Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Medieval and Renaissance Studies


Ayfer Karakaya-Stump

Committee Members

Philip Daileader

Alexander Angelov


In recent years, scholars of the Islamic Middle East have fiercely debated the nature and underlying causes of the so-called ‘Sunni Revival’, a period of Sunni political resurgence and theological consolidation centered around the city of Baghdad that lasted throughout the eleventh century. Despite the importance of this period, which witnessed the crystallization of mainstream Islamic thought as it is known to the present, scholars have been unable to synthesize its phenomena into a single convincing narrative. This shortcoming is owed largely to scholars lacking a robust structural understanding of Islamic society during this period, particularly with respect to Baghdad. While significant work has been done to study the elites of Baghdad such as the administration of the local Abbasid Caliphate and the garrison of the foreign Seljuq sultanate, very little attention has been paid to the vast majority of the city’s populace. Working from the assumption that understanding a society’s social structure requires understanding its people, this project studies the group referred to in the sources as ‘al-aewam’, a term usually translated as ‘the masses’.