Peer-Reviewed Articles Review: Winter 2018/2019 (Part 2)

Peer-Reviewed Articles Review: Winter 2018/2019 (Part 2)

[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the seventh in a series of “Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews” in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise one-to-three parts, depending on the number of articles included.]

Arabica (Volume 66, Issue 1-2)

Textual Silences and Literary Choices in al-Kisāʾī’s Account of the Annunciation and the Birth of Jesus

By: Helen Blatherwick

Abstract: The story of the Annunciation to Mary and the birth of Jesus in the Qurʾān and the Bible has been the subject of several recent literary studies that bring up the use of textual silences, and the significance of speech and speechlessness as themes in the text. This paper focuses on three recensions of the story available to us in printed editions of al-Kisāʾī’s Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ in similar vein, through intertextual comparison of these accounts with Mary stories as told in the Qurʾān, premodern qiṣaṣ collections, and Islamic historiographical sources. By comparing al-Kisāʾī’s accounts of the Annunciation with those told in the Qurʾān and the wider Islamic Mary corpus it is possible to gain insight into the author’s literary agenda, and also into the ways in which he draws on the wider narrative pool for his material, makes reference to the Qurʾān, and manipulates theme and characterisation.

ʿĀmir b. ʿĀmir al-Baṣrī: Ismāʿīlī or Unorthodox Twelver Šīʿī-Ṣūfī?

By: Ismail K. Poonawala

Abstract: ʿĀmir b. ʿĀmir al-Baṣrī, according to evidence in his tāʾiyya, composed this long didactic mystical poem either in 700/1300-1301 or 731/1330-1331, while he was exiled to Sīwās in Anatolia. The object of this paper is fourfold. First, to give a brief sketch of his life gleaned from the extant Sunnī sources and determine the date of al-tāʾiyya’s composition or completion. Second, to review critically all the three editions of his al-tāʾiyya. Third, to scrutinize the contents of his poem, generally known as al-tāʾiyya l-ṣuġrā in contradistinction to al-tāʾiyya l-kubrā of Ibn al-Fāriḍ (d. 632/1235). This Ode is crucial in establishing an unequivocal argument that the poet was an unorthodox Imāmī (Twelver) Šīʿī-Ṣūfī. Fourth, to refute the claims of ʿĀrif Tāmir, Muṣṭafā Ġālib and Yves Marquet that al-Baṣrī was an Ismāʿīlī. The first two scholars do not present any tangible evidence to support their contention except the fact that copies of his tāʾiyya are to be found among the Syrian Ismāʿīlī-Nizārī communities. Yves Marquet, on the other hand, argues and speculates on the basis of his [mis]reading of certain internal and external evidences that the author was a high ranking Ismāʿīlī missionary. Unable to support his contention Marquet as a final point of defense opines that al-Baṣrī was probably affiliated with the Nizārī branch; however, he says this without any substantial internal or external verification. Contrarily, al-Baṣrī is not known at all in the Ismāʿīlī sources, either those of the Mustaʿlī-Ṭayyibīs in the Yemeni era, or of the Nizārīs during the post-Alamūt period.

On the Transmission of Indian Medical Texts to the Arabs in the Early Middle Ages

By: Oliver Kahl

Abstract: The transmission of Indian scientific and, notably, medical texts to the Arabs during the heyday of the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad (ca 158/775-205/820) is still largely shrouded in myth; its investigation continues to be hampered not only by serious methodological problems but also by a lack of philological groundwork and a shortage of trained researchers. This article, which in essence is meant to serve as a rough guide into one prospective field of “Indo-Arabic” studies, focuses on a badly neglected though highly promising cluster of texts, namely those that relate to the translation and adaptation of certain Ayurvedic key works from Sanskrit into Arabic. A general assessment of the current state of research, of the factors that condition our knowledge and of the obstacles and limitations posed by the very nature of the subject, is followed by a bio-bibliographical survey of Ayurvedic texts which were subject to transmission; the article is rounded off by six Sanskrit-into-Arabic text samples, with English translations for both.

“Though This Be Madness, Yet There Is Method In’t”: The mamnūʿ min al-ṣarf (Diptotes) in Arabic Grammatical Tradition

By: Jean N. Druel, Almog Kasher

Abstract: This article discusses theories designed by medieval Arabic grammarians to explain one of the most puzzling topics in Arabic grammar, mamnūʿ min al-ṣarf (diptotes). The mainstream theory of mamnūʿ min al-ṣarf probably took on its definitive form in the early 4th/10th century; it differs from Sībawayhi’s (d. ca 180/796) theory, yet consists of a generalisation of features found in the latter. A later modification, which retained its basic elements, was presented to the mainstream theory probably during the 7th/13th century. A radically different theory was presented by al-Suhaylī (d. 581/1185), who harshly criticised the mainstream theory as inadequate and arbitrary.

Reflexes of Old Arabic */ǧ/ in the Maghrebi Dialects

By: Jairo Guerrero Parrado

Abstract: The present paper discusses from a diachronic standpoint the realizations of Old Arabic */ǧ/ in the various Maghrebi dialects. It covers the following issues: reflexes of Old Arabic */ǧ/, phonetically conditioned shifts involving /ǧ/ and /ž/, discussion and conclusions. The remaining part of the study is devoted to a presentation and discussion of evidences suggesting that affricate /ǧ/ was formerly more widespread among first-layer dialects.

