Ibn al-Jawzī and the Cursing of Yazīd b . Muʿāwiya A Debate on Rebellion and Legitimate Rulership

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Han Hsien Liew



This article examines how Muslim religious scholars find space within political and legal discourses to deal with thorny issues such as rebellion. It takes as its case study a treatise by Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 597/1201) regarding the permissibility to curse the second Umayyad caliph Yazīd b. Muʿāwiya . Although written to address the cursing of Yazīd, the treatise also speaks to questions regarding rulership and rebellion. Overall, the article argues that Ibn al-Jawzī adopted a juristically prudent approach to rebellion against an unjust and sinful ruler which synthesizes various elements of the Sunni caliphate discourse and the Islamic legal discourse on the treatment of rebels. This allowed him to shift the debate from one on the permissibility of rebellion to one on the question of legitimacy, thus enabling him to justify actions against Yazīd without overtly condoning the act of rebellion.

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