Muslims as Crusaders, and Other Problems for the Study of Medieval Religious Encounters

Thursday, January 5, 2012: 3:20 PM
McHenry Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Hussein Anwar Fancy, University of Michigan
In 1280, a group of Muslim soldiers in Fez, wearing crosses like Crusaders and under the command of a Christian captain, entered into battle against other Muslims.  Examining the treatment of this episode in previous historiography alongside Latin, Arabic, and Romance sources, this paper argues that a persistent and unavowed set of liberal assumptions – above all, the association of religion with violence – has limited and continues to limit the burgeoning and anthropologically inspired study of medieval religious encounters.  Breaking from this set of assumptions, I argue, demands an effort to recover the very historicity of “religion” within medieval religious interaction.