by T Bernheimer · Cited by 4 — century? Some of the earliest surviving examples of Islamic funerary architecture are sites attributed to the Ahl al-Bayt, the family of the Prophet Muḥammad,.
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Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2013 DOI: ˜˚.˜˜˛˝/˜˙ˆˇˆ˘˚˘˝ Studia Islamica 108 (2013 ) 1-15brill.com/siShared Sanctity: Some Notes on Ahl al-Bayt Shrines in the Early ˜˚libid Genealogies*Teresa BernheimerUniversity of OxfordThis article examines some of the earliest literary evidence for Ahl al-Bayt shrines, contained in the so-called genealogies. First written in the mid- to late-9th century, nearly contemporaneously with the development of the earliest shrines themselves, these sources were often written by (and perhaps mainly for) the Ahl al-Bayt themselves, providing a picture that the family itself sought to preserve and convey. According to these sources, by the end of the 9th century there clearly were burial places of the Ahl al-Bayt , and especially of the family, that were visited. Such sites were asso – ciated with a number of who were not imams, but ﬁregularﬂ members of the family; thus they were not places of pilgrimage for the only, but sites of veneration that could be shared and even developed regardless of sectarian The sites, moreover, became focal points for the Ahl al-Bayt , many of whom settled around them, and came to ben -from their waqf arrangements and the pilgrimage around them. Over all, the paper argues that the appearance ofŠor increased attention toŠthe Ahl al-Bayt shrines from the 9th century onwards had little to do with or patronage; instead, it may be seen as consistent with the wider development of the socio-religious rise of the Ahl al-Bayt : the development of ﬁ To this day, the ubiquity of mausolea and shrines in all parts of the Islamic world is striking to any traveller: from the Taj Mahal in Agra, to the grand structures in Bukhara and Samarqand, to the famous Mamluk and Ayyubid version of this article was presented at the 2007 MESA conference in Montreal, as part of the panel Sharing Sanctity: Veneration of the Family of the Prophet as Non-Sectarian Social Praxis . I would like to thank the chair, the late Pro -fessor Oleg Grabar, my co-organisor Stephennie Mulder, and the other contribu -tors and members of the audience for vaft. brought to you by COREView metadata, citation and similar papers at core.ac.ukprovided by SOAS Research Online
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2 T. Bernheimer / Studia Islamica 108 (2013 ) 1-15shrines in Jerusalem, Damascus and Cairo, to the many smaller places of worship elsewhere: in many ways, kinds of funerary buildings have become a quintessentially Islamic sight over a vast geographic and cultural area. Yet, the relative scarcity of funerary buildings dating to the three centuries of Islam has long puzzled scholars especially of Islamic art. Should we assume that funerary buildings of the three centuries of Islam did not survive, or did they never exist? Where did the building types originate? In what ways did the disapproval of some Islamic scholars of the building over graves social praxis? How do we account for the relatively sudden appearance of shrines and tombs after the ninth century?Some of the earliest surviving examples of Islamic funerary architecture are sites attributed to the Ahl al-Bayt , the family of the Prophet often equated with In his famous 1966 article on ﬁThe earliest Islamic commemorative structuresﬂ, Oleg Grabar suggests that and secular were ﬁthe two factors which caused the growth of mausoleumsﬂ, and these two factors ﬁremained throughout as the main source of memorial constructionsﬂ. Indeed, the role of and dynasties played in the development and formulation of Islamic funerary and commemorative architecture remains central to the discussion on the origins and early development of Islamic shrines. Amongst those arguing against placing too great an emphasis on the of dynas – ties is Christopher Taylor: is doubtfulﬂ, he says, ﬁthat the genesis of For a summary discussion of the origins of the mausoleum in Islam, which excludes Iran as a possible place of origin, see Robert Hillenbrand, Islamic Archi -tecture, pp. 253-330; for a list of the earliest Islamic funerary buildings, see ﬁLes premiers monuments funéraires de l™Islamﬂ, Annales Islamologiques 9 (1970), pp. 21-36.scholarship suggests that the importance of the levelling of graves (taswiyat al-qub˜r ) and the disapproval of built tomb structures in Islam has been overstated in earlier scholarship. See for instance Thomas Leisten, Architektur für Tote (Berlin, 1998), pp. 10-12; idem, ﬁBetween Orthodoxy and Exegesis: Some Aspects of Attitudes in the Toward Funerary Architecture, Muqarnas 7 (1990), pp. 12-22; and Leor Halevi, Mu˚ammad™s Grave. Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society (New York, 2007), pp. 187-196.Grabar, ﬁThe Earliest Islamic Commemorative Structuresﬂ, Ars Orien – talis VI (1966), p. 46.Christopher Taylor, ﬁReelvaluating the Role in the Development of Monumental Islamic Funerary Architecture: The Case of Egyptﬂ, Muqarnas 9 (1992), pp. 1-10.
