[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the fourteenth 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 67, Issue 2-3)
By: Adam Bursi
Abstract: Within some of the earliest textual and material evidence for the history of Islam, pilgrimage appears as an important ritual of devotion, identity, and community. Yet modern scholarship has given little attention to early Muslims’ sensory experiences of pilgrimage sites and what they physically encountered while there. This article examines the importance of smell within Islamic pilgrimage practices of the first/seventh and second/eighth centuries. Drawing upon literary and material evidence, I reconstruct several olfactory components of pilgrimage in this period, including intensive usage of perfume and incense at pilgrimage destinations such as the Kaʿba and the Dome of the Rock, as well as pilgrims’ collection and ingestion of scented materials from these locations. I then argue that the prominence of pleasing aromas at these sacred spaces is connecting to early Islamic ideas about the proximity of paradise to these pilgrimage sites.
By: Islam Youssef
Abstract: This article investigates the phonological patternings in the speech of il-Limbi, an immensely popular character in Egyptian comedy; and it stands therefore at a crossroads between cultural studies and linguistics. Il-Limbi represents the urban working classes, and his speech often mocks social conventions through ludicrous parody of educated speech. Masquerading as socially superior personas, his speech highlights the diglossic situation in Egypt as well as the pretentious use of English into the elite register. My examination of il-Limbi’s pronunciation in four movies reveals a number of systematic patterns in both consonants and vowels, which construct a unique code. This code is based partly on exaggerated features of Cairene Arabic and partly on genuine features of illiterate, lower-class vernacular. And it is often the interplay between various registers via correspondence rules that creates humor in the films.
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (Volume 83, Issue 3)
By: Arin Salamah-Qudsi
Abstract: This paper introduces the exchange of letters in early Sufism, analyses the significance of these exchanges, and examines these documents not for their general literary qualities or for theoretical discussion of appropriate conduct but, rather, for actual data relating to personal and interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, this paper emphasizes the crucial need for creating a corpus of Sufi letters and pieces of correspondence. The discussion is divided into methodological and conceptual-historical perspectives. The methodological perspective includes a survey of sources, the question of transmission, letter fragment usage by later authors, and a reconstruction attempt of the actual circumstances of these documents. The conceptual-historical perspective analyses content, rhetoric, argumentation forms, and self-representation.
Al-Dāraquṭnı̄’s (d. 385 ah) Faḍā’il al-Ṣaḥāba: Mild anger and the history of emotions in religious merits literature
By: Published online
Abstract: This essay analyses the sole extant chapter of a fourth/tenth-century Faḍā’il al-Ṣaḥaba work by the ḥadı̄th critic and scholar Al-Ḥasan ʿAlı̄ ibn ʿUmar ibn Aḥmad Ibn Mahdı̄ ibn Masʿūd al-Dāraquṭnı̄ (d. 385/995). As scholars have noted, faḍā’il literature beyond the chapters on religious merits of the Companions in the Ṣaḥı̄ḥayn is among a number of sub-genres of tradition-based literature (alongside, for example, targhı̄b wa tarhı̄b), which tends largely to be comprised of weak, non-canonical ḥadı̄th. This has generally been interpreted as evidence of the acceptability of “lower standards” for the inclusion of ḥadı̄th in exhortatory or edifying literature (lower when compared to standards for the authentication of ḥadı̄th in relation to law). This conceptualization both centres law as the dominant lens through which to view the reception of ḥadı̄th in general, and contributes to the marginalization of faḍā’il literature as merely folkloric. Using a history of emotions perspective to elucidate the nature and mechanisms of edification and pious instruction in faḍā’il texts, this essay argues that far from being marginal, faḍā’il works were central to the formation of emotional communities and to the construction of pious subjects in the Būyid period. Al-Dāraquṭnı̄’s fragmentary text reflects how a well-known and highly respected fourth-century ḥadı̄th scholar capitalized on the emotional resonances and sectarian ambiguities made available by the abundance of non-legal and non-prophetic ḥadı̄th generated during the second and third centuries ah.
