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Genealogy and Knowledge in Muslim SocietiesUnderstanding the Past$
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Sarah Bowen Savant and Helena de Felipe

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748644971

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748644971.001.0001

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Motives and Techniques of Genealogical Forgeryin Pre-modern Muslim Societies

Motives and Techniques of Genealogical Forgeryin Pre-modern Muslim Societies

(p.24) Chapter 2 Motives and Techniques of Genealogical Forgeryin Pre-modern Muslim Societies
Genealogy and Knowledge in Muslim Societies

Zoltán Szombathy

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines how the geographic dispersion of Muslims created opportunities for intrusion into prestigious genealogies; the more spread out a family, the better the opportunity for an impostor. It shows that genealogical forgeries were ubiquitous in pre-modern Muslim societies, where the dominant ideology considered descent to be a paramount factor in deciding a person's character, prestige, status and political legitimacy, despite the contrary teachings of the Qur'an and hadith. The chapter first considers the motives behind genealogical forgeries before discussing the practical methods of manufacturing false genealogies. The focus is on descent rather than paternity, and techniques and tricks rather than theoretical dilemmas. The chapter also looks at how works on genealogy, such as Ibn Hazm's reference manual Jamharat ansab al-'Arab, were used as a resource in forgeries, as impostors, for example, to claim descent from heirless members.

Keywords:   geographic dispersion, Muslims, intrusion, family, genealogical forgeries, descent, genealogy, Ibn Hazm, Jamharat ansab al-'Arab, impostors

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