[PAST EVENT] Poet, Saint and Heretic: The Image of Nasir-i Khusraw in the Medieval and Early Islamic World

December 6, 2012
James Blair Hall, Room 206
250 James Blair Dr
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
The 11th-century author Nasir-i Khusraw has for a millennium been renowned as one of the foremost poets and philosophers of the Persian language. He is also widely known as a proselytizer of the Isma'ili sect of Shi'i Islam, having served as a missionary in his native Iran on behalf of the Isma'ili rulers of Egypt.

Nasir-i Khusraw is particularly renowned today within the Badakhshan province in the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia, whence he was exiled from Iran under accusations of heresy, and where he is believed to have converted much of the population of the region to Isma'ilism in the final decades of his life.

In this talk, Baben will survey a range of biographical traditions concerning Nasir-i Khusraw developed between the 14th and 19th centuries, focusing particularly on narrative development within Central Asia, with an aim to understanding the contemporary context and significance of these traditions for Islamic society in the late medieval and early modern periods.

Baben will argue that these traditions point to evolutions in conceptions of orthodoxy and heresy in early-modern Central Asia, as well shifts in the political and cultural position of Badakhshan and Central Asia within the broader Islamic world.