World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


(Re-)Interpreting Islamic Concepts - 1/2 (272) - Panel

· Date: WED 21, 5.00-7.00 pm

· Language: English / Français

· Description: Chair: Monika Fatima Mühlböck (University of Vienna)

Paper Presenter: Necmettin Gokkir (Assist. Prof., Istanbul University) “Re-Contextualisation of Muslim community (Ummah) in Past and Present”
The concept of ummah in Islamic tradition is the key-word for seeking the historical development of Islam. As a matter of fact, the first ummah of Islam was established as a community with political authority and autonomy, as well as religious and socio-political characteristics that is described originally as a sort of defence alliance pact which united the city of Medina's clans in a pledge to protect the Prophet Muhammad and the first believers of Meccan people and codified in a document known as the Constitution of Medina?. This alliance system provided a sense of authority of Muhammad and a complete loyalty to him as the leader of Medinan communities including local clans. It is disputable whether Jewish were considered inside or outside of this first ummah. They were in the alliance pact but later, because of political conditions they were declared a separate ummah with a separate religion. Historically, Jews and Christians were eventually considered as the protected people (dhimmi) of the Muslim territory (Dar al-Islam). And later the other communities like Sabaeans (Mandains) were added into the same status. Over centuries the pattern of Islamic civilization, they paid tribute (jizya) to the government in exchange for the right of limited citizenship. Eventually the term excludes all other religiously external communities in territorial division. It is expressed with the term of Dar. Medieval Muslim jurists made a distinction between the territory of Islam (dar al-Islam) and the territory of war (dar al-harb) based on the conceptual division of people into believers and non-believers. This criterion was not taken only for the membership of the ummah. All members believed in Allah and accept the shari'a rules too. On the other hand, the controversies by the civil wars of first centuries in the community triggered the establishment sectarian fractions (e.g. Shia, Sunni, Khawarij) and their subdivisions in a multiple political communal system. In spite of these divisions, the community/ummah identity in Islam has been taken account of the sense of solidarity among the groups in a way that brings Muslim together under the banner of Allah's unity/tawhid. Non-believers also divided on the basis of their relations to the ummah of believers, like dhimmi, harbi etc. However, because of the immigration to the West, Muslims now are the religious minority in Europe. Muslims in Europe now see Europe as their land, home and territory where was before classified as outside of the ummah land to live with others who were identified before as a non-believer, outside of ummah by classical thinkers. Indeed, the current presence in the West is of a very new situation for Muslims. They have certainly experienced the fact of being a minority in the history. But in that time, Muslims are living in the Western community with its values that make difficult for every Muslim to define what their social and individual identities are Muslim Ummah or European civilian. Is a Muslim to be defined in the context of traditional Islamic notion of ummah or simply a citizen of any European country? Is a Muslim insider or outsider of the European society? The paper will take also these questions into the consideration.

Paper Presenter: Marco Demichelis (PhD Candidate-Univesity of Genoa) “The Miḥna. Deconstruction and reconsideration of the Mu‘tazilite role in the Inquisition.”
The relationship between violence and Islamic religion seems to show, as a result of the historical events of these last forty years, a mutual land that joins terrorism and fundamentalism inside an unequivocal union. On the contrary the Islam has revealed, in contrast with others faiths, an insufficient tendency towards Religion Wars and Inquisition, showing in one case only, a real vocation to a dogmatic violence. In this article the main subject is the analysis of the Mihna (833-848), the only one Islamic inquisition of the IX century, in relationship with the use of violence to certify a religious Truth. However, the Mihna needs to be analyzed as an historical, theological and political inquisition strictly related to the main actors of the first half of the IX century. Historically speaking it is significant to understand the main aspects concerning the level of violence of the Mihna: theologically, it is important to comprehend, the dogmatic approach of the Created Koran as expression of human freedom (qadariyya point of view) and against the divine predestination (connected to Hanbalism but also to Jahamiyya); politically, it is necessary to analyze the centralization process planned by al-Ma''mun (813-833) to acquire a double role as Khalifa Allah and Imam al-Huda in the Umma. It could be relevant to answer at these questions: How violent was the Mihna and its drift bleeding was planned? The inquisition can reconcile politics and religion or these two subjects are not compatible in this analysis- The concept of the created Koran was effectively interpreted by al-Ma'mun from Mu’tazilite sources- These questions are to focus on issues not yet clearly detailed by sources in our possession. It would be very important to understand, as I will try to do, the relation between the rational Mu’tazilite elaboration and the millenarian al-Ma'mun attitude in the study on the dogma of the created- Koran. Nu'aym ibn Hammad's death in Egypt at the hand of Mihna raises a fundamental question: which relationships exist between millenarianism and traditionalism in the third century of Islam and which is the role played by the Mu'tazilite theological thought in all this?

