Poetic Memories of the Prophet’s Family: Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī’s Panegyrics for the ʿAbbasid Sultan-Caliph of Cairo al-Mustaʿīn
Although Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī is primarily known for his seminal scholarship in the field of prophetic traditions or ḥadīth studies, he was also an accomplished poet. In fact, as this article reveals, one of the poems that Ibn Ḥajar included in his carefully crafted collection from the ninth/fifteenth century struck a deep chord of Muslim memories surrounding a restored Islamic caliphate. Far from the image of complete apathy to the Cairene ʿAbbasids that has long been conventional wisdom, Ibn Ḥajar’s panegyric for al-Mustaʿīn (r. 808–16/1406–14) lauded the ʿAbbasid caliph’s assumption of the Mamluk sultanate as a restoration of legitimate rule to the blessed family of the Prophet (ahl al-bayt). In crafting his poem, Ibn Ḥajar draws upon a deep reservoir of devotional love for the Prophet’s family in the late Mamluk era, embodied by al-Mustaʿīn as the descendant of the Prophet’s uncle al-ʿAbbās, and upon a dynamic and evolving Islamic legal tradition on matters of governance. Even though al-Mustaʿīn’s combined reign as sultan and caliph lasted only a matter of months, Ibn Ḥajar’s commemoration of it became a famous piece of cultural lore down through the last years of the Mamluk Sultanate and past the Ottoman conquest of Egypt. Through exploring the intertwined histories of Ibn Ḥajar, al-Mustaʿīn, and their contemporaries, as well as analysing published and manuscript recensions of Ibn Hajar’s poetry, topographies of Cairo, Mamluk chancery documents, and treatises on Islamic law and ḥadīth literature, this interdisciplinary article elucidates the religious and socio-political complexity of veneration for the ʿAbbasid caliphate in the late Mamluk era.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)