Early Islamic Cosmopolitanism? Constructing the ?<i>Umma</i> of India in Pre-Mongol Muslim Scholarship

Authors

  • Edmund Hayes Leiden University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/cis.32620

Keywords:

community, India, idolatry, empire studies, historiography, theology, ʿAbbasid, cosmopolitanism, conquest, cultural studies

Abstract

This article analyzes possible avenues for the study of a pre-Mongol Islamic cosmopolitanism. The ways in which the archetypically idolatrous land of India is treated by Islamicate thinkers of the ?Abbasid empire and after illuminates an Islamic cosmopolitanism that managed to incorporate the other into its view of human history and religious history. Two major fields for the generation of cosmopolitan ideas are analyzed: narratives drawn from historiography, and taxonomies erected by theological-heresiographical works. Both frameworks rely on a Muslim model of history and society in which divine truth and guidance are mediated to the communities (?umma, ?umam) of the world firstly by a prophet, but also by sages and philosopher-kings: figures who play important roles in Muslim accounts of India. Through applying these “universal” categories to Indian subject-matter, Muslim thinkers were able to depict Indians as partners in the human struggle to attain and preserve truth, albeit falling short of the Muslim community in various ways. In both the historiographical and the heresiographical fields, cosmopolitan and anti-cosmopolitan trends are observable. By incorporating Indian narratives into a universalizing historical vision, Mas??d? can best be seen to approach a cosmopolitan sensibility among thinkers within historiographic discourse. B?r?n? goes furthest among the thinkers working within a theological-heresiographical framework in analogizing Indian philosophy with Muslim thought. It is argued that both thinkers achieve a kind of cosmopolitanism only through an elitist denigration of the commoners of their communities. In addition, their cosmopolitanism was predicated on imperial expansionism into India.

Author Biography

Edmund Hayes, Leiden University

Edmund Hayes, Postdoctoral fellow, University of Tubingen, department of Oriental and Islamic Studies. PhD from department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago.

References

Abuladze, Ilia V. 1966. “Introduction.” In The Balavariani (Barlaam and Josaphat):
A Tale from the Christian East Translated from the Old Georgian. Translated by David Lang, 19–41. London: George Allen and Unwin.

Ahmad, S. Maqbul. 1954. “Al-Mas?udi’s Contributions to Medieval Arab Geography: Some Sources of his Knowledge.” Islamic Culture 28: 510–512.

———. 1954. “Travels of Abu ?l ?asan ?Al? b. al-?usayn al-Mas??d?.” Islamic Culture 28(1): 509–524.

———. 1960. “Al-Mas??d? on the Kings of India.” in Al-Mas??d?: Millenary Commemoration Volume, edited by S. Maqbul Ahmad and A. Rahman, 97–112. Aligarh: Indian Society for the History of Science.

Ahmed, Shahab. 2016. What is Islam?: The Importance of Being Islamic. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400873586

Almutawa, Shatha. 2013. “Imaginative Cultures and Historic Transformations: Narrative in Ras??il Ikhw?n al-?af??.” Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Chicago.

Aravamudan, Srinivas. 2012. Enlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226024509.001.0001

Asad, Talal. 1993. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

———. 2003. Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press.

Bentley, Michael. 1999. Modern Historiography: An Introduction. London: Routledge.

Al-B?r?n?, Ab? Ray??n Mu?ammad b. A?mad. 1888. Alberuni’s India. Translated by C. Edward Sachau. London: Trübner.

———. 1879. The Chronology of Ancient Nations, translated by C. Edward Sachau. London: W.H Allen & Co.

———. 1958. Ta?q?q m? li-al-hind min maq?la maqb?la fi-al-?aql aw mar??la. Hyderabad: Dairatu’l-ma?arifi’l-osmania.

Bosworth, C. E. 1991. “Farrukh?’s Elegy on Ma?m?d of Ghazna.” Iran 29: 43–49. https://doi.org/10.2307/4299847

Bowen Savant, Sarah. 2013. The New Muslims of Post-Conquest Iran: Tradition, Memory, and Conversion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139013437

Brett, Michael. 1979. “The Arab Conquest and the Rise of Islam in North Africa,” The Cambridge History of Africa 2, edited by J. D. Fage, 502–512. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Buzurg ibn Shahriy?r. 1981. The Book of the Wonders of India: Mainland, Sea and Islands. Edited and translated by G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville. London: East-West Publishers.

Crone, Patricia. 2014. Medieval Islamic Political Thought. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University.

