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The New Cambridge History of Islam
  • Volume 3: The Eastern Islamic World, Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries
  • Edited by David O. Morgan, University of Wisconsin, Madison , Anthony Reid, National University of Singapore

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    The New Cambridge History of Islam
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This volume traces the second great expansion of the Islamic world eastwards from the eleventh century to the eighteenth. As the faith crossed cultural boundaries, the trader and the mystic became as important as the soldier and the administrator. Distinctive Islamic idioms began to emerge from other great linguistic traditions apart from Arabic, especially in Turkish, Persian, Urdu, Swahili, Malay and Chinese. The Islamic world transformed and absorbed new influences. As the essays in this collection demonstrate, three major features distinguish the time and place from both earlier and modern experiences of Islam. Firstly, the steppe tribal peoples of central Asia had a decisive impact on the Islamic lands. Secondly, Islam expanded along the trade routes of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Thirdly, Islam interacted with Asian spirituality, including Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Taoism and Shamanism. It was during this period that Islam became a truly world religion.

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  • 1 - The steppe peoples in the Islamic world
    pp 19-77
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    The equally Iranian Samanid emirate in Khurasan and Transoxania, which flourished for almost two centuries, constituted bastions of Islamic faith and society against the peoples of the Eurasian steppes. There had never been a completely hard-and-fast boundary between the Turkish peoples of Inner Asia on the one hand, and the lands of ancient Iranian civilisation such as Khwarazm, Sogdia and Farghana on the other. The Saljuq family sprang from the Oghuz tribal group of the Turks. Northern and western Persia were at this time in the last phase of what V. Minorsky called 'the Daylami interlude' of medieval Persian history. Alp Arslan's decade of rule, buttressed by Nizamal-Mulk's guiding hands, saw expansion into new areas of the west, with unruly Turkmens directed into Armenia, Transcaucasia and Anatolia, and the consolidation of the sultanate in its heartlands of Persia and Iraq.
  • 2 - The early expansion of Islam in India
    pp 78-99
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    The early Islamic conquests brought Byzantine/Sasanid rivalry to an abrupt end while bringing the Middle East into a single monetary exchange system and linking the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean under the aegis of a single imperial polity. For the Arabs, Sind was overwhelmingly important as a thoroughfare of the India trade, both overland and maritime. The Turks who established their Islamic empire beyond Sind in the fifth/eleventh century, like their pre-Islamic predecessors, are better designated as post-nomadic people, with origins in the steppes but no longer active practitioners of pastoral nomadism. Al-Biruni, in his Kitab al-Hind, dates the beginning of 'the days of the Turks' from 'the time when they seized power in Ghazna under the Samani dynasty, and sovereignty fell to Nasir al-Dawla Sabuktigin'. The Shansabani dynasty superseded the Ghaznavids in the second half of the twelfth century.
  • 3 - Muslim India: the Delhi sultanate
    pp 100-127
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    The elite of the early Delhi sultanate comprised overwhelmingly first-generation immigrants from Persia and Central Asia: Persians (Tajiks), Turks, Ghuris, and also Khalaj from the hot regions of modern Afghanistan. The struggles for power at the centre during the seventh/thirteenth century inevitably had an impact on the expansion of the sultanate. The north-western districts of the Punjab, as we shall see, lay within the penumbra of Mongol sovereignty. The reigns of Iltutmish's first successors witnessed a steady build-up of Mongol pressure beyond the Indus. A change of tempo is visible during Ala al-Din Khalji's reign in the context of relations with independent Hindu kingdoms. Both the successful resistance to major Mongol attacks during Ala al-Din's era and the pronounced territorial expansion over which he presided were made possible by administrative measures which greatly extended the area under the sultan's direct control and subjected it to a uniform system of land-tax.
