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The Long Seventh Century

Continuity and Discontinuity in an Age of Transition

Edited By Alessandro Gnasso, Emanuele E. Intagliata and Thomas J. MacMaster

This volume represents a selection of papers presented at the 2013 Edinburgh Seventh Century Colloquium, showcasing the latest scholarship from a rising generation of academics. The volume traverses the globe from Iran to the Atlantic and from Sweden to the Sahara and ranges from the establishment of the early Islamic state to the beginnings of English Christianity. Topics include the transmission of high culture across time, settlement patterns in a rapidly changing world and the formation of new and emerging identities. The essays also bring into dialogue a wide range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives, including archaeology, literature, history, art, papyrology and economics. Together, they generate valuable new insights into the still uncharted territories of the long seventh century.
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Sons of the Muhājirūn: Some Comments on Ibn al-Zubayr and Legitimizing Power in Seventh-Century Islamic History



For most of modern scholarship, the story of the second Islamic civil war, or fitna, is typically a story of Umayyad success and strength in the face of adversity. It is a story of the foundation of what we can firmly call an Islamic identity. It is a story of reform. And it is usually the story of ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwān (r. AD 685–705/AH 65–86), the Caliph of the Marwanid dynasty who successfully trampled rebellion and restored unity to the Islamic realm. It has far less often been the story of the so-called usurper himself, ‘Abd Allāh b. al-Zubayr b. al-‘Awwām (d. AD 692/AH 72). The questions of why Ibn al-Zubayr chose to challenge Umayyad rule and, more importantly, how he was able to gain backing as he set about to do so have rarely been considered.2 This is especially the case when considering the plethora of modern studies on the first fitna. These issues, however, can help to provide useful information on the development of leadership and authority in the early Islamic community prior to the reign of the triumphant ‘Abd al-Malik. ← 251 | 252 →

As with much during the foundational period of Islamic history, legitimacy and the landscapes of power are problematic issues to consider. While there has been prodigious work conducted by modern scholars over the last several decades regarding legitimacy in early Islam, these efforts have tended to focus largely on the issues of the...

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