Current Institutional Affiliation
Research Associate, History, University of London / School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2001
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Religion, Harvard University
Holy Site in Infidel Land

This study analyzes medieval Muslims' understandings of their community, its space, and relationship to other communities through consideration of one place important to the Islamic tradition but located outside of the Islamic world. Scholars and adventure s such as al-Idrisi, al-Mas'udi, and Ibn Battuta, in imagining Sri Lanka's Adam's Peak, challenged jurists' claims to identify Muslim identity exclusively with the dar al-Islam centered at Mecca. Their works, in turn, challenge modern scholars to reconsider the relationship in medieval Islamic thought between territory or space and identity. Analysis of Adam's Peak complements recent scholarship in the field of Islamic international law, and contributes to understandings of the phenomena of contested sacred space since the Islamic case is a particularly clear example of a tendency for religious traditions' members to identify roots outside their borders in other peoples' holy lands.