Making a Mufti Grand: Creating Religious Leadership in Colonial and Post-colonial Lebanon


Thursday, October 11, 2012, 4:30pm to 6:00pm


CMES, 38 Kirkland Street, Room 208, Cambridge, MA 02138

A Middle East Beyond Borders graduate workshop with

Alexander Henley
PhD Student, Middle Eastern Studies, University of Manchester
Visiting Fellow, CMES, Harvard University

Paper Abstract:  This paper gives an account of the Ottoman Mufti of Beirut's transition to ‘Grand Mufti of Lebanon’ that shows how the introduction of a colonial vocabulary to public administration led not only to the re-labeling of existing institutions, but at times to their transformation. In this case, imported Western concepts of ‘the religious’, and of ‘religions’ in the plural, produced a reorganization of Lebanese public space and eventually the reconstitution of social reality at large. These two concepts can be linked to two distinct phases in the elevation of the muftiship: first to the head of a newly conceived religious corps, and then to the leadership of ‘a religion’ in Lebanon.

This interdisciplinary graduate student workshop welcomes Harvard students, faculty, and affiliates from all disciplines and at all stages of scholarship. Please email Bethany to RSVP and request a copy of the paper. As always, please read the article thoroughly before the session and come prepared to give substantive feedback.

Contact: Bethany Kibler
Sponsors: Mahindra Humanities Center, the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University