institution of control over the poor devised in Europe, the poor house, was never instituted in Cairo in this period. The decision of many α young man to adopt the wandering life of α mendicant sufi or a Qalandari is evidence that poverty, despite its rigors, still offered α certain degree of freedom to those who embraced it.
The other major institution of charity which proliferated in late medieval Europe was the guild. Most common in Europe's most highly industrialized cities, these voluntary associations were devoted to the performance of religious rituals, to providing for the burial of their members and other charitable services, and to regulating the affairs of specific trades.
Α generation ago, α debate of considerable proportions occurred among scholars of Islamic history as to whether guilds existed in the medieval Islamic world. To some degree, the answer one gives to that question depends on how one defines the word "guild." We have seen that some sort of futuwwa order (or orders) did exist in medieval Cairo, and that its members were held to have responsibilities towards their less fortunate brethren. While in this sense one can conclude that such α guild or guilds did exist in Mamluk Cairo, and had α role to play in providing charity, their significance seems minor when compared with similar institutions in Europe. Between the mid-twelfth and late fifteenth centuries, 163 guilds are known to have been established in Florence, at α time when the city's population fell from 110-120,000 to c. 37,000.'6 One cannot but be impressed with the prominence of the guilds in Florentine social life. Early fifteenth-century Florence possessed thirty-three hospitals and some of its guilds provided assistance to hundreds of persons. While it would be difficult to estimate the membership or social significance of the futuwwa order in Mamluk Cairo, it is clear that the city did not possess voluntary associations that could compete in size or influence with the Florentine guilds.
Voluntary associations of α different type were also important in late Ming and early Ch'ing China. New groups, called benevolent societies, were formed to provide aid to the poor. Among the services they provided were aiding widows, burying the dead, providing food, and even making capital available to merchants and doctors. Unlike the Florentine guilds, however, these societies do not seem to have been organized by profession, nor were they limited to urban areas. They were usually undertaken by local elites, including state bureaucrats as well as the local gentry, scholars, farmers, and merchants. To some degree, this new form of private initiative was motivated by competition among the elite. While the state did not play α leading role in promoting these societies, neither did it move to suppress them, as it did the private academies, because charitable activities were perceived as having α stablizing effect on society.
The benevolent society did differ from the guild or futuwwa order in significant ways. Most importantly, the sense of "brotherhood" that the guild or futuwwa members were supposed to share was totally absent from the benevolent societies. While social disparities did disturb Chinese thinkers, they did not attempt to use the new societies to forge personal bonds between social classes. Indeed, charity given through α benevolent society was more anonymous than individual acts of kindness.
The increased tendency to organize charity through benevolent societies was to some degree the result of the commercialization of the Chinese economy. Previously, the Chinese state had taken responsibility for intervening in α sporadic manner when severe crises broke out. As we have seen, this kind of response to crises was also characteristic of the Mamluk state. The advent of benevolent societies in China signaled a decline in central authority, creating α gap that was filled by the local gentry. In Mamluk Egypt, no such retreat of the central authorities occurred. In fact, the state increased its control over the poor. Meanwhile there was little development in forming institutions within civil society to take over charity. While the futuwwa and sufi orders did provide some relief for their members, most urban dwellers would have been excluded from these organizations.
We are left then to conclude that charity in Mamluk Cairo was largely an informal practice. Cairo was α major metropolis, probably the most important such center in the Middle East at this time. Despite this fact, its charitable institutions appear quite small and few in number compared with those of Europe at approximately the same time. The reason for this discrepancy probably lies in the differing social structures of these cities. The key factor in the social changes overtaking Europe was the rise of wage labor as the most important economic relation. The increased prominence of the new proletariat led their employers to institute important reforms in the way in which charity was distributed and the poor policed. In some areas of Europe, especially England, the peasantry were increasingly pressed off the land and turned into wage laborers. This radical change led to increased interest by the rural elites in policing the rural poor.
In China, the commercialization of the economy and the rise of local elites encouraged local solutions to problems of poverty. These societies were able to organize poor relief more efficiently than the central state and gave the elites an opportunity to justify their frequently new-found wealth by donating some of it to "do good." This tactic undermined conservative arguments that wealth could destabilize society by increasing the gap between the social classes and helped to justify the increased importance of the merchant class.
In Mamluk Cairo, the unemployed formed part of the poor population, and were subject to policing by the state. The sultan al-hrafish was responsible to the authorities for their behavior. Nonetheless, there does not seem to have been α substantial increase in the role played by wage labor in the Egyptian economy at this time, nor did the size of the proletariat increase. As for the bourgeoisie, they barely existed. The role of long distance merchants decreased, and their role of patrons in times of famine had disappeared by the early fifteenth century. The artisanate did not produce figures wealthy or influential enough to play an important role as patrons of the poor, although the futuwwa organizations did provide some relief to their members.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of charity in Mamluk Cairo is the preponderant role played by the urban-based military elite in providing charity. No doubt some wealthy civilians also gave significant amounts of charity to the poor, but their significance is minor compared with the contribution of the military class. By the mid-fifteenth century, the awlad al-nas were also making significant contributions to charity, although on α much smaller scale than those who still possessed military appointments and had access to larger quantities of land. While it is an exaggeration to call Mamluk Cairo α "military society," the role of the military elite in defining the relations between social classes is difficult to overestimate.
