This is quite an interesting passage; it’s never come to my attention before! Although I would venture to say that Islamic historiography probablyJun 1, 2010 1 of 5View Source
This is quite an interesting passage; it’s never come to my attention before!
Although I would venture to say that Islamic historiography probably contains nothing quite akin to this claim, there are a number of aspects to how Nur al-Din was revered during and after his lifetime that might have inspired Michael to write this.
For one, there seems to have been a revival of Sunni shrines patronized by Nur al-Din, and some scholars have hypothesized that this increase may have been undertaken as a means to counter Shi‘i shrines (although, in my view, the evidence is too contradictory to know for sure). Why this is important is the resulting increase in the public importance of reverence for and visitations of great Sunni figures as holymen (Ar, awliya; sg. wali). Significantly, Nur al-Din and Saladin join the ranks of these holymen in the eyes of the populace after their death and had their own shrines. A good source for this material is Josef Meri’s /The Cult of Saints among Muslims and Jews in Medieval Syria/ (2002). As for during his lifetime, I know of at least one instance where Nur al-Din miraculously appears in the dream of a scribe in his employ, ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani al-Katib, an anecdote recorded in the latter’s autobiography translated in D. F. Reynolds et al., /Interpreting the Self/ (2001), p. 150
I personally know of no good examples of a prophecy of the end of the reign of the Arabs/Muslims in the 12th century, but they abound in the Eastern Islamicate lands beginning in the early 8th century (with a Kharijite named Yazid b. Unaysa claiming the Islam will end with the coming a prophet from the Sabi’un) and even result in the destruction of the Ka‘ba at the hands of the Qaramita of Bahrain in the 10th century. A recent short discussion of this can be found in an article by P. Crone in Der Islam 83 (2006): 29 ff. I’m sure there’s plenty more examples out there to be found though.
Lastly, are you planning on writing an article on this passage?
--- On Fri, 5/28/10, Ginkel, J.J. van <j.j.van.ginkel@...> wrote:
From: Ginkel, J.J. van <j.j.van.ginkel@...>
Subject: [hugoye-list] Nur ed-Din
Date: Friday, May 28, 2010, 10:34 AMHere's a question of Islamic political history and potentially also religio-cultural aspects of the crusaders time.In Michael's the Great Chronographie th eauthor states repeatedly that Nur ed-Din (Zangi) (d. 1174) was called by the Arabs, or wanted to be called, "a prophet" or like a prophet. In the most extended story on Nur ed-Din and him being a prophet Michael lets Nur ed-Din argue with a reference to the Quran that the muslims have reigned for 500 years during which time they have not maltreated the christians. but these years have now been fulfilled and it is time that they disappear from the islamic empire. To this effect he wrote to the Caliph Mustanghid and his successor Mustadi, who gets very scared because Nur ed-Din had already dethroned one (fatimide) Caliph in Egypt and had also started calling himself a prophet. The Caliph tells him off in no uncertain terms, including telling him that it doesn't become him to call himself a prophet or compose laws like God. (MS XIX 8 (column with additional material) (IV 698-9; III 343-5)Now every scholar in Arabic or Islamic culture tells me him being called a prophet is unheard of. I also can't find any reference to it in the literature on Nur ed-Din that I could find. Does anybodyelse have any idea where this may come from or knows of any parallel anecdote? Does anybody know of this 500 years limit of tolerance to the christians by the islamic rulers? It sounds apocalyptic to me. But it may also fit with the revitalisation of the islamic empire during the reign of Nur ed-Din and the ideology of revitalising Islam as well that seems to have accompanied this rebuilding of an empire in Syria, Egypt and Mesopotamia.In short .. any comments?Thanks!Jan van GinkelLeiden