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Dreams of Hagia Sophia: The Muslim Siege of Constantinople in 674 CE, Abū Ayyūb al-Ansạ̄rī, and the Medieval Islamic Imagination

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Chapter Summary

This genre-part biography, part prosopography is unlike the broader categories of tabaqat or madhhab-specific dictionaries in its distinctly critical focus. It demonstrates the evolution of an imperial agenda in the Islamic world, and the evolution of the hagiography of a Companion of Muhammad in the medieval Islamic imagination. Ottoman accounts which recount a series of unsuccessful sieges against the city in the centuries preceding its fall in 1453 CE elaborate upon Abu Ayyub's relationship with the city and with the church of the Hagia Sophia in particular. Among the many reports of the Arab attack on the city, there are essentially two Arabic versions of Maslama's siege of Constantinople: one dispassionately recounts the military failure, while another glorifies Maslama in spite of it. Much as there were military struggles over actual lands and physical territories, Muslim imperial powers equipped themselves for the struggle over the territory of religious imagination.

Keywords: Abu Ayyub's; Constantinople; Hagia Sophia; Islamic world; Maslama; medieval Islamic imagination; Muslim imperial powers



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