Contemporary Arab Affairs (Volume 11, Issue 4)

Arab Peoples: From the Dynamics of Failure to Self-Destruction

By: Georges Corm

Abstract: Not available

Palestinian Protests: Jerusalem’s Shifting Fortunes

By: Dana El Kurd

Abstract: This paper argues that both the institutions and the social cohesion of Palestinians in Jerusalem were dealt a heavy blow following the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. The Palestinian Authority increasingly demobilized Palestinians within Jerusalem and eroded traditional institutions. Nevertheless, the Israeli occupation’s intention to repress Jerusalemites by shutting down their organizations has inadvertently opened up new opportunities for collective action. Since then, Jerusalemites have begun reviving traditional institutions and working to address Israeli policies. This article incorporates new quantitative and qualitative data on the most recent waves of protest to make the argument that social cohesion is crucial to understanding protest capacity in East Jerusalem today.

Effects of Iraq’s Parliamentary Gender Quota on Women’s Political Mobilization and Legitimacy Post-2003

By: Huda Al-Tamimi

Abstract: Parliamentary gender quotas have become increasingly prevalent since the 1990s, yet in-depth research illuminating their effects on women’s political agency remains scarce. Iraq’s political evolution offers a unique perspective on feminist, democratization, and gender quota scholarship as related to Middle Eastern women in politics since the US and allied invasion of Iraq in 2003. Throughout Iraq’s modern history, Iraqi women’s ability to pursue legitimate political agency has fluctuated with changes in the country’s political climate. The 2003 invasion set in motion sweeping reforms to the judicial, legislative, and executive governing powers. Women’s potential role in the emerging polity was enhanced by enactment of an electoral gender quota stipulating no less than twenty-five percent of seats in the Iraq parliament to be filled by women. This article presents research that sought to elucidate the impact of that quota on women’s political mobilization since 2003. Data collected included televised interviews, reports, and media articles that were qualitatively analyzed using a critical literary theory approach. Analysis was aided by NVivo qualitative analysis software. The findings indicate that although the gender quota has nominally increased descriptive representation, it has proven insufficient to support women’s substantive and symbolic representation. Issues of women’s socioeconomic position, lack of cooperation among female members of parliament, and ongoing security threats must be addressed for women to achieve full political legitimacy.

The Trap of Neoliberalism for GCC Countries: Salvaging an Economy or Drowning a Community?

By: Abdullah Al-Beraidi

Abstract: This study investigates the extent to which neoliberalism could be the cornerstone for economic reform and diversification in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. It seeks to determine the most important effects of neoliberalism as well as its social and economic costs, starting from the premise that economics is by and large a social science. The study is aimed at exploring the possibilities of crafting an economic doctrine suited to the conditions of these countries and capable of satisfying their current and future needs with the aim of fostering sustained development and stability on a sound basis. In its quest for answers, it uses a descriptive, critical and interpretive methodology in an analytical framework that combines the views of prominent economists and social scientists while paying special attention to the scientific and critical views of Arab Gulf thinkers and their analysts. The study looks at what it called “the five major defects” of neoliberalism: an unfair class system; lack of social solidarity; the debt trap; communal protests; and marketization and commoditization. Five warnings were made to the citizens of the Gulf States: to avoid impoverishment; to be wary of debt; to avoid ventures; to be wary of predators; and to be wary of intruders. The study tackled the twin issues of opting for limited liberalism and the need for reform to allow the economy breathing space.

The Modernization of the Hawza? Lebanon as a Case Study

By: Ali Kassem

Abstract: A hawza is the establishment responsible for the training of Shia Islam’s imams, preachers, professors, and researchers. For hundreds of years, its educational model has involved the teaching of Fikh,Usul, philosophy, Quranic studies and Arabic language. Over the past few decades, the social sciences—the systematic study of man and society which had emerged in the West—have been slowly making their way into these institutions, alongside a number of other changes. This article investigates, qualitatively, the religious training of Shia men of religion in Lebanon in order to explore the changes taking place within this institution. Based on a triangulation of participant observation, interviews with professors, students, and stakeholders, as well as content analysis of certain course material, it claims a hawza in metamorphosis. While structural and material alterations have straightforwardly made their way into the institution, content and curricular ones have faced more difficulty. These changes reveal plenty about both Islamic education and Shia Islam in Lebanon’s public sphere. Additionally, the article raises questions and insights regarding decolonial theory, Lebanon’s future, and the geopolitics of the Arab world.

China’s Military Diplomacy towards Arab Countries in Africa’s Peace and Security: The Case of Djibouti

By: Hend Elmahly, Degang Sun

Abstract: China’s security concept is evolving, and its participation in Africa’s Arab countries’ peacekeeping is transforming itself from aloof bystander to active player, and from multilateralism to both multi- and unilateralism. The establishment of China’s logistics base in Djibouti does not signify a sudden change in China’s African foreign policy; instead, change has been gradual and tangible and began with the evolution of China’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations, and engagement in Africa’s infrastructure projects, in parallel with China’s increasing global presence. The base serves as a logistics and support facility for Chinese peacekeepers, as well as a naval facility to support anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia as part of an international anti-piracy operation. Moreover, the base helps China to ensure its maritime and commercial interests and safeguard Chinese nationals in West Asia and the African continent. However, the United States and the West are concerned with the geopolitical and geoeconomic implications of China’s logistics base in Djibouti. The geography of Djibouti has led to the rising of geopolitical rivalries between the great powers, which may intensify in the coming years.

