(C2-4) Monarchical Rule and Religious Community-Building

What are the resources that a religious tradition provides to make political claims to power take effect in social practice? And how, in reference to a religiously justified normative structure, can social consensus be corroborated? These questions will be investigated on the basis of exemplary studies on several Christian and Islamic cases. The aim is to identify those symbolical forms and institutional mechanisms that were available to the rulers in order to locate their respective position in the fabric of different social groups. In this context, the conditions and processes of institutional stabilisation that determined the entrenching of monarchical claims to power in social reality will be investigated. The issue is, what are the conditions under which religiously constituted and connoted contexts of order could be exploited in order to substantiate political orders by banding together subjects and officials in special social communities on the initiative of a ruler with the objective of an increased political network?

The analyses concentrate on the question as to which options certain religious traditions opened up for monarchical rulers in order to be capable of establishing long-term ties with members of the elites and those depending on them even in more remote regions, beyond their direct environment and the established network of closely related officials. This question will be investigated using as an example those relationships that were based on religious fraternisation, or rather, on certain religious communities that distinguished themselves from society as a whole by specific institutional mechanisms. The project will analyse how political actors, under concrete historical conditions, availed themselves of potentials to stabilise their rule that they came upon in the respective religious tradition as well as in political and social structures.

The Project is part of interconnecting platform F Transcultural Entanglements and coordinated project group Exchange among and between ‘world religions’: appropriation – transformation – demarcation.

Subproject: Nūr ad-Dīn and the Sunni ʿUlamāʾ of Damascus (Nadeem Khan)

The dissertation deals with Nūr ad-Dīn Maḥmūd b. Zankī (died 1174) and his relationship with the Sunni scholars in his capital city of Damascus. Especially in the later years of his reign, the ruler was known as a benefactor of religious foundations. An example for this practice is the ḥadīṯ scholar Ibn ʿAsākir who was financially supported by Nūr ad-Dīn while writing his principal work "Tārīḫ Dimašq". The text mostly deals with the deeds of noted inhabitants of Damascus. The work shall be used to identify ʿUlamāʾ supported by Nūr ad-Dīn; subsequently the type of patronage will be determined.

By combining the information derived from this analysis with research based on other contemporary works, such as Ibn al-Aṯīrs "al-Kāmil fī at-Tārīḫ", a sociogram will be devised, showing to what extent Nūr ad-Dīn’s support of individual scholars was linked to social or ethnic origin, schools of jurisprudence or theological orientation. In a final step Nūr al-Din’s patronage of Sunni scholars will be analysed within the context of his policy against both Shiites and Crusaders. I will ask whether and to what extent increasing religious intolerance of Shiites and emphasis on ğihād can be detected with scholars supported by Nūr ad-Dīn.