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Violence in Islamic Thought from the Qur'an to the Mongols$
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Robert Gleave and István Kristó-Nagy

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748694235

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694235.001.0001

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Attitudes to the Use of Fire in Executions in Late Antiquity and Early Islam: The Burning of Heretics and Rebels in Late Umayyad Iraq

Attitudes to the Use of Fire in Executions in Late Antiquity and Early Islam: The Burning of Heretics and Rebels in Late Umayyad Iraq

Chapter:
Chapter 7 Attitudes to the Use of Fire in Executions in Late Antiquity and Early Islam: The Burning of Heretics and Rebels in Late Umayyad Iraq
Source:
Violence in Islamic Thought from the Qur'an to the Mongols
Author(s):

Andrew Marsham

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694235.003.0007

Capital punishment can be understood as simultaneously an exercise of actual power – the ending of a human life – and an exertion of symbolic, or ritual, power.1 In this combination of symbolic transformation with real physical change, executions are unusual rituals. But the use of extreme violence against the human body certainly does have ritual characteristics, in that it has established rules (which may, of course, be deliberately challenged or broken) and in that these rules are used to make the drastic transformation in the status of the executed party seem legitimate and proper, to reassert more general ideas about the correct social order and to communicate threats and warnings to others who might seek to upset it. The victim of the execution is quite literally marked out as beyond reintegration into society. Their body becomes a kind of text, which can be read in a multitude of ways: the authorities carrying out the killing usually have one set of messages in mind, but the victim themselves, and those who witness or remember the act, may have very different ideas.

Keywords:   Early Islam, Heretics, Rebels, Late Umayyad Iraq, Execution, Martyrological tradition

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