Due to the absence of a sole religious authority to regulate orthodoxy/heresy, the significance of ‘heresy’ in Islam has not been fully assessed. However, a great variety of discourses of heretics developed though inquisitions by Abbasid caliphs, practices of writings biographies and mutual disputations among scholars are not negligible. In this paper, I take an Arabic word zindīq as a sample of denominations of heretics. Looking into arbitrary labelling scattered in politics, literatures and theological arguments in the early Abbasid period, I argue that the appellation of zindīq was used as a medium to connote ‘otherness’ and conversely enabled self-identification and consolidation. In such way the practices of labelling heretics availed in the formative dynamics of Islam.
Medieval maps do much more than show physical details of the world, they offer a perspective on how societies viewed themselves and how the ‘others’ were understood. By examining Christian and Muslim maps as ideographic paradigms the history of that period it is revealed, not only at a religious and moral level, but also at a scientific one. Cartographic visions can be used as gateways into Christian, Islamic, and the multiplicity of Orient history and, what is more, the specific functions of maps in the exercise of power structures. Those different ways of seeing showed us the origins of the world and its representations. We can approach the role of medieval maps as sources of material culture as well as a background to understand the tradition within which they are framed.
This paper explores the question of ‘othering’ in medieval Qur’ānic exegesis. Using as its sources writings on the Qur’ānic disciplines, theological treatises, and commentaries on the Qur’ān, it examines various typologies and concepts that their authors employed to demarcate their tradition of Qur’ānic interpretation from the ‘others’. In particular, the paper focuses on the notions of ‘literal’ versus ‘allegorical’ interpretation, the concept of an ‘exegetical school’, and the division into ‘interpretation based on tradition’ and ‘interpretation based on personal opinion’. It analyses the role of these concepts and typologies in categorising specific religious groups and intellectual traditions as the ‘others’.