“Clash of Civilizations” at Twenty-Five: Reappraising Huntington’s Legacy: View from the Arab World

By: Ahmed M. Abozaid

Abstract: This summer, American academia will celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Samuel Huntington’s most controversial article, later book, on the post-Cold War era. “Clash of Civilizations?” was published for the first time in the summer issue of the semi-scholarly journal Foreign Affairs, and was considered the manifesto of US foreign policy after the fall of the Soviet Union. With his publication, Huntington established the foundation of what would become the dominant and unchallenged narrative discourse in world politics during the 1990s and 2000s, especially after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. Huntington created the discourse of “Islam is the enemy” and “Islam is the new bogeyman,” to use Stephen Walt’s analogy. Now, twenty-five years after its publication, this article evaluates whether Huntington’s assumption was correct. Does Islam really represent a global threat? And are Muslims the bogeymen of the twenty-first century? The answer, according to this article, is emphatically no!

Iran and the Caucasus (Volume 22, Issue 4)

Did Mani Travel to Armenia?

By: Iain Gardner

Abstract: This paper will present new evidence to resolve a long-standing problem in the biography of Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, who lived in Sasanian Iran during the third-century A.D. There are a number of important early references to Armenia in Manichaean texts. These include a Sogdian account of how Mār Gabryab brought the religion to Armenia and contains the earliest known literary reference to the name of the capital city of Erevan; and various notices of Mani’s own Letter to Armenia in Arabic, Middle Persian and Sogdian. But the principal focus for this paper is to resolve the question as to whether Mani himself travelled to Armenia in the early/mid 270s A.D. The account of his final travels, before his imprisonment and death under King Bahrām I in Gondēšāpūr, has been the subject of sustained debate since late antiquity. The early Christian polemical tradition represented by the Acts of Archelaus (ca. 330 A.D., extant in Latin, with parallels and elaborated traditions in Greek, Syriac etc.) placed him in the mysterious Castellum Arabionis near the border of the Roman Empire, and in the 19th-century it was common to locate this in Armenia. However, discoveries of primary Manichaean texts in Coptic and Middle Iranian languages in the 20th century turned attention to sites in Mesopotamia. This paper aims to reconcile these accounts and will utilise a newly-edited Coptic source to demonstrate that Mani did, indeed, travel to Sasanian Armenia in the company of a local nobleman named Baat.

Yezidis and Christianity: Shaping of a New Identity

By: Victoria Arakelova

Abstract: For the last decades, the Yezidi identity whose main marker was for centuries based on a unique religion, the Sharfadin, has undergone specific transformations. One of the most stable trends playing a crucial role in the mentioned process, is the spread of Orthodox Christianity, particularly among the Yezidis of Georgia and Russia. This phenomenon is especially interesting regarding the fact that, unlike neo-Protestant missions, Orthodox Church has never been active in proselytism particularly among the Yezidis; no Orthodox mission has ever focused its activities on this group. Yet, the number of the Yezidis converting to the Orthodox Christianity gradually grows. The paper is an interim result of a project on the modern transformations of the Yezidi identity. Compiled on the materials collected by the author through interviews and questionnaires among the converted Yezidis of Georgia and Russia, it focuses on several particular cases reflecting the shaping of a principally new identity, when Christian mentality replaces the Yezidi eclectic religious outlook.

“Ice” in Western New Iranian

By: Garnik Asatrian

Abstract: The paper aims at analysis of the terms denoting “ice” in New Western Iranian dialects. Most of the attested forms reflect NPers. yax. However, an attempt is made to identify several genuine designations of “ice”, which do not fit the common pattern, particularly based on the data obtained from toponymy of the region. In addition, some conjectures regarding the origin of yax are proposed.

Iraq (Volume 80)

An Inscription of Ashurnasirpal II from the IŠtar-Šarrat-Niphi Temple at Nimrud

By: Ali Yaseen Al-Juboori

Abstract: An inscription of Ashurnasirpal II (r.883–859 b.c.) was found in the temple of Ištar-Šarrat-niphi at Kalhu (Nimrud) in 2001, during the excavations of the Nineveh inspectorate expedition (State Board of Antiquities and Heritage). The preserved text duplicates RIMA 2 A.0.101.1 i 18–117. This article presents a transliteration, a table of variants, and a translation into Arabic.

Mathematical Aspects of Earth-Moving Linked to Hydraulic Works in Ur II Umma

By: Sergio Alivernini

Abstract: This paper studies mathematical aspects of earthwork projects in the Ur III city of Umma, c.2053–2032 b.c. The main purpose of this paper is to describe the practical procedures involved in moving earth for hydraulic works around Umma. It also shows how Old Babylonian pedagogical “mathematical texts” about earthworks,from the early second millennium b.c., are indebted to the practical procedures adopted by Ur III officials.

Portraits Of a Parthian King: Rock-Reliefs and The Mountain Fortresses of Rabana-Merquly In Iraqi Kurdistan

By: Michael Brown, Peter Miglus, Kamal Rasheed, Mustafa Ahmad

Abstract: This article presents detailed illustrations of two rock-reliefs from the neighbouring sites Rabana and Merquly, located on the flanks of Mt. Piramagrun in Iraqi Kurdistan. Both matching sculptures are aligned with perimeter fortifications that enclose substantial architectural remains. Based on numismatic parallels, supported by archaeological evidence, it is proposed that these depictions of near life-size figures represent an anonymous Arsacid King of Kings from the early first millennium (c. a.d. 50-150), who was credited with construction of the mountain fortresses. Rabana and Merquly together form an important landscape of settlement on the north-western frontier of the Parthian Empire.

