The End of Middle East History and Other Conjectures is an unapologetic collection of imaginative essays from thought-provoking Middle East scholar Richard W. Bulliet. Not your ordinary think pieces, this volume collects for the first time Bulliet’s Big Bang–Big Crunch theory of Islamic history and his illuminating conception of the “Muslim South.” Speculations range from future political events to counterfactual histories of how reversal of the outcome of a 1529 battle might have profoundly altered history. After fifty years of posing and answering daring historical questions, Bulliet happily tackles an array of conjectures on subjects as diverse as the origin of civilization, the end of Middle East history, and future interpretations of the twentieth century.
Within a century of the Arab Muslim conquest of vast territories in the Middle East and North Africa, Islam became the inheritor of the intellectual legacy of classical antiquity. In an epochal cultural transformation between the eighth and tenth centuries CE, most of what survived in classical Greek literature and thought was translated from Greek into Arabic. This translation movement, sponsored by the ruling Abbasid dynasty, swiftly blossomed into the creative expansion and reimagining of classical ideas that were now integral parts of the Islamic tradition.
Romance and Reason, a lavishly illustrated catalogue accompanying the exhibition of the same name at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, explores the breadth and depth of Islamic engagement with ancient Greek thought. Drawing on manuscripts and artifacts from the collections of the National Library of Israel and prominent American institutions, the catalogue’s essays focus on the portrayal of Alexander the Great as ideal ruler, mystic, lover, and philosopher in Persian poetry and art, and how Islamic medicine, philosophy, and science contended with and developed the classical tradition.
Contributors include Roberta Casagrande-Kim, Leigh Chipman, Steven Harvey, Y. Tzvi Langermann, Rachel Milstein, Julia Rubanovich, Samuel Thrope, and Raquel Ukeles.
The history of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study dates back to 1935, and it is the one area of scholarship that has been continuously represented at the Institute ever since. The volume opens with a historical sketch of the study of the Near and Middle East at the Institute. The second part of the volume consists of essays and short studies by IAS scholars, past and present, covering fields such as the ancient Near East and early Islamic history, the Bible and the Qurʾān, Islamic intellectual history within and beyond denominational history, Arabic and other Semitic languages and literatures, Islamic religious and legal practices, law and society, the Islamic West, the Ottoman world, Iranian studies, the modern Middle East, and Islam in the West.
Since the 1920s, the so-called »return to the roots«, has become a hegemonic discourse in Iran. Whereas the Pahlavi regimes (1925–1979) propagated the myth of the lost idyll of pre-Islamic Iran representing themselves as the true inheritors of those monarchies, the Islamists adopted a respective approach in regard to Islam.
As a result, a similar fairytale was made about the early Islamic community. Such claims, as it were, are not so much about the past as they are about the present. So is this study.
By delving into the past, it questions the widespread nostalgic notions considering the pre-Islamic era as a lost utopia, wherein women were free from the restrictions »imposed by Islam«. In point of fact such past is a fabrication. In the majority of cases, therefore, the revival projects invent traditions to legitimize current political agendas.
The Dēnkard is the most exhaustive Pahlavi work ever produced in Zoroastrianism. Due to the large amount of information included in it, this body of work has often been referred to within the field of Iranian Studies as a ‘Zoroastrian Encyclopedia’. This article discusses two main points. First, it holds that it was not the intention of the Dēnkard’s authors and editors to compose a Zoroastrian encyclopedia in the 9th and 10th centuries. By contrast, the independent texts which serve as the basis of this compilation deal with other religions or present a Zoroastrian apologetic. It also claims that the Dēnkard has not been perceived as an encyclopedia in later Zoroastrianism. Second, the article scrutinizes the editorial process that led to this book. It furthermore argues that the Dēnkard, in its current form, has been structured to resemble the Zoroastrian world history comprising nine millennia. This article aims, moreover, to show that the last three books of the Dēnkard aim to depict Zoroastrians as belonging to the People of the Book. The article finally argues that the Dēnkard should be considered entirely a theological apologetic within an inter-religious context, which was mainly carried by Muslim theologians.
