Colloquium with Azfar Moin (University of Texas, Austin). For Religious Studies and Abbasi Program faculty, graduate students, and Stanford-affiliated guests. Co-sponsored by Religious Studies and the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. Lunch served; RSVP to Ai Tran.
The decline of the caliphate in thirteenth-century Iran and Central Asia led to a new form of sovereignty in which Muslim kings ritually derived their sovereign status not from the caliph, but from the enshrined saint. However, this also led to increasing attacks on saint shrines. The goal of such attacks was not to stop the practice of saint veneration but to destroy rival icons of sovereignty. A focus on this ritual violence reveals how the protocols of domination and accommodation that governed these Muslim milieus became analogous to those enacted by Indic kings who also sacked temples of rival sovereigns in times of war. It also gives us a comparative framework to study developments in the practice of sovereignty in Islam in the eastern Islamic world.
Azfar Moin is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He studies the history of the pre-modern Islamic world from comparative perspectives with a focus on concepts and practices of sovereignty. His 2012 book The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam won the Best First Book in the History of Religions Award from the American Academy of Religion, John F. Richards Prize in South Asian History from the American Historical Association, and Honorable Mention for the Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize (South Asia) from the Association for Asian Studies. His current project, funded by a fellowship by the Social Science Research Council, examines ritual violence and kingship in pre-modern Iran, Central Asia, and South Asia.