Responsables: Profs Blain Auer (UNIL-SLAS-Asie du Sud) et Wissam Halawi (UNIL-IHAR)
The 10th and 11th centuries in the history of the Muslim world is a time of great religious and political changes and developments. A period of major rivalries in the development of Sunni and Shia ideologies. Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd Allāh al-Mahdī Billāh (873-934) help found the Fatimid Caliphate, based on the Isma'ili faith. This would develop into the most successful Shi'a political religious movement in Islamic history. The 10th century also saw the decline of the Abbasid caliphate as the Iranian Intermezzo led to the development of Samanid, Tahirid, Saffarid and Buyid polities in the eastern Islamic world. These changes in governance and political systems produced a new set of competing religious and political discourses. Some of these discourses pitted Sunni and Shia communities in relationships of rivalry in search of claims of authority and legitimacy. Intra religious rivalry was also a feature of these historical developments. This was the period of the compilation of the major collections of Shia hadith and the beginning of the formulation of Shia law through the efforts of the rationalists. In this context, esoteric tendencies within the Twelver Shia community were criticized as heretical. Heresiographies of the time placed the accusations of heresy (zandaqa), extremism (ghuluww), innovation (bida’) and infidelity (kufr) at the center of their religious debates. These historical conditions also produced major parallel disputes concerning Mutazili and ‘Ashari theology. Later, the baton of the Sunni revival was carried by the Ghaznavid ruler Sultan Mahmud (r. 997-1030). In the first decades of the 11th century Sultan Mahmud carried his empire from Khwarazm to the Punjab. He carefully cultivated diplomatic ties with the caliph al-Qadir (r. 991-1031) in Baghdad to promote his Sunni vision of Islam, receiving the title Yamīn al-Dawla wa Amīn al-Milla. As Sultan Mahmud brought his conquests to India, his political ambitions were confronted with a variety of different non-Muslim communities subsumed in Islamic political discourses as the “infidels” (kuffār). Also, during his conquests, he encountered the Ismaili emirs of Multan which were targeted with accusations of heresy. In the religious exchange of ideas and the consolidation of theological, juridical, and political systems the boundaries of faith and disbelief were increasing being drawn with precision. Accusations of heresy, infidelity and apostacy were rife within the religious and political discourses of the period.
This international conference is organized to interrogate emerging discourses on heresy and infidelity in the historical contexts of the 10th and 11th centuries. The goal is to identify major developments and trends in the historical disputes over religious and political legitimacy either through theological, juridical, or political discourses. During this period, Fatimid missionaries extended their religious teaching in Iran and Central Asia, in Samanid realms, and in the Punjab in Multan where Ismaili emirs ruled a city-state from the 10th to the early 11th century. The regions of principle concern for this conference range from Egypt in the West to India in the East. Contributions are welcome from scholars treating the subjects of heresy and infidelity in historical perspective through the study of theological, juridical, and political discourses.