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T. Bernheimer / Studia Islamica 108 (2013 ) 1-15 3monumental commemorative and funerary architecture in Egypt owes itself primarily to inspiration.ﬂ Taylor™s research has focused mostly on medieval Egypt and Syria, where the rule and patronage of the dynasty may well present a special case. Yet even here, the shrines to mem -bers of the Prophet™s family can be shown to have had universal appeal. He suggests that one should understand the cult of Muslim saints as part of the larger and long-standing phenomenon of the veneration of the dead in the Middle East. Taylor emphasizes that the visitation of graves ( ziy˛ra) is a central aspect of this continuing tradition.It is in this context that the shrines of the Ahl al-Bayt , and in particular the shrines of the descendants through his daughter and his cousin need further attention. Two recent studies have looked at some of these shrines and examined their origin and relationship with Shi‚ism: Whilst James Allan™s work focuses on the art and architecture of the shrines of the Twelver in Iraq and Iran and emphasizes the character of the sites, Stephennie Mulder examines the shrines of the in medieval Syria and suggests that they often served as unique spaces of inter-sectarian exchange and devotion. This paper contributes to the discussion by evaluating some of the earliest literary evidence for Ahl al-Bayt shrines, contained in the so-called genealogies. It argues that the appearance of and increased attention to shrines from the ninth century onwards had little to do with or patronage, but may be seen as consistent with the wider development of the rise of ﬁReevaluating the Shi‚i Roleﬂ, p. 1. Grabar™s arguments and their -ence on later scholarship were eloquently summarized by Taylor. Taylor™s point is developed in the work of Joseph Meri on the cult of saints in medieval Syria. He highlights the sacred aspects of shrines and pilgrimage among Muslims, Jews, and Christians, and stresses the sharing of a fundamental set of rituals around the veneration of saints; see Josef Meri, The Cult of Saints Among Muslims and Jews in Medieval Syria (Oxford, 2002), especially pp. 120-213, and 284; idem, ﬁThe Etiquette of Devotion in the Islamic Cult of Saintsﬂ, in James Howard-Johnston and Paul Anthony Hayward (eds.), The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Oxford, 1999), p. 265.Taylor, In the Vicinity of the Righteous: Ziy˛ra and the Veneration of Muslim Saints in late Medieval Egypt (Leiden, 1999); and Taylor, ﬁReevaluating Allan, The Art and Architecture of Twelver Shi˝ism: Iraq, Iran and the Indian Sub-Continent (Oxford, 2012), pp. 5-39; and Stephennie Mulder, The Shrines of the ˝Alids in Medieval Syria: Sunnis, Shi˝is, and the Architecture of Coexistence (Edinburgh, forthcoming).
