Historiography in the Service of the Mufti: Ibn Taymiyya on the Origins and Fallacies of Ziyarat

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1 Scopus citations


This essay demonstrates Ibn Taymiyya's engagement of historiography in ifta'. It draws upon fatwas on pilgrimage to Ascalon, travel to shrines of al-Husayn in Ascalon and Cairo, and visits to Jerusalem and Hebron. Ibn Taymiyya weaves sophisticated historical narratives into his legal reasoning against visiting tombs of prophets and Ahl al-Bayt. He exposes lacunas, contradictions and unreasonable assertions in truisms about bodies of prophets and saints and their cults. He argues against ziyara to such sites, blaming Shiis for spreading the innovation at a particularly vulnerable time for Islam. His attack on notions of the religious merits of Jerusalem and of murabata hinges upon his reconstruction of the history the Dome of the Rock and of the Islamic frontier. History leads him to stress the temporality of territorial definitions and their dependence on context. His argumentation resonates in works of later writers, demonstrating the continuing relevance of his fatwas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-251
Number of pages25
JournalIslamic Law and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Ascalon
  • Fatwa
  • Historiography
  • Ibn Taymiyya
  • Jerusalem
  • Ribat
  • Shrine of al-Husayn
  • Ziyara

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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