  • 4 - The rule of the infidels: the Mongols and the Islamic world
    pp 128-168
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    The Mongol period was a watershed for the Islamic world, as it was for most of Eurasia. This chapter first describes the formation of the Mongol empire, and then about the Mongols' western conquests. The Mongols replaced the familiar caliphate with a new imperial ideal and administrative methods conceived and tested in Mongolia and China. The Mongol empire was in the process of formation at the time of Chinggis Khan's death August 1227. Until 1259, the Mongol territories of the Middle East were part of an empire ruled from Mongolia. At this period, Transoxania was the only province directly under Mongol control and it fared better than other Islamic lands. Although the Mongol conquest put many Muslims under the rule of infidels, Mongol rule eventually resulted in a massive expansion of the dar al-islam. Muslims became predominant in western Anatolia and much of the western Eurasian steppe, while large Muslim minorities formed in parts of China.
  • 5 - Tamerlane and his descendants: from paladins to patrons
    pp 169-200
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    The restoration of political order and the re-establishment of balance in the eastern Islamic world was the result of the ruthless empire-building strategies of the nomadic warlord Tamerlane or Temur. Temur's authority was based on the Turko-Mongolian concept of leadership based on charisma, which represents one of the forms of legitimate domination in history. He also linked himself genealogically to Chinggis Khan, the founder of the Mongol empire. Although Temur did not hesitate to invoke Islamic legality whenever it was to his advantage to do so, Temur generally favoured the yasa over the sharia, the Islamic law. The Timurid state was predominantly military in character. It was based on a tribal military elite and supported by nomadic cavalry forces. The upsurge in cultural activity in Iran and Central Asia under Timurid patronage coincided roughly with the Renaissance in Europe; historians of Timurid art and culture dubbed it as the Timurid renaissance.
  • 6 - Iran under Safavid rule
    pp 201-238
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    The Safavid dynasty traces its origins to a fourteenth-century Sufi order established in the northern Iranian city of Ardabil, located in the province of Azerbaijan. The Safavid family continued to involve themselves in Aq Qoyunlu politics, including succession struggles, until Ismail took the throne and crowned himself king. After waging successful campaigns in Shirvan and Baku, he finally headed for Tabriz, where he crowned himself king. The most significant policy change that he instituted once he crowned himself king was the proclamation of Shi'i Islam as the official state religion. Although Shah Ismail used many Persians who had been administrators during previous dynasties to run the bureaucracy of the new empire, in order to promote Shi'ism, he invited scholars and experts from Qum, a traditional Shi'i centre in Iran. Shah Tahmasp, Ismail's son, took steps to crush any sort of religious expression that considered him a messianic figure thereby transfiguring notions of Safavid kingly legitimacy.
  • 7 - Islamic culture and the Chinggisid restoration: Central Asia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
    pp 239-265
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    At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Timurids were ousted from Central Asia and a new era of Chinggisid politics began. Chinggisid rule was restored in Transoxania and Cisoxania (Mawarannahr and Balkh) by a direct descendant of Jochi the eldest son of Chinggis Khan, Muhammad Shibaq. The reinstitution of Chinggisid political control in Central Asia had little impact on society as a whole, except for the marked distinction between the khanly family and its military supporters, the Uzbek amirs. The Abu'l-Khayrid Shibanids, the Tuqay-Timurids, and the military and intellectual supporters of both Chinggisid lines are noteworthy for their continuation of the Timurid model of artistic and scholarly patronage. The founder of the Mawarannahr lineage of the Abu'l-Khayrid Shibanids, Muhammad Shibani Khan, is portrayed by his contemporaries as a man of some learning and more importantly as a friend and patron of scholars and an active supporter of intellectual life.
  • 8 - India under Mughal rule
    pp 266-314
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    The Mughals' history of internecine dynastic warfare implicitly raises one facet of the dynasty's Central Asian heritage, their military tactics. Babur marched out of Kabul in 932/December 1525 intent on conquering Hindustan; in 1526, he founded the Mughul empire in India. Humayun's young son Akbar succeeded to the Mughal throne in 963/1556 in his twelfth year. The reign of Akbar's successor Salim or Jahangir, the 'World-seizer', vividly illustrates the importance of idiosyncratic personality and also witnessed the beginnings of Sikhism as a social and political force. Shah Jahan turned his back on Akbar's and Jahangir's sympathetic attitude towards non-Muslims, and he also exhibited little of the relentless intellectual curiosity of Akbar or the deeply emotional artistic sensitivity of Jahangir. One of the earliest signs of Shah Jahan's lofty ambition was the construction of the Peacock Throne, a gem-encrusted monument that was commissioned in 1037/1628 and completed seven years later.