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4 T. Bernheimer / Studia Islamica 108 (2013 ) 1-15the descendants of the Prophet as a social class, independent of sectarian Contrary to the view of Ibn Taymiyya, who condemned the visitation of tombs and termed it a heretical innovation (bid˝a) of the Buyids, the veneration of saints was a Sunni cult in as much as it was a one; † indeed, there was little about the reverence for the family of the Prophet. “ Rather than a sign for the spread of the emergence and visitation of shrines were an expression of what may best be termed ﬁnon-sectarian reverence of the Prophet™s descendants. The genealogies are of particular relevance as they began to be written in the mid- to late-ninth century, and are thus contemporane – ous with a proliferation of shrines associated with the descendants of the Prophet Based mostly on locally collected registers, these works especially emphasize which lineages continued and which ones died out. Their primary intent was to delineate who did and who did not belong to the family of the Prophet, and was thus entitled to certain privi – leges; their purpose was to consolidate and legitimize the family™s standing as a distinct and distinguished social group. Even though these sources are primarily interested in the discussion of genealogical questions, real or imagined, and do not provide extensive information on the shrines, they nonetheless some of the earliest references to burial places of †Taymiyya, Majm˜˝ Fat˛w˛ Shaykh al-Isl˛m A˚mad b. Taymiyya (Riyadh, 1991), vol. 27, pp. 151 and 393; quoted in Meri, Cult of Saints , pp. 273-274; Meri, ﬁEtiquette of Devotionﬂ, pp. 273-279.“Morimoto has recently drawn attention to a highly interesting group of Sunni traditions on the Prophet™s family. Recommending the good treatment of the in a variety of ways, these ﬁedifying storiesﬂ were transmitted across sec – tarian boundaries, and show that ﬁat the level of the day-to-day practice of believ – ers, there has been no between the behaviors that advocates of the special treatment of the sayyid /shar˙fs in either sect have promoted.ﬂ See Kazuo Morimoto, ﬁHow to behave towards sayyids and shar˙fs. A trans-sectarian tradition of dream accountsﬂ, in Kazuo Morimoto (ed.), Sayyids and Sharifs in Muslim Societies: The Living Link to the Prophet (London/New York, 2012), pp. 15-36 (at p. 17). E. Peters recently used the term with the slightly meaning of ﬁsimple loyalty to the house of He similarly juxtaposes the term with See F. E. Peters, The Monotheists. Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conˆlict and Competition (Princeton, 2005), p. 285.See Teresa Bernheimer, The ˝Alids: The First Family of Islam, 750-1200 (Edin -burgh, forthcoming).
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T. Bernheimer / Studia Islamica 108 (2013 ) 1-15 5members of the Prophet™s family. They include references to sites associ -ated with who are not known to have played any religious or political role. As both material and literary evidence for Islamic shrines are scarce for the three centuries of Islam, this early material is of much value. Moreover, similar to the increased interest and emergence of Ahl al-Bayt shrines from the ninth century onwards, the proliferation of this literature is itself of the rise of the as ﬁthe family of Islamﬂ.˛AlidismAs I have described in more detail elsewhere, the emergence of the family as a distinct and distinguished social group was intimately connected with the rise and decline of the caliphate. Until the Revolution of 750, the ﬁfamily of the Prophetﬂ had generally included all of the the movement that brought the to power had called for ﬁthe chosen one from the family of ( al-riˇ˛ min ˛l Mu˚ammad)ﬂ, generally understood to be a Of course, some of the movement™s supporters, and certainly most of the themselves, had expected the revolution to enthrone a closer relative of the Prophet than an an actual descendant of the Prophet, a ’asanid or ’usaynid. When this was not the case, and a number revolts in the years and decades after the Revolution were unsuccess – ful, the began to delineate more precisely who was included in the The ˝Alids (forthcoming).P. Crone, ﬁOn the Meaning of the call to in C. E. Bos -worth (ed.), The Islamic World. Essays in Honor of Bernard Lewis (Princeton, 1989), pp. 95-111; On see W. Madelung, ﬁThe of al-Kumayt Studia Islamica 70 (1989), pp. 5-26.