This study explores the previously unstudied anti-Jewish Persian polemic Anbāʾ al-anbiyāʾ by the Jewish convert to Twelver Šīʿī Islam, Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī, the father of Ḥāǧǧī Bābā Qazvīnī Yazdī. It examines Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī’s discussion of a medieval Jewish controversy concerning the four-kingdom schema in the book of Daniel and Ibn Ezra’s interpretation of the dream-vision in favor of Islam as the fourth kingdom. The study shows that Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī, besides his reference to Muslim works in Persian, relied on different (partly printed) Jewish textual sources in the original Hebrew and Aramaic (Miqraʾot Gedolot, Neḇuʾat ha-yeled, Sefer haš-šorašim, Sefer Josippon), from which he quoted in his own Persian translation/adaptation. He thus made internal Jewish debates accessible to native Muslim scholars, such as Mullā ʿAlī Nūrī, who borrowed from Anbāʾ al-anbiyāʾ. Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī was a cross-cultural intermediary and go-between who expanded the traditional range of Šīʿī polemical arguments against Judaism in pre-modern Iran.
The Twelver Shiʿite law of inheritance constitutes one of the most distinctive features of the legal system in comparison with Sunni law. Although there are major and even irreconcilable divergences between the Sunnite law of succession according to all four legal schools on the one hand and Twelver Shiʿite law on the other, no convincing explanations for this striking development within Islamic law itself, leading to two fundamentally distinct systems, have hitherto been put forward. The aim of this preliminary study is to call attention to several remarkable correspondences between the complex Iranian (Zoroastrian) law of succession, conceived to support the specific needs of aristocratic descent groups in the Sasanian period, and Twelver Shiʿite regulations, reflecting a very similar underlying concept of family ties and descent groups as a whole. The question is, whether these congruencies are purely coincidental or based on age-old social and traditional norms, which continued to be practised in the regions of the former Sasanian empire after the Islamic conquest. As Sasanian norms remained operative in customary law (now documented by Pahlavi legal documents from 8th century Tabarestān) during the formative period of Islamic law and the Sunnite regulations, being based to a large extent on pre-Islamic tribal law in Arabia, contrast sharply with the Shiʿite concept, it would be consistent to assume that certain precepts in the pre-Islamic Iranian system had an important impact on the development of the Twelver Shiʿite law of inheritance.
Islamic Alternatives are the proceedings of a symposium which was held in April 2014 within the framework of a research project entitled The Khāksār Order between Ahl-e Ḥaqq and Shiite Sufi Order, funded by the German Research Foundation.
The tradition and belief system of the Khāksār is closely connected to several cultural and religious traditions across a vast geographical area in the Orient: the territory of Persianate societies, which might also be called ‘the territory of wandering dervishes’. The extensive historical and cultural relations and associations, the similarities between the Khāksār Order and the Futuwwa tradition or religious communities (such as the Ahl-e Ḥaqq (Yārsān) and Bektashi order in different geographical territories), the relationship between this order and Dervish groups in Pakistan and Central Asia on the one hand and its connection with the official orthodox Shia on the other hand are the main topics dealt with in the present book.
The commonalities and cultural relations of these numerous and diverse cultural traditions as well as the heterodox movements in this region are so substantial that understanding the related aspects of each helps us gain a deeper knowledge of the whole subject matter. This symposium and the present proceedings attempt to gather as many specialists of these diverse but associated themes as possible in order to achieve a better understanding of these concepts.
Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi: “New Remarks on Secrecy and Concealment in Early Imāmī Shiʿism: the Case of khatm al-nubuwwa – Aspects of Twelver Shiʿi Imamology XII
Mohsen Zakeri: “From Futuwwa to Mystic Political Thought: – The Caliph al-Nāṣir li-Dīn Allāh and Abū Ḥafṣ Suhrawardī’s Theory of Government
Ahl-e Ḥaqq (Yāresān)
Philip G. Kreyenbroek: “Some Remarks on the Early History of the Ahl-e Ḥaqq”
Martin van Bruinessen: “Between Dersim and Dālahū – Reflections on Kurdish Alevism and the Ahl-e Ḥaqq Religion
Yiannis Kanakis: “Yāresān Religious Concepts and Ritual Repertoires as Elements of Larger Net-works of Socio-Political ‘Heterodoxy’ – Some Thoughts on Yāresān , Shiite and Qizilbash/Bektashi Sources and Symbolism
Cultural Anthropological Analysis
Jürgen Wasim Frembgen: “Beyond Muslim and Hindu – Sacred Spaces in the Thar Desert of Pakistan
Alexandre Papas: “Dog of God: Animality and Wildness among Dervishes”
Thierry Zarcone: “Sacred Stones in Qalandariyya and Bektashism”
Mehran Afshari: “Quṭb al-Dīn Ḥaydar-e Tūnī and his Connection to the Ḥaydariyya and Khāksāriyya”
Shahrokh Raei: “Some Recent Issues and Challenges in the Khāksār Order”
Razia Sultanova: “Female Folk Sufism in the Central Asian Space-Time Continuum”
About the Editor:
Shahrokh Raei is an scholar of Sufī and Khāksār Order and lecturer at the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Freiburg.
A short editorial note: This book offers a very useful overview, as the title suggests, of philosophy in the Islamic world rather than Islamic philosophy as such. To that end, Part II of the book is dedicated to philosophy in Andalusia, including Jewish philosophy. One chapter deals with the so-called translation movement while others discuss Islamic philosophy developed by “Iranian” philosophers in different eras. I can highly recommend this book as an introductory volume to philosophy in the Islamic world.
The latest in the series based on the popular History of Philosophy podcast, this volume presents the first full history of philosophy in the Islamic world for a broad readership. It takes an approach unprecedented among introductions to this subject, by providing full coverage of Jewish and Christian thinkers as well as Muslims, and by taking the story of philosophy from its beginnings in the world of early Islam all the way through to the twentieth century.
The seventh annual conference of LUCIS focuses on Islamic Central Asia, both from a historical and contemporary perspective. Central Asia today is often regarded as a periphery of the Islamic world, but this region with its fluid borders, stretching into present-day Afghanistan, Russia, China, Mongolia, Iran and the Caucasus, has been for a long period the cradle of empires that ruled over large parts of the globe.
Central Asia in the past has been at the heart of the trade network known as the Silk Road, a premodern highway of global interaction. The idea of a New Silk Road today demonstrates Central Asia’s increasing importance as a centre stage of geopolitical interests. Comprehending the complex history of Central Asia by taking into account its dynastic and regional historiographies and more recent nationalistic narratives is crucial for perceiving the current dynamics of this vast region.
Analysing commemorative practices across Central Asia may provide a prolific framework to outline the complexity of its group identities, in modern times often constructed as nationalistic narratives. In this conference we propose to focus on the notion of memory and commemoration in Central Asia from past and present perspectives, in a broad sense, in order to shed light on the complexities of this fascinating and understudied region.
Rather than focusing on a single period, medium or language of commemorative practices, the conference will take a comparative and connective perspective. Questions that may be addressed include:
Narratives: How does literary and artistic production reflect imperial ideology and commemorative culture? How were dynastic members commemorated and rehabilitated? How were genealogies concocted and manipulated in order to commemorate the ancestral origins? How were important events commemorated?
Sites: How were visions of kingship articulated in commemorative dynastic shrines and landscapes across Central Asia? How did religiously diverse commemorative practices contribute to the development of a distinct royal visual morphology? How were urban centres transformed through the diverse visual lexicon of local Islamic cult activities? How are historical shrines and cults commemorated in the present?
Religions: How was commemorative culture influenced by orthodox Islam and Sufism? What was the impact of these complex theological interactions on the intellectual life and artistic production throughout Central Asia? How are religious commemorative practices used in contemporary nationalistic discourses?
The themes of the conference are broad on purpose, as we wish to welcome speakers from different disciplines and backgrounds.
Please find the full programme of the LUCIS annual conference here.