World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


ANALYSIS OF MUSLIM EMPIRES I: Early Califate (361) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: THU 22, 2.30-4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Jens Scheiner University of Göttingen, Germany()

Paper presenter: Delia Cortese (Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, Middlesex University), “Voices of the Silent Majority: Sunni Scholarship in Fatimid Egypt”
When the Fatimids conquered Egypt in 969, they inaugurated their reign with a formal declaration of tolerance and magnanimity towards their new subjects. The proclamation, issued by order of the Fatimid imam-caliph al-Mu’izz (d.975) and quoted in full by the Mamluk historian Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi in his Itti’az al-hunafa’, is famously known as the Aman document. Indeed, it is generally agreed that the Fatimids never actively or forcefully tried to convert the population of Egypt which remained by and large Sunni. This being the case, one asks: what happened to the Sunni legal and theological scholars that were active in Egypt at the time of the Fatimid take-over and the subsequent decades of their rule? In this paper I will attempt to put the words of the Aman document to the test by surveying the extent to which Sunni scholarship and its literary production were allowed to continue, be disseminated and possibly even prosper under a regime that upheld Shi’a Isma’ilism as state religion. The period of Fatimid history under consideration will be the one spanning from the reign of al-Mu’izz (953-975) to that of al-Mustansir (1036-1094). In this paper I will address issues pertaining to the purpose Sunni scholarship might have served in a regime run along Shi’a Isma’ili lines, the audience it addressed, the places and intellectual environments in which it took place and the relationship between Sunni scholars and Fatimid establishment. My main primary sources will range from the works of Fatimid chroniclers such as al-Musabbihi to later chroniclers and historians such as Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (his biography ofEgyptian qadis, Raf ‘ al-isar) and al-Maqrizi (his biographical dictionary, al-Muqaffa al-kabir). The overall aim of this research is to explore one facet of the prismatic social history of Egypt under the Fatimids (rather than the history of Fatimid Egypt) by placing the elite subjects, rather than the masters, at the centre of the investigation.

Paper presenter: Zeinab Piri (Researcher of the Written Heritage Research Centre, Iran), “Musakhkhar al -bilad as an Encyclopedic Historical Document”
Musakhkhar al Bilad is a very important manuscript about the sheybanid dynasty and the political relation between Iranian and Uzbek in Safavid period. The author, Muhammad yar ben Arab Qatgan, composed this work during the reign of the Uzbek ruler Abdullah khan. Except what he says about himself in this book, nothing is known about his life. He was apparently born early in the reign of Abdullah Khan Uzbek and died early in the 17 century AD. He explains his reasons for writing book to be a wish to leave of his patrons rule. author Musakhkhar al Bilad had described the relationship the Safavid from the rule of shah Ismail 1 to the rule of the Uzbek king Abdullah khan .B because he was an eyewitness to way of the events which transpired Abdullah khan rule, his account includes important details. This book opens with a preface followed by 8 chapters and an epilogue. The narrative begans with the genealogy of the Sheybanid kings, and relates biographies of these rulers in varying details. The biography of the founder of the dynasty, Abu al Khayr Khan, who established power of the Uzbek tribes in Central Asia. Aside from historical details, this book is full of the significant information concerning the cultural and linguistic connection between Iran and the Sheybanid realm. From it, we find that Persian Language was quite influential among the Uzbeks. This book is also important from linguistic and geographic points of View. It may be considered as a small linguistic and geographical dictionary of the era.

Paper presenter: Nadereh Jalali Shirazi (Researcher of the Society for the Appreciation of Cultural Works and Dignitaries, Iran), “Abulgasem Amri in Nuqtavid Movement during Safavid Period”
The Nuqtavid movment was in fact a socio- political movement of great religious descriptive in the Safavid period .The nuqtavid movement was started by mahmood pasikhani, a disciple of Sayid Fazlullah Astarabadi. The spiritual guide of mahmood had earlier expelled him from hurufid movment but mahmood started propagating the teachings of his guide by putting the soul of hurufid belief in the body of nuqtavid movement, which made tremendous progress during the safavid rule in spite of strong opposition by the Savafid rulers. Shah Abass the great, killed thousands of followers of mahmood pasikhani. Later on, the nuqtavids had no option but to flee from Iran to India, which was a safe place for their living. The hurufids believed that the origin of the whole universe is based on harf (letter) and nuqtavids believe that nuqta (dot) is the source spring of each and everything. The campaign against the ideas of nuqtavids started since the time of Teimurid. During safavid period, they assumed the shape of knotty problem as they were spoling whole Iranian society by propagating anti Islamic beliefs in the name of Islam. The spiritual leaders of nuqtavid movements were interpreting the holy verses of Quran according to their own way of thinking. Shah Abass expelled them from Persia but Mughal Emperors akbar and jahangir gave them refuge in India. They began actively to promete and expand their rituals in Persian. Abul Gasem Amri was one of the biggest nuqtavi poet that Shah Tahmasb blinded him and eventually killed by Shah Abass. This article is going to introduce him as one of the important figures in Nuqtavi in Safavid period.

Paper presenter: Yaacov Lev (Professor, Bar ilan University, Israel), “Jihad in Fatimid History”
The history of the Fatimids offers a useful framework for the study of jihad since the Fatimids had close and diversified contacts with both Christian Europe and Byzantium. Jihad, for example, serves as a term of reference in the legal and historical writings of Qadi al-Numan (d.974), the foremost Fatimid jurist and the creator of the Fatimid legal code. Nevertheless, Fatimid relationship with the Christian world was complex and involved warfare, political relations, and treaties for the advancement of trade. Therefore, the emphasis on jihad is too narrow and reductionistic, and the whole spectrum of Fatimid relationship with the Christian world must be examined.

Paper presenter: Jens Scheiner (Prof. Dr, University of Göttingen.), “Aphrodisiacs in Classical Islam”
That the 'Abb'sid rule in Bagdad formed a high culture in many fields during the socalled 'classical time of Islam' is well known. That this high culture included several works focusing on the preparation of food and drinks, i.e. cookbooks, is quite unknown. One of the oldest of these cookbooks describes the 'haute cuisine' of Bagdad in the 9th to the 10th centuries. It proves that the 'Abb'sid caliphs were not only interested in deliciously prepared food and exquisite alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, but also in substances that stirred up their blood. Several recipes and tips mentioned in the cook books focus on their aphrodisiac impact. This paper introduces into various of these aphrodisiac issues in the context of the human humors and will show which means were at the caliphs' hands to reach the intended aim.