-ing of two ’asanid brothers, al-Nafs al-Zakiyya and The caliph not only violently confronted the rebels but also per – secuted and imprisoned a number of other The tenth-century litterateur (d. 346/956) writes of this event: ﬁit caused a split between the descen – dants of b. and the family of prior to this, their cause was one ( wa k˛na qabla dh˛lika amruhum w˛˚id )ﬂ; see (d. 345/954 or 356), Mur˜j al-Dhahab (Beirut, 1966-1979), vol. IV, p. 22. For a list of rebel -lions, see Teresa Bernheimer, A Social History of the ˝Alid Family from the 8th to the 11th century (
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6 T. Bernheimer / Studia Islamica 108 (2013 ) 1-15Ahl al-Bayt . In very general terms, it was the distinctiveness from their cousins that was at the centre of this new Moreover, whilst the rise of the to the caliphate marked the starting point for a clearer on part of the of the true ﬁfam – ily of the Prophetﬂ ( Ahl al-Bayt ), the decline of power from the ninth century onwards gave the the opportunity to re-position them – selves as the Prophet™s legitimate heirs, genealogically, politically, as well as socially. Indeed, there were various ways in which the sense of a distinct and distinguished group took shape particularly in this period of declineﬂ: many left the and settled especially in course the of who belongs to the Ahl al-Bayt very much depended on the context, and on who did the see for example M. Sharon, ﬁPeople of the Houseﬂ, EQur˘˛n; for an excellent discussion of the related question of who shar˙f, see C. van Arendonck/W. A. Graham, ﬁsh EI2.focus on the (rather than the wider kinship group of the to emphasize that at the centre of the emergence of this Islamic aristocracy were indeed the descendants of and foremost his from the marriage most succinct discussion remains Hugh Kennedy, ﬁThe Decline and Fall of the First Muslim Empireﬂ, Der Islam 81 (2009), pp. 3-30.FAMILY TREE
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8 T. Bernheimer / Studia Islamica 108 (2013 ) 1-15by the ruler b. Zayd (d. 287/900) after al-Mutawakkil™s destruction half a century earlier; and the shrine of at Mashhad, which received patronage from the Sunni as well as the Ghaz -navids and a number of Sunni rulers after them. Some of the less known Ahl al-Bayt shrines are mentioned in the genealogies; let us now turn to examine these sources in more detail.˜˚libid Genealogies and ˛Alid ShrinesAs Kazuo Morimoto has shown in various studies, the early gene -alogies are an intriguing group of works: based on family (or local) regis – ters, they were mostly written between the ninth and the eleventh century by genealogists (the nass˛ba) who were predominantly themselves or They cover the genealogical information on the branches of the family of the Prophet (usually in full for the few gener – ations, then only selectively), and give some (usually little) historical infor – mation on certain family members. The best known and most widely used of these works is the ˝Umdat by the famous genealogist Ibn (d. 828/1424-5), but a number of earlier genealogies survive, among them the Sirr al-Silsila of Na€r (d. mid-tenth century). Sirr al-Silsila is particularly interesting because of its early date, the author™s (and redactors™) wide and eclectic use of sources, and the rela -tively rich information on the state and location of each lineage. 