Peering Into The Dusty Corners: Micro-Debris Analysis And Use of Space At The Site of Abu Tbeirah (Nashiriyah, Iraq)

By: Susanna Cereda, Licia Romano

Abstract: Excavations carried out in the last five years by “La Sapienza” University of Rome and Iraqi teams at the site of Abu Tbeirah (Nasiriyah, Iraq) exposed a large multi-phased mud-brick building (Building A), internally articulated into various rooms with different purposes, which probably hosted a wide range of activities. This building presents an opportunity to investigate the use of these spaces in order to glimpse the daily life and the socio-economic structure of its past inhabitants. In this paper we present the preliminary outcomes of this study, based on the results of a micro-debris analysis that looked at the distribution of the material residues embedded within the floor of Room 5 of the building.

Archaeology of Destruction: Toprakkale

By: Bülent Genç

Abstract: Toprakkale is the site that constitutes the starting point for the archaeology of Urartu, but the history of the largely destructive early excavations of the site is shrouded in darkness. The presence of items on the antiquities market said to come from the Van region attracted the interest of Austen Henry Layard, which led to brief excavations at the site of Toprakkale by the British Museum under Hormuzd Rassam in 1877, followed by further also brief investigations by K. Kamsarakan as well as continued illegal excavations. It is commonly held that Carl Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt and Waldemar Belck excavated here between 1898–1899, but research performed in the Ottoman Archives of the Prime Minister’s Office reveals their claim to have excavated there to be fraudulent and empty. This article uses primary source material from Ottoman archives to investigate the excavation history of one of the most iconic sites for the beginnings of Urartian Studies, and compels us to re-evaluate what we think we know about Toprakkale and the provenance of the objects associated with it.

The Great Adventures of a Small God: New Evidence for the Divine Messenger Staff Huṭāru

By: Kristin Kleber

Abstract: The messenger staff Huṭāru was a non-anthropomorphic deity in the Neo-Babylonian Eanna temple of Uruk that also had a practical function: it served as a symbol of authority of the goddess Ištar during the collection of taxes and dues. In this article I edit and discuss two hitherto unpublished texts that shed new light on this little known divine object. Furthermore, I suggest its identification with the “Doppellöwenkeule”, a ceremonial mace with animal protomes that is represented alone or carried by Ištar on seals and terracotta plaques from the Old and Neo-Babylonian periods.

Pigs and Plaques: Considering RM. 714 In Light of Comparative Artisitc and Textual Sources

By: Gina Konstantopoulos

Abstract: Rm. 714, a first millennium b.c.e. tablet in the collections of the British Museum, is remarkable for the fine carving of a striding pig in high relief on its obverse. Purchased by Hormuzd Rassam in Baghdad in 1877, it lacks archaeological context and must be considered in light of other textual and artistic references to pigs, the closest parallel being a sow and her piglets seen in the reliefs of Court VI from Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh. Unlike depictions of pigs on later cylinder seals, where they are often shown as a dangerous quarry in hunting scenes, Rm. 714’s pig appears in a more neutral, non-aggressive posture, similar to the sow in the Assyrian reliefs. Although Rm. 714’s highly curved reverse would inhibit its use as a mounted or otherwise easily displayed object, the tablet may still have served as an apotropaic object or sculptor’s model, among other potential functions.

Ubaid Ceramic Production In the Hilly Flanks of Northwestern Posht-I-Kuh (Ilam – West Iran)

By: Khoda Karam Mazaheri

Abstract: This paper examines discoveries made during the survey of Kall Karim and presents a chronological framework for this site based on ceramic decorative styles and forms. This site was first identified during archaeological survey of the northwestern part of the Posht-i Kuh area in Ilam province (west Iran) in the winter of 2016. Kall Karim is located in a rugged area on the northern slopes of Seh Kurvand Mountain in the Bawlly region, which is used for winter pastures of nomadic tribes. According to surface remains, the ancient use of Kall Karim is entirely related to pottery production activities. All the surface sherds belong to the Ubaid period; according to typological studies and comparison of motifs and forms, we propose that Kall Karim belongs to Ubaid 2-3. It seems that both abundance of necessary materials and the accessibility of fuel for kilns caused the formation of Kall Karim in this location, far from residential centers.

Reading The Temple of Nabu as a Coded Sensory Experience

By: Kiersten Neumann

Abstract: Archaeological evidence alongside textual sources allow for a deep reading of the meaningful encounters ancient peoples had with their built environments and the ways in which these spaces were connected to cultural values and priorities. This paper argues that the sensory affordances of the first-millennium b.c. temples of Nabu, the god of wisdom and writing, manifested the exclusive, specialised knowledge that was associated with this god in a manner that differentiated these built environments within the active, sensory landscape of the Neo-Assyrian royal citadel. This potential of the Nabu temples is best shown in the most well-preserved examples at the capital cities of Kalḫu (modern Nimrud) and Dur-Šarrukin (modern Khorsabad). These two temples of Nabu have the same combination of architectural features that produced this sensory experience, despite being in different cities and despite having different spatial layouts. These features include: (1) a sense of emphatic placement of the temples on the royal citadels and distinctive exterior features; (2) an indirect route towards the cult rooms of Nabu that passed through multiple courtyards, passage-chambers, and doorways with remarkable architectural programmes; (3) and akītu-suites, which were associated with the Assyrian akītu-festival and adê-ceremony. The appreciation of knowledge and of experts (Akk. ummânu) materialised in these built environments expresses developments in royal ideology and the preferences of Neo-Assyrian kings, in particular during the eighth and seventh centuries b.c. This examination of the temples of Nabu demonstrates the ways in which a sensory-oriented approach adds a unique perspective to previous archaeological and textual studies, as well as insight into the relationship between cultural and ideological values and complex sensory landscapes of past societies.

