The book focuses on a central topic of medieval Islam: Baghdad and its elites under the Saljuqs, between 447/1055 and 575/1180. This Baghdad was the caliphal capital where al-Ghazālī (d. 505/1111) taught and where Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 597/1200) preached—a city transformed by the foundation of madrasas and ribāṭs, and fought over by the Saljuq Turks, their Iranian viziers, their emirs, the ʿayyārs, and the Abbasids Caliphs. The city was indeed the heart of “Traditional Islam,” to quote the late George Makdisi (d. 2002), the leading figure in “Baghdad studies” during this key period. For all these reasons, the potential readership of Van Renterghem’s book is far greater than what is normally expected for monograph on a medieval city.
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