Ballaghanā ʿan an-Nabī: early Basran and Omani Ibāḍī understandings of sunna and siyar, āthār and nasab
By: Adam Gaiser
Abstract: This paper explores the usages of four concepts – sunna, sīra, āthār, and nasab – mainly in early Ibāḍī epistles, but also in other types of Ibāḍī literature, to examine how early Ibāḍīs understood the legacy of the Prophet Muḥammad, and their relation to that legacy. It argues that before the sixth/twelfth century a notion of communal pedigree occupied pride of place in early Ibāḍī conceptualizations of legality and legitimacy. Thus, Ibāḍī sunna was “communal sunna”. The accumulated weight of Ibāḍī tradition – what is known as āthār in Ibāḍī literature – operated authoritatively as a counterpart to sunna; and the Ibāḍī siyar tradition did not focus on the Prophet exclusively, but rather described the scholarly community as an imagined whole. Moreover, Ibāḍīs explicitly articulated their communal pedigree in “teacher lines” (called nasab al-dīn or nasab al-islām) in Omani literature, and through the structure of their ṭabaqāt/siyar works in North Africa. Appreciating the importance of this communal pedigree, and the nexus of concepts through which it was articulated, helps us to understand the relative lack of emphasis placed on collecting and documenting ḥadīth (Ibāḍīs employ ḥadīth, but they did not use isnāds, nor did they appear to have a ḥadīth collection until the sixth/twelfth century), as well as the general absence of Prophetic biography among them (which also does not appear until the sixth/twelfth century).
Dead Sea Discoveries (Volume 27, Issue 2)
The Rolling Corpus: Materiality and Pluriformity at Qumran, with Special Consideration of the Serekh ha-Yaḥad
By: James Nati
Abstract: Drawing on insights from the field of Book History, the article draws out connections between the material aspects of the Qumran corpus on the one hand and textual pluriformity on the other, paying particular attention to the Serekh ha-Yaḥad. The article suggests that the large-scale pluriformity exhibited by texts such as the Serekh is best understood in light of certain material features particular to skin scrolls, and that opisthographs ought to be integrated into discussions of textual pluriformity. The article concludes by offering more general comments about the effects of the scroll on writing and reading practices in early Judaism.
By: Nadav Sharon
Abstract: The “Four Empires” scheme appears in literature from around the ancient Near East, as well as in the biblical book of Daniel. Daniel’s scheme was adopted in subsequent Jewish literature as a basic division of world history. In addition, the book of Daniel appears to have had a prominent place in the Qumran library. Scholars have identified, or suggested, the existence of the “Four Empires” scheme in two texts found among the Qumran scrolls, the “New Jerusalem” text (4Q554), and, especially, in the so-called “Four Kingdoms”(!) text (4Q552–553). This paper will examine these texts, will argue that the “four empires” scheme is not attested in the Qumran scrolls (apart from Daniel), and will suggest alternative understandings of those two texts.
By: Laura Quick
Abstract: The short sapiential poem known as 4QWiles of the Wicked Woman (4Q184) describes the body of an unnamed female who ensnares the righteous into sin and ultimately death. This poetic description of a body has sometimes been compared to the Waṣf, a type of poem which provides a thick description of the body, listing and describing body parts in a movement descending from head to toe. In this essay, I explore the description of the woman’s body in 4Q184 in light of the genre of the Waṣf. By playing with the characteristic structure of the Waṣf, 4Q184 highlights certain aspects of the woman’s body in order to say something specific about her role and activities. In so doing, I uncover an image of the woman which is more erotic than commentators have previously allowed.
By: Rick Bonnie, Matthe
Abstract: This article presents and discusses the results of an online survey undertaken in 2018, which targeted scholars of the Dead Sea Scrolls and associated research fields. Respondents were asked questions on the state of knowledge in the field regarding provenance issues and related ethics and policies. The goal of the survey was to establish the levels of awareness within Qumran and related studies concerning the role of the antiquities market, the potential accountability (or not) of scholars as perceived by respondents, as well as their general awareness of relevant policies and codes of conduct. The article discusses the key points that the survey raised, with the aim of offering textual scholars tools to assess their role in provenance issues.
