Jacob Olidort, Ph.D. candidate, Near Eastern Studies

Between Rite and Responsibility

Mon, 11/16/2009
4:30 - 6 PM, Kerstetter Room, Marx Hall

In the LEGS seminar on 16 November, Jacob Olidort will present "Between Rite and Responsibility: Jih?d in al-M?ward?’s al-??w? al-Kab?r and al-A?k?m al-Sul??n?yya"

The paper, including a glossary of key terms, can be dowloaded here (password required).

As always, the LEGS seminar will run from 4:30-6 pm in the Kerstetter Room, 301 Marx Hall. The session will begin with a short presentation by Jacob of his paper and then we will have a general discussion.

Here is Jacob's abstract:   

The following work examines the concept of jih?d ("struggling- whether physical or otherwise- in the path of God") as expounded upon by Ab? 'l-?asan'Al? b. Mu?ammad b. ?ab?b al-M?ward? (364-450/974-1058). His contribution is an enlightening one, not least because of his diverse careers as a judge, jurist, diplomat, poet and adviser to the 'Abb?sid caliphate. In the context of his achievements in these fields, the present study focuses on two divergent interpretations that he offers of jih?d in two important works: al-A?k?m al- Sul??niyya, a manual for governance written for the ruler and a volume on governance from al-??w? al-Kab?r, a compendium of Sh?fi'? law- the legal school to which he subscribed. One observation that emerges from this comparison is that in al-A?k?m, jih?d is given more dimensions- including as a religious ritual- rather than merely as a state policy of self defense. The infusion of religious meaning into this exposition is important, not least because the Sunn? 'Abb?sid caliphate at that time was seeking a definition of purpose, particularly in religious matters. By examining the variations- and the context for such variations- in the definition of this concept by one author, we might not only appreciate the political climate of his time but also the decisions and influences that affect the interpretation and elaboration of Divine Law.