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Gaza emerged from the Crusading and Ayyubid periods as a small town of minor importance, particularly run down by incessant military activity in the area in the middle decades of the thirteenth century. Under the Mamluk Sultans from 1260 CE onward, the city regained much of its former importance, and perhaps, in some ways, reached new heights. It is described in Arabic and other sources as a prosperous center, not least due to it becoming the capital of a newly organized province around 1300. Other reasons behind these auspicious economic and demographic trends were the massive patronage of the Mamluk elite, a burgeoning agricultural hinterland and ongoing interregional trade. Probably the most important cause for the overall positive developments in the city and its surrounding countryside was the general sense of security provided by the Mamluk regime, including arrangements to keep local nomads (not only Bedouins, but also Kurds and Turkmans who immigrated to the area) under control and to integrate them into the local economy and administrative scheme. Gaza and its region also underwent a process of Islamization, encouraged by the Mamluk authorities. The city and its environs certainly took on a more Islamic appearance, due to construction of large and small buildings. There are increased Muslim religious activities of various kinds in mosques, madrasas, zawiyas and maqams. This may well indicate an increased Muslim population in the region, both in absolute and relative terms. Gaza can be seen an as example of such trends of Islamization in Palestine (and beyond) in the period between the end of Frankish rule and the coming of the Ottomans in 1516. 


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In recent decades the Abbasid caliphate of Cairo has continued to attract scholarly attention. An often neglected though noteworthy period of the caliphate’s tenure in Mamluk Cairo is the late fourteenth century reign of the caliph al-Mutawakkil ʿalā ʾllāh Muḥammad (r. 763-85/1362-83 and 791-808/1389-1406). Over the course of his time in office, al-Mutawakkil had been offered the sultanate on at least three occasions: at ʿAqaba in 1377, as an alternate candidate to the Circassian amir (and later sultan) Barqūq in 1382, and later during the rebellion of Yalbughā al-Nāṣirī and Minṭāsh in 1390. Al-Mutawakkil proved consistent in his refusal of the office and was wise enough to realize that any such assumption of interim power would likely spell his own political undoing. Nevertheless, competing Mamluk amirs time and again referred to his authori-ty and continued to put him forth as an acceptable contender for the sultanate. Based on sources from the Mamluk period and modern studies, this working paper addresses how and why the caliphate remained an important symbol in late fourteenth century Mamluk politics.



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Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya fī iṣlāḥ al-raʿī wa-l-raʿiyya is a very famous book. Al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya is also a complex work that displays a variety of meanings cohabiting together rather harmoniously. The generic and synthetic nature of this treatise, together with Ibn Taymiyya’s controversial legacy, has opened the way to many different claims of what the treatise is about. To some extent, the purpose of the present paper is simple. I intend to present and discuss the contents of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya through a close reading of the text that will take into account two different editions of it so far unnoticed by Western scholars. By so doing, I hope that some of the prevailing ideas about what al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya fī iṣlāḥ al-raʿī wa-l-raʿiyya is can be complemented by new perspectives. In particular, I shall argue that the common view that the book is about the coercive power of the state as in punishment, jihad and public order is to be partially revisited and that pursuing a study of the text’s manuscript tradition is an urgent scholarly task. By focusing on the existence of different versions of Ibn Taymiyya’s treatise on siyāsa, the present paper also open questions about their possible meanings.




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Amir ʿAlam al-Dīn Sanjar al-Shujāʿī (d. 693/1294) was a very influential and powerful amir, perhaps most recognized for his appointments to the vizierate in Egypt and for his role in the military campaigns against the Crusaders. Throughout his career he also acquired a great deal of experience supervising royal constructions for sultans Qalāwūn and al-Ashraf Khalīl. Consequently, he supervised over a dozen new constructions and renovations in Cairo and Greater Syria. The overwhelming majority of these buildings no longer survive and are only available to us in the sources. In this Working Paper the trajectory of Sanjar al-Shujāʿī’s life is traced from his upbringing in Damascus to his death at the hands of al-ʿĀdil Kitbughā, integrating his architectural activity along the way. While the most famous building project that Sanjar al-Shujāʿī supervised was the funerary complex of Sultan al-Mansūr Qalāwūn (683/1284-1285), the objective of this paper is profile his career more fully in order to identify patterns and insights into his style and its evolution, which can be used as a tool in the future to link him to projects that are not explicitly linked to him in the sources.


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This working paper summarises the main research results of my research stay as a post-doc research fellow at the Annemarie-Schimmel-Kolleg. The aim of this research project is to cast light on knowledge brokerage between Ilkhanid Tabriz and Mamlūk Cairo during the third reign of the Mamlūk ruler an-Nāṣir Muḥammad (r. 1310-1341). Therefore, it focuses on the Sunni scholar Šams ad-Dīn Maḥmūd Ibn ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān al-Iṣfahānī (d. 749/1348) and his role as a philosophical broker in religious and educational foundations (ḫānqāhs) devoted in the first place to religious practices of Sufism. This working paper is divided into three parts: 1. the academic setting of the present post-doc research project, 2. a biography of Šams ad-Dīn Maḥmūd al-Iṣfahānī, and 3. an analysis of the text data of my research project from the perspective of both social and intellectual history.

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As an institution that fulfilled both religious and civil functions, the mosque facilitated the establishment of Muslim rule and played an essential role in the consolidation and construction of the identity of the new emerging Muslim society. The aims of this research are twofold: the first is to record the mosques that were built throughout the region. The second aim of this project is to try and follow the pace of Islamization from the Arab conquest (638CE) up until the end of the Mamluk period (1517CE), by examining the spatial distribution of mosques in the region of what are today the modern states of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
By recording the mosques built over the period under discussion and examining them in the wider historical frame one may well be able to provide a better picture of what might have occurred in this region. The corpus of mosques (which does not form part of this publication) is drawn from historical sources, the large body of inscriptions that commemorate the construction and/or repairs of mosques, and archaeological excavations and surveys.
The following is a preliminary analysis of this data. It is important to stress here that this work is still in progress and that the database may grow and the picture presented here may well change.

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This working paper is a reflexive essay that tries to think with and beyond one of the basic assumptions upon which the field of late medieval Syro-Egyptian ‘Mamluk’ studies is built: the idea that all late medieval Syro-Egyptian objects of study are by default first and foremost connected, circumscribed and distinguished by some agency of dominant military slavery, of Mamluk-ness. Acknowledging that there may be different ways to pursue such an epistemological exercise, this essay opts for re-imagining the historical agency of what traditionally tends to be subsumed under the phenomenon of the Mamluk state. It is argued that the notions of state in modern research and of dawla in contemporary texts remain an issue of related analytical confusion. Engaging with this confusion in the generalising fashion of a historical sociology of late medieval Syro-Egyptian political action, this essay proposes an alternative analytical model that is inspired by Michael Chamberlain’s prioritisation of social practices of household reproduction and by Timothy Mitchell’s related understanding of the state as a structural effect of practices of social differentiation. The proposed model sees sultanic political order —the state— as process, in constant flux as the structural effect and structuring embodiment of constantly changing practices of social reproduction, of elite integration and of political distinction, in contexts that range between multipolar and unipolar social organisation at and around Cairo’s court and its military elites. The essay ends with summarily suggesting from this model how the socio-culturally structured and structuring memories of dynastic political order that had remained politically dominant for most of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were all but obliterated in the fifteenth century by a new layer of particularly ‘Mamluk’ socio-political meaning.