Iran and the Caucasus (Volume 24, Issue 3)
By: Antonio Panaino
Abstract: The present investigation concerns the category of “Time” in its dialectical relation between a limitless eternity and the limited period of the direct antagonism with Ahreman’s forces. The eternal time being co-substantial with God is an ontological force a priori, which results determinant in the preventive fight against Ahreman, whose perception of time, on the contrary, seems to be absent, at least until he does not enter into the visual space of Ohrmazd. In particular, the article deals with the metaphysic development of the idea of time in the Zoroastrian theological tradition with special regard to the treatment of the relation between the beginning of the cosmic motion and the aggression of Ahreman, discussing some different, sometimes contradictory, doctrines attested in the sources. These alternative, sometimes antagonist, solutions reflect archaic Iranian traditions, but also the reception of new Western philosophical doctrines. The problem of the “visibility” of the limited time (in terms of its measurability) only after Ahreman’s invasion shows that the limited time in its mēnōg dimension had the same character of the eternal time, because it was perceived only by Ohrmazd, and despite that absence of any celestial motion, it was advancing as an abstract tempus mathematicus. The study also emphasizes the close relation among time, space and light as co-present in the divine ontology.
By: Bashir Bulatov, Magomedkhabib Seferbekov, Ruslan Seferbekov
Abstract: The article explores some aspects of modern childbirth rituals and practices among the city dwellers of Dagestan, focusing on their syncretic nature and the mixture of traditional and new customs. Proper Islamic religious ceremonies occupy a significant place in the childbirth rituals, among them being mawlid, on the occasion of the birth, name-giving of a new-born, circumcision, visiting ziyarats, etc. Traditional ceremonies include the custom of treating a new mother with flour porridge, putting a child in a traditional cradle, the first hair-cut ceremony, the loss of the first tooth, the first steps of the child, etc. Some of the popular rites were invented in the Soviet and post-Soviet times.
By: Evgeny I. Zelenev, Leonid Issaev
Abstract: This article presents the evolution of the concepts of jihād from the minimalist and maximalist approaches. In the present article one can find two conceptions: the conception of liminality and the conception of re-Islamisation. Liminality is a form of structural crisis that appears as a result of the split within the Islamic spiritual elite and Muslim community itself. The period of liminality is characterised by political and social instability, crisis of social and individual forms of self-identification and sharp cognitive dissonance among many ordinary believers who conduct their own search for fundamentally new forms of Islamic political existence. Re-Islamisation is the post-liminality period that happens if the maximalist block of Islamic elite wins political power. The events of the Arab Spring can be seen as the result of the appearance in the Islamic ideological space of two different ideological platforms (minimalism and maximalism) around which representatives of not only the Islamic elite, but also the “popular” Islam gathered.
Islamic Law and Society (Volume 27, Issue 4)
Destroying Churches by Performing Knowledge: Ibn al-Rifʿa’s Kitāb al-nafā’is fī adillat hadm al-kanā’is (700/1301) and the Social Negotiation of Legal Authority
By: Gowaart Van Den Bossche
Abstract: In 700/1301 the Cairene scholar Najm al-Dīn Ibn al-Rifʿa wrote a short juridical treatise entitled Kitāb al-nafāʾis fī adillat hadm al-kanāʾis in which he argued for the destruction of all churches and synagogues in Cairo. Some chroniclers report that this text was used to legitimise popular attacks on, and the destruction of, churches, but shortly thereafter, Ibn al-Rifʿa’s opinion was declared invalid by a council of prominent jurists. In addition to its juridical arguments for church destruction, Ibn al-Rifʿa suggests that the treatise was meant to function as a challenge to the author’s peers. I argue that al-Nafāʾis reflects ideas about the normative application of Shāfiʿī fiqh and that it can serve as a lens through which we can reconstruct a complex picture of the performance and negotiation of legal authority in the Mamluk period.
By: Simon Wolfgang Fuchs
Abstract: Why did the famous North Indian modernist and founder of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh, Sayyid Aḥmad Khān (d. 1315/1898), lash out against emulation (taqlīd) in Islamic law (fiqh)? The usual explanation is that he wanted to shift religious authority away from the religious scholars (ʿulamāʾ) toward ordinary Muslims. Countering this claim, I argue that his goal and that of his followers and associates at Aligarh was not primarily to ‘democratize’ Islamic knowledge by doing away with the traditional edifice of Islamic law in general and the four established Sunni legal schools in particular. Rather, Sayyid Aḥmad Khān and his associates attacked taqlīd because, in their view, it failed to yield reliable, certain knowledge (yaqīn). Drawing on Urdu writings, I demonstrate that these modernist thinkers did not engage with the inner logic of Islamic law but rather measured it according to higher, theological, and philosophical standards. In their quest for certainty, they were inspired both by a scientific worldview as well as colonial conceptions of law.
