Rulers as Authors in the Islamic World

Knowledge, Authority and Legitimacy


How widespread was authorship among rulers in the premodern Islamic world? The writings of different types of rulers in different regions and periods are analyzed in this book, from the early centuries in the central lands of Islam to 19th century Sudan. The composition of poetry appears as the most fertile area for authorship among rulers. Prose writings show a wide variety, from astrology to bookmaking, from autobiography to creeds. Some of the rulers made claims to special knowledge, but in all cases authorship played a special role in the construction of the rulers' authority and legitimacy.

Contributors: Ahmed Ibrahim Abushouk, Sean W. Anthony, María Luisa Ávila†, Teresa Bernheimer, Philip Bockholt, Sonja Brentjes, Christiane Czygan, David Durand-Guédy, Anne-Marie Eddé, Sinem Eryılmaz, Maribel Fierro, Adam Gaiser, Angelika Hartmann†, Livnat Holtzman, Maher Jarrar, Robert S. Kramer, Christian Mauder, Matthew Melvin-Koushki, Letizia Osti, Jürgen Paul, Petra Schmidl, Tilman Seidensticker.

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Maribel Fierro, Ph.F. (1985), Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas del Mediterráneo, is Research Professor at the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC). She has published on the political and intellectual history of the Medieval Islamic West, including co-editing Ibn Hazm of Cordoba. The Life and Works of a Controversial Thinker (Brill, 2012).

Sonja Brentjes, Ph.D. (1977), Visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), is a historian of science who has published on mathematical sciences at courts and in madrasas; cross-cultural exchange of knowledge, mapmaking and historiography. She is the author of Teaching and Learning the Sciences in Islamicate Societies (800–1700) (Brepols, 2018).

Tilman Seidensticker, Ph.D. (1983), is Professor at Hamburg University, Cluster of Excellence 'Understanding Written Artefacts'. He has published on Ancient Arabic poetry and Arabic manuscripts and is author of Islamismus - Geschichte, Vordenker, Organisationen (Munich, 5th ed. 2023).
List of Figures
List of Tables
Notes on Contributors

Maribel Fierro, Sonja Brentjes and Tilman Seidensticker

Part 1 The Early Period

1 Rulers as Authors: ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib and the Other Twelver Imams
Teresa Bernheimer

2 Eloquent Exchange: Asceticism and Shirāʾ in the Poetry of Qaṭarī b. al-Fujāʾa
Adam Gaiser

3 A ‘Rediscovered’ Letter of the Umayyad Caliph ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (r. 99–101/717–720)
Caliphal Authorship and Legal Authority in al-Risāla fī l-fayʾ
Sean W. Anthony

4 Abbasid Rulers and Their Standing as Authors
Letizia Osti

Part 2 Caliphs and Messianic Figures

5 Zaydī Rulers as Authors: A Quest for Legitimacy
Maher Jarrar

6 The Caliph al-Qādir bi-llāh and the Qādirī Creed
Livnat Holtzman

7 Do Caliphs Write? The View from the Islamic West
María Luisa Ávila † and Maribel Fierro

8 Authority, ijāzāt and Politics: Caliph al-Nāṣir li-Dīn Allāh’s Kitāb Rūḥ al-ʿārifīn (7Th/13th Century, Baghdad)
Angelika Hartmann †

9 The Pen and the Sword: The Case of the Sudanese Mahdi (1844–1885)
Ahmed Ibrahim Abushouk and Robert S. Kramer

Part 3 Emirs and Sultans

10 Entre l’épée et le calame : Abū l-Fidāʾ, prince et savant ayyoubide
Anne-Marie Eddé

11 The Quatrains of Toghrïl III. Some Reflections about the Literacy and Culture of the Saljuqs
David Durand-Guédy

12 Royal Quatrains: Rulers of the Anūshteginid Line of Khwārazmshāhs as Poets
Jürgen Paul

13 Rulers as Authors in 13th-Century Yemen: the Oeuvre of al-Ashraf ʿUmar
Petra Schmidl

14 Non-caliphal Rulers and Their Writings in the Islamic West (2nd–9th/8th–15th Centuries)
Maribel Fierro

15 Legitimating Sultanic Rule in Arabic, Turkish and Persian—Late Mamluk Rulers as Authors of Religious Poetry
Christian Mauder

Part 4 The Great Empires: Timurids-Mughals, Ottomans, Safavids

16 The Ottoman Ruler Poet Sultan Süleyman I, His Third Divan, and His Reception beyond the Palace Walls
Christiane Czygan

17 The Power of Poetry in the Ottoman Context
Fatma Sinem Eryılmaz

18 Timurid-Mughal Philosopher-Kings as Sultan-Scientists
Matthew Melvin-Koushki

19 Shah Ṭahmāsp and the Taẕkira: A Sixteenth-Century Ruler’s Justification of His Policies
Philip Bockholt

Those interested in the study of Islamic political and intellectual history (scholars, students). Given its comprehensive character it will be of interest for university libraries and of use for those scholars working on the periods and dynasties covered.
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