1210-1216), T˛r˙kh-i (Tehran, 1941), vol. I, p. 95; (d. 384/994), al-Muntaza˝ min Kit˛b al-T˛j˙ (Baghdad, 1977), pp. 47-8; and Wilferd Madelung, on the of and JNES 26 (1967), p. 29, for further references. al-K˛mil f˙ (Beirut, 1965-67), vol. IX, p. 139; for a thor -ough examination of the history and patronage of the shrine at Mashhad, see May Farhat, Islamic Piety and Dynastic Legitimacy: The Case of the Shrine of ˝Al˙ b. M˜s˛ al-Riˇ˛ in Mashhad (10th-17th century ) (Iran) (unpublished dissertation Harvard University, 2002). For the shrines of the in Iraq and Iran more generally, see Allan, The Art and Architecture of Twelver Shi˝ism, pp. 5-39.a most thorough study of the works see Kazuo Morimoto, ﬁThe For -mation and Development of the Science of Genealogies in the 10th and 11th century Middle Eastﬂ, Oriente Moderno 18, n.s. (1999), pp. 541-570. EI2. ˝Umdat f˙ Ans˛b Ab˙ (Najaf, 1961), new edition
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T. Bernheimer / Studia Islamica 108 (2013 ) 1-15 9is frequently quoted by later genealogists, such as Ibn and thought to be very reliable. As regards the information on shrines, his knowledge (or interest) is not as detailed as one would wishŠclearly was a genealogist, not an architectural historian. Nonetheless, some relevant information regarding the existence of known burial sites, the increasing importance of the shrines and the wider Muslim community, and the vocabulary used to describe them can be gleaned from Sirr al-Silsila and some of the later genealogies. Let us deal with the question of vocabulary.Thomas Leisten points out that none of the surviving inscriptions on mau -solea or shrines before the 7th/13th century use the word qabr. He moreover emphasizes that the terminology employed to distinguish between – ent types of early funerary architecture was far from clearly also in the literary materialŠ qubba, turba, mashhad, or more rarely masjid and qabr were used relatively interchangeably. The geographer in the A˚san al-Taq˛s˙m , for instance, speaks of the graves ( qabr) of and ’usayn in Iraq, at a time when there were monumental structures in place, The evidence from Sirr a certain regard -ing terminology. He uses the words qabr (grave) and mashhad (shrine or tomb, usually for a martyr/saint) when mentioning the places where were buried, and it is certainly questionable whether the use of the word qabr as opposed to mashhad implied that there was no noteworthy archi -tectural structure extant. In fact, there certainly were structures in some of the places refers to as qabr. For instance, he speaks of the qabr of in the Quraysh in BaghdadŠas we know from other authors, by the early tenth century this shrine had seen various kinds of building activity. Nonetheless, there appears to be a certain between the terms. uses mashhad three times to describe the burial place of an he mentions a mashhad in Amul, of one b. b. (b. b. al-’asan b. Zayd b. al-’asan b. who was killed sometime Architektur für Tote, pp. 67-70; Meri, The Cult of Saints, pp. 262-272.A˚san al-Taq˛s˙m (Leiden, 1906), p. 130. Sirr al-Silsila , pp. 23 and 55 read p. 38 Maq˛bir Quraysh ); p. 89 p. 37 (Marw); p. 36 l˛ yu˝arrifu qabruhu). , vol. I, p. 95.
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10 T. Bernheimer / Studia Islamica 108 (2013 ) 1-15in the late 2nd/8th century by b. al-Layth, ﬁand his tomb is well-known (mashhaduhu ), may it be blessed and its visitationﬂ. The two other instances of the term mashhad are the tomb of one al-’usayn b. who died in Rayy in 319/930 ( mashhaduhu yuz˛ru ), and the tomb of the ’asanid b. who was killed in in the in the reign of the caliph (r. 775-785). In all three cases, he says that the mashhad is well-known ( ) and mentions the term in connection with visitation ( ziy˛ra). There is no mention of ziy˛ra when he uses the term qabr, and only once does he say that a qabr is well-known. Admittedly, the sample is rather small, and in the absence of further evi – dence one may only tentatively suggest that the vocabulary choice does indicate some sort of distinction.What is clear, however, is that all three buried in a mashhad