We felt saturated by scholarship following the second LIVIT conference – so sated were we that only now have we got around to putting our reflections together.  It was, we hope all present would agree, a very stimulating twodays.  Istvan and myself felt the quality of contribution – and the engagement of participants meant that the coverage of violence and its legitimization in early Islamic thought was impressive.  We included not only “strictly” religious writings looking at violence in abstract – but also many detailed studies of historical episodes, and their incorporation into the narrative of early Islam.  Poetry, art and prose literature also came under scrutiny, alongside political theory and jurisprudence.  This breadth of coverage was due to the engagement of those who came – and whom (we hope) will contribute to the published volume of proceedings.

 

We were sad, though, to not have had the pleasure of the company of two speakers, who were scheduled to attend and present papers.  Professors Hamori and de Blois had to cancel at short notice for health reasons.  Despite his absence, Professor Hamori’s paper on Jihadi poetry was delivered and contributed to the conference through its linkage of modern themes with classical styles.  Indeed, the whole conference was focussed on the early period, but what was clear was that the structures of thought which legitimatize or delegitimize violence in Islamic thought had longevity, and were replicated in different epochs and at different times (including, it should be said, the modern period).  The stark division between the “modern” and the “pre-modern”, both in interpretive method and in modes of discourse, was undermined – from my perspective, and from the perspective of the LIVIT project as a whole, it became clear that understanding the discussions around violence in modern Islam requires a full understanding of its antecedents – and that can only happen through detailed studies such as those presented at the conference.

 

We thank all those who took the trouble to come to Exeter – and we look forward to our next LIVIT conference in September 2012 (definitive dates will follow in due course) – where the focus will be later medieval and early pre-modern discourses on violence and its legitimacy.  We hope that the 2011 conference was a fitting tribute to the scholarship of Professor Dr Thomas Sizgorich, who was due to attend, but sadly passed away unexpectedly in January 2011, nd to whom the confernece was dedicated.