Volume 11: The Battle of ʿAyn Jālūt: A Paradigmatic Historical Event in Mamlūk Historical Narrative

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The battle of ʿAyn Jālūt was perceived as a dramatic historical event that responded to the deep crisis and despair that prevailed in the Muslim world in the wake of the Mongol invasion and the termination of the Abbasid caliphate, the symbolic religious leadership of the Muslim world. It was conferred the status of a paradigmatic historical event in Mamlūk historical literature far beyond the time it took place. As such it was used by the powerful groups of the the Mamlūks and the ʿulamāʾ, the religious learned scholars as a vehicle to express their stance or claims in ongoing discourses on legitimacy, authority and power and voice their social and political interests. While the Mamlūks used their military achievements to legitimize their political position and base it on their divine chosen role to support Islam and defend the Muslims, the ʿulamāʾ reduced their importance by placing the Battle as a part of cyclic events that prove the divine protection of Islam. They used primordial Islamic images and figures, and past events to show that this victory was not only a military achievement but mainly the revival of the primal experience of Islam. For them it was a replication of the path of the Prophet Muḥammad, and they as dedicated religious leaders were its true heroes.


The Author

Amalia Levanoni, Prof. emeritus, President, the Middle East and Islamic Studies Association of Israel, Department of Middle Eastern History, Haifa University, Mount Carmel, Haifa. 1990 Ph.D. The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Islamic History. 1993 Fellowship, Eberhard Karls University, Tubingen, Germany. 1997 Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, University of Oxford, Oxford. 2001–2004 Associate Member, Center of Middle Eastern Studies, the University of Chicago. 2002 Visiting scholar, Center for Near Eastern Studies, the University of Chicago. 2004–2007 Chair, Department of  Middle Eastern History, University of Haifa. 2005–2007 Member, Fulbright Foundation Committee, United States-Israel Educational Foundation. 2007 Visiting Scholar, Princeton University, Princeton. 2013 Fellowship, Annemarie-Schimmel-Kolleg for the History and Society of the Mamluk Era (1250–1517), Bonn University, Bonn.


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