Sumerian Texts from the Archive of the Princess of Šāt-Eštar in the Collections of the Iraq Museum

By: Abather Rahi Saadoon

Abstract: The princesses in the royal family of the Ur III state had a role in developing and revitalizing the economy. In ancient Iraqi society women operated in all fields of work. Cuneiform texts recorded their activities in the processes of receiving, delivery, distribution and mediating between people. Living in the community, Iraqi women played an important and positive role in ancient Iraq’s society. Šāt-Eštar first became known as a princess in the texts treated in the author’s MA Thesis in 2010. The study of the texts which mention princess Šat-Eštar shows that this character played an important role in processes of receiving, delivering, distributing and mediating between people. She was specialized in trading several materials, primarily barley and flour and then dates, as well as textiles and clothing types. The people she dealt with were Agatia, Šulgi-mudah, Abituni, Šāt-Su’en, Šāt-Nūnu, Šeškala, and Lugal-nisaĝ-e.

Chalcolithic Cermaic Connections Between Mesopotamia and Iran, c.5900-5100 b.c.e

By: Melissa Sharp, Kyra Kaercher

Abstract: The Chalcolithic period in Mesopotamia and Iran (c.6000–4000 b.c.e.) is characterised by larger cities replacing small farming settlements, technological developments including wheel thrown pottery and copper metal working, and people establishing long distance trade networks. The Halaf horizon (5900–5100 b.c.e.) developed out of the local late pottery Neolithic tradition and is found throughout western Syria, southern Turkey, and northern and central Iraq. This archaeological culture is defined by a finely painted pottery, dryland farming, round and rectangular houses, and the use of stamp seals. A comparable ceramic horizon, the J-ware horizon (5200–4700 b.c.e.) arose in the Mahidasht and Kermanshah valleys of Iran. The J-ware ceramics are finely painted, possibly deriving from the Halaf tradition, but also slipped and burnished. The Rowanduz Archaeological Program’s (RAP) excavations elucidate links between northern Iraq and northern Iran from the Chalcolithic to the modern period. This paper explores the relationship between the Halaf and J-ware traditions at Banahilk, recently re-excavated by RAP, and the larger contacts during the Chalcolithic.

New Radiocarbon Dates from Southern Mesopotamia( Fara and Ur)

By: Maciej M. Wencel

Abstract: This article reports three new radiocarbon dates from the Iraqi sites of Tell Fara (Shuruppak) and Tell Muqayyar (Ur), produced as a part of a larger dating project on the absolute chronology of Southern Mesopotamia from the Uruk period until the Akkadian era. The radiocarbon results presented here offer good absolute time estimates for the ED I/II period at Fara and the most reliable absolute age so far for the important archaeological find that is the earliest graves in the Royal Cemetery of Ur.

Journal of Islamic Studies (Volume 30, Issue 1)

An Historiographical Analysis of the Arabic Accounts of Early Mosques: With Special Reference to Those at Madina, Baṣra and Kūfa

By: Essam S Ayyad

Abstract: Investigating the first/seventh-century mosques is essential for an understanding of the history and development of the mosque type and, more generally, the evolution of the Muslim community. This is difficult, however, owing to the problematic nature, sometimes total absence, of archaeological evidence: some of these earliest mosques were made of ephemeral materials, and most repeatedly altered or utterly superseded by more spacious ones to accommodate the continually escalating numbers of congregants. Archaeological evidence for those built before 40/660 is not yet available. That being so, the study, analysis, and reconstruction of such crucial, albeit missing, structures must depend heavily on Arabic literary sources, whose disputed reliability represents yet another challenge. Focusing mainly on the cases of the mosques at Madina, Baṣra and Kūfa, this article attempts to analyse such sources, with the aim of identifying the extent to which they can be used to build a picture of the historical mosques—especially where archaeological evidence is scanty, awkward to interpret, or totally lacking—in which we can have some confidence.

Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ’s Religious Reform and Magic: Beyond the Ismaʿili Hypothesis

By: Liana Saif

Abstract: This article investigates the role of magic in the confessional identity of the Ikhwān al-Ṣafā as it is articulated in the 52nd epistle on magic, and informed by the rest of their Rasāʾil (Epistles). To achieve this, the author revisits the long scholarly tradition of speculation about their denominational commitment that has seen them affiliated one way or the other to Ismailism, seeing its esoteric foundations as the platform onto which their magic and astrology were cultivated. Rather this article argues that the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ aimed with their Rasāʾil to establish an anti-sectarian religio-political reform that they refer to as the Third Way. Its strategy comprises: reconciling revelation and philosophy; valuing the message of religions other than Islam (Christianity, Judaism, Brahmans, and Sabians); and addressing some Shiʿa specific practices and doctrines which it scrutinizes. The Ikhwān mitigate the doctrinal boundaries between Shiʿism and other denominations by adopting a more equable position which is consonant with Zaydi and Ibadi attitudes toward the contentious issues of imamate, caliphate, and wilāya/walāya. So, the Ikhwān see magic as the conceptual and practical pivot of the Third Way, since it is the culmination of philosophy and revelation, becoming a suitable concept to signify the self-enlightenment of the accountable imam achieved through knowledge of the Divine and Nature and the abandonment of physical attachment, and constituting the only conditions of legitimacy. It is also an appropriate tool for regulating state guardianship and sublimating the temporal state itself into a sacred city instead of investing sacral power into a single person.

