As a student of history, when one studies either Middle Eastern history or diplomatic/international history after the WWII, it is almost impossible to avoid coming across terms such as the Bandung Conference of 1955, the Suez crisis of 1956, the Non-Aligned Movement, Third Worldism, Nehru and Nasser, for instance. Student often learn how the Bandung Conference marked the watershed in the history of the so-called Third World countries. How those countries attempted to balance themselves between the two super powers representing completely different political ideologies in the Cold War. Then the Suez crisis of 1956 and how Nasser came out of the crisis as a hero in a war many people saw as an attempt of the British and the French, with the help of the Israelis, to resurrect the imperialism in Egypt.
One often learns about those historical moments. Yet the relations between Egypt and India, which were important players in the international arena, are not well studied and did not receive high priority. Many literatures in the field of foreign relations, foreign policies and foreign affairs of Egypt and India are overwhelmingly about Egypt or India with the U.S. Europe or with their neighbors, or in the region in which the two countries are located. One wonders what had happened to the cordial relationships between Egypt and India after the Bandung conference and Suez crisis when their relations reached its zenith. How did the two countries develop and nurture their relations is not well researched.
My thesis revolves around a number of core historical questions. What had become of the once strong and vigorous relations between Egypt and India? What triggered the wane in cordial relations between Egypt and India since 1956? By looking how the two countries reacted and reciprocated each other in a number of political crises, such as the Kashmir issue, the Sino-Indian border war of 1962, the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 and the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, one can see the roots of the discord which led to the decline of their relations in 1960s. On the other hand, what were the cultural exchanges between the two countries and what were the results of such exchanges? How cultural activities across borders are vital to the fostering and strengthening of relations among nations.
An ethnographic account of Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt, Cultivating Mystery argues that an anthropological study of miracles can help to explain the social world of a religious minority that perceives itself as beleaguered in the midst of a Muslim nation. Miracle accounts are one way by which a religious community constructs itself along moral lines and maintains, contests, and negotiates the social boundaries between self and other. An emphasis on materiality is intended to make a critical intervention in ongoing debates about belief by illuminating how religiously charged objects and language are constitutive of the relationship between inter-religious politics and faith as embodied practice.
The dynamic of miracles and materiality is further complicated by the mystery that emerges and is cultivated in this intersection. I employ the concept of mystery as an umbrella term for encounters with things not seen, or seen but not quite understood, encounters that seem always to elude capture in semiotic form, and yet can only be captured in semiotic form. A revelation is made in material form, yet the revelation itself conceals something from the religious practitioner. Gestures toward a largely invisible world, made by signs of the miraculous, are used to create relationships between heavenly beings and those on earth. These relationships, in turn, are taken by pious Copts as reflecting their moral superiority in the context of Muslim Egypt.
After introducing the concepts of mystery, materiality, and miracles in Chapter One, Part I of the dissertation examines the historical background that frames the current investment in the miraculous that one today finds among Copts. Chapter Two discusses the figure of Baba (Pope) Kyrillos VI (pope 1959-1971) who is widely considered a saintly man by contemporary Copts, and the current Coptic Pope, Shenouda III (1971-present) with a particular emphasis on the changing Church-State relationship over the last four decades. Chapter Three offers an analysis of the 1968 apparition of the Virgin Mary in a neighborhood of Cairo highlighting how the current political atmosphere, especially in terms of Muslim-Christian tensions, is imposed on a retrospective view of the apparition.
Part II explores the materiality of difference and piety. Chapter Four examines the increasing Coptic mobility around Egypt to Coptic holy sites and the ways in which the places visited and the very materiality of these places shape a particular mode of moral being all the while discreetly cultivating, on the one hand, a sense of mystery in encounters with the relics of holiness (such as the bones of saints), and, on the other hand, a sense of difference from the Muslim Other. Chapter Five expands on the previous chapter by specifically looking at two Coptic interlocutors' encounters with saints and the Devil through material objects. Of particular concern are the signs that for some Copts are taken to be indications of their piety.
