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Building a Mountain of Light: Niẓām al-Dīn Gīlānī and Shīʿī Naturalism Between Safavid Iran and the Deccan

dc.contributor.advisor Moosa, Ebrahim E.I. Bandy, Hunter Casparian 2019-06-07T19:49:10Z 2019
dc.description Dissertation
dc.description.abstract <p>With the revival of Imāmī or “Twelver” Shīʿa Islam in the Safavid Empire (1501- 1722) of Iran, histories of its clerical elite have emphasized the overt juridical mechanisms that they erected in support of their imperial project. Alternatively, many have also argued that gnostic counter-currents emerging in the same milieu reflected a wider disinterest in political activism. This dissertation provincializes the experience of the Safavid heartland to ask how Iranian émigré scholars working among the royal courts of the Deccan Sultanates (1490-1687) engineered an elite scholarly culture through alternative intellectual rubrics that were simultaneously gnostic in character and overtly political. Drawing on unstudied Arabic and Persian manuscripts trafficked within the Quṭbshāhī Sultanate of Golkonda-Hyderabad (1518-1687), I recover the intellectual career of one of these émigré scholars, Niẓām al-Dīn Aḥmad Gīlānī (b. 1585, d. after 1662), who forms the centerpiece of a nearly two-century story of evolving Shīʿī scholasticism in service of the state. Gīlānī’s intermittent sojourns between his homeland of Gilan, the academies of Safavid Iran, various courtly spaces in Mughal India, and his long-term home in the Deccan make him the perfect subject to refashion these territories into a contiguous intellectual terrain. In six chapters, I show how various medical, natural philosophical, and occult sciences practiced and theorized by Gīlānī and his colleagues as “Shīʿī naturalists” were not only legitimated by Muslim scripture, but were heavily patronized by Muslim rulers as a cornerstone of their political theologies. It demonstrates, furthermore, how Gīlānī’s mode of naturalist inquiry builds upon a speculative and</p><p>affective intimacy with non-human and non-Muslim others.</p>
dc.subject Islamic studies
dc.subject South Asian studies
dc.subject Middle Eastern studies
dc.subject Deccan Sultanates
dc.subject Naturalism
dc.subject Occult Sciences
dc.subject Qutbshahi Hyderabad
dc.subject Safavid Iran
dc.subject Shi'a Islam
dc.title Building a Mountain of Light: Niẓām al-Dīn Gīlānī and Shīʿī Naturalism Between Safavid Iran and the Deccan
dc.type Dissertation
dc.department Religion
duke.embargo.months 23
duke.embargo.release 2021-05-21T00:00:00Z

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