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From obscurity to authority


Date of creation
  • 2021   Gregorian
Preferred title

From obscurity to authority   English  

Work type Single work
Non-literary work Historical work
Work manifested Article
Work genre Textual work

Adult, serious


This article reviews the changing reception of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s (d. 751/1350) Aḥkām ahl al-dhimma between the fourteenth century and modern times. I argue that the book had little influence on legal discourse about Christian and Jewish subjects under Muslim rule when it was written and during the following centuries. However, after the publication of a printed edition in 1961 and particularly from the 1990s, Aḥkām ahl al-dhimma has become an important resource for discussions of non-Muslim minorities in a Muslim state. I attribute the altered reception to a number of factors, including the now changed status of the author and the Ḥanbalite school to which he belonged, and the new relationship between the character of the book and the expectations of its readers. Consideration of the trajectory of Aḥkām ahl al-dhimma from the fourteenth to the twenty-first century is revealing for the insights that it offers into the changing status of Ibn al-Qayyim and the Ḥanbalite legal tradition, and the approach to non-Muslim subjecthood in Islamic legal discourse. It should also encourage caution when using this book as a source for understanding the social or legal history of relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in the fourteenth century.

Diamond   W 251078

Created at 15-10-2021 by Dalal Adib (IDEO)

Updated at 15-10-2021 by Dalal Adib (IDEO)