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Longing for the Lost CaliphateA Transregional History$
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Mona Hassan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691166780

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691166780.001.0001

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Recapturing Lost Glory and Legitimacy

Recapturing Lost Glory and Legitimacy

(p.66) Chapter 2 Recapturing Lost Glory and Legitimacy
Longing for the Lost Caliphate

Mona Hassan

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers problematic questions of political and legal legitimacy for premodern Muslim states in the wake of the Abbasid Caliphate's demise. Similar to the self-image of Byzantium as a Second Rome or the way that medieval rulers in western Europe appropriated Roman symbols, the Mamluk State reinvented the Abbasid Caliphate of Cairo through elaborate rituals and ceremonies reminiscent of a glorious past, and legal scholars articulated creative jurisprudential solutions. Within Mamluk domains, the dilemma of caliphal absence was thus resolved by resurrecting the Abbasid Caliphate in Cairo as a doubly political and spiritual institution, where the caliph delegated his authority to govern to the sultan and radiated metaphysical blessings through his continued physical presence. This fraught relationship between caliphal authority and the wielding of power notably continued to surface as a magnet for political activity and debate, including the ever-potent threat of rebellion, over the centuries of Mamluk rule.

Keywords:   Islamic caliphate, Mamluk rule, premodern Muslim states, caliph, Abbasid Caliphate

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