Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society

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I.B.Tauris, Feb 16, 2001 - History - 209 pages

This masterful portrait of an Islamic society undergoing a great social upheaval has become one of the most significant contributions to our understanding of pre-modern Islamic history. Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society concentrates on the Buyid dynasty that ruled in Iran and Iraq during the 10th and II centuries, a period when the Abbasids were in decline and power had fallen into the hands of military groups who could not legitimise it in the same way as the Caliphs. From this confusion emerged a new Muslim society whose essential interests differed from those of the transient and limited dynasty that had preceded it.

Roy Mottahedeh's classic account, here re-issued in a new paperback edition reveals how this Islamic society succeeded in functioning in a stable manner despite the absence of certain political institutions familiar in the West. He focuses on the individuals in society - rather than on the groups that they constituted - and examines their relations with one another and the manner in which these relations created moral communities which co-existed in a fairly well articulated system. In terms of loyalty, obligation and leadership Mottahedeh shows how these communities sustained a resilient and self-renewing social order that served as a model for Islamic societies throughout the Middle East in the succeeding centuries.

Roy Mottahedeb is Gurney Professor of History at Harvard University and Chair of the Committee on Islamic Studies at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies He is the author of the much acclaimed Mantle of the Prophet.

Albert Hourani
“Dr Mottahedeh writes as a highly skilled historian and Arabic scholar, but also as a man of letters. He knows what a book should be and his is clearly conceived, beautifully shaped and written with elegance. The balance between analysis and fact lies exactly where it should The anecdotes which illustrate the general themes are well chosen and appropriate. This is a work of great importance and originality, and one which I recommend with enthusiasm and without reservations

Clifford Geertz, New York Review of Books:
“[This is a] tightly focused study. Despite its somewhat special subject, a fragmented dynasty in a spasmodical time, it is one of the most broadly suggestive works on Middle Eastern social structure to appear in recent years.”

Jonathan Riley-Smith, Cambridge University:
“Mottahedeh writes beaut fully and he is perceptive and judicious... [the] chapter on kinship and its duties... is brilliant and ought to be read by historians of the west as well as those of the east.

Fred M. Donner, University of Chicago:
“This work bears an important message jbr all students of Middle Eastern history - one might even say for all students of non-Western history.


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About the author (2001)

Roy Mottahedeh is Gurney Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also the author of The Mantle of the Prophet.

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