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Al-Ma'mun, the Inquisition and the Quest for Caliphal Authority

By John Abdallah Nawas

Al-Ma'mun, the Inquisition and the Quest for Caliphal Authority
Paperback, 228 pages £37.00
Published: 2016
ISBN: 9781937040550
Format: 254mm x 178mm
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Subjects: Arabic and Islamic Studies, Classical Studies and Ancient History
Series: Resources in Arabic and Islamic Studies

The "inquisition" (Mihnah) unleashed by the seventh Abbasid caliph, 'Abdallah al-Ma'mun (r. 813-833), has long attracted the attention of modern scholars of the intellectual, political, and religious history of the early Abbasid era. Historians have seen it as the key to a wide array of puzzles and problems in early Islamic history.

In this incisive study, John Nawas subjects the various proposed explanations of these events to a sober and searching analysis and, in the process, presents a new interpretation of al-Ma'mun's political and religious policies, contextualized against the background of early Abbasid intellectual and social history.

Appended to the volume is a reprint edition of Walter M. Patton's Ahmed ibn Hanbal and the Mihna (Leiden 1897), which still has much that is useful for modern scholarship, including one enormous additional benefit; it contains most of the relevant passages in Arabic from the primary sources





Series Editors' Preface


Author's Preface


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: 'Abdallah al-Aa'mun: His Life and Reign

Chapter 3: The Mu'tazilism, the Shi'ism, and the 'Alid Hypotheses

Chapter 4: The Caliphal Authority Hypothesis

Chapter 5: Conclusion

Appendix 1: Chronological Information, by Genre, on the Compilers of the Sources Used

Appendix 2: Information on Those Interrogated

Appendix 3: Timetable of Key Events during al-Ma'mun's Reign



William Patton, Ahmed ibn Hanbal and the Mihna (1897)



Nawas makes a compelling and eloquent argument that requires our attention. To begin understanding the minha, one must start here. The editors of the series are to be commended for their efforts to gain the larger audience that is its due.

- Journal of the American Oriental Society

John Nawas is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at theUniversity ofLeuven, Belgium. His research centres on the religio-political and social history    



Publication Details:

 Paperback , 228 pages
 254mm x 178mm

BIC Code:
  HIS002000, SOC003000
 Lockwood Press


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