The Intensification and Reorientation of Sunni Jihad Ideology in the Crusader Period: Ibn 'Asakir of Damascus (1105-1176) and His Age, with an Edition and Translation of Ibn 'Asakir's The Forty Hadiths for Inciting Jihad.

Author:Hirschler, Konrad
Position:Book review
 
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The Intensification and Reorientation of Sunni Jihad Ideology in the Crusader Period: Ibn 'Asakir of Damascus (1105-1176) and His Age, with an Edition and Translation of Ibn 'Asakir's The Forty Hadiths for Inciting Jihad. By SULEIMAN A. MOURAD and JAMES E. LINDSAY. Islamic History and Civilization, vol. 99. Leiden: BRILL, 2013. Pp. xv + 222. $133.

The study of jihad ideology and its practice in Syria and Egypt during the Crusading period has elicited its fair share of scholarship. However, many of the relevant primary sources have neither been translated nor exist in satisfactory editions. Even the central text for early Crusader-period Syria by al-Sulami (d. 1106) is lacking, although a translation and edition by Niall Christie, The Book of the Jihad of 'Ali ibn Tahir al-Sulami (d. 1106): Text, Translation and Commentary, is in press (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate). The edition and translation of another crucial jihad treatise, al-Arbacun hadithan fi l-hathth 'ala l-jihad by Ibn 'Asakir (d. 1176), is thus a most welcome addition to the study of the idea of religiously motivated warfare in the twelfth century. This text is of particular importance because Ibn cAsakir was the most important scholar of his time in the Egyptian/Syrian lands--at least he was the most prolific. His importance for the study of jihad ideology is reinforced by the close relationship that he entertained with the political and military elites of his time, in particular with his patron, the Zangid sultan Nur al-Din (d. 1174).

In their excellent study Suleiman Mourad and Jim Lindsay make two main arguments in the course of the discussion. The first is that the concept and practice of jihad in the eleventh and twelfth centuries were not only directed against external enemies, the Franks (Crusaders), but at least as much against internal enemies, in particular the Shi'i Fatimid dynasty in Egypt. This focus on Muslim enemies was new and constituted a departure (or reorientation) from the previous aversion to framing Muslim armed conflicts in these terms. However, Sunni authors increasingly turned to jihad in order to conceptualize their response to the political situation in the eleventh century, the "Shi'i century." The authors' second central argument concerns the form of jihad treatises--texts of this period start to exclusively focus on quotations from the Quran and hadith, whereas earlier works were much more legalistic and nuanced in nature. As a direct consequence...

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