At the end of the sixteenth century and the turn of the first
Islamic millennium, the powerful Mughal emperor Akbar declared
himself the most sacred being on earth. The holiest of all saints
and above the distinctions of religion, he styled himself as the
messiah reborn. Yet the Mughal emperor was not alone in doing so.
In this field-changing study, A. Azfar Moin explores why Muslim
sovereigns in this period began to imitate the exalted nature of
Sufi saints. Uncovering a startling yet widespread phenomenon, he
shows how the charismatic pull of sainthood (wilayat) -- rather
than the draw of religious law (sharia) or holy war (jihad) --
inspired a new style of sovereignty in Islam.
A work of history richly informed by the anthropology of
religion and art, The Millennial Sovereign traces how royal
dynastic cults and shrine-centered Sufism came together in the
imperial cultures of Timurid Central Asia, Safavid Iran, and Mughal
India. By juxtaposing imperial chronicles, paintings, and
architecture with theories of sainthood, apocalyptic treatises, and
manuals on astrology and magic, Moin uncovers a pattern of Islamic
politics shaped by Sufi and millennial motifs. He shows how
alchemical symbols and astrological rituals enveloped the body of
the monarch, casting him as both spiritual guide and material lord.
Ultimately, Moin offers a striking new perspective on the history
of Islam and the religious and political developments linking South
Asia and Iran in early-modern times.
Subjects: Religion, History
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.