THE NEW ISLAMIC DYNASTIES
Clifford Edmund Bosworth
Columbia University Press
$45.00, hardcover; 389 pages, Index to personal names
The antecedent of this present book, The Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Handbook, was published by Edinburgh University Press in 1967 and promptly became a useful reference work for the chronology of Islamic dynasties of the Middle Eastern and North African heartlands and of Central and South Asia and for their historical backgrounds. It has proved useful not only for Islamic historians but also for Islamic art historians and numismatists. Nevertheless, all these groups of scholars remain much less well provided with such references as chronologies of events, genealogical tables, historical atlases, etc., than their colleagues in the fields of British or European history. Some of the subsequent writers of general histories of the Islamic world or its component regions and peoples, and writers of reference works covering the world in general or the Islamic lands in particular, who have given lists of dynasties and rulers, have obviously drawn upon the original Islamic Dynasties - sometimes with due acknowledgment, sometimes not.
The original book is thus still proving useful in these parts of the world through translations, although the Edinburgh University Press original is now long out of print in both the original hardback and the paperback versions (the latter, of 1980, contained some slight corrections, all that the process of largely verbatim reproduction allowed). But well before the book became finally out of print, the author had been noting corrections and gathering fresh information for a new, considerably expanded version. It would be strange if the explosion of knowledge over the last thirty years had not brought much fresh information for the Islamic is however, scattered, and, in regard to epigraphy and numismatics in particular, often appears in the local publications of the countries concerned and is not easily accessible in Britain and Western Europe. He has nevertheless endeavored, with assistance and advice from specialist colleagues and friends, to incorporate as much of this new information as possible, though certain periods and areas remain - and perhaps always will remain - dark.
Most obvious to the reader of this present book will be the fact that it is much bigger than the 1967 book. There are now seventeen chapters, covering 186 dynasties, whereas the original ISLAMIC DYNASTIES had only ten chapters, covering 82 dynasties. The new or vastly expanded chapters include ones dealing with Muslim Spain, with much more detailed coverage of the Multik al-Tawaif (Chapter Two); the Arabian peninsula, again with much greater detail (Chapter Six); West Africa, and East Africa and the Hom of Africa, both entirely new chapters (Chapters Seven and Eight); the Turks of Anatolia, now with detailed coverage of the Beyliks there (Chapter Twelve); Central Asia after the Mongols, a substantially new chapter which includes the Khanates arising there out of the Turco-Mongol domination of Inner Asia and persisting until the extension of Russian imperial power through Central Asia (Chapter Fifteen); Afghanistan and the Indian Subcontinent, with increased coverage of, for example, the Sultanates of the Deccan and the Indian dynasties of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Chapter Sixteen); and South-East Asia and Indonesia, again dealing with an entirely new region (Chapter Seventeen). But apart from these ones specifically mentioned, virtually all chapters are enlarged to some extent or other.
Thus the coverage of the new book approaches much more closely to coverage of the whole Islamic world, from Senegal to Bomeo, than did the 1967 book, since it has often in the past been noted that works purporting to deal with Islam or the Islamic world have tended to concentrate on the Arab-Persian-Turkish heartlands to the neglect of the fringes, even though such peripheral regions as South and South-East Asia and Indonesia now contain the majority of Muslim peoples. Yet somewhat in extenuation of this concentration in the past on the heartlands, it must be admitted that the historian and chronologist of the peripheries is on much shakier ground. The heartlands have been long Islamised; many of their lands possess ancient historiographical traditions, with reliable dynastic histories and clearly-dated coins inscribed with a plethora of information on names and titulature. Whereas in regions far from the heartlands such as sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia and Indonesia, there may well be a care for local tribal or dynastic traditions, their recording in clearly-dated written form has nevertheless been patchy, and the task of making such records has often been complicated by attempts, of a mythic nature, to prove the ancient reception of the Islamic faith by families and classes ruling over lands and subjects which remained largely pagan for lengthy periods subsequently. The coinage of such ruling strata is nearly always much less complete in dated series, and in actual information on the coins, than for the Islamic heartlands and the Indian Subcontinent.
Even so, the position in such a region, comparatively near to the heartlands, as early Islamic Central Asia is far from crystal-clear. Much elucidation has meanwhile come from such scholars as Omeljan Pritsak and Elena A. Davidovich, but significant problems remain; the substantially increased numbers of coins now finding their way from Central Asia and Afghanistan to the West since the demise of the USSR may possibly resolve some of these remaining obscurities.
