EXC 2060 C3-13 - Religious and political dimensions of Sunni-Shiite conflicts in the 12th century

Research Portal
in Process
Project Number
EXC 2060/1
  • Description

    In 1171, the Sunni military commander Saladin deposed the Fatimids of Cairo, putting an end to a Shiite caliphate that had lasted for more than two centuries. As ruler of Egypt and Syria, he recognized the suzerainty of the Sunni caliph in Baghdad. Looking at the most important political discourses of this period of change (approx. 1150-1200), which manifest themselves in the production of the chancelleries and the political panegyric, this project explores the ways in which, within these texts, religious criticism is directed against the enemy, used to bolster one's own legitimacy, or, alternatively, a predominantly worldly political discourse is formulated. Some chancellery writers and literati unequivocally supported one side in this conflict, e.g. ʿUmāra al-Yamanī (1161-1179) the Shiite Fatimids and Ibn Sanāʾ al-Mulk (1155-1211) the Sunni Ayyubids. The famous chancellery writer al-Qāḍī al-Fāḍil (1135-1200) started out working for the Fatimids and under Saladin went on to become the most important administrator of Ayyubid Egypt. Sibṭ ibn at-Taʿāwīḏī (st. 1188) was in the service of the Sunni caliph in Baghdad. By comparing these prose authors and poets, the project examines the differences and commonalities, the mutual reactions and changes concerning the portrayal and legitimation of political authority that can be found in their texts. Are there any differences at all between the portrayal of a Shiite caliph, a Sunni sultan and a Sunni caliph? According to the authors, what distinguishes a good ruler? How are the leaders of one's own camp defined in opposition to their enemies? Which role do religious polemic and apologia get to play in this? Which emotions are stimulated by the literary form? To what degree is the confessional difference emphasized or, on the contrary, a political discourse separated from a political one? How are these discourses modified in the context of the conflict? Does the Ayyubid political discourse change after they gain control of Egypt? How does the religious conflict modify ideas and portrayals of political authority and how does the political conflict influence the mobilization of religion?
  • Persons

  • Dissertations

    Jens Fischer, M.A.


    Doctoral Thesis

    Poetry and politics. Arabic Panegyric Poetry as a Medium of Political Communication in the Post-Seljuk Middle East.

    Professor Dr. Thomas Bauer
    Doctoral Subject
    Arabistik und Islamwissenschaft
    Targeted Doctoral Degree
    Dr. phil.
    Awarded by
    Department 09 – Philologies