Dabashi, Hamid. 2012. The World of Persian Literary Humanism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. https://doi.org/10.4159/harvard.9780674067592

De Blois, François. 1990. B?rz?y’s Voyage to India and the Origin of the Book of Kal??lah wa Dimnah. London: Royal Asiatic Society.

Di Branco, Marco. 2010. “A Rose in the Desert? Late Antique and Early Byzantine Chronicles and the Formation of Islamic Universal Historiography.” In Historiae Mundi: Studies in Universal History, edited by Peter Liddel and Andrew Fear, 189–206. London: Duckworth.

Donner, Fred. 2010. Muhammad and the Believers: at the Origins of Islam. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Durkheim, E?mile. 1995. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Translated by Karen Fields. New York: Free Press.

Gibb, H. A. R. 1962. Studies on the Civilization of Islam. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Gimaret, Daniel. 1971. Le Livre de Bilawhar et B?d?sf selon la version Arabe Ismaélienne. Geneva, Paris: Librarie Droz.

Eaton, Richard. 2000. “Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim States,” Journal of Islamic Studies 11(3): 283–319. https://doi.org/10.1093/jis/11.3.283

Eaton, Richard and Phillip Wagoner. 2014. Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300–1600. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198092216.001.0001

van Ess, Josef. 1991. Theologie und Gesellschaft im 2. und 3. Jahrhundert Hidschra. Eine Geschichte des religiösen Denkens im frühen Islam. Berlin: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110868494

———. 2011. Der Eine und das Andere Beobachtungen an islamischen häresiographischen Texten. Berlin: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110215786

F?r?b?, Ab? Na?r Mu?ammad ibn Mu?ammad. 2005. “The Book of Letters.” In Medieval Islamic Philosophical Writings, edited by Muhammad Ali Khalidi, 1–26. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Friedmann, Yohanan. 1975. “Medieval Muslim Views of Indian Religions.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 95(2): 214–221. https://doi.org/10.2307/600318

———. 1986. “Islamic Thought in the Indian Context.” In Islam et Societe en Asie du Sud, edited by X. Gaborieau, 79–91, Paris: EHESS.

———. 2003. Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511497568

Gutas, Dimitri. 1998. Greek thought, Arabic Culture the Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and early ‘Abbasid Society (2nd-4th/8th–10th centuries). London: Routledge.

Hodgson, Marshall. 1974. The Venture of Islam. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.

Hughes, Aaron. 2017. “Religion without Religion: Integrating Islamic Origins into Religious Studies.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 85(4): 867–888. https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/lfx010

Huseini, Reza. 2017. “The First Islamic Millennium and the Making of the Tarikh-i Alfi in the Sixteenth Century Mughal India.” Unpublished MA thesis, Leiden University.

Ibn al-Nad?m, Ab? al-Faraj Mu?ammad. 1971. Al-Fihrist. Edited by Ri?? Tajaddud. Tehran: [publisher not identified].

Ibn B?b?ya, Ab? Ja?far Mu?ammad b. ?Al?. 1975 (1395/1384). Kam?l al-d?n wa tam?m al-ni?ma. Edited by ?Al? Akbar al-Ghaff?r?. Tehran: D?r al-Kutub al-Isl?miyya.

Jeffrey, Arthur. 1951. “Al-Biruni’s Contribution to Comparative Religion.” In Al-Biruni Commemoration Volume, 125–161. Calcutta: Iran Society.

Khalidi, Tarif. 1975. Islamic Historiography: The Histories of Mas??di?. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Khalidi, Tarif. 1994. Arabic Historical Thought in the Classical Period. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511583650

Al-Kha??b?, Al-?usayn ibn ?amd?n. 2007. Al-Hid?ya al-kubr?. Diy?r ?Aql [Lebanon]: D?r li-ajl al-ma?rifa.

Lapidus, Ira. 2002. Islamic Societies to the Nineteenth Century: A Global History. Second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lawrence, Bruce. 1976. Shahrastani on the Indian Religions. Paris: Mouton. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110800999

Lueck, Bryan. 2014. “Appendix: On Cosmopolitanisms.” In Iranian Identity and Cosmopolitanism: Spheres of Belonging, edited by Lucian Stone, 159–176.
London: Bloomsbury.

Mackintosh-Smith, Tim, ed. and trans. 2014. Two Arabic Travel Books. New York: New York University Press.

Mas??d?, Ab? al-?asan ?Al? b. ?usayn. 1938. al-Tanb?h wa al-ishr?f, edited by ?Abd All?h Ism???l al-??w?. Cairo: Maktabat al-Sharq al-Isl?miyya.

———. 2005. Mur?j al-dhahab wa ma??din al-jawhar. Edited by Kam?l ?asan Mar??. Beirut: al-Maktaba al-?A?riyya.

