Recommend to your Librarian

Request a Review Copy

The Shrines of the 'Alids in Medieval Syria

Sunnis, Shi'is and the Architecture of Coexistence

Stephennie Mulder

Hardback (Order Now – Reprinting)

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.

Show more


List of Figures and Maps
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'
Illustration Acknowledgements

About the Author

Stephennie Mulder is Assistant Professor in Islamic Art and Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin.


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.

- Nasser Rabbat, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Also in this series

You might also like ...