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The Order Without and the Order Within: Kingdoms of Kufr in 'Abd al-Razzaq Samarqandi's Matlaʻ-i saʻdayn

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The Order Without and the Order Within: Kingdoms of Kufr in 'Abd al-Razzaq Samarqandi's Matlaʻ-i saʻdayn
  1 The Order Without and the Order Within Kingdoms of  Kufr    in ‘Abd al - Razzaq Samarqandi’s    Matlaʻ  - i saʻdayn  Catherine Ambler MESAAS Graduate Conference 1  February 2016 ‘Abd al - Razzaq Samarqandi’s  Matlaʻ  - i saʻdayn va majmaʻ  -i bahrayn  (Herat, 1470 CE) is a history focused on recent events, seeking to  present material that “the learned men of the time”  have yet to study. 2  Among these events is ‘Abd al - Razzaq’s  account of his own mission from Herat to Calicut and Vijayanagara (1442-1443 CE) on behalf of the Timurid monarch Shahrukh (d. 1447 CE). Although both kingdoms are clearly marked as non-Islamic, the text makes them didactically  productive in very different ways. In the  Matla‘,   Calicut ’s kingdom  lacks any comprehensible order  sui generis , but it supports an Islamic order, especially by demonstrating the need for conversion and, failing conversion, the importance of accepting God’s will . On the other hand, the  Matla‘ strives to make Vijayanagara comprehensible as a non-Islamic model of good kingship. The previously deployed Islamic order no longer applies here; instead, the political and social order is communicated to the reader through a shared set of Persianate references. Hence, these different accounts of non-Islamic kingdoms serve different ethico-didactic purposes in the  Matla‘  : in Calicut, the non-Islamic kingdom is an instrument for understanding the Islamic order to which it is subsumed, whereas in Vijayanagara, the non-Islamic kingdom is itself of ethico-didactic significance through the legibility of its order. 1  I would like to thank Prof. Mana Kia for her characteristically thoughtful comments on an earlier draft of this  paper. 2   ‘Abd al -Razzaq Kamal al-Din ibn Ishaq al-Samarqandi,  Matlaʻ  - i saʻdayn va majmaʻ  -i bahrayn, Ed. ʻAbd al - Husayn Navaʾi, vol. I, part I (Pizhuhishgah - i ‘ulum -i insani va mutal a‘at -i farhangi, 1383 (2004), 51 . Cited as ‘Abd al-Razzaq,  Matla‘  , vol. 1.1. Unless noted otherwise, translations are my own.  2 In ‘Abd al - Razzaq’s account of his mission to Hindustan, there is no question as to the applicability of the category of the non-Islamic, kufr  , to both Calicut and Vijayanagara. Calicut, is termed “ a city of kafirs [ kuf   fār  ] and dār al  - ḥ arb .” 3  As for Vijayanagara, its inhabitants are kafirs 4  and Vijayanagara itself is kufuristān . 5   ‘Abd al - Razzaq specifically associates Calicut’s  sāmurī (the Zamorin ) and Vijayanagara’s king with the kufr of their realms, beyond the obvious fact that they rule over them: both are clearly depicted as non-Muslims ruling over non- Muslim “abodes of error.” 6  For instance, he portrays the  sāmurī as belonging to a “people” ( qawm ) of Calicut’s infidels, 7  while he describes the Vijayanagaran king   as presiding over the Mahanavami Festival of the “kafirs [ kuffār  ].” 8  Moreover, he explicitly condemns non-Islamic practices. As he journeys through Vijayanagara’s domain to the city itself, he comes upon a temple, which he describes as a site of “unacceptable worship,” 9   adding that “in the belief of the bad -thinking, it is the K  a‘ba of the infidels [  gubrān , literally: “Zoroastrians”].” 10  When he returns toward Herat, he is relieved to depart from “the desert of the land of kufr and error [z ̇ illāl  ] .” 11  Thus, the text identifies both kingdoms with kufr and, secondarily, it associates kufr with religious error. While it is undeniable that kufr appears as a category in the  Matla‘  , scholars have erred in assuming the stability of what this category entails. For instance, Ahmad Aziz conflates kufr with Hinduism and describes a Hindu/Islamic binary in ‘Abd al - Razzaq’s account of Hindustan , which 3   ‘Abd al -Razzaq Kamal al-Din ibn Ishaq al-Samarqandi,  Matlaʻ  - i saʻdayn va majmaʻ  -i bahrayn, Ed. ʻAbd al-H  ̣usayn Navaʾi, vol. II, part I (Pizhuhishgah - i ‘ulum -i insani va mutala‘at -i farhangi, 1383 (2004), 524. Cited as ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla‘  , vol. 2.1. 