Overcoming Nihilism Through Sufism: An Analysis of Iqbal’s Article on ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Jīlī 

By: Feyzullah Yilmaz

Abstract: This paper attempts to rethink the philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938) and challenge the still prevailing tendency in Iqbal scholarship to view it merely as an outcome of the influence of the ideas of various Western/European philosophers. I present Iqbal’s arguments in their particular historical and intellectual context to show that they developed in response to a specific philosophical problem and that Iqbal looked for a solution to that problem in Islamic tradition. I suggest that Iqbal’s philosophy is best understood in the context of, and as a response to, the problem of nihilism as it was debated in modern German philosophy during ‘the pantheism controversy’ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. To demonstrate this, I analyse Iqbal’s article on ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Jīlī to show his concern with the problem of nihilism, and his solution to it based on al-Jīlī’s Sufism.

Middle East Quarterly (Volume 26, Issue 1)

The Birth of Israel: Prague’s Crucial Role

By: Jiri Valenta, Leni Friedman Valenta

Abstract: Not available

The Birth of Israel: U.S. Envoy McDonald’s Tireless Efforts

By: Shlomo Slonim

Abstract: Not available

Politics, Theology and Religion in Jihadist Violence

By: Jonathan Cole

Abstract: Not available

Egyptian Islamists Fight Back on Screen

By: Sariel Birnbaum

Abstract: Not available

Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 55, Issues 1 & 2)

From Colony to Capital: Reconsidering the Socio-Economic and Political History of Amman, 1878–1928

By: Marwan D. Hanania

Abstract: Not available

A tale of two railways and the Reuter family

By: Ceren Uçan

Abstract: Between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the influence of Baron Julius de Reuter and his famous agency, Reuters, was evident in his and his family’s investments around the world. By looking at the histories of the Reuter Concession and the Greek Railway Concession, this work aims to offer insight into the international politics of certain governments and the value of news as a commodity at the time. The Reuter Concession illustrates part of the British-Russian conflict over Persia while the Greek Railway Concession demonstrates British policy toward the Ottoman Empire and Greco-Ottoman relations.

From Young Turks to modern Turkey: the story of Hüseyin Aziz Akyürek (Aziz Bey), the last director of the Ottoman General Security Service

By: Eliezer Tauber

Abstract: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey, was one of the early leaders of the Young Turk movement. Nevertheless, when he founded modern Turkey as a nation-state he pushed the veterans of the Young Turks aside, as their pan-Turanian ideology no longer suited the basics of the new state. The leaders of the Young Turks represented the past and their perceptions no longer corresponded with the change of circumstances and the new objects of the nascent state. While Armenian activists assassinated some of the top leaders of the Young Turks as a revenge for the Armenian genocide, second-rank leaders had now to find their way in modern Turkey. Aziz Bey was one of the seniors of the Ottoman security system during the Young Turks period and eventually reached the most senior position of director of the Ottoman General Security Service. When modern Turkey emerged, because of his remarkable talents, he managed to fit in middle-level positions in the new state (province governor, mayor and MP), but never regained elite status.

Naqshbandi Sufis and their conception of place, time and fear on the Turkish-Syrian border and borderland

By: Ramazan Aras

Abstract: The employment of diverse forms of security and control on territorial borders have led to the production of numerous events of border crossings, smuggling, banditry and death along with stories of separation, loss, mourning, pain, and yearning in the everyday life of border people. The Naqshbandi Khaznavi order has an expansive interpersonal social network across the political borders of Turkish and Syrian nation-states. This work analyzes the ways in which Sufis dealt with diverse aspects of the Turkish-Syrian border by unbinding shackles and orders of political system that were fabricated constantly from the 1920s to the early 1980s. The life stories and narratives of the Sufis document the existence of a religious-cultural landscape, diversifying the perception of place, time and fear which have transcended political borders for decades, contradicting official cartographic imagination and the modern-secular understanding of place and time. Besides, in addition to analyses of religious orders as social, economic and political entities, this work aims to elucidate emotional aspects of relations and faith that coexist between Sufis and their Sheikh in the context of spatial distance, political border and fear of death.

Echoes of domestic silence: mechanisms of concealment in cases of ‘Family Honour Killings’ in Mandate Palestine

By: Badi Hasisi, Deborah Bernstein

Abstract: This article deals with the manner in which family and community in Mandate Palestine attempted to keep the criminal justice system from intervening in cases defined as ‘Family Honour Killing’. Drawing on criminal court cases, we argue that the familial, domestic and communal features of this crime and its social, predominantly rural, context were critical for the attempts to keep it within the community and to prevent state intervention by obstructing, concealing and denying evidence. We focus on the mechanisms used by members of the family and community for that purpose. Our case study is in line with previous findings indicating the under-reporting of domestic violence, especially when witnesses were closely related to both the victim and the perpetrator. This domestic and communal alignment was most likely reinforced under colonial rule, though it was not necessarily caused predominantly in opposition to it.