Melvin-Koushki, Matthew. 2016. “Astrology, Lettrism, Geomancy: The Occult-Scientific Methods of Post-Mongol Islamicate Imperialism.” The Medieval History Journal 19(1): 142–150. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971945815626316

Mottahedeh, Roy. 1976. “The Shu?ûbîyah Controversy and the Social History of Early Islamic Iran,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 7(2): 163. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020743800023163

Al-Musawi, Muhsin. 2015. The Medieval Islamic Republic of Letters. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Orwin, Alexander. 2017. Redefining the Muslim Community: Ethnicity, Religion, and Politics in the Thought of Alfarabi. Philadelphia: University of Pennslyvania Press. https://doi.org/10.9783/9780812293906

Pagden, Anthony. 2000. “Stoicism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Legacy of European Imperialism.” Constellations 7(1): 3–22. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8675.00167

Papaconstantinou, Arietta. 2008. “Between Umma and Dhimma: The Christians of the Middle East under the Umayyads.” Annales Islamologiques 42: 127–156.

Pingree, David. 1963. “Astronomy and Astrology in India and Iran.” Isis 54(2): 229–246. https://doi.org/10.1086/349703

———. 1968. The Thousands of Ab? Ma?shar. London: The Warburg Institute/Brill.

Pourshariati, Parvaneh. 1995. “Iranian tradition in Tus and the Arab presence in Khurasan.” Unpublished PhD thesis, Columbia University.

———. 2004. “Khurasan and the Crisis of Legitimacy.” In Views from the Edge:
Essays in Honor of Richard W. Bulliet, edited by Neguin Yavari, Lawrence G. Potter and Jean-Marc Ran Oppenheim, 208–229. New York: Columbia University Press.

Robinson, Chase. 2003. Islamic Historiography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Robinson, Majied. 2013. “Prosopographical Approaches to the Nasab Tradition: a Study of Marriage and Concubinage in the Tribe of Mu?ammad, 500–750 CE.” Unpublished PhD thesis, Edinburgh University.

Rosenthal, Franz. 1970. Knowledge Triumphant; the Concept of Knowledge in Medieval Islam. Leiden: Brill.

Sijpesteijn, Petra. 2013. Shaping a Muslim State: The World of a Mid-Eighth-Century Egyptian Official. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673902.001.0001

Steigerwald, Diana. 2006. “Al-Shahrast?n?’s Contribution to Medieval Islamic Thought.” In Reason and Inspiration in Islam: Theology, Philosophy and Mysticism in Islamic Thought, edited by Todd Lawson, 262–273. London: I.B. Tauris.

Stroumsa, Sarah. 1985. “The Bar?hima in Early Kal?m.” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 6: 229–241.

Tabar?, Ab? Ja?far Mu?ammad Ibn Jar?r. 1986. The History of al-?abar?, vol. 2 History of the Prophets and Patriarchs. Translated by William Brinner. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Tattaw?, A?mad and ??if Kh?n Qazw?n?. 1382 [2003/4]. T?r?kh-i alf ?. Edited by Ghul?m Ri?? Tab?tab??? Majd. Tehran: Intisha?ra?t-i ?Ilmi? va Farhangi?.

Tavakoli-Taraghi, Mohamad. 1996. “Contested Memories: Narrative Structures and Allegorical Meanings of Iran’s Pre-Islamic History.” Iranian Studies 29:(1–2): 149–175. https://doi.org/10.1080/00210869608701847

Tha??lib?. 1979. Histoire des Rois des Perses. Edited and translated by Hermann Zotenberg. Amsterdam: Oriental Press.

Van Bladel, Kevin. 2011. “The Bactrian Background of the Barmakids.” In Islam and Tibet: Interactions Along the Musk Routes, edited by Anna Aksoy, Charles Burnett and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim. Farnham: Ashgate.

Waardenburg, Jacques, ed. 1999. Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

Webb, Peter. 2016. Imagining the Arabs: Arab Identity and the Rise of Islam. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. https://doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9781474408264.001.0001

Wink, André. 2002. Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World. Leiden: Brill.

Ya?q?b?, A?mad b. Ab? Ya?q?b. [c. 1980]. T?r?kh. Beirut: D?r ??dir.

Published

2019-10-23

How to Cite

Hayes, E. (2019). Early Islamic Cosmopolitanism? Constructing the ?<i>Umma</i> of India in Pre-Mongol Muslim Scholarship. Comparative Islamic Studies, 13(1-2), 75-120. https://doi.org/10.1558/cis.32620

Issue

Section

Articles