Cities and Sacred History

Zayde Antrim

in Routes and Realms

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199913879
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980178 | DOI:
Cities and Sacred History

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This chapter focuses on the textual strategies of naming and locating cities and assembling foundation or conquest narratives in topographical histories and “merits” (faḍāʾil) treatises. These strategies draw substantially from a reservoir of sources dealing with sacred history and are particularly effective in making proximate what otherwise might seem distant and disconnected, whether temporally or spatially. The chapter uses as prominent examples texts devoted to representing the cities of Mecca, Jerusalem, and Baghdad, sites of considerable religious and political significance in the early Islamic world. What is striking about the claims to belonging and authority associated with each city is their overwhelming inclusivity and heterogeneity. This suggests that cities were imagined in the discourse of place more as sites of connectivity, negotiation, and compromise than as symbols of Islamic purity or triumphalism.

Keywords: city; topographical histories; Faḍāʾil; sacred history; foundation; conquest; Mecca; Jerusalem; Baghdad; connectivity

Chapter.  13883 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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