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This paper consists of two parts. In Part One I trace the history of the name “Zawāwa” in the medieval Arabic sources both eastern and western from the early Islamic period until the 16th century. The near absence of any reference to the Zawāwa in the early sources for the history of the Maghrib stands in contrast to the frequent appearance of the term in later sources such as Ibn Ḫaldūn’s history and as-Saḫāwī’s biographical dictionary and I propose an explanation for this. In Part Two I have compiled biographical information on prominent Zawāwīs who lived in Egypt and Syria during the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods.

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This Working Paper questions the concept of “Islamic Art History”. The term is amorphous: ever since the fundamental studies of Oleg Grabar we have known that the direct allocation of religion to art and vice versa raises questions. Art constitutes a cultural subsystem within societies. Sociologically, art has to be tied, or referred, to the realms of politics, economics, law, social orders, institutions and further cultural patterns. Only in the interplay with other cultural studies and the humanities is it possible to deconstruct art, considering its function and cultural context. Often enough it considers its task in the recording, description and classification of objects. This is, of course, an important and essential step, yet, it should not be the reason for stopping to ask further questions about the objects and, especially, to relate them to their socio-cultural context in which they emerged and to which they have to be related. In general, we ask how concepts current in postcolonial studies in disciplines such as history and comparative literature can help Islamic art historians to re-envision their objects of study.

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This Working Paper describes the starting point for a post-doctoral project on the social, economic and political meaning and function of memorial architecture constructed during the Mamluk and early Ottoman time in a geographical area that today belongs to the kingdom of Jordan. The post-doctoral project aims at building up a sound documentation of these hitherto neglected structures of the Mamluk and early Ottoman Memorial architecture in this area; it will include a study of their function for the region, but also for the central power in Cairo and Syria in pre-modern times. An important issue of the post doc-project will be to unveil which images of history materialize in the architecture and how they were adapted and exploited by different groups from the past until today.
This Working Paper provides also a short insight into the results of two short field researches in 2013 and 201, which where intended to gain a first insight into the structures, forms, condition and accessibility of the buildings. The methodological work in this post-doctoral project is intended to be interdisciplinary. The analysis is not limited to a philological, historical-critical evaluation of written source material, or an archaeological approach but also includes art historical analysis of the existing buildings and the technic of interviews in the overall consideration of memorial architecture in Jordan.

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This paper offers new approaches on how to analyze ḥadīṯ collections and to make them useable for social and intellectual history. While focusing on the so called buldāniyyāt (geographical ḥadīṯ collections) – a subgroup of the forty ḥadīṯ collections – the study explores new forms of knowledge that an author includes into his collection to make it innovative for his reference group. The idea of what an innovative work should be is significantly related to the shared ideas of the reference group to which an author belongs and/or for which he writes. Therefore, a thorough analysis of the structure and content of the collection reveals something about the author’s very reference group and its shared ideas. Putting their contributions in the light of previous works, authors usually choose a strategy of knowledge specialization or knowledge brokerage to develop innovative moments in their work. Consequently, a comprehensive study of scholarly pieces needs to contextualize both the social context of the author and the intellectual references he makes.
In this paper, the focus shall lie on the buldāniyyāt of Šams ad-Dīn Muḥammad as-Saḫāwī (d. 902/1496). In a first step, his collection will be compared with preceding written buldāniyyāt to identify the knowledge specialization and knowledge brokerage processes that make his collection innovative in the context of the text group of the buldāniyya. In a second step, an analysis of as-Saḫāwī’s social and intellectual context, represented through horizontal and vertical intellectual and social ties, reveals that the concrete structure and content of his collection is also influenced by the shared ideas of his reference group.

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The study that follows analyzes three examples from Islamic purity law (ṭahāra) as they evolve across four consecutive generations of substantive law (furūʿ) texts with the aim of understanding how the antipodal processes of šarḥ (expansion/commentary) and iḫtiṣār (abridgement) affect the substance of a legal tradition. Owing to their significance in the development and reception of the later Šāfiʿī maḏhab, the furūʿ works of the Mamlūk scholar and judge Zakariyyā al-Anṣārī (d. 926/1520) form the crux of the analysis here. Before examining specific passages from these works and their precursors, the study begins with an overview of al-Anṣārī’s position in the Šāfiʿī maḏhab, the idiosyncrasies of his legal prose, his major works in Šāfiʿī furūʿ, and their genealogical relationship to earlier texts in the tradition. In light of the textual examples presented, it concludes with a summary of the variables that influence a commentator’s control over the textual tradition at hand.

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In 887/1482, two Damascene Ḥanbalī judges, Nāṣir ad-Dīn Muḥammad b. Zurayq (d. 900/1495) and Naǧm ad-Dīn ʿUmar b. Mufliḥ (d. 919/1513), stood accused of confiscation of waqf property and were summoned to Cairo to be interrogated and investigated by Sultan Qāʾitbāy. In this article I investigate this incidence of waqf manipulation, the lives of the accused parties after this event, and the ways in which later biographers, particularly Ibn Zurayq’s favorite student Šams ad-Dīn Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. Ṭūlūn (d. 953/1546) and Ibn Mufliḥ’s grandson Akmal ad-Dīn b. Mufliḥ (d. 1011/1603), sought to reframe the event and, thereby, the legacy of the participants.

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This paper is part of a larger project that will attempt to reconstruct the socio-economic dimensions of Damascus at the end of the Mamluk period, and which is primarily based on Ibn Ṭawq’s diary. The paper summarizes the author’s earlier study of divorce in Damascus life and focuses on marriages and bonds with female slaves and concubines. It argues that while, generally speaking, Damascus men were monogamous, quite a number owned slaves and concubines who mothered children. The paper illustrates these general conclusions by references to pertinent examples that Ibn Ṭawq provides.

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The Maryut Basin was famous in antiquity for its freshwater lake and brisk economic activity. The basin was later infamous as a saltmarsh in the Ottoman period. In between (from the Islamic Conquest - 640 CE – to the end of the Mamluk period – 1517) – the basin it is said to have been a neglected brackish lake where freshwater from the few remaining irrigation canals from antiquity did battle with seawater from the Mediterranean. This article will argue that irrigation system development (1170-1315) may have allowed for farming (summer cropping in particular) of the south-east half of the Maryut Basin. The hypothesis is therefore that: the south-east section of the Maryut Basin and the lands bordering the basin, were part of a thriving and growing agricultural economy in the 1170-1315 period.

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This article reexamines wages in Egypt using new evidence not analyzed in my previous study of the late Mamluk economy (Borsch, The Black Death in Egypt and England, 2005). The results show that wages for unskilled labor fell precipitously from the 1300s to the 1400s and stayed at a very low level thereafter. Shown in the figure below are the primary quantitative results from approximately 300 wage listings from the late thirteenth century to the late seventeenth century.

