Skip to main content

IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 1710: Networks of Religious Authority in the Islamic and Western Middle Ages

Thursday 6 July 2023, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Gwendolyne Knight, Historiska institutionen, Stockholms Universitet
Paper 1710-aIslamic Law and Spirituality in Unison and Difference: Medieval Narratives from the Indian Sub-Continent
(Language: English)
Bilal Ahmad, Department of Comparative Religion, International Islamic University, Islamabad
Index terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies, Law, Local History, Religious Life
Paper 1710-bThe Order of Preachers versus the Sect of Witches: How Did One Network Produce, Entangle, and Condemn Another?
(Language: English)
Fedor Nekhaenko, Philosophische Fakultät, Universität Potsdam
Index terms: Gender Studies, Mentalities, Philosophy, Theology
Paper 1710-cNetworks of Publishing and Polemical Texts of the Investiture Contest
(Language: English)
Lari Ahokas, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture & Art Studies, University of Helsinki
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Manuscripts and Palaeography

Paper -a:
Among the most significant Islamic jurists in pre-modern times al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) was also an equally significant spiritual guide and his legacy has survived the test of time. Other medieval jurists like al-Shāṭibī (d.1388) and Zarrūq (d.1493) also tried to synthesise these two strands of Islamic tradition, although differently from each other (Behlaj: 2012). Synthesis was however not the only attitude of jurists towards sufism nor the latter towards the former. We also come across jurists (fuqahā') and other traditional Islamic scholars ('Ulamā') critical of Sufi views and vice versa. Van Ess points out that this critique is upon individuals and their opinions and not on the whole Sufi tradition.

In the Indian Sub-continent the society was especially diverse, with non-Muslims living under minority Mughal Muslim rule generally in a peaceful environment. Mughals were inclusivists and tried to synthesise not only juristic and Sufi traditions but sometimes also Islamic and Indian beliefs causing uproar from traditional Islamic scholars like Sirhindī (d.1624). Waliullah's (d.1762) views on such entanglements are also quite interesting. Studies on the history of Tasawwuf have discussed its entanglements and networking with other strands of Islamic tradition like law and theology spatially and temporally, like those by Arberry, Trimingham, Behlaj, Green, Jong and Radtke (eds.), Faruque, etc. Some histories also discuss entanglements between them in the Sub-continent, like Bhatti's Fuqahā' Hind, Ibn Nadīm's Fihrist, Zakaullah's Tarikh-e-Hind and Akram's Āb-e-Kauthar.

While many studies on the entanglements between Fiqh and Tasawwuf focus on sub-continental scholars from the 16th and 17th centuries like Sirhindi and Waliullah, studies on the thought of their predecessors from the region remain largely amiss. Although sufficient data is available in medieval histories of the sub-continent, it is yet to be analysed for patterns of entanglement between Fiqh-Tasawwuf per se. This study frames Fiqh-Tasawwuf entanglement narratives of medieval sub-continental scholars like Zinjānī Lāhorī, 'Alī Hujwairī, Ismā’īl Sindhī, Daulatābādī, Ḥussainī Dehlevī to map the relation of these two major strands of medieval Indian Islamic tradition.

Paper -b:
13th-century knowledge about women produced by university theologians shaped subsequent witch trials. Whereas Boureau believes Franciscans rejected Thomas' demonology and 'liberated' the power of demons in the 1280s, I identify a new intellectual network of Dominicans who transcended the boundaries of universities in their despise of women since the 1230s. By scrutinising peripatetics Roland, Albert, Jean Quidort, inquisitors Stephen of Bourbon, Bernard Gui, William of Paris, encyclopédistes Thomas of Cantimpré, Vincent of Beauvais I demonstrate Dominicans accounted for constructing a new female enemy group to prosecute:
1. Witchery became heresy, since women neglecting sacraments entered into a pact with demons;
2. A crime of artificial impotence (maleficium) destroying matrimony was reserved for enchantresses;
3. Female soothsayers (divinatrices, sortilegae) were transformed into nocturnal witches (maleficiae, bona res) and monstrous baby-killers (strigae);
4. Women were represented as demons seducing and harming 'innocent men'.

Paper -c:
The Investiture Contest has been characterised as the 'first public debate' in Europe. However, it has been studied mainly at the top level of the debate, through the dialogical analysis of the discursive development of the arguments; less attention has been devoted to the question of how various textual communities aligned themselves to the contest and how this is reflected in their manuscript production. In this paper, I will present some preliminary findings on my new research project regarding the polemics, text collections, and textual communication of the Investiture Contest, with special attention to networks of publishing.