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CSI'S Monday Majlis: Han Hsien Liew

The CSI Monday Majlis is a Monday evening, online event, where invited speakers present on aspects of their current research

Event details


Studies on medieval Islamic political thought have often focused on the political writings of jurists and theologians, hence prioritizing dialectical reasoning as the main mode of political thinking. In this talk, I explore new avenues in the history of Islamic political thought by examining the role of preachers and emotions in effecting political reform. I take as my case study a mirror for princes by the twelfth-century preacher Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 1201), titled al-Miṣbāḥ al-muḍīʾ fī khilāfat al-Mustaḍīʾ. Compared with the scholastic and disputative discourses of the jurist-theologians and other mirrors for princes, the Miṣbāḥ focuses more on the ruler’s emotions. This can be demonstrated through its overall arrangement of chapters, which aims at a similar “emotional movement” as Ibn al-Jawzī’s hortatory sermons. In addition, it employs a set of rhetorical tools deemed to be more effective in appealing to the ruler’s moral and emotional sensitivities. These tools include the mixing of admonition with praise, the use of biographies of past rulers as models of ideal rulership, and emphasizing eschatological themes to induce the fear of God. Ibn al-Jawzī’s Miṣbāḥ ultimately sheds light on the relationship between politics, rhetoric, and emotions in late Abbasid Baghdad.



Han Hsien Liew is an assistant professor of Islamic Studies in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. His main area of research is medieval Islamic political thought, but his research interests also include Islamic intellectual history, the transmission of texts and knowledge, tafsīr studies, theological debates in the premodern Islamic world, Islam in Southeast Asia, and the history of emotions. His current book project, titled Preaching Pious and Learned Rulership in Medieval Islam: Ibn al-Jawzī’s Political Thought, examines the relationship between preaching, emotions, and political thought in the twelfth-century Islamic world.


In the spirit of the label ‘Majlis’ and also to make the talks even more interesting, we are experimenting with a new format presenting the topic discussed by our speaker as embedded in their own research journey. Please come and enjoy the talks and the discussions. If you’d like to be included in the CSI (Centre for the Study of Islam (Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter) mailing list, please contact the CSI Manager: Sarah Wood (

We’ll be happy to welcome you!


We’d like to invite you to the next online Monday Majlis of the Centre for the Study of Islam, Exeter:

Monday Majlis on the 15th of May, 17:00-18:30 (UK time)

Han Hsien Liew, The Role of Emotions in Islamic Political Thought: A Late Abbasid Mirror for Princes by Ibn al-Jawzī

Registration is required. Register please on this link: