Muslim Kingship and Ritual Violence in Pre-Modern Iran, Central Asia, and India


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships


Religious Studies


Was the destruction of Muslim saint shrines as a rite of conquest in Iran and Central Asia a phenomenon comparable to the desecration of Hindu temples in war in India? With this question in mind, this project examines the changes in Muslim kingship in pre-modern Iran and Central Asia and compares it to developments in Indic kingship. After the thirteenth-century Mongol conquests, the enshrined saint replaced the caliph as the iconic sovereign in Iran and Central Asia. Consequently, Muslim kings attacked the shrines of their rivals’ patron saints. A focus on this ritual violence reveals how the protocols of violence and accommodation that governed these Muslim milieus became analogous to those enacted by Indic kings, who also sacked temples of rival sovereigns in times of war.