Sacred Landscape in Medieval Afghanistan: Revisiting the Fadail-i Balkh

Hardcover | January 12, 2014

byArezou Azad

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This book is about a sacred place called Balkh, known to the ancient Greeks as Bactra. Located in the north of today's Afghanistan, along the silk road, Balkh was holy to many. The Prophet Zoroaster is rumoured to have died here, and during late antiquity, Balkh was the home of the Naw Bahr, afamed Buddhist temple and monastery. By the tenth century, Balkh had become a critical centre of Islamic learning and early poetry in the New Persian language that grew after the Islamic conquests and continues to be spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia today.In this book, Arezou Azad provides the first in-depth study of the sacred sites and landscape of medieval Balkh, which continues to exemplify age-old sanctity in the Persian-speaking world and the eastern lands of Islam generally. Azad focuses on the five centuries from the Islamic conquests in theeighth century to just before the arrival of the Mongols in the thirteenth century, the crucial period in the emergence of Perso-Islamic historiography and Islamic legal thought. The book traces the development of "sacred landscape", the notion that a place has a sensory meaning, as distinct from apurely topographical space. This opens up new possibilities for our understanding of Islamisation in the eastern Islamic lands, and specifically the transition from Buddhism to Islam. Azad offers a new look at the medieval local history of Balkh, the Fa'il-i Balkh, and analyses its creation of asacred landscape for Balkh. In doing so, she provides a compelling example of how the sacredness of a place is perpetuated through narratives, irrespective of the dominant religion or religious strand of the time.

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This book is about a sacred place called Balkh, known to the ancient Greeks as Bactra. Located in the north of today's Afghanistan, along the silk road, Balkh was holy to many. The Prophet Zoroaster is rumoured to have died here, and during late antiquity, Balkh was the home of the Naw Bahr, afamed Buddhist temple and monastery. By the...

Arezou Azad is Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Birmingham. She is the founder and co-Director of the Balkh Art and Cultural Heritage project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and based at the University of Oxford. She received her D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in 2010. She has published several articles on medie...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.01 inPublished:January 12, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199687056

ISBN - 13:9780199687053

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Discourse of Landscape, Balkh and its History1. Writing about Place: Fa'il-i BalkhText and transmissionThe Question of SourcesHow to Read the Message2. The Sacred Sites and the CityThe sacred sites of BalkhThe sacred landscape of Balkh3. Scholars, the Spirits of Sacred LandscapeReligious distinctions and affiliationsThe Character of SanctityConclusion: Looking Back, Moving Forward