Pantheonizing the Jerusalem Haram: from Pan-Islamic to a national Palestinian pantheon

By: Yitzhak Reiter

Abstract: Analyzing the initiative to establish an Islamic–Arab–Palestinian pantheon in the holiest place in Jerusalem against the background of the Arab–Jewish conflict in Palestine, this article discusses the transformation of the Haram pantheon from an all-Islamic burial place to a Palestinian national one in which the Husayni family was given priority. Understanding decision-making regarding who was entitled to be buried in this special place is the main focus of the article. The eight personalities who were buried at the Haram signify different motivations according to the authority in charge of allowing the burial in the Haram, family ties and networks and the political needs of the Arabs of Palestine as well as the Hashemites.

‘Exempted soldiers’ in the ‘New Sensitivity Military’: public opinion among Jewish Israelis concerning selective conscientious objection (military refusal) and the Military Recruitment Model

By: Udi Lebel, Eithan Orkibi

Abstract: In recent decades (the ‗post-heroic‘ condition) – threats of widespread selective conscientious objection have become a political tool to advance opposing political agendas in Israel. This article examines attitudes amongst the Israeli public concerning the legitimacy of demands that different groups of soldiers be exempted from military operations to which they are ideologically opposed (such as serving in the occupied territories or, conversely, participating in evacuation of settlements). The results point to a multi-cultural model embracing diversity management not as a neo-liberal ideal but rather as a strategy for co-option, containment and inclusion, with a view to preserving the “people’s army” model.

Hype, disillusionment and capacity problems: Turkish Cypriot media and the European Union

By: Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, Cagkan Felek

Abstract: Since the failed 2004 Annan Plan referendum, a special relationship between the Turkish Cypriot community and the EU institutions has been established. Increased unofficial contacts have paved the way for a reinforced role of sub-state actors, including Turkish Cypriot media. The role of the Turkish Cypriot media in shaping public opinion towards the EU has been largely correlated with the course of the Cyprus negotiations. Weak institutionalisation has negatively affected the influence of the local media on advancing the sui generis relationship between the Turkish Cypriot community and the European Union, as well as Europeanisation in the northern part of Cyprus. This article applies the theoretical framework of horizontal and vertical Europeanisation to explore the impact of local media on the relations between the European Union and the Turkish Cypriot community.

‘This is a Prison…A Death in Life’: Reza Shah’s troubled exile on the Island of Mauritius

By: Shaul Bakhash

Abstract: Reza Shah, the feared and powerful master of Iran for nearly two decades, spent the last years of his life in lonely exile, on the island of Mauritius, then in South Africa. His life in exile was hardly a happy one. The place and conditions of his exile were dictated not by himself but by the British, and the relationship between the two remained uneasy. Britain’s handling of Reza Shah – the degree and freedom and choice they were prepared to allow him and his family – were determined by the exigencies of war. Reza Shah sought to loosen the bonds of British control. In Tehran, his son and successor, Mohammad Reza Shah, also played a role. He used what leverage he had with the British to help ease the conditions of his father’s exile, while he endeavored to protect Iran’s interests under a difficult foreign occupation. The push-and-pull of cross-purposes entailed by this triangular relationship defined Reza Shah’s life in exile in both Mauritius and Johannesburg. This article examines the Mauritian period of his exile.

Political stability, transition and conflict: Tajikistan compared with Georgia

By: Babak Rezvani

Abstract: Tajikistan and Georgia, in Central Asia and the South Caucasus respectively, are both small Soviet successor states with a recent history of political volatility and instability until the mid-2000s. Nevertheless, these independent countries have eventually developed diverging policies, notably with regard to their political alliances and world orientations. The Tajikistani Civil War resembles in many ways that of the Chechen conflict and also helps us understand the Syrian conflict. Similar to Georgia, Tajikistan had experienced the collapse of state institutions more intensely than other Soviet republics. Although contingent and actor-driven factors may have influenced the outcome, the influence of structural factors has been far greater than those agency-driven factors. This review article discusses, and tries to offer understanding and explanations for, political stability, transition and conflict in these two countries.

Dimensions of security

By: J. N. C. Hill, Francesco Cavatorta

Abstract: The Arab uprisings’ failure to bring about either the scale or type of political change in the Maghreb that it initially seemed to promise belies the significance of its impact on the region. While Algeria, Mauritania and Morocco continue to be ruled by the same competitive authoritarian regimes that held power when the protests began, they, and the new governments in Tunisia and Libya, must now negotiate an altered and more dangerous security environment than before. The unsettling of Tunisia’s security apparatus and the outbreak of full-blown civil war in Libya have created new opportunities for terror and criminal groups to thrive and expand. The primary aim of this special issue is to chart and explain many of the critical changes in the Maghreb’s security environment that have occurred as a result of the Arab Spring. Each of the articles collected here identifies and analyses at least one important security issue in one or more Maghreb country as well as explain how that issue has emerged in response to or been affected by the Arab Spring.