Bosworth judged in 1967 that such an updating and rewriting could probably only be done as a cooperative effort by historians who are specialists in various sectors of the Islamic world, aided by epigraphists and numismatists. The prospects of such a collaboration seem no nearer in 1995 than they did twenty-nine years ago. Hence his NEW ISLAMIC DYNASTIES, here presented to the scholarly world, does not aim at such overall completeness, but it represents as extensive a coverage of Islamic dynasties as one person is likely to achieve in our present day. Bosworth has endeavored to cover what might be termed the first, second and third ranks of dynasties and to give as up-to-date and accurate information on them as possible. There remains the fourth rank and beyond, and readers may well have pet dynasties and ruling houses in which they are especially interested and which they consider ought to have been included.
This work of important chronology into the nearly innumerable ruling dynasties throughout the Islamic world should easily replace its legendary first edition. A serious source book for any historical or genealogical research.
Bandali Jawzis Islamic Intellectual History
Oxford University Press
$39.95, cloth; 206 pages, notes, index
Marxist Muslim History
INTELLECTUAL MOVEMENTS IN ISLAM, originally
published in Arabic in 1928, was a seminal text of Arab modernism
written by the Palestinian intellectual Bandali al-Jawzi
(1871-1942). In this book, Jawzi offered the first Marxist
interpretation of the history and development of Islamic thought.
The continuing importance of his work lies in Jawzis
critical method of reevaluating both European
orientalism and classical Muslim heresiography. Fifty
years before Edward Saids landmark orientalism, Jawzi
identified the source of weakness in the Islamic world as a
concern for vested imperial interest, Muslim social organization.
This important translation offers a skillful and entertaining
critique of Muslim civilization under colonial domination. Sonn
is Professor of Religious Studies at University of South Florida.
Her introduction places Jawzis thought in a fuller context
of postmodern intellectual trends and the historic conditions of
Muslim reformist movements that continue to struggle to apply
Islamic principles to contemporary social life.
With THE HISTORY OF INTELLECTUAL MOVEMENTS IN ISLAM, Jawzi made an audacious contribution to early twentieth-century efforts to understand how the Muslim world had fallen into disarray. The relative neglect of his insight in some circles can now be addressed by this translation. Jawzi reconsidered classical historical accounts of the Islamic caliphates, particularly those dealing with the treatment of rebel movements. Piecing together fragments he found more credible than those of the imperial historians, Jawzi draws a more complete picture of the various rebel groups, and revealing that they were motivated by a concern with the caliphs disregard for Islamic principles; the rebels were more Muslim than the caliphs, in Jawzis view. Despite how fascinating one may find Jawzis conclusion, it is his method of interpreting history that remains most relevant for the Muslim world. That method arises from Jawzis recognition that all intellectual products-historical, literary, religious-are the result of interpretation, and that there is a direct connection between the survival of certain interpretations and the political-economic concerns of those in a position to control official intellectual products. As Sonn illustrates in her introduction, this method of interpretation has continued to develop and, indeed, currently dominates in many sectors of the Islamic world. Furthermore, it shares key features with certain postmodern Euro-American interpretive methodologies. As a result, students and scholars working in either context-Islamic or Western-will find in Interpreting Islam a basis of shared concern with the nature of intellectual production and interpretation.
THE JIHAD IN CLASSICAL AND MODERN ISLAM
Markus Wiener Publishers, Inc.
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$39.95, hardcover 214 pages illustrated ISBN 1-55876-108-X
$16.95 paper 214 pages illustrated ISBN 1-55876-109-8
This collection of translations from Islamic
sources provides a general description of the nature of Jihad
from its Koran and hadith reference to the classical formulations
of Averroes and ibn Taymiyya. The modern period is covered by
documents from Egypt that deal with the Ottoman Empire, and the
last a peaceful interpretation by the rector of al-Azhar
University in Cairo, Mahmud Shaltut. The final chapters consider
the general uses of jihad and are reprints from the author's
This book demonstrates that the notion of Jihad ("Holy War") is very much alive in the Islamic world and plays a prominent political role. Western observers usually associate Jihad with fanaticism, while Islamists emphasize its mission as crusade against drugs and other societal scourges.
This book provides basic reading materials translated from Arabic and Turkish and commentary on the doctrine of Jihad, highlighting its significance through the ages. The eight texts include hadiths ( sayings and deeds of the prophet Mohammed), excerpts from the al-Mutwatta of Malik ibn Anas (d.795) (exhorting-Muslims to participate in Jihad), legal doctrines on the Jihad written by the philosopher and judge Averroes (d.1198), and texts by Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), focusing on its religious and moral aspects. One chapter illustrates how the doctrines of Jihad were used for war propaganda when the highest religious authority of the Ottoman Empire issued a fatwa accompanied by the official declaration of war against the Allied Powers in 1914. The last text is by Mahmud Shaltut (d.1963), the rector of the famous al-Azhar University in Cairo, arguing for a modernist and peaceful interpretation of Jihad. A final chapter analyses recent currents of modernist and fundamentalist thoughts on Jihad.
Rudolph Peters, professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Amsterdam and director of the Netherlands Institute in Cairo, is author of Islam and Colonialism and numerous other books.
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