Family Relations and Politics in Early Islam


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Near Eastern Studies


This dissertation demonstrates the extent to which family ties, particularly maternal and nursing relations, promoted individuals’ careers in early Islam. The project uncovers and follows accounts of family ties which are likely to have been integral to the personal advancement of government and military officials in the formative period of Islam, and thus contributes to the study of early Islamic politics, administration, and social structure. The role of maternal links in determining the trajectory of the careers of leading figures is often neglected in the Muslim sources. Through an analysis of accounts of family ties found in these sources, which have rarely, if ever, been previously consulted by scholars, the project reconstructs the importance of matrilineal descent in early Arab society.