  • 10 - Early Muslim expansion in South-East Asia, eighth to fifteenth centuries
    pp 366-408
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    This chapter examines the extension of Islam to South-East Asia up until the fifteenth century in several major stages. The activities of those Muslim maritime traders who were 'surnamed' Pu in the Chinese records were not greatly affected by the Cola attacks of the early fifth/eleventh century suggests that a large number were based in the ports of Champa rather than Sriwijaya. The expansion of Islam within the peninsula is likely to have been stimulated by the existence of the sultanate at Melaka, and the spread of Malay people throughout this region. The history of Islam in South-East Asia obviously cannot be understood without examining the component phenomena on a global scale. Throughout the processes of Islamic expansion a multitude of changes took place in the physical as well as mental topographies of the region. The Malay languages of the archipelago began to absorb the terminology of Islamic theology and law.
  • 11 - Follow the white camel: Islam in China to 1800
    pp 409-426
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    This chapter provides an unfastened periodisation, divided into four phases, that highlight the main features of each period in the history of Chinese Islam. The first phase is that of Changan and Quanzhou phase. The first significant marker of Muslim presence in China is the Great mosque in Xian (then Chang'an). Quanzhou/Zaitun bore the key hallmarks of Islamic presence in China between the eighth and thirteenth centuries. The Mongols populated their newly built observatory in Khanbaliq with astronomers brought in from the Islamic world, where astronomy and mathematics were the most advanced in the world. The Nanjing phase, which corresponds quite closely to the rise of the Ming dynasty in the fourteenth century, is a turning point in the Chinese Muslim history. Whereas the Nanjing phase of Chinese Islamic history was mostly cultural in nature, the final phase of Lanzhou and Xinjiang is marked by a mixture of cultural shifts, military activity and violence.
  • 12 - Islam in South-East Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral, 1500–1800: expansion, polarisation, synthesis
    pp 427-469
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    Over the past half-century historians have endeavoured to moderate the exaggerated importance long attached to 1498 and the arrival in the Indian Ocean of a small band of Portuguese. The carriage of goods between the various key centres of production in maritime Asia grew in sophistication as southern Chinese, Javanese, Tamils and Arabs became more active in it. The origins of the Aceh sultanate at the mouth of the Aceh river in northwestern Sumatra appear no older than the late fifteenth century, although Muslims were well placed since the thirteenth century in the older port of Lamri. Islamic influence in Siam also peaked in the mid-seventeenth century, both in Sunni and Shia forms. In South-East Asia, the carriers of the Islamic literary and philosophical tradition were primarily Sufi masters, who accepted to a lineage of esoteric and literary learning to their particular teacher and beyond that to a chain of other masters of the tradition.
  • 13 - South-East Asian localisations of Islam and participation within a global umma, c. 1500–1800
    pp 470-503
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    This chapter provides an overview of Islam in the Indonesian archipelago during the early modern period that presents a balance to prevalent understandings of the extent of localisation involved in the centuries-long processes of 'Islamisation' in the region. It highlights the ways in which local Muslim populations came to actively participate in developments within the wider world of Islam. The chapter focuses on the ways in which developments in local intellectual and cultural histories between 1500 and 1800 reflect localisations of Islam in the region as well as the engaged involvement of South-East Asian Muslims within a global, cosmopolitan community of Islamic religious scholarship. Over the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a distinct style of regional Islamicate culture developed on the north Java coast (pesisir) in which elements from the traditions of Muslim South Asia and the Middle East, as well as from China and diverse areas of the Indonesian archipelago were combined with local traditions.
