Voices of the silent majority: the transmission of Sunnī learning in Fāṭimī Egypt

Cortese, Delia ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5507-9332 (2012) Voices of the silent majority: the transmission of Sunnī learning in Fāṭimī Egypt. Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 39 . pp. 345-366. ISSN 0334-4118 [Article]

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In this paper I will share some preliminary remarks as to the extent to which Sunnī scholarship continued, was disseminated and possibly even prospered under a regime that upheld Shī‘a Ismā‘īlīsm as its official madhhab. The Fāṭimids offer us the chance to explore a rather unique phenomenon in medieval Islamic history: the ‘survival’ of the intellectual tradition of a Muslim religious majority that came to be under a Muslim religious minority rule for some 250 years.
I will explore in particular the generation of Sunnī scholars whose activities preceded and broadly coincided with the period of reign of the imām-caliph al-Ḥākim (d. 411/1021). In 395/1004-5 al-Ḥākim founded the Dār al-‘ilm, an institution ostensibly intended to foster the advancement and dissemination of knowledge, which would serve as a public academy available to scholars of all persuasions. The presence of this centre of learning provides a useful focal point in wishing to explore the extent and the modality of intellectual interaction between Sunnī scholarly élites and the Fāṭimid Ismā‘īlī establishment. The generally accepted view is that the Fāṭimids’ religious tolerance and their patronage of scholarship through the establishment of institutions of learning were the two factors that mostly contributed to the vibrancy of intellectual life in Egypt under their reign. In this paper I propose to challenge this assumption by arguing instead that – at least in the case of the dissemination of Sunnī learning – scholarly life in late 4th-early 5th/late 10th-early 11th century Egypt thrived as a result of factors deriving from the relative economic prosperity and socio-political stability that the Fāṭimids were able to secure for the region.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
A. > Perspectives in Religion group
A. > School of Health and Education > Education > Interpreting and Translation group
Item ID: 12364
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Delia Cortese
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2013 13:02
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 00:24
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/12364

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