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Ibn ʿAsākir of Damascus (1105–1176) and His Age, with an Edition and Translation of Ibn ʿAsākir’s The Forty Hadiths for Inciting Jihad
The Intensification and Reorientation of Sunni Jihad Ideology in the Crusader Period examines the important role of Ibn ʿAsākir, including his Forty Hadiths for Inciting Jihad, in the promotion of a renewed jihad ideology in twelfth-century Damascus as part of sultan Nūr al-Dīn’s agenda to revivify Sunnism and fight, under the banner of jihad, Crusader and Muslim opponents. This jihad vision was exclusively centered on selected quranic verses and prophetic hadiths. Ibn ʿAsākir and other Sunni scholars in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Syria departed from the earlier scholarly focus on legal nuances and aversion to invoke jihad in intra-Muslim conflicts. They championed this intensification and reorientation of jihad ideology in mainstream Sunni scholarship, and gave it a lasting legacy.


This article examines how Ibn 'Asākir (1105-76)—in keeping with the well-established fadā' il al-Shām (merits of bilād al-Shām) tradition—fashions portraits of Sarah and Hagar in his Ta'rīkh madīnat Dimashq (History of Damascus) to extol their special role in the sacred history of God working through his human agents in Syria's past. As is the case in his biographies of other sacred and pious figures in Syria's past, Ibn 'Asākir's biographies of Sarah and Hagar are also intended to provide a moral example as well as pious inspiration for the faithful.

In: Medieval Encounters
In: Medieval Encounters