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Book ChapterDOI

Conversion and the ahl al-dhimma

01 Oct 2010-pp 184-208
TL;DR: In Islam, the act of coming to Islam is very simple as mentioned in this paper, and conversion to Islam involves nothing more, at base, than submitting oneself to God, which has consequences -legal, fiscal and especially social in different contexts, but its religious aspect consists of just the formal recognition of the one God and of Muḥammad as His messenger.
Abstract: The problem The word islām means ‘submission’, ‘submitting’, and conversion to Islam involves nothing more, at base, than submitting oneself to God. It has consequences – legal, fiscal and especially social – in different contexts, but its religious aspect consists of just the formal recognition of the one God and of Muḥammad as His messenger. Reciting the formula lā ilāha illā Allāh, Muḥammad rasūl Allāh is enough. The act of coming to Islam is thus very simple. The worldwide spread of a faith that at first was exclusively that of the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula was, however, much more complex as Islam came for centuries also to mean an empire created and at first largely ruled over by Arabs and a culture dominated by Islam: ‘civilization and Islam went together’. Between 632 and about 1500 the great majority of the people between the Atlantic and India, and many beyond, converted to Islam. Who did it, when, where, how and above all why? What was the meaning of conversion, for converts and for those around them, their new co-religionists and their former ones? Can we measure the degree or rate of conversion in different societies and areas of the Islamic world? Did it happen all at once or over a longer period of time? Was it voluntary or did converts change their faith under compulsion? What happened to those left behind, those who did not undergo conversion?
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The social aspects of conversion to Islam, particularly on how shifts in confessional affiliation were prompted by social concerns, have been discussed in this paper, with the focus on the social aspects.
Abstract: The choice of individuals and groups to embrace Islam in the first few centuries after its emergence is rightfully considered an act that was charged with spiritual meaning. At the same time, however, the act also brought with it dramatic implications for the configuration of communities whose social and political structures were dictated by theological ideologies, scriptural traditions and memories of primordial pasts. In this essay, I wish to focus on the social aspects of conversion to Islam, particularly on how shifts in confessional affiliation were prompted by social concerns. Once they entered into the Islamic fold, the new converts were able to enjoy a variety of benefits and exemptions from burdens that had been imposed on them as non-Muslims. Yet conversion to Islam did not only offer exemption from taxes or liberation from slavery. In the final part of this essay, I attempt to show that conversion to Islam, or even its mere prospect, could be used for obtaining various favours in the course of negotiations for social improvement. An ecclesiastical authorization to divorce without legal justification, the release of a Jewish widow from her levirate bonds, and the evasion of penal sanctions are examples of some of the exemptions that were sought out or issued in response to conversion to Islam. In the period under discussion, in the context of a social setting that was founded on confessional affiliation, conversion to Islam signalled a social opportunity that was at times manipulated by individuals for the sake of improving their personal status.

11 citations

References
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MonographDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors discuss the social, cultural, economic, and temporal dimensions of trade in the Indian Ocean, and present a model of pre-emporia trade in early Asia.
Abstract: Introduction Part I. General Problems and Historical Events: 1. Trade and civilisation in the Indian Ocean: social, cultural, economic, and temporal dimensions 2. The rise of Islam and the pattern of pre-emporia trade in early Asia 3. The Portuguese seaborne empire in the Indian Ocean 4. The Dutch and English East India companies and the bureaucratic form of trade in Asia 5. Emporia trade and the great port-towns in the Indian Ocean Part II. Structure and la longue duree: 6. The sea and its mastery 7. Ships and shipbuilding in the Indian Ocean 8. The land and its relationship with long-distance trade 9. Commodities and markets 10. Capital and trade in the Indian Ocean: the problem of scale, merchants, money and production 11. Conclusion.

