Devin Deweese: Fusing Islam and Chinggisid Charisma

Posted on August 30th, 2011 in Events

October 27, 2011, 12:15 pm, Building 70, Conference Room

Religious Studies Colloquium*:  Devin Deweese, Fusing Islam and Chinggisid Charisma: Muhammad Shïbãnî Khãn’s Religious Program in 16th-century Central Asia

Abstract: The gradual Islamization of the peoples and polities established in Central Asia in the wake of the Mongol conquest of the 13th century is typically discussed in terms of ongoing tension between the religious and ‘civilizational’ program represented by Islam, on the one hand, and the political and cultural systems legitimized by the principle of sovereign rule by descendants of Chingīz Khān, on the other. At the beginning of the 16th century, however, the career of Muḥammad Shïbānī Khān, a descendant of Chingīz Khān’s senior son and leader of the nomadic Uzbeks then engaged in the conquest of the Timurid domains in sedentary Central Asia, offers a remarkable example, still seldom studied, of a ruler intent on a seamless combination of Islamic ‘reform’ and Chinggisid restoration as the foundation of a new political order; his vision ultimately went nowhere, as a result of his death in battle against Shāh Ismā’īl in 1510, but it yielded several literary records that suggest just how far Shïbānī Khān sought to develop his fusion of Islamic and Chinggisid principles. These accounts include the ruler’s own poetry and brief treatises, as well as works he sponsored; the present discussion will discuss several of these accounts, focusing on elements of the religious program he sought to promote.

Devin DeWeese is Professor of Islamic and Central Eurasian Studies and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studiesat Indiana University, Bloomington. He specializes in Islam in Central Asia with a focus on Sufism and Islamic hagiography. He received his PhD in 1985 at Indiana University, and since then has continued to do research on Central Asian Islam, particularly Sufism and its political and social dimensions. Until 2008, he served as the Director of the Denis Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 and was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2006.  In Autumn 2011, he is a visiting professor in Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University.

*The seminar is open only to Religious Studies and Abbasi Program faculty, graduate students, and guests. RSVP to Sunny Toy (

[Co-sponsored with the Department of Religious Studies]

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