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The Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam: Negotiating Ideology and Religious Inquiry (Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks) Paperback – January 31, 2006
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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"An important step forward in raising questions and problematizing previously unstudied issues . . . It can readily serve both as a foundation and as an inspiration for future studies."
-- "Journal of American Academy of Religion"
"Quite contemporary, not just in vocabulary and method, but in intellectual tastes and opinions as well."
-- "Islamic Studies"
Quite contemporary, not just in vocabulary and method, but in intellectual tastes and opinions as well.--Islamic Studies
Safi focuses on a fascinating period in Islamic history that is not only replete with famous historical figures but also brimming over with historical developments of immeasurable significance for all subsequent Islamic history. Safi's book is the only integrated and engaging social and cultural history of this period, and as such it makes a singular contribution to the study of Islamic history.--Ahmet T. Karamustafa, Washington University
Marks an important step forward in raising questions and problematizing previously unstudied issues . . . It can readily serve both as a foundation and as an inspiration for future studies.--Journal of American Academy of Religion
An important step forward in raising questions and problematizing previously unstudied issues . . . It can readily serve both as a foundation and as an inspiration for future studies.--Journal of American Academy of Religion
Well written and decidedly useful, Omid Safi's study should stand as a lasting contribution to Saljuq history and to Islamic/Near Eastern history more generally. His many new ideas oblige those in the overlapping fields of premodern Islamic studies to recast long-held arguments concerning Saljuq politics and society and to rethink the lives of prominent figures of the period.--Matthew S. Gordon, Miami University
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Safi focuses on the eleventh and twelfth century reign of the Saljuqs, a ruthless tribe of nomadic heathens that roared in from central Asia and conquered much of the eastern half of the Islamic world. In order to legitimatize their regime they converted to Islam and set about bargaining with the religious establishment to gain its seal of approval.
It is this negotiating process that Safi documents in detail through several generations of Saljuq political rulers, Islamic scholars, and Sufi mystics, including famous names like al-Ghazali and Nizam al-Mulk. In many ways it is reminiscent of other church-state negotiations throughout history and up to the present time.
Safi's somewhat depressing point is that it was relatively easy for the Saljuqs to buy off the religious community through patronage and, as a result, to gain an undeserved reputation as defenders of the faith, a reputation that persists in modern scholarship.
The lone hold-out exception was the Sufi Ayn al-Qudat Hamadani, who opposed the Saljuqs and wound up executed for his trouble. Ayn al-Qudat is clearly Safi's hero.
The prose is fairly dry, though fortunately Safi manages to suppress most of the inevitable postmodern jargon. The cast of characters is large and mostly alien to an outside reader. A couple of good maps would have helped. But the tale is interesting and familiar, and I would recommend this book to any non-expert interested in the topic and willing to work through the text.