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Al-Bīmāristān al-Manṣūrī (the Manṣūrī hospital), founded by the sultan al-Manṣūr Sayf ad-Dīn Qalāwūn (r. 678-689/1279-1290) at a moment of cultural shift, is both the object of this study and a lens through which to view the links between medicine, politics and culture in Mamluk Egypt and Syria. The exploratory research described here is intended to result in a history of this hospital that will cast light on aspects of the intellectual history of the Mamluk period that, despite several recent groundbreaking studies, still remains largely unknown and underappreciated. Two approaches have been used: 1) source analysis with primary focus on two documents, the diplomas for the riyāsat aṭ-ṭibb (chief physicianship in Egypt and Syria) and the tadrīs al-bīmāristān (chair of medicine at the hospital) examined with respect to their structure and three themes (ǧihād, ʿilm, and medical education) and 2) network analysis focusing on individuals who had some affiliation to the hospital whether as founder, later donor, physician, administrator, student, or patient. Although we have barely scratched the surface here, the paths followed seem promising as strategies to arrive at more than a descriptive history of the hospital and to provide insights into the role of the hospital within the context of the medicine, politics and wider intellectual currents and culture of the period. The textual analysis of two diplomas of appointment indicates that in addition to other possible purposes, the hospital was intended both to elevate the status of medicine as a discipline by rendering this foreign science less controversial in the Islamic context by demonstrating that medicine (ʿilm al-abdān) was integral to the religious sciences (ʿilm al-adyān) and ultimately to advance the Islamization of the medical profession. The analysis of networks of individuals with affiliations of various kinds to the hospital promises to yield insights into the links between medicine and power within the context of the wider cultural and intellectual environment. To date, this type of analysis also shows that despite the ǧihādī, exclusionary language and intentions of the documents at the formal level, actual relationships and networks at the time of the founding of the hospital were in fact more inclusive at the informal level at least at the beginning of the Mamluk era. This exploratory research opens new paths for studying the history of Mamluk society and intellectual history while raising more questions than it answers, such as, most basically, what role the hospital played in these developments?

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There is a considerable body of literature today on urban space in Mamluk studies. This is in large part due to the nature and survival of the textual sources, which reflect an urban bias and are preserved in city archives. Architectural studies of Mamluk cities also abound, as many monuments and even entire neighborhoods of the period have been preserved in the urban fabric of modern Cairo, Damascus, Aleppo, and Jerusalem. The same cannot be said, however, about the rural lands under Mamluk rule - namely settlements of village and sub-village size – about which we know precious little. While textual sources, and particularly documentary ones, can produce some information about rural life, if they are carefully mined, it is the archaeological record that offers us the greatest promise for reconstructing the physical structure of rural settlements, their function(s) and development over time, and details of the lives of the people who lived there. The focus of the 2013 excavation season at Tall Hisban, co-sponsored by the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg of the University of Bonn, was to investigate the settlement associated with the Mamluk citadel and to explore the many factors that may have contribute to its growth, decline, and transformation over time.

The following essay is a preliminary, non-technical assessment of that fieldwork, highlighting the most important results relevant to a study of Mamluk-era rural life and raising important questions about changing relations between state and village in the seventh/ fourteenth century.

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The present brief contribution aims to shed light on a particular source, namely on official reports about natural disasters. These documents, known as maḥḍar (pl. maḥāḍir), were recorded by an inspector or an inspection team, following a severe event. They are a potential source for the study of Mamluk historical geography and have not been adequately studied until now.


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The present paper evolved from a historical-legal research project. While searching for information about properties in Hebron (al-Ḫalīl), which the offspring of the ṣaḥābī Tamīm al-Dārī claimed, I stumbled upon a popular story. In this story Tamīm is portrayed as a hero who has been kidnapped by ǧinns and endured ordeals and adventures on remote islands. The aim of this paper is to shed light on the text and its reception by the Mamluk society. Inter alia, I will describe the audiences, and will try to elucidate the supposed connections between Tamīm the historical character and Tamīm the literary hero.
Since there is slight positive evidence to indicate that this text is “Mamluk,” one may ask why my talk is about a “sīra šaʿbiyya” in the Mamluk environment? What makes it “Mamluk”? What is Mamluk in the story? My answer is based primarily upon circumstantial evidence, and I will return to it at the closing section of this paper.


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The economic and cultural rise of parts of the ʿāmma due to the particular economic and infrastructural conditions of the Mamluk era fostered the emergence of new intermediate levels of literature that were situated between the literature of the elite and that of the utterly ignorant and unlettered populace, between the Arabic koiné (al-ʿarabiyya al-fuṣḥā) and the local dialects (ʿāmmiyya-s), between written and oral composition, performance and transmission. The following paper proposes to analyze the composition of three Mamluk adab-encyclopedias and their treatment of poverty and wealth in light of the social milieus of their authors and publics. 

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Burhān al-Dīn Ibrāhīm al-Biqāʿī’s ego-document is at the heart of the present paper. The author provides a rich account of Mamluk military operations in Cyprus and al-Qashtīl al-Rūj (Château Roux/Kastelorizo/Castellorizo) Island. It is not an impartial or “objective” story, but rather an observer-participant report of a naval expedition by a well-known administrator and writer. The detailed text reflects the author’s self-presentation and interpretation of events and deeds. It casts light on historiography under the Mamluks, as well as on the history of the Eastern Mediterranean in the 15th century.

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The Mamluk Sultanate has been considered as the arena in which the "Mamluk principles" were expressed most clearly. According to the prevalent view among modern scholars, in the Mamluk Sultanate dynastic and hereditary tendencies were rather weak. Generally, students of the Mamluk Sultanate tend to underestimate the importance of relationships based on blood ties, marital ties and ethnic solidarity. Instead, they emphasize the importance of mamlūk connections.

It is here argued, that throughout the entire period of the Mamluk Sultanate blood ties, marital ties and ethnic solidarity were more important than it is commonly believed. Notwithstanding this, significant changes in patterns of social ties are noticeable after the transition to the Circassian period. Only then a considerable decline of the social and political importance of the nuclear family occurred, and mamlūk ties became increasingly significant. This change led to an erosion of the dynastic and hereditary practices. This change did not arise from the alleged principle that non-mamlūks were unfit for holding key positions. It was rather the result of circumstances unique of the Circassian period.

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The study compares the profiles of judges (qāḍīs), deputy qadis (nāʾibs), and the personnel of the courts in Damascus mainly in the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Although both the Mamluks and the Ottomans were committed to the Sharīʿah law, their legal and administrative practices and policies were quite different. This was the result of the obvious political realities and the status of Damascus within the Mamluk and the Ottoman states. Damascus in the transition period is a good test case, owing to the many excellent sources in sixteenth century Damascus, that were even richer than the sources of Cairo during the same period. The involvement of the qadis with the local population under both rules and their relations with the center (Cairo and then Istanbul) are recorded in the chronicles, biographical dictionaries and other literary and documentary sources of Damascus. The social and cultural differences between the local (Arabic speaking) qadis and the Turkish speaking nominees from Istanbul call for an extensive comparative study.

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This paper deals with the question how one occupant of 15th-century Damascus perceived his hometown and how he transferred this perception into writing. The key witness in this endeavour is the notary Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad b. Muḥammad, known as Ibn Ṭawq (834-915/1443-1510). He amassed a lengthy account encompassing several decades of his life. As Li Guo stated in a recent review article: “It is evident that the author’s motivation and impulse for writing the diary lay in his consummate interest in the wellbeing of himself, his community […], and his place: Damascus and its suburbs.” But is this really his place? Is it restricted to the city and the suburbs?

In this paper, the author aims to address the question of whether 15th-century Damascenes made a distinction between the city and the countryside. This question will be approached from two directions. Firstly, does the author describe the rural geography differently from the urban one? Does he make a distinction between a physical entity of the city and its surroundings? And secondly, does he single out any groups as alien or different because of their rural background?

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The present paper is an attempt to define the ways in which the process of radicalization of Islam influenced the medical culture of Egypt and Syria under the Mamluks. Both the transformation of medical culture and the impact of this transformation on medical theory and practice are discussed, above all, in the context of the inter-faith antagonism. The work is in progress, so some of the interpretations are of preliminary character and require further investigation.

