EXC 2060 C3-24 - Transformations of the Burda: Political dimensions of a controversial literary-religious discourse (13th-15th century)

Funding Source
DFG - Cluster of Excellence
Project Number
EXC 2060/1
Type of Funding
Subproject in DFG-joint project hosted at WWU
  • Description

    In the 13th century, Arabic poems of praise to the Prophet Muhammad establish themselves in the Middle East as an extremely popular literary genre, some of which refer counterfactually to a particularly famous prophet's praise called Burda, which unfolded a tremendous power of effect that was also fought early on and remains a political issue to this day. The development of this literary genre takes place in the context of profound social transformations, which can be seen, for example, in a "bourgeoisification" of urban society and a "popularization" of Sufism, combined with changes in the veneration of the prophet, with tendencies toward more individualism as well as toward increased institutionalization, and not least in a shift in majority relations between Muslims and Christians.

    Selected adaptations of this famous poem will therefore be examined for their effectiveness and contentiousness, placed in their respective political and social contexts, and analyzed in terms of the religious ideas conveyed in them. The central question is about the image of the prophet: Is Muhammad described more as a ruler or an ascetic, as a fighter or an intercessor? Which inner-Islamic religious controversies are fought out, for example between more and less strongly Sufi or between Sunni and Shiite ideas?  And what role do other religions, especially Christianity, play in the depiction? The focus is on the literary text as a medium of communication that triggers different emotions and controversial reactions, the effects of which are to be examined more closely.

    The aim is to examine the selected transformations of the Burda with regard to their political-literary-religious negotiation strategies. In the interplay of the various dimensions of the religious, political, and linguistic, we will ask which claims to authority are negotiated in the individual transformations.

  • Persons