The first illustrated, architectural history of the ‘Alid shrines, increasingly endangered by the conflict in Syria
The ‘Alids (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad) are among the most revered figures in Islam, beloved by virtually all Muslims, regardless of sectarian affiliation. This study argues that despite the common identification of shrines as ‘Shi’i’ spaces, they have in fact always been unique places of pragmatic intersectarian exchange and shared piety, even - and perhaps especially - during periods of sectarian conflict.
Using a rich variety of previously unexplored sources, including textual, archaeological, architectural, and epigraphic evidence, Stephennie Mulder shows how these shrines created a unifying Muslim ‘holy land’ in medieval Syria, and proposes a fresh conceptual approach to thinking about landscape in Islamic art. In doing so, she argues against a common paradigm of medieval sectarian conflict, complicates the notion of Sunni Revival, and provides new evidence for the negotiated complexity of sectarian interactions in the period.
Series Editor’s Foreword
Introduction. ‘A Road for All Muslims’
1. A Mashhad at Balis
2. Aleppo, an Experiment in Islamic Ecumenism
3. Eclectic Ecumenism: The Cemetery of Bab al-Saghir in Damascus
4. Perpetual Patronage: Four Damascene ʿAlid Shrines
5. A Landscape of Deeds: ‘Alid Shrines and the Construction of Islamic Sacred Topography
Conclusion 'A Time of Miracles'
About the Author
An elegant study of how shrines were the locus of ecumenical veneration in times of heightened sectarian tensions. That the focus of the book is Syria constitutes a hopeful reminder that sectarianism was not the historical norm and that architecture can and did mediate between divergent religious passions.
‘[Stephennie Mulder] should be thanked for sharing the fruits of such a challenging project, one that only those scholars with the necessary versatility, perseverance and passion can carry through to the end. The Shrines of the ʿAlids in Medieval Syria forces us to recognize the historical value of the ʿAlid shrines in Syria at this moment in time when such recognition is needed more urgently than ever before.’
'A remarkable study...by utilizing a wide range of source material and drawing a carefully conceived picture of how this architecture of coexistence was constructed and perpetuated, the book as a whole makes an original and innovative contribution to the study of the history of Islamic ecumenism and its substantial and enduring forms.'
‘Mulder’s volume on the ‘Alid shrines of Syria fills a significant lacuna in the study of Shi’a architecture… well-researched and meticulously referenced.’
'This book should be required reading on every graduate architecture and methodology course. Apart from its fascinating subject matter, it is exemplary in its method, its slow but compelling progression from the micro-level of archaeological reconstruction to the macro-level of political patronage and sacred topography…I have no doubt that it will be the basic reference text on the subject for many years to come, and rightly so.'