As an area of research, the microcosm of non-Muslim physicians living and working in the Mamluk state is rather capacious and non-uniform. As such, it can be approached from a number of perspectives. On the most obvious level, the subject belongs, on the one hand, to the social history of medicine; on the other, it forms a part of the history of inter-communal and inter-faith antagonisms. The present study aims at investigating the area where medical culture and inter-communal conflict overlapped. This area constitutes in fact a rather complex puzzle in which the issues of sickness and health were interwoven with ideology, politics, and propaganda based both on the “time-honored tradition” of blaming the doctor and the fear of (and animosity towards) the religious Other. In other words, this is interdisciplinary research, focused on the social aspects of medicine, inter-communal antagonism, and the interaction between them.

Approaching such a complex subject matter from just one of the possible perspectives would mean depriving it of its rich and multifaceted context. In order to make the study comprehensive, I have decided to apply a mode of inquiry which is sometimes used by historians of the Alltag, and which allows the scholar to combine many different instruments, including those that are typical for fields such as anthropology, sociology, or social psychology. This mode also makes it possible to make comparisons with other cultures.


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The Kolleg will provide an institutional center for a period of eight years for the 50-60 Mamluk scholars who are dispersed all over the globe. The concept emphasizes two issues: Firstly, the Kolleg members will provide long-lasting impulses for Mamluk Studies through their individual projects (a specific “Mamluk Studies” series, a Compendium on the History and Society of the Mamluk Era, an online bibliography, articles in the Mamluk Studies Review). In addition, the Speaker will, supported by a research professorship (“Annemarie-Schimmel-Chair for Mamluk Studies”), and in cooperation with four of his Bonn colleagues [Mathias Becher (Medieval History), Ralph Kauz (Sinology), Peter Schwieger (Tibetology), Reinhard Zöllner (Japanology)] integrate the Mamlukists by means of topic-oriented annual programs (1st Year: The Mamluk Empire in its “Global” Context , 2nd Year: Economic Areas of Interaction, 3rd Year: “Rule” in the Mamluk Empire - A Cross-cultural Comparison, 4th Year: Culture-specific Narrative Strategies in Mamluk Era Historiographical Sources) into interdisciplinary and innovative research topics. Young Arabic scholars will receive focused support within a group of scholarship recipients that will be integrated into the Kolleg.


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Mamluk Studies - Band 016

This book contributes to the history of medieval Jewry in general, as a basis for a comparative study of the position of the Jews in Christian Europe in the Late Middle Ages. The eight articles written by leading experts on this topic pay special attention to the following issues: the measure of tolerance of the Mamluk rulers and the Muslim populace toward the Jews; Jews in government positions and as court physicians; conversion and attitudes toward converted Jews; the Sufi (mystical) nature of Jewish leadership and its relation to the Sufi Islamic discourse; professional, intellectual, and legal interactions between Jews and Muslims. In the end, the contributions help us to sharpen our understanding of Jewish life during the Middle Islamic Period in the Near East.


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Mamluk Studies - Band 014

“Lisān al-ḥukkām fī maˁrifat al-aḥkām” ist das einzige Werk von Lisān ad-Dīn Abū’ l-Walīd Aḥmad b. aš-Šiḥna al-Ḥalabī al-Ḥanafī, der im Jahre 862/1458 zum Oberkadi der Ḥanafīten in Aleppo ernannt wurde. In der Ausübung des Amtes schrieb er dieses Buch nieder. Es behandelt zwei Hauptthemen: Richterliche Urteile und die Rechte eines Menschen gegenüber seinen Mitmenschen. Er hatte 21 von geplanten 30 Kapiteln niedergeschrieben, als er im Alter von 38 Jahren infolge einer Pesterkrankung starb. Sein Buch gehört aufgrund der umfangreichen Rechtsquellen, der Strukturierung und der Vorgehensweise zu den praktischsten und beliebtesten unter den Fiqh-Büchern. Ein aleppinischer Gelehrter namens Burhan ad-Dīn Ibrāhīm al-Ḫālifī al-ʿAdawī al-Ḥalabī al-Ḥanafī vervollständigte das Buch. Er benutzte bis zur Fertigstellung des Buches im Jahre 1015/1606 dieselben Rechtsquellen und folgte der ursprünglichen Strukturierung und Vorgehensweise.





Mamluk Studies - Band 013

Ibn Aybak ad-Dumyāṭī was an historian spe-cialized in recording the scholarly lives of the learned men of his generation. His most im-portant work of this genre was at-Tarāǧim al-ǧalīla al-ǧaliyya wa-l-ašyāḫ al-ʿāliya al-ʿaliyya in which he recounted the intellectual life of the chief judge Taqī d-Dīn as-Subkī (d. 756/1355) and which is important for the fol-lowing reasons: It is the only source which mentions in detail the books that as-Subkī stud-ied with his teachers and reveals a clear picture of his strong interest in the Prophetic hadīṯs. It unveils information about as-Subkī´s travels and mentions teachers that are found in no oth-er source. It is one of the most important sources which were relied upon by Ibn Ḥaǧar in ad-Durar al-kāmina and by aṣ-Ṣafadī in Aʿyān al-aṣr and al-Wāfī bi-l-wafayāt.



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Ottoman Studies 2

This essays in this volume discuss continuity and change in Bilād al-Shām during the sixteenth century, examining to what extent Egypt and Greater Syria were affected by the transition from Mamluk to Ottoman rule. The topic is explored in a variety of areas: diplomatic relations, histories and historiography, fiscal and agricultural administration, symbolic orders, urban developments, local perspectives, and material culture. To rethink the sixteent century from a transitional perspective und thus overcome the conventional dynasty centrism in research Mamlukists and ottomanists are brought together to shed light on the remarkable sixteenth century, so decisive for the formation of early modern Muslim empires.



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Mamluk Studies 12

»Mamluk Studies« is the first series that is exclusively dedicated to the history, culture and society of the Mamluk Era (1250–1517). It contains source editions, monographs, collections of articles, and conference proceedings in English, French, and German. The Mamluk Empire is a historically unique model of a society. A predominantly Arabic population was dominated by a purely Turkish-born elite of manumitted military slaves who sought to regenerate themselves continuously through a self-imposed fiat. The only person who could become a Mamluk was a Turk who had been born free outside the Islamic territories as a non-Muslim, then enslaved, brought to Egypt, converted to Islam, freed, and finally, trained as a warrior. Only those who met these prerequisites were members of the ruling stratum with all the concomitant political, military, and economic advantages. Patrons and companions provided the individual, rootless Mamluk with a place and support in society. The flipside of this esprit de corps was intra-Mamluk rivalry between the various families, a resulting lack of internal cohesion of the Mamluk ruling caste, and in particular, the loss of power upon the deposition or death of a protector. But despite these pre-programmed tensions inherent to the system, the model of the Mamluk »single-generation military aristocracy« seems to have had a considerable stabilizing effect. At least, it is safe to assume that the longevity of Mamluk rule over the autochthonous clientage of Egypt and Syria is also, or even primarily, a result of the Mamluk principle of constant regeneration.


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Mamluk Studies 11

When engaging in the study of the Mamluk period (1250–1517), one will certainly find that neither the theoretical foundations nor the de facto implementation of the law system have been researched extensively. In this book, parts of the "Qawāʿid al-fiqh" ("Fundamentals of Jurisprudence") by Muḥammad b. Bahādur az-Zarkašī (died 1392) will be made accessible. The reader is also provided with information on the jurisprudential and the social backround of the text. Under specific headings, az-Zarkašī subsumed case studies and abstract rules which were suitable to further explain the content of the selected term. He then again arranged the key words in alphabetical order. A direct connection between the "Qawāʿid" and legal practices could not be confirmed. According to the author himself, the alphabetical order of the work should help to facilitate working with the book during studies but had not been chosen with regard to fast availability of legal rules or precedents in an actual trial.