Journal of Arabic Literature (Volume 51, Issue 3)
By: Muhsin J. al-Musawi
Abstract: The purpose of this essay is to explain and also problematize the reasons behind my use of intertextual interaction as an inclusive term that cuts across time and space. With regard to Arabic literary production, ancient and modern, this inclusive term recalls a similar classical and pre-modern understanding of textual engagements as manifestations of textual subordination, anxiety, empowerment, competitiveness, and supremacy. Therefore, the present essay associates this understanding with Arab philologists’ theories of plagiarism. What came once under the rubric of plagiarism has a shared register, parlance, and postulates with current intertextual practices. Both address textual tapestries and matrices whereby threads are woven in an intricate manner. Over time, words, meanings, motifs, and thence theorizations form a constellation. The essay explores a number of Arabic novels of the third millennium as examples of this textual engagement not only with Arabic literary tradition, but also with texts from the global south. Such a substantial and visible textual appropriation invites this critical intervention which, in turn, is bound in dialogue with contemporary literary forays that reflect on texts as tissues of quotations.
“Beyond a Snow Pile”: Najīb Surūr’s Challenging Reading of the Egyptian Literary Canon in Riḥlah Fī Thulāthiyyat Najīb Maḥfūẓ
By: Chiara Fontana
Abstract: This study of the Egyptian intellectual Najīb Surūr’s critical essay, Riḥlah fī Thulāthiyyat Najīb Maḥfūẓ (c. 1978; A Journey into Najīb Maḥfūẓ’s Trilogy) argues that this underexplored work of Surūr is a brave assessment of the Egyptian literary canon of the 1950s. The argument finds justification in the author’s unique mastery of irony, and his vigorous textual engagement with Maḥfūẓ’s widely acclaimed masterpiece. Throughout his essay, liberated from a “snow pile” of sensational success, Surūr dives into Maḥfūẓ’s novel Bayna al-Qaṣrayn, in order to bolster his conviction that all authors and genres deserve in-depth analyses. Arguing the viability of applying the Constance School’s Reception Theory in evaluating Surūr’s revolutionary reading, this paper seeks to resituate new aesthetical and ideological paradigms in criticism within the broader context of extra literary/intraliterary dynamics that give birth to competing works of fiction. Surūr’s effort also highlights a compelling mismatch between young authors’ de jure inventive ambitions and their de facto conciliation with previous models.
By: Imed Nsiri
Abstract: Arguing that the poetic quest is an instance of the modernist movement at crossroads, this article compares poetic quests as represented in the works of T. S. Eliot and ʿAlī Aḥmad Saʿīd, pen-named Adūnīs (Adonis). The article (re-)examines Eliot’s most famous poem The Waste Land and some of Adūnīs’s short poems alongside their respective prose works on literary criticism. I demonstrate how Eliot’s and Adūnīs’s poetic quests are an instance not only of the modernist movement at crossroads, but also of liminality where the modernist poet presents fluctuating images of himself: the poet as a knight that can change the world and, at the same time, as the little man who is blown in the wind. Hence Eliot’s and Adūnīs’s poetic texts are full of paradoxes and are peopled by those that bear within themselves opposites and are capable of everything and nothing. The modernist poet is Eliot’s Tiresias and Adunis’s al-Buhlūl. I illustrate how this instance of liminality is represented in their treatment of the theme of tradition.
Labīd, ʿAbīd, and Lubad: Lexical Excavation and the Reclamation of the Poetic Past in al-Maʿarrī’s Luzūmiyyāt
By: Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych
Abstract: The blind Syrian poet, man of letters and scholar, Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (363 H/973 CE-449 H/1057 CE) is the author of two celebrated diwans. The second of these, his controversial double-rhymed and alphabetized, Luzūm Mā Lā Yalzam (Requiring What is Not Obligatory), known simply as Al-Luzūmiyyāt (The Compulsories), features his uninhibited, often highly ironic and usually pessimistic, religious, and ‘philosophical’ ideas along with mordant criticism of politics, religion, and humanity in general. In his introduction, he abjures the corrupt and worldly qaṣīdah poetry of his otherwise celebrated early diwan, Saqṭ al-Zand (Sparks of the Fire-Drill), to turn in al-Luzūmiyyāt to a poetry that is “free from lies.”
