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Constructing Sacred History: The Islamic Conquest of Jerusalem 638 CE and the Narrativization of Religious Identity

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Title: Constructing Sacred History: The Islamic Conquest of Jerusalem 638 CE and the Narrativization of Religious Identity
Author: Sizoo-Roberson, Cecelia
Advisor: Zadeh, Travis
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Religion
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: A myriad of written historical sources that began to be produced during the early Abbasid Caliphate detail the events surrounding the Islamic Conquest of Jerusalem in 638 CE. An analysis of these early narratives reveals a process of self-fashioning that was accomplished through the careful depiction of sacred space with relation to the conquest. Jerusalem is the only city that is claimed as sacred by the three Abrahamic monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is in localities in Jerusalem that these traditions claim to have experienced interactions between the earthly and the divine, and it is in these spaces that eschatological belief posits that these interactions will again occur. In depicting the Conquest of Jerusalem, Muslim historians capitalized on the histories already existent about the city, possessed by Christians and Jews. Rather than rejecting all that had come prior, Muslim historians grafted their own history into the complex religious heritage associated with the city. The emphasis that the narratives place on actions occurring on and around the Temple Mount and foundation Rock, as well as the careful depictions of Umar Ibn Khattab, who is said to have negotiated the terms of the capitulation of the city, suggests that these historical narratives served an important role for early historiographers. Resultant from the strong emphasis on depictions of sacred space, these accounts exist at the expense of other information about the conquest, some of which has been lost altogether; thus these thematic connections are what come to negotiate understandings of the shifting of authority in Jerusalem. These narratives allowed historians to define Muslim beliefs about and connections to the city in a comprehensive way, accounting for the beliefs of prior traditions, creating discourse of codified communal memory that was disseminated among future generations. In narrating these histories in a profoundly sacred space, early Muslim historians effectively defined their own identity in relation to the other two Abrahamic faiths, and determined how the city would function for Islam into modernity.
Subject: Jerusalem -- History -- Siege, 70 A.D
Subject: Jerusalem -- Religious aspects
Subject: Identification (Religion) -- Jerusalem
Terms of Use: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/8157

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Citation

Sizoo-Roberson, Cecelia. "Constructing Sacred History: The Islamic Conquest of Jerusalem 638 CE and the Narrativization of Religious Identity". 2012. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/8157.

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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/ Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/

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