  • 14 - Transition: the end of the old order – Iran in the eighteenth century
    pp 504-526
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    Iran's eighteenth century is easily characterised by its dynastic fragmentation, when no fewer than five dynasties ruled Iran in that period: Safavids, Afghans, Afshars, Zands, and Qajars. Iran and Central Asia's political culture of the eighteenth century had been characterised by weak centres of government and autonomy accorded to whole regions and, particularly, to tribal groups. The Afghans were to rule Iran for only seven years, and represented a transitional interlude from the Safavids to the Afshars, the second of the four eighteenth-century dynasties. Iran's centre of power was shifted east towards Central Asia, and as a consequence significant Sunni population was incorporated into what until then had been a largely Shii state. The impact of Europeans on Iran's economy had begun to be felt in the Safavid era, but the force of Europe's military and political power and rivalries, combined with European economic interests, took on ever-greater importance at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
  • 15 - Conversion to Islam
    pp 527-538
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    Over the centuries many millions of people have changed their religious identity from non-Muslim to Muslim. However, scholars understand the word 'conversion' in a variety of ways and use differing approaches in their studies of these changes. The study of conversion to Islam is burdened by tales and assumptions that have little basis in fact. No general history of the whens, hows and whys of conversion is possible. In the place of such a history, this chapter presents an assessment of current analytical approaches and of the types of conclusions that can be reached through different methods: quantitative, economic, literary analysis, and institutional. Even if the sources were available to determine the precise percentages of Muslims in the Central Asian, Chinese, Indian or south-eastern populations at any point in time, the characteristics of the faith professed by those Muslims would be seen to change over time.
  • 16 - Armies and their economic basis in Iran and the surrounding lands, c. 1000–1500
    pp 539-560
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    This chapter investigates two main subjects: the Mongol army as first formed in the Inner Asian steppes, and the Mongol army in the post-Hulegu period. One salient theme in the military, political and social history of the eastern Islamic world of the late Middle Ages and early modern period is the alteration and even tension between nomadic and standing armies. With the advent of the Mongol period in Iran, one may encounter an army of Inner Asian origin, with both similarities and differences between it and the original Turcoman army of the Saljuqs. The Mongols introduced a larger scale of armies and fighting, and this in turn influenced at least some of their enemies who were one of their main adversaries in the Middle East in the period after 1260. The demands of the Mongol administration were quite onerous, and contributed in many places to a decline in the economy, agricultural and urban.
  • 17 - Commercial structures
    pp 561-581
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    Recently, the relationship between the rising European activities in the Indian Ocean and the overland caravan trade in the eastern Islamic world has received more attention. In an effort to explore the general structures of this trade, this chapter surveys a number of the more important commodities involved in the commercial exchanges across the eastern Islamic world. Countless goods have been transported along the Eurasian trade routes. Spices, including especially pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and mace, represent the most obvious examples. The rise of European commercial activities in the Indian Ocean appears to have actually spurred a corresponding increase in the overland caravan trade. In the first decades of the eighteenth century, the Mughal dynasty declined, and following Nadir Shah's invasion, the north Indian economy was under severe stress; however, economic growth was witnessed elsewhere, especially Iran. In 1750, new regional market was opened in the Russian city of Troitsk, at which prices were listed in both rubles and rupees.
  • 18 - Transmitters of authority and ideas across cultural boundaries, eleventh to eighteenth centuries
    pp 582-610
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    There is much that the ulama of the eastern Islamic lands shared, in terms of their conceptions of the scholarly tradition and of the practices constitutive of it, with religious scholars elsewhere. This chapter examines some of the discourses and practices through which, and the contexts in which, the scholarly tradition was cultivated in what ulama like Ali al-Qari clearly recognised as a cumulative endeavour. It explores how the religious authority was asserted through these discourses and practices. All six of the collections of hadith that carry the greatest authority in Sunni Islam were compiled by third-fourth/ninth-tenth-century scholars from north-east Iran and Central Asia. Compendia of legal doctrines, agreements and disagreements as well as commentaries on such works were central to the articulation, preservation and transmission of the ulama's discursive tradition. Certain texts gradually came to be invested with compelling authority within particular madhhabs. Medieval cosmopolitanism had its constraints, but scholarly learning remained, by far, its most important basis.

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