4   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 547.   5   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 553.   6   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 542.   7   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 526 -7. 8   ‘A  bd al-Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 547.   9  W. M. Thackston,  A Century of Princes: Sources on Timurid History and Art   (Cambridge: The Agha Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, 1989), 307. Cited as Thackston,  A Century of Princes . 10   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vo l. 2.1, 531. 11   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 555.    3 is already problematic at the level of identification, given that it reifies a religious meaning of “ Hindu ”  that is unwarranted by the text. Aziz notes ‘Abd al - Razzaq’s contempt for the Hindus at Calicut and adds, “It was only after he had lived for some time in the highly  cultured atmosphere of Vijayanagara that he discovered the beauty and symmetry of Hindu civilization and paid it glowing tribute.” 12  Beyond the issue of the use of the anachronistic concept of “ civilization, ”   Aziz’ s characterization treats Calicut and Vijayanagara as two manifestations of the same essential  phenomenon (Hinduism), a linkage that the text itself does not bear out. A related scholarly approach assumes that the text’s Islamic orientation entails the wholesale condemnation of kufr  . For instance, Richard Eaton labels ‘Abd al - Razzaq “a Muslim in Calicut,” writing of this “Muslim in Calicut” that he was irritated by “having to live among infidels,” 13  and that he “ dismissed   [the ruler of Calicut] as an infidel ”  (my emphasis). 14  That is, Eaton claims that the category of “infidel” triggers a particular judgment, according to the assumption that, as kufr may be embedded in a teleological Islam system, it must bear this system with it. Whereas Aziz saw a Hindu/Islamic binary in the text, Eaton finds an equally static kafir/Islamic binary. However, as will be argued below, the use of the category of kufr in the text indicates the non-Islamic without automatically bringing to bear a systematization whereby the non-Islamic must be experienced in a particular way. The framing of the  Matla‘ suggests, at the outset, a certain amount of flexibility in the treatment of kufr  . Indeed, although it sets both kingship and historiography in support of an Islamic order, it does not draw on this order to determine either a particular stance toward non-Islamic 12   Aziz Ahmad, “Epic and Counter  - Epic in Medieval India,”    Journal of the American Oriental Society 83.4 (1963): 472. doi:10.2307/597165. 13  Richard Eaton,  Essays On Islam and Indian History (New Delhi: Oxford U.P., 2002), 84. Cited as Eaton,  Essays On Islam . 14  Eaton,  Essays On Islam, 92.  4 kingship itself or a particular function for the historiography of non-Islamic kingship. The  Matla‘  - i saʻdayn va majmaʻ  -i bahrayn (“The Rising of the Two Auspicious Stars and the Confluence of the Two Seas”) comprises two volumes, each with its own introduction. The first volume covers the period from the birth of the last Ilkhanid ruler, Abu Sa‘id, in 1 304 CE, to the death of Timur in 1405 CE , while the second continues to the end of the reign of the Timurid monarch Abu Sa‘id, dating its completion as 1470 CE. 15  The introductions to both volumes of the  Matla‘ invoke an Islamic order to explain the establishment of human kingship. In Arabic-infused Persian, the introduction to the first volume roots the rule of kings in divine will, as expressed and enacted through the Qur’an . 16  For instance, the introduction describes the crown of the caliphate as having  been “established and made splendid  by the gem ‘  And We made you successors on earth ’”  (italics indicate Arabic). 