IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 617: Orthodoxy, Heresy, and the Formation of Authority in Medieval Islam

Tuesday 14 July 2009, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Jo Van Steenbergen, Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures, Universiteit Gent
Paper 617-a10th-Century al-Andalus: A Turning Point in the Development of Jihad in the Iberian Peninsula
(Language: English)
Cristina de la Puente, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid Spain
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Islamic and Arabic Studies, Military History, Theology
Paper 617-bThe Cyclical Nature of Orthodoxy and Heresy in Medieval Islam: A Case Study of the Hanafi School of Law
(Language: English)
Ahmad Khan, University of Edinburgh
Index terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies, Theology

Paper -a:
Despite what one might imagine to be the case for a region of the Islamic world that constituted a front for 8 centuries, relatively few studies on jihad in al-Andalus exist. Although the term jihad is unfortunately in vogue today, its meaning is disputed and its religious and political history is difficult to track. In this paper I propose to give an exposition of what jihad in the 10th century was said and understood to be during the governments of the caliphs ‘Abd al-Rahman and al-Hakam, devoting special attention to the use -manipulation, if you like- that was made of this religious precept by Al-Mansur, chamberlain to the caliph Hisham, for political intentions. This century is not just of relevance for the history of al-Andalus, but also for the study of the evolution of jihad, because it means the end of the Umayyad dynasty and, with it, of Muslim political and military pre-eminence on the Iberian Peninsula.
I will draw specially on hadith collections, biographies of the Prophet, ascetic literature, etc. written in al-Andalus from the beginnings of the 9th century onwards.

Paper -b:
The Hanafi school of law during the 9th century found itself in an uncompromising situation between orthodoxy and heresy. The growing strength of the Hadith party (who sought to ground all religious authority in textual sources – the prophetic Hadith) worked against the Hanafis for whom non-textual sources (analogical reasoning, rational inquiry, and considered opinion) were to be extensively employed along with textual sources such as the Quran and Hadith. The battle was between judicial reasoning (Hanafism) and Prophetic sayings (Hadith party) attributed to the Prophet Muhammad.
With these two conflicting approaches the struggle for defining orthodoxy and heresy was under way and by the mid 9th century the failure of the Inquisition carried out by the Caliph al-Mamun (executed by Hanafi judges against key members of the Hadith party) was decisive in ushering in a period of traditionalisation for the Hanafis. This move towards orthodoxy away from heresy was the preoccupation of the Hanafi school from the 9th to the 11th century wherein Hanafi law and theological affiliation were traditionalised. This paper shall look at the cyclical nature of orthodoxy and heresy by analysing how the Hanafi school moved from heretical leanings to becoming firmly entrenched within Sunni orthodoxy.