Talmudic sources recognize the dedication of assets for the benefit of the Temple alone (heqdesh). In Islamic countries, Jews encountered another form of asset endowment – the Islamic waqf – and fully embraced it. This article explores the utilization of waqf from a fresh perspective, focusing on urban communities in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, to examine its role in constructing community members’ self-identity. The allocation of waqf beneficiaries allowed the endower to delineate the community’s boundaries in their mind, reflecting the desired social circles they sought to be part of.
Analyzing documents spanning centuries reveals ongoing changes in this realm. Social and demographic shifts periodically led to reductions in the circles of waqf beneficiaries. The strained relations between Rabbanites and Karaites during the Mamluk Period, as well as waves of Jewish immigration from Europe and North Africa to the eastern Mediterranean in the late Mamluk and early Ottoman periods, influenced the norms governing the endowment of houses, land, and money among Jewish property owners. These norms evolved again during the late Ottoman period when the boundaries between different Jewish groups became more blurred.
This short introduction prefaces an ends special issue devoted to the topic of “interreligious founding”, whose contributions stem from an online workshop held April 8th–9th, 2021. This workshop was planned as a continuation of the dialogue on charitable foundations held between experts of various academic disciplines in Tokyo (2019) and Singapore (2020). As a result of discussions begun at these venues, it has become apparent that the scholarship on endowments, which has unfolded to the greatest extent within Medieval Studies and therefore with the context of the medieval Latin West foremost in mind, has not adequately addressed the phenomenon of interreligious patronage, that is the participation in foundation activities by persons of different religious traditions.
This paper shows the spread of waqf endowments in the medieval Islamic world, especially in Egypt, Syria and Ottoman Turkey, based on narrative and archival sources, and discusses what purposes and motives for endowments and their social effects were. Finally, it goes on to state the features of the waqf endowment (combination of personal and religious motives, and of egoistic and altruistic wishes), in comparison with endowments in other regions such as Europe, India, China and Japan.
This article discusses the literary representation of religious leadership in the Siyar al-bīʿa al-muqaddasa, also known as “History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria”. It suggests reading accounts on early Muslim rule within the frameworks of Islamicate literature from the Abbasid and the Fatimid periods, when the collection was created, also considering successive layers of redaction. This approach contrasts with a more conventional way of reading such texts as historical sources on Christian-Muslim relations and as witnesses of the early Islamic period. By comparing stories of patriarchs and rulers with stories about qadis and rulers, the article highlights the importance of framing early Islamicate Christian sources in relation to a broader cultural context and historical developments, without exaggerating their early dating. Finally, it proposes that there is historical meaning to be found in the display of linguistic and narrative anachronisms.
The Aramaic inscriptions from Hellenistic Mount Gerizim have been the object of intense scholarly interest since their publication almost 20 years ago. Research has particularly focused on the ways that the inscriptions can inform our understanding of the emergence of a Samaritan group identity which was distinct from that of the Jews. This article seeks to contribute to these discussions by addressing 2 interrelated issues. Firstly, drawing on research by other scholars, it tentatively suggests that these inscriptions can be divided into two groups which represent different phases of production. Secondly, it explores the reasons for the apparent introduction of a sense of place in the later inscriptions, considering the broader political and administrative history of the district of Samaria in the 2nd century BCE.
Interreligious endowments in the strict sense were beyond the imagination of medieval founders and churchmen alike. Among similar phenomena, however, Latin Christendom did experience changes of monastic observances, which were often shaped as refoundations. In the late eleventh century, when monastic reform movements became increasingly important, a number of canonries (communities of secular clerics) were reorganized as monasteries. Hasungen in Hesse is an interesting case, founded and refounded by the same bishop for spiritual, political and personal reasons. This paper looks at the reaction of the former canons. By analysing charters and narrative evidence, it asks about their agency in adapting to the change of observance. Although monastic “reform” had the potential to marginalize the former canons, they not only accepted the refoundation: during the eventful first decades of the new monastery, they managed to keep alive the memory of, and connections to, the social environment which their pre-monastic community had been rooted in.
Though the self-presentation of the Holy Mountain as a bastion of Orthodoxy and implacable foe of church union is in some respects justified, popes and western rulers in fact played an important, and not always a hostile, role in the history of Mount Athos. Some of the founding figures of Athonite monasticism had Roman connections, and there were even periods in which the monasteries of Mount Athos sought the protection of popes and potentates from the West. While Athonite archives contain numerous charters stemming from Byzantine and other Orthodox rulers, and the monasteries’ vast Ottoman holdings have received increasing attention in recent years, charters issued by Latin Christian potentates and prelates have largely been overlooked. This contribution adds new information to previous studies of the relationship of Mount Athos with the Medieval West and applies the notion of interreligious founding to the Athonite context, attempting thereby to nuance the notion that Byzantine and Latin religious patronage operated in mutually exclusive spheres, even after the so-called “Great Schism” of 1054.
This article examines the drafting of land contracts and the evolution of local property law in key regional centers of power during the transition from Islamic to Christian rule in eleventh- and twelfth-century Iberia. Through the analysis of a range of Arabic and Latin property land sales preserved in the ecclesiastical archives of Toledo and the Ebro valley, the following study looks for signs of potential legal and documentary diffusion taking place as a result of the Christian conquests of the Middle and Upper Marches of al-Andalus. The paper explores the relationship between property and its transfer, on the one hand, and the emerging post-conquest documentary cultures, on the other. It studies borrowings between Latin and Arabic land documents, some of which can be associated with Andalusī property and contract law. The article links this transfer of knowledge to the legal and economic interests of the religious institutions that preserved the Arabic documents, highlighting how new dioceses and monasteries reclaimed the rights and benefits associated with former mosques. Such findings are framed as part of the active preservation and engagement of local property knowledge and Islamicate documentary practices, and their recycling for the post-conquest management and reorganization of the land.
This article argues that “global” is both too vague and too misleading a term to help conceptualize the Middle Ages. It is used for too many diverse phenomena, and criticism of the term by modernists has not been taken on board. Instead of borrowing and distorting this concept to make it fit, we should look at the nature and range of both interconnection and separation in our period, and create concepts based on our source-material. The medieval evidence shows that through the narrow channels, through the segmented and broken-up chains of communication, knowledge and objects can still flow. Superficial similarities to modern connectivity (for example trade) may hide real divergence, such as the motivation for the spice trade, which was related to searching for earthly paradise. Remoteness and separation were seen and described by medieval authors, but in reality both separation and connection were more ambiguous phenomena. Limited interconnection between areas of the globe did not dampen universal aspirations for the spread of Christianity. Finally, the mechanism of declared Christian religious superiority contrasted with the way in which Christianity gobbled up other traditions, ingesting and transforming them in its own image, while refusing to acknowledge this incorporation. This creophagous attitude characterized Christian relations to Judaism, Arabic science and pagan philosophy: strong interconnection coexisted with explicitly stated separateness.