Part III consists of one chapter (Chapter Six), which is a theoretical reflection on the relationship between faith and skepticism wherein I argue that not only are these facets of religious practice two sides of the same coin, but that it is perhaps in the space between them, between one's simultaneous embrace of the tenets of her religion and the skepticism that creeps up behind her, where mystery resides. To invoke, with a twist, a popular Biblical passage, faith without skepticism is dead.
Unraveling the complex dynamics that created and sustained the hegemony of the four principal schools of Sunni Islamic law necessarily requires an appreciation of the schools' historical genesis. This dissertation provides the first comprehensive account of the emergence and early development of a Sunni legal school (madhhab fiqhī), drawing on new evidence from a range of hitherto unstudied primary sources. Through a reconstruction of the socio-political, intellectual, and textual history of the Shāfi'ī school during its formative stage in ninth-century Egypt, my study identifies the factors that contributed to the emergence and success of Shafi'ī doctrine; traces how this doctrine was propagated and re-interpreted, and from where it derived its authority; and explores the intimate connection between writing and thought in Islamic legal discourse. The dissertation concludes that the innovative legal hermeneutic of Muhammad b. Idrīs al-Shāfi'ī (d. 204/820), which enshrined normativity in a clearly demarcated canon of sacred sources, played a crucial role in the transformation of Islamic law from a diffuse oral tradition into a written legal science.
This thesis examines the methods by which the Ottoman Empire conquered and endeavored to control the city of Aleppo—a cosmopolitan urban center now in northern Syria. It employs a broad understanding of conquest, one that considers engagements and orientations stretching far around the event of Aleppo's military surrender in 1516. This understanding, moreover, involves legal culture in ways not typically fronted in studies of imperial conquest. The thesis contends that the Ottomans—who after displacing the Mamluk Empire governed the core of the Islamic world—maintained an especially robust conception of their rule as a law-giving enterprise, which characterized their attention to everything from the details of judicial administration to the rhetoric of imperial self-justification. Using various sources, including legal codes and local law court records, this thesis describes an Ottoman project to solicit, nurture, and if necessary, impose a new legal order. Far from suggesting perfect coherence in practice, the combinative and experimental qualities of Ottoman involvement are thrown into relief. This dynamic process and the priorities it engendered are grouped under the rubric legal imperialism.
The thesis undertakes a detailed survey of the late Mamluk legal system, introducing the persons, institutions, and ideas that the Ottomans would inherit. The role of judges, law courts, legal documents, and legal identities receives special treatment, and the diffuse yet functional nature of the Mamluk arrangement is emphasized. A brief survey of Mamluk-Ottoman relations reveals that the conquerors could not have stepped into an unfamiliar world.
An overview of the Ottomans' conquering past and the sources, jurisdictions, and hierarchies of Ottoman law give historical shape to legal imperialism. The thesis then explores Ottoman Aleppo's early history using contemporary cadastral surveys, law codes, court records, and biographical literature. The spectacular killing of a centrally-appointed surveyor is used to demonstrate the protracted and complex nature of Ottomanization for a city long presumed to have succumbed easily. The construction of a judicial archive, the inspection of legal records (especially those pertaining to religious endowments), and the elevation of the Hanafi legal community—all developments with Mamluk antecedents—reveal Istanbul's concern to concentrate judicial practice.
This dissertation investigates the life and works of Abū al-Qāsim `Abd al-Karīm al-Qushayrī (d. 465/1072). While the majority of western studies of al-Qushayrī have concentrated almost exclusively on his Sufi legacy and the Risāla, his treatise on Sufism, the present study makes a more holistic account of his life, taking into consideration his wider scholastic interests and the socio-political landscape of Nishapur, the city in which he lived. The various narratives of his life, as variously reported in the historical records, are brought together in order to more fully expose the horizon of his historical moment. Special attention is paid to the urban factionalism and eventual persecution that wracked Nishapur, as both of these historical phenomena directly affected al-Qushayrī.