Paper Presenter: Monika Fatima Mühlböck (Professor, Department of Oriental Studies, University of Vienna) “On the Threshold of the Afterworld: Religious Norms and Cultural Traditions at the Point of Death in Islam”
Muslims believe that this life is merely an examination of, and preparation for, the hereafter. The paper deals with Islamic obligations and customs carried out in the Muslim communities, both Sunni (the legal schools of the Hanafiyya, Malikiyya, Shafi'iyya and Hanabila as well as the movement of the Wahhabiyya) and Shi'i, at the stage of death to ensure paradise for a dying person. It investigates such topics as the duties completed by death-watchers; how death-washers draw attention to the point of death during washing and shrouding the dead body; and the importance of the time of the funeral for passing the threshold of this world to the next. The contents of petitionary prayers brought forward by the mourning community to enable the human being the entrance to paradise will be discussed in detail. Finally, the paper also shows the customs when visiting graves.

Paper Presenter: Pedro Cano Avila (Professeur et chercheur - Universite de Seville E. Arabes) “Le ''Harim'' dans le monde rural islamique“
Auteurs: Inmaculada Camarero Castellano (Fondation Ibn Al-Khatib, Loja Granada) et Pedro Cano Ávila (Université de Séville). Le Harim compris dans l’Islam comme un espace réservé et inviolable, est appliqué dans les zones rurales, un certain nombre de domaines qui vont au-delà de pointer le droit romain, d’où elle provient. Ainsi, les juristes musulmans marquent la zone Harim ou de la communauté, où les gens exercent leur droit de « l’eau, le pâturage et le feu », selon le hadith célèbre, ainsi que la superficie des terres cultivées Harim, où se réserve le droit de l’agriculteur à ce que ses canaux, ses canaux d’irrigation (fossés) et des barrages soient situés dans un terre d’autrui et où un propriétaire foncier doit donner une partie de celui-ci comme de servitude pour le passage des personnes et du bétail. De même, la personne en charge d’espace de croissance a besoin d’un accès libre et facile aux fontaines, les sources et les puits, de la même manière que pour réparer les murs et les clôtures qui entourent la terre.
Comme une nouveauté, seul l’Islam prévoit la Harim d’arbres et de plantes, conçue comme la zone environnante ont besoin de fertiliser, greffage, élagage et la récolte des fruits. Enfin, nous avons trouvé plusieurs endroits dans les usines appelées Harim: D’abord, il se réfère aux locaux que les personnes et les animaux ont besoin pour le chargement et le déchargement, et l’espace où l’animal se déplace, si le moulin est appelée « sang ». Nous ne pouvons pas oublier le droit de posséder l’usine pour ses canaux, ses fossés et ses déversoirs soient situés sur des terres voisines, comme dans les champs cultivés. En cas de dommage, pas déchu le droit de jouir du Harim dans une terre voisine, mais est contraint de verser une indemnisation. Dans le même temps, les meuniers doivent soutenir le droit des bucherons pour déplacer les grumes en aval, conçu cet espace comme une zone de Harim de passage. Dans cet article nous évaluons les différents points de vue des quatre écoles islamiques par rapport à cette affaire et les différences entre les avocats de la même école.