By: Jaroslav Stetkevych
Abstract: This paper aims to examine the renowned Early Islamic elegy, the ʿAyniyyah of the Mukhaḍram poet Abū Dhuʾayb al-Hudhalī in two respects. First, it examines the poem as an entirely unconventional example of a Classical Arabic elegiac poem (rithāʾ) in terms of its thematic structure of introductory lament to the poet’s dead sons followed by three panels: the onager, the oryx and knightly combat. It concludes that the tragic endings of all three panels constitute a dramatic inversion of the triumphal outcomes of such thematic panels in the pre-Islamic qaṣīdah in a manner that reflects al-Jāḥiẓ’s structural insights into the semantic functions of the animal panels in both elegy and qaṣīdah. Second, the paper explores the allegorical aspect of the thematic sections of the poem, the elegiac lament and the three tragic panels, in order to argue that they are a key to understanding the allegorical dimensions of such panels in the Early Arabic qaṣīdah tradition. The paper next explores Arabic critical terminology for the Western term “allegory,” such as tamthīl, umthūlah and majāz, only to conclude that none of them are adequate. Building especially on ʿAbd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī’s proper understanding of majāz, the paper finally proposes a new etymologically and semantically sound neologism as an Arabic critical term for allegory: umjūzah.
By: Th. Emil Homerin
Abstract: Though a signature verse (takhalluṣ) is often found in medieval Persian and Ottoman Turkish poetry, this is less frequently the case in Arabic poetry at this time. However, Muḥammad Ibn al-Shihābī al-Ṣūfī included such a signature verse in 38 Arabic poems, many inspired by recitations of Ibn al-Fāriḍ’s poetry. This article offers a critical Arabic edition and English translation of two of these poems, followed by an extensive discussion of linguistic and stylistic aspects of Ibn al-Shihābī’s Arabic and poetic style. Both poems also highlight trends in Arabic poetry at the end of the 9th/15th century, including the incorporation of elements from regional varieties of Arabic, and Ibn al-Shihābī’s innovative use of the signature verse, which may reflect the influence of Sufi chanting practices.
By: Jonathan Decter
Abstract: This article studies two versions of an Arabic panegyric by the Jewish poet Judah al-Ḥarīzī, one preserved in Hebrew (Judeo-Arabic) script and the other in Arabic script in a biographical dictionary by al-Mubārak ibn Aḥmad al-Mawṣilī (1197-1256). The Judeo-Arabic version was dedicated to a Jewish physician. While the version transmitted by al-Mawṣilī does not have a named addressee, it was likely dedicated to a Muslim. By reading the two versions as iterations of the same basic text accommodated to specific circumstances, this article demonstrates the ways in which the author modulated rhetoric to fit the social positions of the respective addressees. The article studies the dynamics of inter-religious praise and the Jewish internalization of Islamic concepts of political legitimacy.
Journal of Islamic Studies (Volume 31, Issue 3)
Khālid b. al-Wālid’s Treaty with the People of Damascus: Identifying the Source Document through Shared and Competing Historical Memories
By: Ibrahim Zein, Ahmed El-Wakil
Abstract: This article examines the different versions of the Treaty which Khālid b. al-Wālid granted to the people of Damascus and notes the variations and textual discrepancies between them by examining both Muslim and non-Muslim sources. We demonstrate how the accounts share a common historical memory in recalling the issuance of treaties in the era of ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb. We argue that the original Treaty with the People of Damascus represented in all likelihood the template for all other treaties given to the inhabitants of Greater Syria, Jordan and Palestine, whose echoes can also be found resonating in Egypt and Iraq. Most important of all, by navigating through the competing and shared historical memories, we conclude that the original Treaty stipulated that the indigenous population’s churches neither be destroyed nor inhabited. We conclude by proposing that this standard policy was not just based on mere pragmatism, but also on some sort of written ordinance that originated with the Prophet Muḥammad.
