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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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Bandits

Bandits

Chapter:
Chapter 12 Bandits
Source:
Violence in Islamic Thought from the Qur'an to the Mongols
Author(s):

Michael Cooperson

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694235.003.0012

This chapter deals primarily with two kinds of stories about bandits (in Arabic, anyone of whom it is said kāna yaqṭa‘u al-ṭarīq). In stories of the first kind, bandits explain why they rob travellers. In stories of the second kind, biographers claim that various ʿAbbāsid figures spent some of their lives as highwaymen. I will argue that the two kinds of reports may productively be read together. Admittedly, this material is too limited in quantity and too self-consciously literary to permit a reliable characterisation of rural unrest during the early ʿAbbāsid period. Even so, a close reading of these reports will allow us to offer some tentative proposals about how banditry was imagined and, more generally, how the various genres of Classical Arabic narrative responded to the legal, ethical and moral questions raised by highway robbery.

Keywords:   Bandits, ʿAbbāsid, Highwaymen, kāna yaqṭa‘u al-ṭarīq, Classical Arabic Narrative

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