Colloquium  ‘Dār al-islām/dār al-ḥarb: territories, people, identities’

Rome, 5-6 December 2012


Organized by the Dipartimento di Studi Orientali of Rome’s Università La Sapienza and the Dipartimento di Linguistica of Roma Tre University. The Colloquium aims to have a close look at the concept of dār al-islām as well as the dichotomy dār al-islām/dār al- ḥarb, starting from its origin and discussing its historical evolution, a subject whose centrality demands a thorough analysis.


Invited speakers:

Michel Balivet (Université Aix-Marseille), Le cas de l’Anatolie turque: dār al-islām ou diyār-e Rūm ?

Eric Chaumont (Université Aix-Marseille), La notion de territoire (dār) dans la littérature sharaico-politique du Vème/XIème siècle : al-Māwardī, le qadi Abū Ya‘lā et al-Juwayni

Maribel Fierro ( Madrid– CSIC),  Early Maliki doctrine on dār al-islām and dār al-ḥarb

Yohanan Friedmann (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Dār al-Islām and Dār al-Harb in Muslim India

Houari Touati (Paris – EHESS), La notion de dār al-ḥarb  dans les sources du IIème siècle de l’Hégire



Dār al-islām and dār al-ḥarb, “the abode of Islam” and “the abode of war”, are the two well known conventional expressions elaborated within  the classical Arab-Islamic culture  to identify respectively the domain controlled  by  Muslims (or the territory within which  Islamic law is enforced) and the rest of the world. Having this meaning been taken for granted, the historical moment in which these non-Koranic notions were established as well as the different function and meaning they received by Muslim scholars of different orientations are yet to be thoroughly investigated and many questions still remain unanswered. First of all how could a universal religious law combine, in medieval Muslim thinking, with political boundaries and legal jurisdiction? Moreover,  since these two notions did not use to receive specific analysis by medieval Muslim jurists, even though they frequently recur in their writings, we might also wonder  if and when the two expressions ever gained the status of legal technical terms and when the dichotomy stabilized and was ‘canonized’.

Besides the specifically juridical issues, mainly connected with the introduction of a principle of territoriality within a system characterized by the personality of law, the reception of the two expressions, dār al-islām and dār al-ḥarb -  as well as of other partly equivalent ones - in the Arabic lexicons, makes other kinds of questions arise. Their presence within other kinds of texts (geographical and historical writings, travelogues, etc.), if duly investigated,  could also  give us new insights into the topic. While a preliminary investigation  in these fields has been recently  attempted (G.Calasso, RSO, LXXXIII, 2011), they still have to be explored  on the basis of a more extended corpus of sources.

By proposing to devote new research  to the issue, we would also suggest to focus on the success of  the expression dār al-islām among Western scholars of Islam, who have been currently using it with a univocal  and permanent meaning. We could almost say that Western authors made  this ‘formula’ their own because it seemed to correspond to their idea of  ‘Muslim world’. But while in the last years  the use of the expression ‘the Muslim world’, in the singular, has been the object of a debate (S.Denoix, REMMM, 2004), the expression dār al-islām, elaborated by Muslim authors to identify their world – dārunā, our dār – as a unity, has not yet  received the  attention it deserved  neither  in its juridical and  political dimension, nor  as a collective  identity notion.

This Colloquium thus  aims  to open the debate  to contributions with a juridical orientation – focusing on  legal theory or on jurisprudence – but also to historical, anthropological as well as lexicographical contributions, in the frame of a comparative approach between different kinds of sources  and  different historical contexts.


250-word proposals for 30 minutes communications (in French, English, or Italian) + 10 minute discussion should be sent to not later than 20 September 2012.

Acceptance of proposals will be confirmed by 5 October 2012 on the conference website


                                                            Giovanna Calasso                                    Giuliano Lancioni

                                                        ( ‘La Sapienza’ University)                      (‘Roma Tre’ University)


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