Autor: Torsten Wollina

Comes a man from the East

Ibn Tulun’s chronicle Mufākahat al-Khillān contains a curious anecdote, in which a man from “the lands of Ḥasan Bāk” comes to Damascus and just takes over the Kujujāniyya Khānqāh, which was in the hands of one of the most powerful men in town, the Shāfiʿī chief judge Shihāb al-Dīn Ibn al-Farfūr. [Rajab 892] In this month, a man came from the lands of Ḥasan Bāk and presents confirmed documents from the highest ranks of the family (dhurriya) of the endower of the Kujujāniyya Khānqāh; he wanted to … Continue reading Comes a man from the East

Sufis in war: an update

In my article “Between Beirut, Cairo, and Damascus: Al-amr bi-al-maʿrūf and the Sufi/Scholar Dichotomy in the Late Mamluk Period (1480s–1510s)” I proposed that several groups named in the sources as Sufis could have resembled paramilitary groups. They were viewed as cohesive bodies of men exactly because they would act as such in military conflicts, being called upon or pledging allegiance to one faction or other. In fact, their twofold impact on military efforts, both by preaching and waging jihād, must have made them appear … Continue reading Sufis in war: an update

Aḥmad Ḥasībī-zādeh and Ibn Ṭūlūn MTMs

Last year, my article on different modes of transmission of Ibn Ṭūlūn manuscripts was published in the Journal of Islamic Manuscripts. One figure that was ostentatiously involved in the certification of the manuscripts Chester Beatty Library, MS Ar. 3101 and Staatsbibliothek, MS Landberg 704, I could not identify by that time. He inscribed himself on the title pages of both manuscripts as Aḥmad Efendī Ḥasībī-zādeh in the year 1265/1849. Today, we revisit the identity of this person. First, in both cases Ḥasībī-zādeh’s full note reads as … Continue reading Aḥmad Ḥasībī-zādeh and Ibn Ṭūlūn MTMs

A First Global Distribution of Ibn Tulun manuscripts?

Ibn Tulun is usually perceived as an inherently local author with a decidedly local readership, that is before the late 19th century. And while the global distribution that emerged around 1900 has been addressed occasionally here before and by other scholars, this piece will question the general assessment of Ibn Tulun’s earlier reception as exclusively local, which might very well have been cemented only in the last century. To quote Kristina Richardson, “modern interest in Ibn Ṭūlūn has centered on his historical and biographical … Continue reading A First Global Distribution of Ibn Tulun manuscripts?

An owner of Ibn Ṭūlūn manuscripts: ʿAbd al-Salām al-Shaṭṭī

As Ibn Ṭūlūn wrote several hundred works and did so almost five hundred years ago by now, it stands to reason that the corresponding manuscripts might have changed hands several times over since their creation. Moreover, later readers, owners, and book traders were instrumental in the survival and recognition of those manuscripts as Ibn Ṭūlūn’s. This post explores one of those people whose personal collections included such manuscripts. A small composite manuscript of four Ibn Ṭūlūn texts is now kept at the Egyptian National … Continue reading An owner of Ibn Ṭūlūn manuscripts: ʿAbd al-Salām al-Shaṭṭī

New Publication on Domestic Devotion and Book Circulation

In 2015, I attended the conference Domestic Devotions in the Early Modern World, 1400-1800 at the University of Cambridge. The project was organized (very well, I would add,) by the ERC project Domestic Devotions: The Place of Piety in the Italian Renaissance Home. In early 2019, the resulting edited volume has been published in the Brill series Intersections. Organized in six sections, the volume’s sixteen chapters address historical practices from Korea to Brazil. One of the great advantages of this interdisciplinary endeavor is certainly that it highlights … Continue reading New Publication on Domestic Devotion and Book Circulation

How important was Ibn Tulun’s uncle Yusuf?

The funding period of the research cluster Dyntran: Dynamics of Transmission draws to a close very soon. The exchanges in this cluster have proven influential on my research since its inception in 2015. The focus on the social and especially familial contexts of writing has become a core element of several recent publications. As I am currently working on the chapter for the final edited volume in which I try to develop these ideas further, I have revisited Ibn Tulun’s own familial network. It … Continue reading How important was Ibn Tulun’s uncle Yusuf?

2018 in Retrospect / Perspectives 2019

2018 was easily the most successful year of this outlet yet. New pieces have been published at at a very stable rate of at least two per month. Almost by accident Sunday has been established as the regular day of publication. Some of them, such as “Let’s talk survival bias“, have received considerable attention (by my standards) on twitter. And for the first time, the number of monthly visitors reached four digits. The main reason for this summarizing post is therefore my own joy … Continue reading 2018 in Retrospect / Perspectives 2019

How to write with your Blog and through your Blog

Writer’s block is a common experience among academics and other writers alike, let alone students. I have suffered from it numerous times while preparing—and I still am—my book proposal and the corresponding manuscript. And I experienced this blog as much a distraction from doing those more important things as an aide to progressing with those things. And today I will just relate some of those experiences and how one can use a blog to one’s advantage in writing, especially when long-term projects are concerned. … Continue reading How to write with your Blog and through your Blog

New Publication on the transmission of Ibn Tulun manuscripts

The Journal of Islamic Manuscripts has just published its newest iteration, a special issue on manuscript notes. The editor Boris Liebrenz is well-known as an authority on this “marginal” topic. My contribution looks in particular at four manuscripts today held at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, and traces their historical trajectories from Ibn Ṭūlūn’s original book endowment until their acquisition by Chester Beatty. As has been mentioned before on this blog, Ibn Ṭūlūn’s multiple-text manuscripts share a particular feature, which is their title page which includes … Continue reading New Publication on the transmission of Ibn Tulun manuscripts

On the governor’s court in Late Mamluk Damascus

In the coming week, the German Historical Institute in Paris hosts a conference on new court history. Organized by Pascal Firges (DHIP) und Regine Maritz (Walter Benjamin Kolleg, Bern), “Towards a New Political History of the Court, c. 1200‒1800” will attempt, from comparative perspectives, to delineate “Practices of Power in Gender, Culture, and Sociability” (here is the direct link to the CfP). The conference will be structured around eight themes, moving from “Global Historical and Transcultural Perspectives” through “Gender”, two panels on “Bodies, Sexuality, and … Continue reading On the governor’s court in Late Mamluk Damascus

A note on Nelly Hanna’s “In Praise of Books”

Only recently, I finished reading Nelly Hanna’s 2004 monograph “In Praise of Books”. Honestly, while the book raises some interesting questions, it has not aged all that well. But first, what is it about? It is less about the books mentioned in the title and more about “A cultural History of Cairo’s Middle Class, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century” as the subtitle clarifies. In this context, Hanna argues that the written word became more important than it was before, and that it now began to … Continue reading A note on Nelly Hanna’s “In Praise of Books”

The Princeton ijāzas

Over the last year, Ibn Ṭūlūn’s documentation of teaching has repeatedly been addressed here. According to my own plan, this will be the last post on this issue for the foreseeable future. Thus, I would like to use this post to talk about some more general characteristics of these documentary texts. Once before, the difference between ijāzas and samāʿāt in this corpus has been discussed (Link). Now it is finally time to give the ijāzas a more structured treatment as the samāʿāt received back then. … Continue reading The Princeton ijāzas