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Violence in Islamic Thought from the Mongols to European Imperialism

Edited by Robert Gleave, István Kristó-Nagy

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Examines the development of Muslim theological, legal, literary and cultural discussions about violence and its legitimation

The violent conquest of the eastern part of the lands under Muslim rule by the Mongols marked a new period in the history of Islamic civilisation and in attitudes towards violence. This volume examines the various intellectual and cultural reactions of Muslim thinkers to these events, both within and without the territories subjected to Mongol control. Each chapter examines how violent acts were assessed by Muslim intellectuals, analysing both changes and continuity within Islamic thought over time.

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Dates and Abbreviations
List of Figures and Tables
1. Introduction, Robert Gleave and István T. Kristó-Nagy

PART 1. The Mongols and their Aftermath
2. Violence and non-violence in the Mongol conquest of Baghdad (1258), Michal Biran
3. The Mongols as the Scourge of God in the Islamic World, Timothy May
4. Yāsā and sharīʿa Islamic Attitudes toward the Mongol Law in the Turco-Mongolian World (from the Golden Horde to Timur's Time), István Vásáry
5. Unacceptable violence as legitimation in Mongol and Timurid Iran, Beatrice Manz

Part 2. Violence in Religious Thought
6. Reconciling Ibn Taymiyya’s Legitimization of Violence with His Vision of Universal Salvation, Jon Hoover
7. Moral Violence in the Aḥkām al-Dhimma of Ibn Qayyim al-JawziyYa, Marie Thérèse Urvoy
8. Al-Karakī, Jihād, the State and Legitimate Violence in Imāmī Jurisprudence, Robert Gleave

Part 3. Violence in Philosophical Thought
9. Legitimate and illegitimate violence in Arabic political philosophy: al-Fārābī, Ibn Rushd and Ibn Khaldūn, Miklós Maróth
10. Soft and Hard Power in Islamic Advice Literature, Vasileios Syros

Part 4. Representing Violence
11. Old Images in New Skins: Flaying in the Iranian Visual Tradition, Iván Szántó
12. Warrant for genocide? Ottoman propaganda against the Qizilbash, Colin Imber

Index of Qurʾānic Citations
General Index

About the Author

Robert Gleave was Director of the Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence Project 2010-2013, and is Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Exeter. He specializes in Islamic legal theory (uṣūl al-fiqh) and Shīʿī legal thought. His most recent publications include Islam and Literalism: Literal Meaning and Interpretation in Islamic Legal Theory (EUP, 2012)

István Kristó-Nagy is a Lecturer in Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. He is the author of La pensée d’Ibn al-Muqaffaʽ (2013).


'The book provides a sense of the highly complex and fluid role that violence played in Islamic thought over the course of several centuries, a target that the book undoubtedly strikes.'
- Michael Hope, Yonsei University, Situations

A wide-ranging and authoritative discussion of both practical and philosophical attitudes to violence in late Medieval Islam

- Hugh Kennedy, SOAS University of London

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