Maritime Muslims: The Sulayhids in the Indian Ocean

ACGIS Lecture with Dr. Sumaiya Hamdani

Wednesday, October 25, 2023 1:30 PM EDT
Horizon Hall, 3rd Floor Conference Room #3225

Maritime Muslims: The Sulayhids in the Indian Ocean

The Sulayhids participated in the formation of a diasporic community which connected the Yemen with India, through the sustained contact of Tayyibi Ismaili scholars over several centuries.  Studies of diasporic communities in the Indian Ocean world, such as those of Engseng Ho, have explored the importance of genealogy in connecting Yemen with Southeast Asia, but less has been written about the role of Muslim scholars’ efforts to acquire cultural capital across the Indian Ocean through the transmission of knowledge.  The Tayyibi Ismaili community founded by the Sulayhids serves as an example of such connections.  In examining the biographical and bibliographical information of two Tayyibi Ismaili scholars from the 16th and 19th centuries, this paper hopes to build on the recent research on the role of Islam in the Indian Ocean before Europe.

Dr. Hamdani received her B.A. from Georgetown University and M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University in the field of Islamic history. Her book, Between Revolution and State: the Construction of Fatimid Legitimacy (I.B. Tauris 2006) examines the development of legal and historical literature by the Ismaili Shi’i Fatimid state. Her research has also included articles and reviews in the fields of Shi’i thought, Islamic history, and women in Islam. Her teaching interests include Islamic, Middle East, and world history. Her current research examines the construction of identity in Muslim minority communities in South Asia during the colonial and post-colonial periods. Dr. Hamdani has served on advisory boards of the Middle East Studies Association, the American Institute of Yemeni Studies, and the North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies, among others. She co-founded and was director of the Islamic Studies program at George Mason University from 2003-2008.

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