State and Religion in the Late Medeival and Early Modern Iran

This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals


Maryam Kamali


Elise Richter Hall
Wed, 2016-08-03 08:45 - 10:15


by Sholeh Quinn / University of California, Merced

The Ottomans and Safavids shared an inherited tradition of Persianate historiography. The earliest Persian histories composed under the Ottomans and the Safavids were universal chronicles, as opposed to histories covering a specific dynasty or a particular king. These universal histories include accounts of various biblical figures, episodes in ancient history, the story of the rise of Islam, and accounts of various Islamic dynasties. Despite the fact that these histories were produced under rival empires, they cover much of the same ground, suggesting that their authors were looking to a shared past and a common heritage. However, only by careful analysis, close comparison, and a search for the models and sources our chroniclers used can we reach larger conclusions about the strength of historiographical boundaries, the practice of history writing, and Ottoman-Safavid relations. This paper will compare a number of figures, including a pre-Islamic Persian king, a biblical patriarch, and an important personage in Shi’i history, in order to understand better the degree to which chroniclers tapped into the same historiographical tradition and how they modified that tradition to further the agendas of their patrons. The chronicles to be analyzed include Shukrullah’s Bihjat al-tavarikh, Khvandamir’s Habib al-siyar, Qazvini’s Lubb al-tavarikh, and Lari’s Mir’āt al-advār va mirqāt al-akhbār in order to address the questions raised above.

by Hamzeh Kaffash / Ferdowsi University of Mashhad

ولایت¬نامه گونۀ ادبی خاص شیعی در قرن نهم

مشهور است که اندیشه¬¬های شیعی با ظهور صفویه وارد شعر فارسی شده است و صفویان شعر را در خدمت عقاید و باورهای فرقه‌ای خود قرار داده‌‌اند. اما دیوان‌های شعری و به ویژه قصاید شاعران قبل از دوران صفوی از واقعیتی دیگر خبر می‌دهد و آن، این¬که اندیشه‌های شیعی به طور گسترده‌ای در دیوان‌های شاعران قرون هفتم تا نهم بازتاب یافته است. شاعران برای بیان عقاید مذهبی و ایدولوژیک خود از قالب‌های رایج شعر فارسی مانند: ترکیب‌بند، ترجیع‌بند، قصیده، مسمّط و ... استفاده می‌کرده‌اند.
در شعر شیعی قرن نهم شکلی از قصیده دیده می‌شود که شاعران آن عصر به آن «ولایت‌نامه» می‌گویند. این شکل که تا‌کنون بالغ بر 30 مورد در دیوان شاعرانی مانند سلیمی تونی، ابن حسام خوسفی، آذری اسفراینی و ... دیده می‌شود در تاریخ قصیدۀ فارسی بی‌سابقه بوده است، به دلیل این¬که اولاً، این فرم تعلق به یک گروه مذهبی و ایدئولوژیک خاص دارد و دیگر این¬که دارای نام خاص و محتوای مشخص واحدی می‌باشد. یکی از مهم¬ترین کاربرد¬های ولایت¬نامه گفتمان سازی و تثبیت گفتمان شیعی در قرن نهم است. از آن¬جا که قصیده نقش خطابۀ اجتماعی را دارد، ولایت‌نامه‌ها را می‌توان به عنوان خطابه اجتماعی – سیاسی مورد برسی قرار داد. علاوه بر این بعضی از این ولایت نامه ها دارای سندی مشخص هستند اما در برخی دیگر این ولایت‌نامه‌ها برساختۀ ذهن شاعر است که این امر جنبۀ خیالی‌تر شدن گفتمان شیعی را بیشتر می¬کند. احتمالاً ولایت‌نامه¬ها در ابتدا به صورت نثر در کتاب‌های تشیع در باب معجزات و کرامات حضرت علی(ع) نوشته می‌شده است که به نظر می‌رسد برای نخستین¬بار سلیمی تونی آن را به این شکل سروده است.
در این تحقیق ما در پی آن هستیم تا ماهیّت، ساختار و سیر تطوّر ولایت‌نامه را در قرن نهم به عنوان یکی از گونه‌های قصیده، بررسی و نقش و دلیل وجودی آن را تبیین کنیم.

