A Jewish Vizier and his Shīī Manifesto: Jews, Shī īs, and the Politicization of Confessional Identities in Mongol-ruled Iraq and Iran (13th to 14th centuries)

Jonathan Brack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper seeks to situate Jewish individuals from the upper echelons of the Mongol government in Iran and Iraq (1258-1335) in relation to the process of confessional, Sunnī-Shī ī polarization. Focusing on the case of the Baghdadi Jewish physician and vizier Sad al-Dawla (d. 1291), I explore how the Jewish minister sought to take advantage of Twelver-Shī ī rise to prominence under the Mongols. I argue that the vizier attempted to strike an alliance with the Shī ī communities in Iraq and with influential Shī ī families with long-established ties to the Mongol regime, in order to curtail resistance to his policies and to the Jewish dominance in the realm's bureaucracy. I consider Sad al-Dawla's endeavors within the broader historical context of Shī ī-Jewish relations. The article concludes by examining the two decades following Sad al-Dawla's downfall, when a group of eminent Jewish physicians at the Mongol court converted to Islam. I show how these converts continued to exploit the process of politicization of confessional identities under the Mongols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-403
Number of pages30
JournalIslam - Zeitschrift fur Geschichte und Kultur des Islamischen Orients
Volume96
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Conversion
  • Ilkhans
  • Jews
  • Political theory
  • Sectarianism
  • Shī īsm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

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