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10 Icons of Power and Religious Piety: The Politics of Mamlūk Patronage

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the symbolic and ideological nature of public and monumental buildings in cities and offers a critical reading of the Mamlūk elite's activities and influence in and on cities. It examines the construction of citadels, mosques, religious schools and ṣūfī lodges, and analyzes their roles and meanings in the urban landscape. The citadel became an indispensable part of the urban defense system, almost a prerequisite in the fortification dictionary of cities. The construction of a high-rise tower of very generous proportions in the middle of the gigantic citadel of Safed was a physical manifestation of the sultan's role, commitment and authority as the leader of the Mamlūk sultanate. The ṣūfī rituals - for instance, dhikr and samāʿ - unconfined by any very rigid protocol, were a provocative and constant statement as to the presence and dominance of Islam in the city.

Keywords: ṣūfī rituals; citadel; Mamlūk; urban defense system



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