Spatial, ritual and representational aspects of public violence in Islamic societies (7th–19th centuries <span class="smallCaps">ce</span>)

Christian Lange and Maribel Fierro

in Public Violence in Islamic Societies

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780748637317
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653164 | DOI:
Spatial, ritual and representational aspects of public violence in Islamic societies (7th–19th centuries ce)

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Violence as an element of historical relationships between Muslims and between Muslims and non-Muslims has been the object of scholarly work in the past. However, the role of violence in the political economy of Muslim societies, specifically its function as a tool to take possession of the public sphere has only recently begun to receive scholarly attention. There have been few attempts to offer a comprehensive view of the political uses of violence by Muslim states and of the historical struggle of the Muslims to defend the integrity of their bodies, honour and property against violent intrusions. This volume hence aims to discuss the political uses of public violence and punishments in the Muslim society. The chapters focus the state violence in Islamic societies and the reactions to the state violence. Three themes are laid out in order to fruitfully purse the study of public violence in the history of Islamic societies. These three themes are: the public and private dimension of violence in traditional Islamic societies; the ritual dimension of violence or the ways in which acts of violence were clothed in symbolic imagery and patterns of behaviour; and the representational dimension of violence such as how acts of violence were mentally processed, and challenged by those who observed and reported them. In this introductory chapter, the notion of violence as ritual and sacred is discussed. Within this paradigm, violence in the Muslim society such as hadd and hudud punishments were seen as the rights of God hence they elude legal reasoning. In sum, ritual violence was seen as ‘good violence’ that prevents the furthering of ‘bad violence’. Discussed as well in this chapter is the representation of violence.

Keywords: violence; public sphere; Muslims; public violence; punishments; state violence; hadd; hudud

Chapter.  10641 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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