by Jawan Shir Rasikh / University of Pennsylvania

This paper is a preliminary presentation of history of ‘medieval Ghur,’(c.998-1245 CE). The specific historical inquiry is the processes of conversion of Ghur’s inhabitants to Islam, and their post-conversion afterlives. Although Ghur is recognized in the historiographies of South Asia and Iran for the role of the Ghurid sultans (1150-1206 CE) in the establishment of an enduring Muslim Persianate polity and the expansion of Islamicate culture and power in India, my paper departs from the previous literature on three accounts. At a basic level, I discuss the conversion of to Islam in the Ghur valley, which occurred comparatively late (11th and 12th centuries), considering that the wider region is represented in the literature as a full-fledged center of Islamicate and Persianate culture and power at the time. I intend to show that conversion to Islam in medieval eastern Islam, especially in the hinterland localities, was neither necessarily through the meditation of warrior ghazis nor through the ‘Islamic urbanization’ suggested by historians (e.g., Richard Bulliet) medieval Islamic society and culture. At a methodological level, I suggest based on a set of newly discovered primary documents that there is a distinction between conversion to Islam on the one hand, and enigmatic post-conversion afterlives on the other, with the latter involving multiple interpretations, confusions, zealousness, and probably remorsefulness. These aspects of post-conversion afterlives connected to social organization, social mobility, and social identity, are missing in the discussions of conversion to Islam in the literature. At a historiographical level, I hope to show in my longer research work that changes and continuities from one form of social and cultural tradition, such as ‘Iranian,’ to another form of tradition, such as ‘Persianate’ or ‘Islamicate,’ were not synchronic across time and space bifurcated between a Persian and Islamic or an Islamic and Indic encounter. And I intend therefore to suggest that the developments of these newer forms of traditions and organizations theorized as ‘Persianate’ and ‘Islamicate’ or ‘Indo-Islamic’ should not be seen as occurring exclusively in the courts and cities of Iran and Hindostan through rulers, viziers, and poets, but as occurring simultaneously in their broader complex hinterlands, and in everyday life.

by Lorenz Korn / University of Bamberg

The introduction of the monumental dome chamber during the Saljuq period can be seen as a major achievement in Islamic architecture. These brick constructions are apparently well thought-out and some of them were built with great exactitude. Problems that had to be solved pertained both to construction and to design: the balance between pronounced verticality and a wide span of the dome, as well as the articulation of pillars, walls and elements of transition to the vault of the dome. A recent study by K. Nava’i and K. Hajji Qassemi suggest that certain proportions, among them the golden section, were used for the interior design of the dome chambers, at least in the case of the famous North Dome in the Great Mosque of Isfahan. These findings can now be compared with new data from two provincial mosques of the Saljuq period that have been exactly measured with 3D laser scanning. Of these, the mosque of Borujerd appears as a medium-large construction with a dome chamber unimpeded by earlier remnants, while the little dome chamber of Qerve was built on top of an existing structure. From the two cases, a number of conclusions can be drawn with regard to the construction of dome chambers and to the methodology of architectural history. It will be evident that in some cases, limits of variation are too broad to allow precise conclusions on proportions. For the general picture, it seems that the interior design of dome chambers varied greatly not only with proportions, but with the principles according to which architectural elements were shaped, distributed, and interrelated.

by Rachel Howes / California State University, Northridge

It is generally understood that the intellectuals of the Islamic world often traveled. At the very least they went to Mecca for pilgrimage. Often they traveled to other major cities in search of teachers, information, or employment. For much of the Abbasid period, the assumption is that the major destination of intellectuals who wanted to be in government service was Baghdad. However, in the tenth and eleventh century, the number of administrative capitals and thus royal courts proliferated. Other cities, including Iranian cities, began to compete with Baghdad for administrative and cultural personnel. The diversification of administrative centers meant that the phenomenon of the mobile elite was accelerated and exacerbated by the presence of multiple courts which provided larger opportunities for patronage and at the same time by a series of crises that displaced both elites and non-elites alike.
The Buyid centers of Shiraz, Rayy, and Kirman, as well as other Iranian cities hosted large numbers of elites in the eleventh century and served as part of a network of cities that played host to large numbers of traveling intellectuals. This is clear when one looks at the accounts of Iranians from these Buyid centers, such as Mu’ayyad fi al-Din al-Shirazi and Nasir-I Khusraw, who traveled elsewhere in the Islamic Middle East. When one takes a closer look at biographical dictionaries, it becomes clear that those travelers who wrote autobiographies were simply the tip of the iceberg and that there was a traveling class of Iranians who spread far and wide and served in places like Aleppo, Cairo, and as far away as Andalusia.
A brief examination of these quite traditional historical sources establishes the connections between the Iranian Buyid Capitols and other intellectual centers of the time. What becomes clear is that while Baghdad is still an important intellectual center, it was no longer the primary destination for those who sought a court post. Other cities were just as important and many intellectuals traveled without seeking to reach Baghdad. They also left Baghdad for greener pastures in Iranian Buyid capitols.
Finally, an examination of sources that are less often exploited by historians such as religious texts and poetry shows that not only did Iranian Buyid courts become intellectual destinations, they developed independent court cultures that differed markedly from Baghdad, as well as from other newcomers such as the cities of Khurasan.