Social Imaginaries

Volume 2, Issue 2, Autumn 2016

Trajectories of Modernity

Said Amir Arjomand
Pages 35-51

State Formation In Early Modern Muslim Empires
Common Origin And Divergent Paths

Chinggis Khan’s empire of conquest unified much of the Eurasian ecumene in the thirteenth century. A constitutional reading by sedentary Persian bureaucrats of the Mongol empire is used as the background for contrasting the divergent developmental paths of imperial autocracy in the three early modern Muslim successor empires. This developmental path was historically contingent upon the transformation of ascetic Sufism into a millenarian mass movement against Turko-Mongolian domination among the subject population of its compound societies. The paradoxical impact of popular Sufism on the legitimacy of kingship was also contingent upon either the success of the aspiring millenarian challengers, as was the case with the Safavid case, or the pre-emptive appropriation of the claim to the union between apparent and real monarchy by Turko-Mongolian rulers, as with the Timurids who ruled Mughal India, or, pre-emptive construction of a counter-model, as with the Ottomans.