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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The early Islamic mawālī: A window onto processes of identity construction and social change
by Urban, Elizabeth, Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2012, 203; 3513525
Abstract (Summary)

The mawālī (sg. mawlā) were key players in early Islamic history. Scholars have long noted that they participated in political revolts, religious movements, Islamic scholarship, translation projects, and other activities that influenced Islamic society in direct and active ways. Yet, the term mawlā itself remains difficult to define: the term is usually translated as client or freedman, but it can also mean patron, kinsman, ally, friend, convert, non-Arab Muslim, or several of these things at once. Because of this range and flexibility of meaning, I argue that the mawālī create a conceptual prism for understanding broader social phenomena of the early Islamic period. In particular, this dissertation reveals how the mawālī are associated with the Quran's foundation of an Islamic community; debates about the role of genealogy in structuring society and politics; different expressions of belonging, group affiliation, and self-identification; and motherhood and mothers' contribution to their children's social identity. The ultimate goal of this analysis is to shed light on the sweeping socio-political changes that propelled the first century and a half of Islamic history.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Donner, Fred M.
Commitee: Bulliet, Richard W., El Shamsy, Ahmed, Qutbuddin, Tahera
School: The University of Chicago
Department: Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 73/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, Middle Eastern history, Islamic Studies
Keywords: Identity construction, Islam, Mawali, Social change
Publication Number: 3513525
ISBN: 978-1-267-43841-6
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