The International Workshop “Narratives, Knowledge Transmission, and Discourses on the Caliphate in Medieval Islam” will be jointly organized by Islamic Trust Studies Gruoup B01“The Ideas of the Muslim Community and State Systems(Principal Investigator: KONDO Nobuaki)” and A01 “Mobility and Universality in the Islamic Economy (Principal Investigator:Shinsuke Nagaoka)”.
Date & Time: March 6, Wednesday, 2024, 14:00~17:00 (JST)
14:00 Introduction by Nobuaki Kondo (ILCAA)
14:10 Han Hsien Liew (Arizona State University)
“”The Caliphate Will Last for Thirty Years”: Medieval Islamic Political Discourses on a Prophetic Hadith”
15:10 Yuta Arai (Kyoto University)
“Historicizing the Caliphate: Ibn Khaldūn’s Interpretation and Description of the age of al-Khulafāʼ al-Rāshidūn”
Discussant: Retsu Hashizume (Kansai University)
“The Caliphate Will Last for Thirty Years”: Medieval Islamic Political Discourses on a Prophetic Hadith
Han Hsien Liew
The hadith, “The caliphate will last for thirty years, followed by kingship,” forms the crux of Muslim debates over the distinction between a legitimate caliphate and worldly kingship. While scholars such as Muhammad Qasim Zaman and I-Wen Su have examined the hadith’s provenance and transmission during the first two centuries of Islam, this paper is more concerned with mapping the political discourses and debates that emerged from it after the crystallization of Sunnism in the ninth and tenth centuries. For instance, some Sunni scholars used it for polemical purposes in defending the collective reign of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs against Shiʿi claims that ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib was the rightful immediate successor to Muhammad. Other scholars, such as al-Nasafī (d. 1142), al-Āmidī (d. 1233), and al-Taftāzānī (d. 1390), grappled with the hadith’s literal meaning but refused to draw a clear demarcating line between the Rightly Guided Caliphs and the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs who came after them, insisting that a legitimate caliphate still existed after the Rightly Guided Caliphs. Drawing on chronicles, theological writings, and hadith commentaries, this paper argues that these political and historical discussions often revolved around three political ideals: consensus, justice, and piety. They also show that Sunni thinkers continued to hold diverse opinions about the nature of the caliphate during a time when the caliphal office was losing its political significance in the Islamic world.
Historicizing the Caliphate: Ibn Khaldūn’s Interpretation and Description of the age of al-Khulafāʼ al-Rāshidūn
With the decline of the Abbasid caliphate, the major focus of concern in Sunni Islamic political thought shifted from the caliphate itself to the enforcement of sharīʻa. The theory of al-siyāsa al-sharʻīya, proposed by some Sunni jurists like Ibn Taymīya after the fall of the Abbasid dynasty, positioned rulers and ulamāʼ as bearers of sharīʻa, rather than caliphs.
However, a 14th-century Arab historian, Ibn Khaldūn, famous as the author of al-Muqaddima, faced the necessity to reinterpret the caliphate from his standpoint as a historian, rather than a jurist. Ibn Khaldūn propounded the necessity of mulk, or (coercive) sovereignty, in human society and described universal history from the pre-Islamic age to the 14th century as the transfer process of sovereignty among nations in Kitāb al-ʻibar. Therefore, Ibn Khaldūn had to place the age of al-khulafāʼ al-rāshidūn, which had been idealized by his predecessors based on the Sunni historical perspective, in his universal history, while adapting his theory of sovereignty. Ibn Khaldūn reinterpreted the character of the caliphate based on the conception of ʻaṣabīya, or solidarity, which he himself defined as the origin of sovereignty, and viewed the age of al-khulafāʼ al-rāshidūn as a transitory phase from tribal leadership to sovereignty in the history of the Arabs.
Venue: Conference room 447 (4th floor), Research bldg. No. 2, Yoshida Campus, Kyoto University (No. 34 on the campus map) (registered participants may also access the workshop online by Zoom), Open to public/Admission free, Pre-registration is required.
Co-organizer: Grant-in-Aid for Transformative Research Areas (A), “The Ideas of the Muslim Community and State Systems” (Principal Investigator: KONDO Nobuaki (ILCAA); 20H05827)/Grant-in-Aid for Transformative Research Areas (A),“Mobility and Universality of Islamic Economy” (Principal Investigator： Shinsuke Nagaoka (Kyoto University), 20H05824)
Contact: MORITA Madoka (mmorita[at]aa.tufs.ac.jp)