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Mamluk Studies 10

This book focuses on the Manṣūriyya regiment, the mamluks of sultan al-Manṣūr Qalāwūn. It traces the lives of these mamluks during the career of their master Qalāwūn (ca. 1260–1290), the period they ruled the Sultanate of Egypt and Syria de jure or de facto (1290–1310), and their aftermath, during the third reign of sultan al-Nāṣir Muḥammad b. Qalāwūn (1310–1341). Based on dozens of contemporary Arabic sources, the book traces the political and military events of the turbulent Manṣūriyya period, as well as the basic military-political principles and socio-political practices that evolved during this period. It suggests that the Manṣūriyya period marks the beginning of the demilitarization, or politicization, of the Mamluk sultanate.




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Mamluk Studies 09

Der mamlūkisch-aleppinische Emir Faḫr ad-Dīn Abū ʿAmr ʿUṯmān b. Uġulbak war das mächtigste und einflussreichste Mitglied seiner Familie. Er prägte seinen Geburtsort Aleppo in der damaligen Zeit durch sein soziales und religiöses Engagement. Die von ihm und seiner Tochter Sitt Ḥalab errichteten Bauwerke bereichern Aleppo bis in die heutige Zeit. Gegenüber den mamlūkischen Sultanen in Kairo demonstrierte er Stärke und verhielt sich nicht immer loyal. Zwei Quellen liefern viele Informationen über ihn: Die erste ist seine Biographie, die zweite das Gerichts­register »Ǧāmiʿ al-mustanadāt«. In diesem Register befinden sich Abschriften von Urkunden, von denen die meisten ihm zugeordnet werden. Dieses Buch beinhaltet den zweiten Teil dieses Gerichtsregisters, bestehend aus fünf Kaufverträgen und einer Waqf-Urkunde, die durch ihren Umfang außergewöhnlich ist.


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Mamluk Studies 08

Aḥmad Ibn Ṭawq’s Taʿlīq (d. 1510) is one of only a few examples that survived from an indigenous arabic diary tradition which lasted about a thousand years. It is also by far the most extensive one, its edition amounting to almost 2,000 pages covering twenty years.
Despite considerable scholarly attention in recent years, this is the first monograph dedicated to the Taʿlīq, not as a source but as the subject of inquiry. To these ends, Torsten Wollina discusses it as an ego-document shedding new light on the interdependence of text form and presented information.
The first of four chapters frames the study by placing the Taʿlīq within the arabic diary tradition, which conformed both to the needs of historians (as primary sources) and to those of each author (as a pragmatic text for everyday use). Chapters 2 and 3 give attention to Ibn Ṭawq’s worldview, treating his household and his social contacts in the wider world, respectively. The final chapter addresses the author's self image and the concepts of self available in his times.


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Mamluk Studies 07

In this volume, we try to understand the “Mamluk Empire” not as a confined space but as a region where several nodes of different networks existed side-by-side and at the same time. In our opinion, these networks constitute to a great extent the core of the so-called Mamluk society; they form the basis of the social order. Following, in part, concepts refined in the New Area Studies, recent reflections about the phenomenon of the “Empire – State”, trajectories in today’s Global History, and the spatial turn in modern historiography, we intend to identify a number of physical and cognitive networks with one or more nodes in Mamluk-controlled territories. In addition to this, one of the most important analytical questions would be to define the role of these networks in Mamluk society.


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Mamluk Studies 06

The responsible Ḥākim passes judgement on the “mūǧab of her iqrār”. What impact does this judgement have? Is it valid? What does “mūǧab of the iqrār” mean? And what in fact does “mūǧab” mean? Why does the Ḥākim not pass judgment on the legal validity of the endowment? And what role does the notarization play in this judgement? Taqī d-Dīn Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī as-Subkī, Imām and Supreme Qāḍī, addresses this controversial judgement as well as other issues in this manuscript “al-Qaul al-mūʿab fī l-qaḍāʾ bi l-mūǧab”.


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Mamluk Studies 05

The authors of this volume address a wide range of fascinating topics: medicine and non-Muslim physicians in Mamluk Cairo, the social order of 15th-century Damascus, official reports on natural disasters (maḥāḍir) as sources of Mamluk geography, folk literature, narrative analysis of ego-documents, the judiciary of Late Mamluk and Early Ottoman Damascus, and the problems of imperial village planning. All contributions lead to a better and more sophisticated understanding of the Mamluk society. The contributions were produced at the Annemarie Schimmel-Kolleg »History and Society of the Mamluk Era« at Bonn University. 


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 Mamluk Studies 04

Once a person starts to study the 250-some years of the Mamluk Era in Egypt and Syria (1250–1517), one characteristic of that period stands out immediately – the very unusual polarization of its society. A predominantly Arabic population was dominated by a purely Turkish-born elite of manu-mitted military slaves who sought to regenerate themselves continuously through a self-imposed fiat. The only person who could become a Mamluk was a Turk who had been born free outside the Islamic territories as a non-Muslim, then enslaved, brought to Egypt as a slave, converted to Islam, freed, and finally, trained as a warrior. Only those who met these prerequisites were members of the ruling stratum with all the concomitant political, military, and economic advantages. On this historically unique model of a society, Stephan Conermann has published a series of seminal articles. In this edited volume the reader gets an excellent introduction to some of the central issues of the ongoing research on the Mamluk history and society.


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Mamluk Studies 03

Sources, which have so far often been overshadowed by chronicles and normative literature, are also the focus of interest of this book. Treatises against unacceptable innovations, pilgrims’ guidebooks, travel reports, prosopographical and biographical writings, journals and diaries, folk novels, documents and law manuals can provide us with valuable information. But what generally applies for Mamlukology is the fact that an enormous amount of fundamental work in the edition of texts remains yet to be done. Many Mamlukists are primarily engaged in this activity. It may also have been this unavoidable focus on handwritten materials that resulted in the fact that the scholars studying the Mamluk Era have only very rarely occupied themselves with interdisciplinary questions or theoretical hypotheses. Nevertheless, during the last ten years a lot of innovative research has been done in this field. For the first time, this book presents the state of the art with regards to the Mamluk “Empire”.

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Mamluk Studies 02

Winslow Williams Clifford is one of the few historians so far who have addressed the history and culture of the so-called Mamluk Sultanate (1250-1517) on the basis of theoretical models. This volume is a posthumous publication of his doctoral thesis, submitted in 1995 at the University of Chicago. Through his skillful application of social theory, Clifford succeeded in providing highly convincing evidence that the Mamluk rulers did not - as was maintained fo a long time -  constitute a static form of "oriental despotism" but was, rather, a highly differentiated society. It was primarily based on compliance with a complex system of order that had established itself during the rule of the first sultans.




Mamluk Studies 01

This is the first publication in almost three decades to be dedicated to Mamluk art. The fifteen authors in this book explore the architecture and decorative arts of Egypt and Syria under Mamluk rule between the 13th and 16th century. They discuss the evolution of specific crafts regarding their dating and provenance, the patterns of their patronage and the interaction of Mamluk art with other regions of the Muslim world and beyoond. Their new research based on fieldwork, archaeology, archive sources and museum collections presents a focused view on certain subjects while also conveying a panoramic persepective of Mamluk artistic approaches and concepts.

Before joining SOAS in 2000, Professor Abouseif taught Islamic Art at the American University in Cairo and at the Universities of Freiburg and Munich in Germany.

