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Ongoing Projects

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DFG - Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice PDFLogo



Army Reform and Elite Movements between the Maghrib and the Near East (1830-1912)

During the "long 19th century”, the southern and eastern Mediterranean was characterized by profound transformation, in which intra-Muslim relations played a crucial role. This project explores the role these relations played with respect to army reform, which here becomes the prism through which less exposed aspects of political reorganization in the region will be scrutinized. The creation of a standing army can actually be considered as one of the key elements in the course of the creation and/or consolidation of centralized statehood. It aimed at internal societal mobilization and control as well as at the drawing of frontiers, or, at times, expansionism. At the local and national level, both dynamics met with practical problems and created new demands for legitimization. Moreover army reform did not evolve in terms of dependence on and/or opposition to Europe alone. Indeed, the historical experience of reform as well as the frames of reference were never a function of political or socio-cultural boundaries, given the horizontal mobility of religious and politico-military elites and the appeal of translocal identities within the Muslim world. Conversely, the experiences of reform and frames of reference were themselves affected by change. Working from the perspective of concrete actors, the project intends to reconstruct how contacts and references across borders within the Muslim world have shaped the appropriation/creation of forms of modern statehood and how these in turn influenced such contacts and references. The sub-projects 1 and 2 were finished in 2005. The third sub-project looks at army reform in Egypt and Egyptian expansionism from a scholar and scholarly literature perspective at the Azhar mosque university.

Discourses of legitimation in the age of reform. The Azhar, the Army and Egyptian Expansionism (1822-1882)

Dyala Hamzah

Dyala Hamzah looks at the creation of Egypt’s standing army (1822) and the novel wars it waged during the 19th century from the point of view of Azhar mosque university scholars. She asks whether and if so, how Islamic theories of government and political order (siyâsa shar‘iyya, khilâfa) were transformed in the wake of state centralization and expansionism; and whether specific jurisprudential concepts, such as ‘abd, dhimmî, jihâd, etc., were affected in any way by military reform itself. In order to gauge the social relevance of ulema, the scope of their networks, and the translocal significance of their ideas across the Ottoman Empire (and beyond), she examines the conditions of production for scholarly literature as a whole in the context of reform, with particular focus on legal advice literature (fatâwâ). Ultimately, she aims at establishing the persistence of Azhar scholars’ power of legitimation vs. the new, competing world views that had begun to emerge from bureaucratic and technical rationale and practice.