Indiana University Bloomington
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Religion and Power in Islamic Central Asia



This course carries Culture Studies & COLL S & H distribution credit

This course will explore the role of religious figures and institutions in sanctioning, exercising, and/or undermining political authority in Islamic Central Asia, with emphasis on the period after the Mongol conquest of the thirteenth century. Following introductory lectures on the religio-political traditions (Islamic, Iranian, Inner Asian) to which Central Asia was heir, we will survey the principal lines of development in institutional, sectarian, and charismatic religion and their political implications in the Central Asian world before the upheavals of the Mongol conquest; special attention will be given to the impact of the Mongol conquest, and of the Islamization of the western Mongol successor states, on the course of religious and political history in Central Asia in the subsequent Timurid and Uzbek periods. The course will thus focus on the political influence wielded in Central Asian society by the local representatives of Islam's spiritual ideals; and since in Central Asia during the Timurid and Uzbek periods these representatives were primarily Sufi shaykhs, leaders of organized mystical communities, the balance of the course will be devoted to a study of the Central Asian Sufi orders and the ways in which they achieved and utilized their extraordinary social, economic, and political power.

Prerequisites: A course in Islamic history or religion, or in Central Asian history, or permission of the instructor.

Regions Covered

Historical Central Eurasia


Department of Central Eurasian Studies