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The Restoration of Sunnism: The Early History of Islamic Law Schools and the Pro

By Gary Leiser


The Restoration of Sunnism is a study of the early history of Islamic law schools (s. madrasa, pl. madāris) and their professors in late Fāṭimid and Aiyūbid Egypt (495–647/1101–1249). It describes the origin and spread of these institutions, their teachers, and their role in the religious life of Egypt. This work is a lightly revised version of the author’s 1976 University of Pennsylvania doctoral dissertation, which remains one of the most important works on the history of the premodern institution of the madrasa to date. Unlike many publications on the madāris in recent decades, which argue that medieval Islamic legal education was informal and lacked structure, the present work endeavors to detect the elements of structure and order in the institution of the madrasa and in its educational curricula and the practices associated with it. Leiser’s ground-breaking work stands out for its attention to detail and to the political, economic, and religious background of twelfth- and thirteenth-century Egypt.

Gary Leiser is a retired historian for the United States Air Force and former curator of the Travis Air Museum. He has published and lectured widely on Islamic social history.

The Restoration of Sunnism: The Early History of Islamic Law Schools and the Pro

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    PDFs of individual chapters available here

  • More info

    RAIS 14

    xx + 334 pages + 6 plates

    7x10 inches

    978-1-948488-89-1 (hardcover)

    978-1-948488-79-2  (PDF)

    March 2022

  • Table of Contents

    Series Editors’ Preface
    List of Maps, Plates, and Manuscript Folios

    Chapter 1: The Sources
    Chapter 2: The Non-Shiʿi Communities during the Last Years of Fāṭimid Rule in Egypt, 495–567/1101–71
    Chapter 3: The Earliest Madrasas in Egypt
    Chapter 4: Saladin’s Madrasas
    Chapter 5: Other Madrasas of the Aiyūbid Period
    Chapter 6: The Madrasa in Egyptian Society
    Manuscript Folios

  • Reviews

    "[H]istorians of the medieval Middle East should be deeply grateful that the Lockwood Press has at last made this important work available to a larger audience. …

    "Many subsequent scholars who have written about later madāris, the present reviewer included, have relied on Leiser’s dissertation as both a model and a source of important detail and analysis. That dissertation, despite remaining unpublished until now, has been cited remarkably consistently in later scholarship. The field is fortunate indeed that a more accessible version has finally seen the light of day."—Jonathan P. Berkey, Davidson College, in International Journal of Middle East Studies (2023): 1–2;  doi: 10.1017/S0020743823000983.

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