On two occasions, she was Visiting Professor at Harvard University at the Fine Art Department and the Graduate School of Design; she also was awarded a Bin-Ladin-fellowship to spend a semester at the Graduate School of Design.
She has also been invited as a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Berlin and Bamberg in Germany and the University of Leuven in Belgium, and was "Distinguished Visiting Professor" at the American University in Cairo.




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The Perfect ʿālim according to ʿAbd al-Rahmān al-Jabartī’s Historical Works


ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Jabartī’s (1753–1825) ʿAjāʾib al-āthār is the swan song of Arabic traditional historiography, composed by an author aware of the crucial role of European imperialism and its impact upon Islamic civilization. In composing this historical masterpiece, al-Jabartī was able to combine the Islamic religious and secular sciences of his day, and to do so as a critical author sensitive to the Islamic value system of justice and welfare. The study of Professor Shmuel Moreh from the Hebrew University reveals for the first time the traits of an ideal Muslim ʿālim as an advisor to the Mamluk rulers. Al-Jabartī’s main recommendation is to adhere to the Quranic principle “to enjoin good and forbid evil”. Thus he could criticize the tyranny of Muḥammad ʿAlī and the corruption of his contemporary religious scholars. The second principle is: “Power leads to corruption and oppression.” Therefore, the ʿulamāʾ should abstain from acquiring political power and from asking Mamluk emirs for favors. They should behave according to Qurʾanic regulations. Al-Jabartī believes that God rules the Universe through reward and punishment, and that Muḥammad ʿAlī’s restrictions on the influence of the ʿulamāʾ is a punishment from God for not following Islamic Law. By massacring the Mamluks (1811), the new ruler was able to implement his vision of a modern Egyptian state.

The Author
SHMUEL MOREH is Emeritus Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the Institute of Asian and African Studies of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was formerly Professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan and Chair of the Department of Arabic Language and Literature at Hebrew University (1979–1981).
During his career, Professor Moreh spent many periods abroad, namely as a Fellow at the Center for Near Eastern Studies of UCLA and as a Visiting Professor of Arabic Literature at UC-Berkeley’s Center for Near Eastern Studies, the G. von Grunebaum Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UCLA, and the Universities of Bonn (Germany), London University (SOAS), Manchester (UK), Life Member of Clare Hall (Cambridge-England), Helsinki University (Finland), Leiden University (The Netherlands), Oxford-Yarenton (England), Maryland University (USA), and Edinburgh University, Scotland.
Awarded the Israel Prize Laureate in 1999, Professor Moreh has received fellowships and grants from the Israel Academy for Scientific Research (Jerusalem), CNRS-Paris, The British Council Scholarship, The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), The German Israeli Foundation (GIF), The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) (Paris-France), and Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and Yarenton-Oxford (England).


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"The Most Beautiful, the Noblest, and the Best" - Inventories of Physical and Human/Social Nature

The Islamic writings of excellences (faḍāʾil) serve to describe the worldly order in the state of perfection. No matter which objects they depict, their common denominator is a complete lack of any deficiencies. No negative semantic is to be found bewailing anything imperfect or corrupted and demanding a remedy: the state of perfection is a necessary attribute of the worldly order.  


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Between Riots and Negotiations

Most political histories of the Mamluk regime which ruled Egypt and Syria focus on the roles of the Sultans and Mamluk officers. When the non-elite are mentioned in the discussion of Mamluk politics, they remain a footnote to the larger drama, implying that the options available to them were restricted to violence or impotence. This article takes issue with this generalization and argues there was a role for the non-elite. One aspect of popular political participation, especially in urban centres, that is more evident in the sources is protest. The reports that survive suggest a more nuanced balance of power that involves a spectrum of urban protest from riots to negotiations. Despite the absence of formal institutions managing this participation, the non-elite of Cairo, Damiette, Damascus and Aleppo “interfered” in the political process to safeguard what they believed to be their interest or customary rights and to right what they perceived as wrongs committed against them, acting as checks of sorts on the political process. The surviving reports of protest in Egyptian and Syrian cities indicate that negotiation was an integral part of daily politics.

They also allow us to put a human dimension to the transition processes that Egypt and Syria were undergoing in the late middle ages, and to link the micro-history with the macro-history to better appreciate the challenges that the Mamluk order was facing. As a new world-system centered in Europe was developing in the 14th century, trade routes and the economic balance of power were shifting against the Mamluk regime’s interests. This, in addition to competition in the region and the devastating effects of the recurrent waves of plague, left the Mamluk state in financial difficulties. Many of the policies the regime resorted to in order to address the fiscal crises led to protests. This period of transition also saw the rise of new groups especially in urban centers, and the beginnings of a new civic consciousness at least on the part of scholars as is reflected in medieval Arabic historiography. Rather than an autocratic military regime totally divorced from its people and a passive and subservient population that stoically endures exploitation, protest allows us to glimpse a more vibrant and dynamic picture of life and politics in medieval Egyptian and Syrian cities.


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Power and Patronage on Display: Mamluk Art in the New Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum

The renovations of the galleries of Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art completed in 2011 brought about changes to the way the museum's Mamluk collection is displayed. While employed on the New Galleries Project from 2008-2011, Dr. Kenney conducted research and developed interpretative materials connected with the Mamluk art reinstallation. Here, she analyses how the new Mamluk display relates to the surrounding exhibits and how its narratives are presented for the general museum audience. Following this, she profiles three objects from the collection - elements from a wooden minbar, an inlaid metalwork ewer, and a large marble jar - as examples of the aesthetic and documentary interest that the museum's collection holds for Mamluk studies specialists.

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Sports as Performance: The Qabaq-game and Celebratory Rites in Mamluk Cairo

Drawing on narrative sources, literature, and art, this essay purviews sports and sporting events in Mamluk Cairo through a case study of one particular game, the qabaq horseback archery. It then discusses the use of sporting events in Mamluk celebratory rites from the perspective of power, performance, and production of pleasure.

 Li Guo (PhD, 1994, Yale University) is Professor and Director of The Program in Arabic Language and Culture, The Department of Classics, University of Notre Dame (Indiana, 46556, USA; [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.]). He is the author of Early Mamluk Syrian Historiography: ­al-Yūnīnī’s Dhayl Mir’āt al-zamān (Brill, 1998), Commerce, Culture, and Community in a Red Sea Port in the Thirteenth Century: The Arabic documents from Quseir (Brill, 2004), and The Performing Arts in Medieval Islam: Shadow play and popular poetry in Ibn Dāniyāl’s Mamluk Cairo (Brill, 2012).

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Ibn Taghrībirdī's portrayal of the first Mamluk rulers

The 15th century historian Ibn Taghrībirdī was one of the sons of Mamluks who succeeded in building a scholarly career. His knowledge of the language, customs and values of the Mamluk court allowed him to present the actions of the ruling elite in a manner that often differed from the reports of his scholarly colleagues. The present article examines the picture that Ibn Taghrībirdī painted of the rulers Shajar al-Durr, Aybak and Quṭuz. His presentation is contrasted to the portrayals provided by his two teachers Badr al-Dīn al-ʿAynī and al-Maqrīzī.

Irmeli Perho is Docent in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Helsinki. She is teaching Islamic subjects and Arabic language. She has previously published ”Climbing the ladder: social mobility in the Mamluk period,” in Mamluk Studies Review, 15/1 (2011) and ”Ibn Qayyim al-Ğawziyyah’s Contribution to the Prophet’s Medicine,” in A Scholar in the Shadow: Essays in the Legal and Theological Thought of Ibn Qayyim al-Ğawziyyah, ed. Caterina Bori & Livnat Holtzman (2010).