17  That is, Qur’anic revelation both institutes human rulership on earth and adorns it. The introduction to the second volume characterizes human ki ngship with a similar Qur’anic verse, asserting, “the King of Kings [God]  granted his favor such that He sent to accomplishment the call of the sermon [ khu ṭ  ba ],  Indeed we are makers of a successor on earth .” 18  The framing of the  Matla‘    also sets historiography within this Islamic order, whereby   historiography ’s main benefit s lie in the dispensation of lessons, whose didactic power has an Islamic cast. The introduction to the first volume cites “the words of the inimitable composition of the King of the world,” meaning the Qur’an,  to describe the benefits of historiography : ‘“  For there was indeed a lesson   [‘ibra] in their stories for men of understanding  .”’ 19  In the context of 15   The relationship between ‘Abd al - Razzaq and Abu Sa‘id may have been strained and thus caused his removal to the khānaqāh . Cf. ʻAbd al - Husayn Nava‘i, Editor’s Introducti on to  Matlaʻ  - i saʻdayn va majmaʻ  -i bahrayn,  by ‘Abd al-Razzaq Kamal al-Din ibn Ishaq al-Samarqandi, vol. I, part I (Tehran: Pizhuhishgah- i ‘ulum - i insani va mutala‘at -i farhangi, 1383 (2004), 24- 5. Cited as Nava‘i, “Introduction.” 16   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla‘  , vol. 1.1, 33. 17   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 1.1, 33, quoting Qur’an 10:14. 18   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 1, quoting Qur’an 2:30.   19   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 1.1, 36, quoting Qur’an 12:111.    5 the Q ur’an, “they” are the prophets; hence, the use of th is verse to characterize historiography associates its didactic power with that of divine revelation. The introduction to the second volume further develops the Islamically-inflected import of historiography. It describes the development of the “science of history” as being the record of past prophets and kings, writing that  the early historians (to whom it refers as “the forebears of the testing-ground [ miz ̇mā r  ] of speech” ) have  brought the “two renowned groups” of prophets and kings “under the rest raints and binds of familiarity. ”  20  In other words, early histories showed the necessary collaboration between prophets and kings. The introduction adds that, from the recounting of the deeds and words of these two groups, “ there arrive advantages and benefits unto the mortals .” 21  Despite the lack of specificity as to these advantages and benefits, one may infer that they relate to an understanding of how these two “high status groups” of   prophets and kings supported the divine order. 22  As would befit this description of historiography, ‘Abd  al- Razzaq’s self-presentation in the text underscores his Islamic training and orientation. His account of his life (which is the most significant source of information about him) locates himself and his family in the Timurid court ‘ulama’. He was born ‘Abd  al-Razzaq Kamal al-Din ibn Ishaq al-Samarqandi in Herat in 1413 CE, and he notes that his father, Jalal al-Din Ishaq, had received “the honor of the  Imamate and the  position of being qadi” in Shahrukh’s court. 23  According to ‘Abd  al-Razzaq, all of his brothers were members of the court ‘ulama’ as well. 24   ‘Abd  al-Razzaq also stresses that his own service at court was not at odds with Islamic erudition. He srcinally received a place at court in 1437-8 CE, at which time some members of the ‘ulama’ –    driven by “ the demands of evil ego and the seduction 20   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 6.   21   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 6.   22   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 6.   23   ‘Abd al -Razzaq,  Matla ‘, vol. 2.1, 471. On ‘Abd al - Razzaq’s family, cf. also Beatrice Manz,  Power, Politics and  Religion in Timurid Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 2007), 57. Cited as Manz,  Power, Politics and Religion . 24   Cf. Nava‘i, “Introduction,” 16 -17.
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