University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Ahmed H. al-Rahim

Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies


Mobility and Knowledge in the Mongol Empire

This project investigates patterns of migration, transmission of knowledge, and interreligious history after the Mongol conquests of the Middle East and East Asia in the late Middle Ages (1206-1405 A.D.). This Mellon Humanities Fellowship funds research into the history of Islamic learning under the aegis of the Mongol Empire and, specifically, the founding of “mobile schools,” or madrasas, which accompanied the nomadic (transhumant) Mongolian institution of the ordo, or the peripatetic court. Described by Marco Polo and Ibn Baṭṭūṭa as a traveling city, this royal court played a crucial role in projecting Mongol political power into the world, in transmitting knowledge of science (particularly astronomy) and philosophy globally, from China to the Middle East and to Eastern Europe, and in creating a lively history of religious polemics among Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Buddhists.


Ahmed H. al-Rahim, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, is the author of The Creation of Philosophical Tradition: Biography and the Reception of Avicenna’s Philosophy from the Eleventh to the Fourteenth Century A.D., Diskurse der Arabistik; XXI (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2018).