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Land Tenure and Mamluk Waqfs

The most important change in the land tenure system that occurred in Mamluk Egypt and Syria after the mid-fourteenth century was the expansion of the amount of agricultural land designated as waqf (Islamic religious endowment). This book shows how the expansion of waqf lands and the growing socio-economic influence of waqfs changed the mechanisms of Mamluk rule based on the iqṭāʻ system, a military-land system in which the rights of tax collection from arable land were allotted to the Mamluks in exchange for their military service. Through the discussion, it will become clear that, under the decline of the iqṭāʻ system, the Mamluks employed the waqf system as a vehicle for sustaining their power and rule, through which they acquired financial and social influence.


The Author
IGARASHI, Daisuke, Ph.D. (2006) in History, Chuo University (Tokyo, Japan), is Part-time Lecturer at Chukyo University (Nagoya, Japan) and Visiting Researcher at the University of Tokyo. Igarashi has published on Mamluk political, social, and economic history in Japanese and American journals.


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Is there a Mamlūk culture?

Egypt and Syria were governed during a quarter of a millennium (1250–1517) by a military aristocracy of non-Arab manumitted slave-officers. Did this unique regime create during that long period a distinctive culture? The answer to this question seems to be positive. The hypothesis that a Mamlūk culture can be identified is propped up in this article through a condensed account of contemporary literature, architecture and political discourse which were produced in the realm of the Mamlūk sultanate.

The Author
Yehoshua Frenkel got his Ph.D at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem with a thesis on “Rule, Society and Islam in Southern Morocco (during the 15th–17th centuries)”. Today, he is Senior Lecturer at the University of Haifa where he teaches social and juridical history of the Medieval Arabic speaking Islam.

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Staging the City: Or how Mamluk Architecture coopted the Streets of Cairo


This essay explores the monumental intent of Cairo's Mamluk architecture by focusing on al-Darb al-Ahmar, a major thoroughfare along the route of royal processions that linked the citadel to the heart of the city. With a rather restrained number of architectural components, Mamluk patrons competed with each other in endowing monuments along the street that emphasized verticality, visibility, and domination of their urban surroundings. Al-Darb al-Ahmar was consequently transformed into a venue of exhibition where the Mamluks displayed their elaborate spatial, visual, and ceremonial grandeur and ultimately signs of their power. These Mamluk buildings attest to the outstanding monumental properties of Mamluk architecture and frame a street that, despite its deteriorating state, still exudes a bygone royal majesty.


The Author

Nasser Rabbat is the Aga Khan Professor and the Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT. An architect and historian, his scholarly interests include Islamic architecture and cultures, urban history, and post-colonial criticism. His most recent books are: Mamluk History Through Architecture: Buildings, Culture, and Politics in Mamluk Egypt and Syria (London, 2010), and an edited book, The Courtyard Hous between Cultural Reference and Universal Relevance (London 2010). A forthcoming book, al-Nagd Iltizaman (Criticism as Commitment), will be published in 2014 in Beirut.


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Ibn Taimiyya - A Social Market Economist avant la lettre?

Based on a reading of Ibn Taimiyya's Al-Ḥisba fī l-Islām, Jörn Thielmann argures for some structural similarities between Ibn Taimiyya's understanding of market economy and the ideas of some proponents of Germany's social market economy, like Walter Eucken, Alfred Müller-Armack or Ludwig Erhard, which made their way into the German constitution, the Grundgesetz. Besides more conventional presentations of the moral nature of ḥisba, Ibn Taimiyya develops a short concept of human society based on reflections on the human nature by Aristotle in his Politeia. Here, he shares the same assumption as hundred years later Ibn Khaldūn. He also shows very deep insights into the functioning of markets and thus fills the so-called Schumpeterian gap that assumes that between antiquity and Thomas Aquinas nothing important has been written on economics. Thielmann demonstrates that this treaty is an original contribution to economic thought. These reflections emerge out of the particular historical circumstances of Ibn Taimiyya's time: the Mongol threat and grain riost. Securing food supply in the big cities has been the main prerogative of the Mamluk rulers. To counter the Mongols, stability in society was needed.

This fresch look at controversial figure of the Islmaich history of thought provides proof of the complexity, richness and originality of his thinking beyond the usual stereotypes.

The Author

Jörn Thielmann (Ph.D., Islamic Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum) is since January 2009 Managing Director of the Erlanger Zentrum für Islam und Recht in Europa EZIRE at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nurnberg. From 2003 until 2008, he headed the Kompetenzzentrum Orient-Okzident Mainz (KooM). Having worked on legal pluralism and Islamic law in Egypt at the CEDEJ in Cairo and on the political economy in Algeria at the London School of Economics and Political Science, he is currently doing ethnographic fieldwork on Islamic fields in Germany.


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The Battle of ʿAyn Jālūt: A Paradigmatic Historical Event in Mamlūk Historical Narrative

The battle of ʿAyn Jālūt was perceived as a dramatic historical event that responded to the deep crisis and despair that prevailed in the Muslim world in the wake of the Mongol invasion and the termination of the Abbasid caliphate, the symbolic religious leadership of the Muslim world. It was conferred the status of a paradigmatic historical event in Mamlūk historical literature far beyond the time it took place. As such it was used by the powerful groups of the Mamlūks and the ʿulamāʾ, the religious learned scholars as a vehicle to express their stance or claims in ongoing discourses on legitimacy, authority and power and voice their social and political interests. While the Mamlūks used their military achievements to legitimize their political position and base it on their divine chosen role to support Islam and defend the Muslims, the ʿulamāʾ reduced their importance by placing the Battle as a part of cyclic events that prove the divine protection of Islam. They used primordial Islamic images and figures, and past events to show that this victory was not only a military achievement but mainly the revival of the primal experience of Islam. For them it was a replication of the path of the Prophet Muḥammad, and they as dedicated religious leaders were its true heroes.

The Author

Amalia Levanoni, Prof. emeritus, President, the Middle East and Islamic Studies Association of Israel, Department of Middle Eastern History, Haifa University, Mount Carmel, Haifa. 1990 Ph.D. The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Islamic History. 1993 Fellowship, Eberhard Karls University, Tubingen, Germany. 1997 Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, University of Oxford, Oxford. 2001–2004 Associate Member, Center of Middle Eastern Studies, the University of Chicago. 2002 Visiting scholar, Center for Near Eastern Studies, the University of Chicago. 2004–2007 Chair, Department of Middle Eastern History, University of Haifa. 2005–2007 Member, Fulbright Foundation Committee, United States-Israel Educational Foundation. 2007 Visiting Scholar, Princeton University, Princeton. 2013 Fellowship, Annemarie-Schimmel-Kolleg for the History and Society of the Mamluk Era (1250–1517), Bonn University, Bonn.


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 Numismatic Nights: Gold, Silver, and Copper Coins in the Mahdi

Based upon an analysis of the so-called Mahdi A manuscript of Alf Layla wa Layla—preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale—and the wider context of Mamluk numismatic history, Schultz explores what this version of the famous collection of stories can tell us about coinage in the Mamluk Sultanate. He first revisits the debate over the date of this manuscript’s transcription. While Muhsin Mahdi concluded that this manuscript was transcribed in eighth/fourteenth century, Heinz Grotzfeld argued that the manuscript was a ninth/fifteenth century product. Grotzfeld based his conclusion on the basis of the mention in the manuscript of gold coins known as “ashrafī ” dinars, and he identified these coins as those dinars struck in 829/1425 during the reign of sultan al-Ashraf Barsbāy. Schultz demonstrates how the numismatic evidence overwhelming supports the later date, while also allowing for a date of transcription slightly earlier than the mid-century date favored by Grotzfeld. The second part of the essay gives multiple examples of how the language of money and commercial transactions found in several stories help corroborate other interpretations of monetary circulation in medieval Egypt and Syria.

