Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg



Sie sind hier: Startseite Fellows Alumni Dr. Robert Moore (January - June 2017) Project


The Role of the Madrasah and the Structure of Islamic Legal Education in Mamluk Cairo (1250-1517)

My project explores the role of madrasahs in transforming Islamic legal education during the Mamluk period. Consulting a wide variety of primary sources, including biographical dictionaries of scholars, treatises on instruction, chronicles by historians, and the foundation deeds (waqfiyyat) of the schools themselves, I argue that the development of the madrasah system transformed almost every aspect of legal education. Much of this influence can be traced to the payment of salaries to professors for their teaching posts in these schools. The increase in the profitability and the social prestige that accompanied the instruction of Islamic law contributed to its professionalization.
While at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg, I will consider the architectural development of madrasahs in Cairo. Because much of the current research on madrasahs, khanqahs, and similar institutions is based on the assumption that legal education was an essentially informal process lacking a definite structure, interpretations of the architectural design of these buildings have followed these readings. My approach, which focuses on the structure that existed in the training and development of jurists and the crucial role madrasas played in that process, reorients our understanding of the socio-cultural environment that shaped the construction and use of these buildings. Whereas the assumption that these buildings were the centers of open and informal instruction leads to an emphasis the fluidity of movement within the structures, my reading identifies the physical barriers that existed in the buildings’ design, the privacy that was insured through stipulations in foundation deeds, and anecdotes in other writings that demonstrate the restrictions in access that were in place. The buildings themselves, along with the payments designated in their foundation deeds, created and reinforced hierarchies that privileged students and professors of law.