691 citations

MonographDOI
TL;DR: Gutas as mentioned in this paper explores the major social, political and ideological factors that occasioned the unprecedented translation movement from Greek into Arabic in Baghdad, the newly founded capital of the Arab dynasty of the 'Abbasids', during the first two centuries of their rule.
Abstract: From the middle of the eighth century to the tenth century, almost all non-literary and non-historical secular Greek books, including such diverse topics as astrology, alchemy, physics, botany and medicine, that were not available throughout the eastern Byzantine Empire and the Near East, were translated into Arabic. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture explores the major social, political and ideological factors that occasioned the unprecedented translation movement from Greek into Arabic in Baghdad, the newly founded capital of the Arab dynasty of the 'Abbasids', during the first two centuries of their rule. Dimitri Gutas draws upon the preceding historical and philological scholarship in Greco-Arabic studies and the study of medieval translations of secular Greek works into Arabic and analyses the social and historical reasons for this phenomenon. Dimitri Gutas provides a stimulating, erudite and well-documented survey of this key movement in the transmission of ancient Greek culture to the Middle Ages.

565 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The nationalist response to the treatment of women in India by identifying a scriptural tradition was to construct a reformed tradition and defend it on the grounds of modernity as mentioned in this paper, creating the image of a new woman who was superior to Western women, traditional Indian women, and low-class women.
Abstract: Colonial texts condemned the treatment of women in India by identifying a scriptural tradition. The nationalist response was to construct a reformed tradition and defend it on the grounds of modernity. In the process, it created the image of a new woman who was superior to Western women, traditional Indian women and low-class women. This new patriarchy invested women with the dubious honor of representing a distinctively modern national culture. [Colonial discourse, nationalism, gender construction, cultural modernity]

501 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Goitein's portrait of a Mediterranean personality is a composite portrait of the individuals who wrote the personal letters, contracts, and all other manuscript fragments that found their way into the Cairo Geniza as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: This six-volume 'portrait of a Mediterranean personality' is a composite portrait of the individuals who wrote the personal letters, contracts, and all other manuscript fragments that found their way into the Cairo Geniza. Most of the fragments from the Geniza, a storeroom for discarded writings that could not be thrown away because they might contain the name of God, had been removed to Cambridge University Library and other libraries around the world. Professor Goitein devoted the last thirty years of his long and productive life to their study, deciphering the language of the documents and organizing what he called a 'marvelous treasure trove of manuscripts' into a coherent, fascinating picture of the society that created them. It is a rich, panoramic view of how people lived, traveled, worshiped, and conducted their economic and social affairs. The first and second volumes describe the economic foundations of the society and the institutions and social and political structures that characterized the community. The remaining material, intended for a single volume describing the particulars of the way people lived, blossomed into three volumes, devoted respectively to the family, daily life, and the individual. The divisions are arbitrary but helpful because of the wealth of information. The author refers throughout to other passages in his monumental work that amplify what is discussed in any particular section. The result is an incomparably clear and immediate impression of how it was in the Mediterranean world of the tenth through the thirteenth century. Volume VI, prepared by Paula Sanders, is a volume of cumulative, analytical indices.

501 citations

Book
01 Jan 1981
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors discuss the emergence of the modern era and the coming of Islam in Indonesia, and the creation of a colonial state in the early 1800s and its evolution over the next 200 years.
Abstract: List of Maps - Preface to First Edition - Preface to Second Edition - A Note on Orthography - Abbreviations - PART 1 THE EMERGENCE OF THE MODERN ERA - The Coming of Islam - General Aspects of Pre-Colonial States and Major Empires, c1300-1500 - The Arrival of the Europeans in Indonesia, c1509-1620 - The Rise of New States, c1500-1650 - Literary, Religious and Cultural Legacies - PART 2 STRUGGLES FOR HEGEMONY, c1630-1800 - Eastern Indonesia, c1630-1800 - Java, c1640-82 - Java, Madura and the VOC, c1680-1745 - Java and the VOC, c1745-92 - PART 3 THE CREATION OF A COLONIAL STATE, c1800-1910 - Java, 1792-1830 - Java, 1830-1900 - The Outer Islands, c1800-1910 - PART 4 THE EMERGENCE OF THE IDEA OF INDONESIA, c1900-42 - A New Colonial Age - The First Steps towards National Revival, c1900-27 - Repression and Economic Crisis, 1927-42 - PART 5 THE DESTRUCTION OF THE COLONIAL STATE, 1942-50 - World War II and the Japanese Occupation, 1942-5 - The Revolution, 1945-50 - PART 6 INDEPENDENT INDONESIA - The Democratic Experiment, 1950-7 - Guided Democracy, 1957-65 - Creating the New Order, 1965-75 - The New Order since 1975 - Notes and References - Bibliography - Maps - Index

438 citations