Destroying churches by performing knowledge: Ibn al-Rif a's Kitāb al-nafā'is fī adillat hadm al-kanā'is (700/1301) and the Social Negotiation of Legal Authority

Gowaart van Den Bossche

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

In 700/1301 the Cairene scholar Najm al-Dīn Ibn al-Rif a wrote a short juridical treatise entitled Kitāb al-nafā is fī adillat hadm al-kanā is in which he argued for the destruction of all churches and synagogues in Cairo. Some chroniclers report that this text was used to legitimise popular attacks on, and the destruction of, churches, but shortly thereafter, Ibn al-Rif a's opinion was declared invalid by a council of prominent jurists. In addition to its juridical arguments for church destruction, Ibn al-Rif a suggests that the treatise was meant to function as a challenge to the author's peers. I argue that al-Nafā is reflects ideas about the normative application of Shāfi ī fiqh and that it can serve as a lens through which we can reconstruct a complex picture of the performance and negotiation of legal authority in the Mamluk period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-324
Number of pages28
JournalIslamic Law and Society
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Church destruction
  • Disputation
  • Ibn al-Rif a
  • Mamluk period
  • Polemics
  • Shāfi ī fiqh

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