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Reuven Amitai

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Reuven Amitai-Preiss


Some scholars have argued that sufis, Muslim mystics, played a decisive role in converting the Mongols in Iran to Islam in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, mainly because of the similarity between the extreme sufis (the dervishes) and the shamans of the traditional Mongol religion. This paper maintains that it was primarily some moderate, "institutional" sufis who were close to Mongol ruling circles and thus played a part in their conversion. This, however, had little to so with any resemblance between shamans and sufis, since it is suggested that Muslim mystics, even of the dervish variety, are basically dissimilar to the Inner Asian shamans. If, indeed, both kinds of sufis were successful in influencing the Mongols, it would appear that this is due to other reasons suggested at the end of the paper.

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Edited by Morgan and Reuven Amitai-Preiss

The Mongol empire was founded early in the 13th century by Chinggis Khan and within the span of two generations embraced most of Asia, becoming the largest land-based state in history. The united empire lasted only until around 1260, but the major successor states continued on in the Middle East, present day Russia, Central Asia and China for generations, leaving a lasting impact - much of which was far from negative - on these areas and their peoples. The papers in this volume present new perspectives on the establishment of the Mongol empire, Mongol rule in the eastern Islamic world, Central Asia and China, and the legacy of this rule. The various authors approach these subjects from the view of political, military, social, cultural and intellectual history.

This publication has also been published in paperback, please click here for details.
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Mongols, Turks, and Others

Eurasian Nomads and the Sedentary World

Edited by Reuven Amitai and Michal Biran

The interaction between the Eurasian pastoral nomads - most famously the Mongols and Turks - and the surrounding sedentary societies is a major theme in world history. Nomads were not only raiders and conquerors, but also transmitted commodities, ideas, technologies and other cultural items. At the same time, their sedentary neighbours affected the nomads, in such aspects as religion, technology, and political culture. The essays in this volume use a broad comparative approach that highlights the multifarious nature of nomadic society and its changing relations with the sedentary world in the vicinity of China, Russia and the Middle East, from antiquity into the contemporary world.