are not known to have been of particular importance to the Shi‚a. They are not known to have played any historical role, nor do they appear in the early visitation guides. These three tombs, and perhaps also the sites described as qabr, are thus some of the recorded examples of shrines to venerate ﬁregularﬂ members of the Ahl al-Bayt (i.e. not shrines Sirr al-Silsila , p. 26. For the lineage of the see the early gene -alogy of b. al-’asan (d. 277/891), Kit˛b al-Mu˝aqqib˙n min Wuld al-Im˛m Am˙r al-Mu˘min˙n (Qum, 2001), p. 74, or Shaykh al-Sharaf (d. 435/1043), Tahdh˙b al-Ans˛b wa-Nih˛yat al-A˝q˛b (Qum, 1413/1992-93), p. 145. The uprising of b. Layth in the year 190/805 is given in al-Rusul wa-˘l-Mul˜k (Leiden, 1879-1901), vol. III, pp. 707-709.Sirr al-Silsila , p. 80; he is al-’usayn b. b. b. Sirr al-Silsila, p. 22. Sirr al-Silsila , p. 47 (the grave of al-’usayn b. b. of the earliest extant visitation guides is (d. 368/978 or 369/979), K˛mil al-Ziy˛r˛t (Beirut, 1418/1997); see Meri, EI2. Works such as the K˛mil al-Ziy˛r˛t show that, at least in the early period, pil -grimage was associated especially with the of the not the family of the Prophet in general. In comparison with the later Sunni cemetery guides, such as (d. 611/1214) Kit˛b al-Ish˛r˛t , the works mainly contain litanies and traditions to be said at the sites. As Marco Schöller says, ﬁwe learn nothing of the actual location and shape of the shrines dealt with, and epitaphs are not quoted or alluded to. For the study of Islamic funerary epigraphy they [the works] are therefore without any serious valueﬂ; see Werner Diem and Marco Schöller, The Living and the Dead in Islam: Studies in Arabic Epitaphs (Wiesbaden, 2004), vol. II, p. 298.
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T. Bernheimer / Studia Islamica 108 (2013 ) 1-15 11to the which came to be so ubiquitous all over the Islamic world.Many of these sites had a complex and multifaceted history: as and other genealogists say, patrons of varying structures tried to associate themselves with supposed burial sites of the Prophet™s fam – ily, and at times commissioned structures around them. One example is the grave of in when one of the rulers of b. Zayd b. died on campaign in in 287/900, his headless torso ( badan) was buried in the grave ( qabr) of another rebel who had died there a century earlier. According to the local historian 378/988), a proper structure ( turba) was erected only on the orders of the waz˙r Another intriguing example of diverse patronage is the burial place of the ’asanid b. in Rayy, a well-known pilgrim – age site still today. According to was buried in the masjid al-shajara , the only he mentions to have been buried in a mosque. Ibn (d. 368/978) includes the shrine in his K˛mil al-Ziy˛r˛t , one of the earliest pilgrimage guides for the which suggests that the tomb of was already of some importance by the tenth century. This inclusion is indeed noteworthy, as together with the shrine of bt. in Qum, this is the only shrine of an was not an in the book. Still, the shrine was an impor – tant site not just for the as the twelfth-century scholar reports, the vizier Majd al-Mulk b. b. (d. 492/1099) ordered the construction of a mausoleum for Sirr al-Silsila , p. 27. His head was sent to the am˙r in For the tomb of b. a son of known as qabr al-d˛˝˙ , see (d. 427/1035), Jurj˛n (Beirut, 1981), p. 360, no. 620; also p. 248, no. 388; Ibn Funduq, Lub˛b, p. 254. For revolt in Mecca and Medina in 200/815, see , vol. III, pp. 989-995, and other references in Bernheimer, Social HistoryT˛r˙kh-i Qum (Tehran, 1982), pp. 223-224; Leisten, Architektur für Tote, p. 33. Sirr al-Silsila , p. 24; (d. 450/1058), al-Majd˙ f˙ Ans˛b , (Qum, 1409), p. 219 ( qabr); Fakhr (d. 606/1209), al-Shajara al-mub˛raka f˙ Ans˛b (Qum, 1410), p. 78 ( mashhaduhu bih˛ [Rayy] ma˝r˜f wa-mashh˜r).Ibn K˛mil al-Ziy˛r˛t ( Beirut, 1418/1997), pp. 536- 537; Meri, The Cult of SaintsEI2.
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