Transnational security challenges in North Africa: Moroccan foreign fighters in Syria 2012–2016

By: Mohammed Masbah

Abstract: Not available

The Deep Roots of Libya’s Security Fragmentation

By: Jean-Louis Romanet Perroux

Abstract: Six years after the 2011 revolution that toppled the Gaddafi regime, the political transition in Libya is at a standstill. The fragmented security landscape fuels chronic local conflicts, lawlessness, and insecurity, and paralyzes the political transition with destabilizing consequences on its neighbors. What explains the rapid, profound, and lasting security fragmentation that affected post-Gaddafi Libya? Notwithstanding the manifest failures of the international intervention during and after the 2011 conflict, this article argues that the security fragmentation in post-Gaddafi Libya is deeply rooted in domestic economic, cultural, and political factors. In particular, the Libyan economy offers almost no employment opportunities, and the country lacks a unitary government and functioning state institutions that it needs to redistribute its oil wealth. Under these circumstances, Libyans attempt to cope with economic hardship, insecurity, and lawlessness by turning towards their family, tribe, neighborhood, or ethnic group, thereby fueling the fragmentation of security. Libya’s current security fragmentation and instability can be seen as part of the messy historical process of state formation. During this phase, political and security agreements are brokered and institutionalized through localized processes of rebel governance whose realm of possible arrangements are determined by contextual economic, political and cultural constraints.

The politics of security reform in post-2011 Tunisia: assessing the role of exogenous shocks, domestic policy entrepreneurs and external actors

By: Ruth Hanau Santini, Giulia Cimini

Abstract: In post—2011 Tunisia, the reform of the security sector has proceeded haphazardly, hindering security efficiency and lowering the overall effectiveness in countering threats. Since 2015, the combination of three factors — external shocks, international actors’ pressures and domestic configurations of political power — have paved the way for a progressive overhaul of the efficiency of security agencies. Following the 2015 terrorist attacks, that destabilized the political system and risked derailing the trajectory of democratic consolidation, European powers exerted pressure to improve efficiency in the security sector. Lastly, these push factors needed an enabling condition, a strong presidency of the republic, to make the changes happen. The measures adopted reflect a technical and supposedly depoliticized view of reforms, in line with a broader post‐interventionist trend in Security Assistance. Based on process-tracing, the analysis of primary documents and several in‐depth interviews carried out between 2015 and 2017, the article illustrates the workings of the policy process in the security arena. It sheds light on the conditions that made possible the adoption of reforms, the role external actors played in pushing for change and in creating a new multilateral mechanism, the G7+, which produced an unintended set of domestic consequences.

Reassessing the power of regional security providers: the case of Algeria and Morocco

By: Anouar Boukhars

Abstract: The concept of power and the ways to measure it are central to the literature on regional security providers. The predominant model has power rooted in material capabilities. This article recognizes that such capabilities are important but contends that for a state to be become a regional security provider, it must meet certain preconditions, foremost amongst them: possession of necessary material and ideational capacity; judicious employment of such power resources; and regional recognition of its leadership. Obvious as it may sound, effective leadership is also heavily contingent upon the domestic performance of regional powers. In this regard, the choice of Algeria and Morocco provides an interesting comparative case to broaden the traditional determinants of how to categorize regional security providers. Surprisingly, Morocco has been neglected in studies on regional security in the Maghreb and Sahel despite its rising ideational and economic influence in the region. Even Algeria has seen few studies use an integral approach to analyze its roles, orientations and performance as a regional security provider.

The politics of consensus: al-Nahda and the stability of the Tunisian transition

By: Rory McCarthy

Abstract: Tunisia&s transition away from authoritarianism has been shaped by a politics of consensus, which has brought together representatives of the former regime with their historic adversary, the Islamist movement al-Nahda. This article argues that consensus politics was a legacy of the authoritarian regime that was re-produced during a democratizing transition. The politics of consensus was encouraged and enabled by al-Nahda, which prioritized its inclusion within this elite settlement to provide political security for itself and the broader transition. However, this came at a cost, engineering a conservative transition, which did not pursue significant social or economic reform. The Tunisian case shows that historical legacies, such as consensus politics, can shape a transition as much as contingent, pragmatic decisions by political leaders.

Authoritarian resilience and regime cohesion in Morocco after the Arab Spring

By: J. N. C. Hill, Francesco Cavatorta

Abstract: This article argues that Morocco’s competitive authoritarian regime is more resilient today in certain key respects than it was when the Arab Spring began. Drawing on Levitsky and Way’s dimension of organisational power, the article contends the regime was sufficiently unnerved by the unrest to resort to the use of high intensity coercion as part of its response to the 20 February Movement. The article maintains that, in employing this force successfully, the regime has turned the protests into an important source of non-material cohesion for its security apparatus and thereby enhanced its ability to defend itself from similar challenges in the future.

World Politics (Volume 71, Issue 1)

Adviser to The King: Experts, Rationalization, and Legitimacy

By: Calvert W. Jones

Abstract: Do experts rationalize and legitimize authoritarian governance? Although research on expert actors in contexts of democracy and international governance is now extensive, scholarly work on their role in authoritarian settings remains limited. This article helps open the black box of authoritarian decision-making by investigating expert advisers in the Arab Gulf monarchies, where ruling elites have enlisted them from top universities and global consulting firms. Qualitative fieldwork combined with three experiments casts doubt on both the rationalization and legitimacy hypotheses and also generates new insights surrounding unintended consequences. On rationalization, the evidence suggests that experts contribute to perverse cycles of overconfidence among authoritarian ruling elites, thereby enabling a belief in state-building shortcuts. On legitimacy, the experiments demonstrate a backfire effect, with experts reducing public support for reform. The author makes theoretical contributions by suggesting important and heretofore unrecognized conflicts and trade-offs across experts’ potential for rationalizing vis-à-vis legitimizing.

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