The Author

Warren C. Schultz (Ph.D., Islamic History, University of Chicago) is a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern History at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where he serves as an Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. He is also a Fellow of the American Numismatic Society. Schultz is the author of many articles and chapters on the monetary history of the medieval Islamic world in general, and the Mamluk Sultanate in particular. He has served as a numismatic consultant for several archaeological excavations, and is currently studying archaeologically-found coins from the Mamluk provinces of southern Bilād al-Shām. His interest in the Mamluks was sparked by a graduate course in 1986 taught by Carl Petry, a seminar which set in motion the creation of the Mamluk Bibliography Project and eventually the journal Mamluk Studies Review.

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Innovation oder Plagiat? Kompilationstechniken in der Vormoderne

Mit dem Narrative Turn der 1980er Jahre änderte sich auch der Blick auf vormoderne Geschichtsschreibung. Sogar in der eher konservativen Islamwissenschaft kam es zu einer vorsichtigen Neubewertung historiographischer Schriften aus dem Mittelalter und der (frühen) Neuzeit. Nicht länger waren die Verwertbarkeit, subjektive Glaubwürdigkeit und Originalität der in den betreffenden Werken gegebenen „historischen Tatsachen“ einzige Kriterien zur Bewertung der Quelle. Historiographien wurden nun wie andere Textgattungen als literarische Produkte von Individuen bewertet. Muslimische Geschichtsschreiber orientierten sich an ihren Vorgängern, wobei ihnen bereits existierende, vorbildliche Werke als Grundlagen dienten, die sie dann selbst umgestalteten und modifizierten. Aus den ihnen zur Verfügung stehenden Quellen zu kompilieren, war eine gängige Methode, um neue Texte zu generieren. Obgleich somit eines der herausragenden Charakteristika mittelalterlicher arabischer Geschichtsschreibung, genießt Kompilation immer noch einen schlechten Ruf und wird oft in die Nähe des Plagiats gerückt. Aber handelt es sich beim Kompilieren tatsächlich nur um reines Abschreiben und ist der Vorwurf gerechtfertigt? Wie sieht der Prozess des Kompilierens bei einzelnen Historikern aus? Wie hoch ist bei der Kompilationstätigkeit das schöpferische Moment des Autors? In dem vorliegenden Band soll es darum gehen, anhand von fünf Beispielen exemplarisch zu zeigen, dass im Zuge des Kompilationsprozesses letztlich ein selbständiger Text zustande kommt, der die Eigenleistung des Verfassers deutlich reflektiert.

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Ibn Qaiyim al-Ǧauzīya und die Frage nach dem Vergehen des Höllenfeuers


Die vorliegende Arbeit beschäftigt sich mit einem der heute bekanntesten ḥanbalī Gelehrten des 14. Jahrhunderts – Ibn Qaiyim al-Ǧauzīya. Dabei speiste sich seine Reputation zumeist aus dem ihm zugeschriebenen Status des herausragendsten Schülers Ibn Taimīyas. Im Zentrum dieser Arbeit steht Ibn al-Qaiyims theologische Auseinandersetzung mit der Frage nach der Dauer des Höllenfeuers in seinem Werk ḥādī al-arwāḥ ilā bilād al-afrāḥ. Die Arbeit ist im Wesentlichen in zwei Teile gegliedert. Der erste Abschnitt beinhaltet eine Darstellung der Vita und Opera Ibn al-Qaiyims und schafft eine allgemeine Basis und Kontextualisierung für die sich anschließende Diskussion im Hauptteil. Gleichzeitig wird seine geistige Atmosphäre skizziert, indem auch die Berichte seiner frühen Biographen und Schüler wie Ibn Raǧab und Ibn Kaṯīr konsultiert und ausgewertet wurden. Ein Schwerpunkt liegt hierbei auch auf seinem engen Verhältnis zu Ibn Taimīya. Der zweite Teil stellt schließlich den eigentlichen Kern der Arbeit dar und besteht aus einer Argumentationsanalyse der Ausführungen Ibn al-Qaiyims hinsichtlich der Frage einer möglichen Endlichkeit bzw. eines Vergehens des Feuers (fanāʾ an-nār). Hier soll gezeigt werden, wie – und damit gleichzeitig auch warum – Ibn al-Qaiyim zu Ergebnissen gekommen ist, die durchaus in Opposition zur absolut dominierenden sunnitischen Lehrmeinung in dieser Fragestellung stehen.


Zum Autor:

Roberto Pera wurde 1985 in Avezzano geboren und studierte von 2006 bis 2012 Islam- und Religionswissenschaft sowie Italianistik an der Universität Hamburg. Derzeit befindet er sich in Promotionsvorbereitungen und ist seit 2014 Stipendiat der Alfred-Töpfer-Stiftung am Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg innerhalb des Stipendienprogramms „Kulturelle Vielfalt und Migration“.



Concerning the exploitation of historical events and personalities we are reliant on the study of old sources. The sole textual analysis is insufficient or rather induces to wrong conclusions as texts are embedded in the respective social and historical context. A source provides throughout an intended direction. On this basis the writer, depending on his social status and his point of view of the described, tries to focus the reader’s glimpse on.

While taking this difficulty into consideration this paper deals with the biography of Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn, written by the historiograph Ibn Ḫallikān in the second half of the 13th century. The basis of this analysis is the translation of the Arabic text into German which is contained in this publication. To overcome the difficulties of historiography by means of modern methods of literary studies the inner and outer structure of the text will be dissected as well as analysed. The focus is thereby on the questions of which narratological devices Ibn Ḫallikān makes use of and not least on the question of which effect certain means in certain passages have on their readers. To identify the position of the the narrator is of great importance. Finally the present work takes a stock based on the worked on text, which elements of narratology could lead to gainful results for modern research on medieval texts.

Arua Husaini studied Asian Studies at Bonn University and gained her Master degree in History and Culture of West and South Asia in 2010. In spring 2012 she began her work as a graduate assistant at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg "History and Society during the Mamluk Era (1250-1517)" in Bonn. Currently she is employed at the DAAD in Bonn.





The work Al-Kawkab al-mušrik belongs to the books of ʿIlm aš-Šurūṭ, which are part of the islamic legal literature and are primarily concerned with documents. Al-Ǧarawānī was one of the scholars who concentrated on the ʿIlm aš-Šurūṭ and whose works focuses on this scope. In Al-Kawkab al-mušrik he broaches the issue of 47 topics like purchase, sale, marriage, divorce, waqf, testament and so forth. His documents are detailed and completely formulated.

Al-Ǧarawānī tried to encourage the judiciary (judges, notaries and clerks) to draft more precise texts. As a scholar of ʿIlm aš-Šurūṭ he was is obliged to specify his choise of expressions as well as the construction of his sentences to avoid violating law of Šarīʿa.

Dr. Souad Saghbini was born in Lebanon and graduated with a degree in law at the University of Sidon/Saida. Then she studied Islamic Studies, General Linguistics and International Law at Christian-Albrecht-University in Kiel. She worked as a scientific assistant at the Department of Arabic Studies of Göttingen University from 2003 to 2005. Presently she works as part of a DFG-Project at Bonn University