By grace of descent: A conflict between an Īšan and craftsmen over donations

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Groups based on the notion of a shared sacralized descent enjoyed considerable influence in religious, social or political affairs in Central Asia by grace of their actual or imagined ancestry. They were credited by titles like īšān, sayyid, hwāǧa and tūra. The flexibility of multiple genealogy accounts provided ample space for negotiations of conceptions concerning identity descent, and sacredness as well as for their affirmation or disapproval. The 19th century saw an increase in newly emerging, self-styled religious dignitaries, but the strategies these people adopted to achieve their goals and the responses of their environment remain largely understudied, the more so if their attempts remained unsuccessful. This article explores the vain endeavour of two īšāns, father and son, to establish themselves in the religious market in the Ferghana Valley, and discusses the "making of new religious figureheads" during the tsarist and early Soviet period. Based on letters and documents from the īšāns' private holdings, the essay shows their efforts to present themselves as progeny of the Prophet Ayyūb - patron saint of the silk processing craftsmen - from whom they tried to levy donations, but met repeated refusal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-307
Number of pages29
JournalIslam - Zeitschrift fur Geschichte und Kultur des Islamischen Orients
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

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