Responses to crucifixion in the Islamic world (1st–7th/7th–13th centuries)

Tilman Seidensticker

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:
Responses to crucifixion in the Islamic world (1st–7th/7th–13th centuries)

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This chapter deals with some comparable texts containing information on how crucifixion as a punishment or method of deterrence was perceived by contemporaries. These texts are Arabic poems, composed during the early Islamic period and the 7th/13th century. Before presenting the poems and relevant verses, the chapter provides some introductory information on: the juridical status of crucifixion; the frequency of its application; and the practice as far it becomes visible in the poems. In the Islam world, the normal case was crucifixion after death. For this reason, ‘crucifixion’ in the majority of the cases is perhaps a less suitable translation of salb than ‘display’; this latter term does not arouse the same associations and emotions in Western minds as does the former. Moreover, at times, the corpses were not really crucified on a cross with outspread arms, but simply to a pole, hence crucifixion is an even more misleading translation in these cases. As reflected in the crucifixion poems, the normal case in the Islam world was crucifixion extra muros. In addition, compassion is not a conspicuous feature of responses to crucifixion.

Keywords: crucifixion; punishment; Arabic poems; early Islamic period; salb; extra muros

Chapter.  6154 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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