The central focus, however, is on his scholastic identity and the related traditions with which he engaged. While significant mention is made of his contribution to hadith and Shāfi`ism, the central focus of this study is on the confluence of three especially influential traditions: Sufism, Ash`arī theology, and Qur'ānic exegesis. Al-Qushayrī's social network of teachers is delineated for each of these traditions, with shared linkages carefully mapped across the course of his life. His view of pedagogy and perpetuation is investigated as well. For his work in Ash`arism and scriptural commentary, his textual legacy and his role in continuing each tradition is also given.
As to textual analysis, while the Risāla receives ample consideration, greater attention is paid to his other major work, the Latā' if al-ishārāt ("Subtleties of the Signs"), a commentary of the Qur'ān written at the same time. The commentary is studied and characterized and its textual genealogy is traced against relevant sources. Finally, cases from the Latā' if al-ishārāt are presented where the intersection of these various scholastic traditions are most evident.
This multivalent approach brings forward the nuanced and interwoven texture of al-Qushayrī's life, in specific, and demonstrates the constructed nature of tradition, in general.
The story of the Ottoman urban economy in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries is part of a broader transition that took place in the administrative, economic and social spheres as the Ottoman principality turned into a centralized empire. No historical study has been made of the Medieval Anatolian town economy and of the process through which it was transformed into an imperial system. This dissertation proposes to offer the first in-depth look at such a transformation process through a study of late fifteenth century Bursa, paying particular attention to urban production and market relations, to the legacy of medieval brotherhoods called ahīs, and to the relationship between the Ottoman state with this city's economy.
The main sources used in this dissertation are the Bursa kādī court records, together with a number of other sources such as cadastral surveys, sultanic law codes, imperial orders, pious endowment registers and manuals of ethics. Based on my research into these sources, I argue that fifteenth-century Ottoman Bursa displayed the characteristics of a period of transition towards some form of early modernity in terms of codified rules replacing ad hoc arrangements, the state playing an increasing role in the marketplace, proliferation and systematization of official record keeping, and the appearance of formal and hierarchical craft guilds.
This dissertation is a study of two episodes of mass mortality, in Marseilles during 1720–21, and in Aleppo, Syria, during 1761–62. Linked by trade ties, missionary outreach, and diplomatic contacts, the two cities were a microcosm of eighteenth-century relations across the Mediterranean. In these relations the diagnosis of bubonic plague was a significant factor. I argue in my dissertation that despite the contemporary belief that the Levant was a source of plague, the connection between plague epidemics in Aleppo and in southern France was almost certainly literary rather than biological, except in the sense that they both reflected sickness and death from diseases prevalent in the Mediterranean basin.
For centuries, bubonic plague has been the very emblem of epidemic disease. The mass mortality associated with it led to major historical shifts. But what was the plague? In my dissertation I argue that during the early-modern period, diagnosis of plague, and the quarantine institutions which oversaw it, arose from fierce struggles for economic, political and social dominance. They bisected the Mediterranean and contributed substantially to the present-day conceptual divide between ‘East’ and ‘West.’ Rather than indicating the presence of a bacterium, I argue that reference to plague in early-modern sources are more plausibly understood as a legal category being transformed by the nation-state. The aversion of Ottoman officials to quarantine until the mid-1800s was not ‘fatalism,’ but rather a desire to protect their economic and political interests.
Diagnoses of plague that mandated quarantine were the product of a long documentary chain involving communication across several thousand miles and translation between many languages and genres. In the complex interaction between biological reality and its representations, there was ample room not only for misunderstanding, but also for deliberate distortion. And yet, diagnostic institutions like quarantine and the sanitary cordon had the power not just to specify death's official meaning, but potentially to change the rate at which it actually occurred. My dissertation therefore emphasizes the ecology of plague in Mediterranean cities, meaning not only the natural setting, but also social, economic and political relations, and the literature that provided their vocabulary.