New Light on the Emergence of Māturīdism: Abū Shakūr al-Sālimī (fifth/eleventh century) and his Kitāb al-Tamhīd fī bayān al-tawḥīd
By: Angelika Brodersen
Abstract: The present paper focuses on the Arabic theological work al-Tamhīd fī bayān al-tawḥīd (‘Introduction to the Explanation of Monotheism’), authored by the Transoxanian scholar, Abū Shakūr al-Sālimī (fifth/eleventh century). A jurist and theologian, he belonged to the kalām-school in the succession of Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī (d. 333/944), and which, based on Ḥanafī tradition, forms the second pillar of the Sunni confession alongside the doctrines of Abū l-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī (d. 324/935) and his followers. Despite increasing activities in the field of editions during the last few decades, details of Māturīdī speculative theology (kalām) still remain insufficiently studied. This deficiency applies, on the one hand, to the utilization of texts, partially or not yet available in text-critical and analytically focused editions. On the other hand, a profound and pressing need for systematic research remains, particularly with regards to the relationship between Māturīdism and Ashʿarism, given that the latter has been studied in much greater detail. Against this background, al-Sālimī is presented in his historical and intellectual milieu. It is shown that his treatise is in the Ḥanafī–Māturīdī tradition, but his doctrines sometimes differ from other Māturīdī teachings. Subsequently, some key topics of the Tamhīd are addressed. A special focus is on the beginning of the dispute between Māturīdī theologians and the Ashʿariyya, where issues of epistemology, prophecy, the doctrine of God’s names and attributes, and the conception of faith that serve as typical examples of Ḥanafī jurisprudence and theology are also treated. Finally, a case study illuminates important issues at the heart of Māturīdī theology, as well as the integration of juridical topics into kalām. Through this approach, this paper intends to introduce the text as a valuable source for the study of Sunni theology in a more comprehensive sense than has previously been considered.
By: Thomas Hegghammer
Abstract: Abstract This article, using a wide range of primary sources, describes the practice of weeping (bukā) in contemporary jihadi groups. It shows that weeping is widespread and encouraged in militant Islamist groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State. Modern jihadis weep in at least six main types of situations: during prayer, during sermons, when listening to hymns, pre- and post-combat, on losing comrades, and upon seeing civilian Muslim suffering. Weeping is socially appreciated; it often happens in groups, it is rewarded with praise and honorifics, and it is advertised in propaganda. Weeping for more mundane reasons is also reported, but not similarly valued. The findings add to other recent evidence suggesting modern jihadis are influenced by Sufism. Today’s weeping practices also suggest a long historical association in Islam between asceticism and military jihad going back to eighth-century warrior-ascetics such as Ibn al-Mubārak (d. 797 CE).
Journal of Qur’anic Studies (Volume 22, Issue 3)
By: Julian Yolles
Abstract: This paper centres on the Latin translations of the Qur’an by Robert of Ketton (d. 1142–1143) and Mark of Toledo (d. 1209), as viewed within the context of their earlier translations of scientific works. In previous scholarship, the Latin Qur’ans of Robert of Ketton and Mark of Toledo have been studied with respect to linguistic features and considered separately from their translations of astrological and medical texts. This paper proposes to reunite these strands of translation activity by examining the ways in which scientific discourse influenced these Latin translations of the Qur’an. The paper demonstrates that the translators incorporated their scientific expertise into their translations of the Qur’an by employing terminology specific to their respective fields of astrology and medicine. On the basis of this new evidence, it is argued that Robert of Ketton sought to promote the study of astrology and astronomy, while Mark of Toledo’s use of medical jargon formed part of a calculated polemical strategy in which he portrayed the spread of Islam as a disease to be treated by a physician.
Journal of the American Oriental Society (Volume 140, Issue 4)
By: Jonathan Valk
Abstract: Much of the surviving text of the Epic of Etana tells the story of an eagle and a snake. The eagle and snake are extraordinary creatures, and their story abounds with mythological subtext. This paper argues that the Neo-Assyrian recension of Etana was amended to include explicit references to the eagle and the snake by the names of their mythological counterparts, anzû and bašmu. These references occur in two analogous contexts and serve the same narrative purpose: to dehumanize the other when the eagle and the snake seek to do each other harm. The deliberate character of these changes and their symmetry suggest that they are the product of a conscientious scribe with a developed literary sensibility.
By: Maarten Kossmann
Abstract: The second-century bce Libyco-Berber inscriptions from Dougga (present-day Tunisia) have seven different signs for sibilants. In this article the sibilant system of these inscriptions and of the language they represent is studied in detail. It is shown that the different signs are not just graphemic variants but represent different pronunciations. It is also shown that there is a possibility that the seven signs in fact represent three or four articulations with a length contrast, even though the evidence is very weak. As Proto-Berber has been reconstructed with only three sibilants (+ length opposition), the choice of how to analyze the seven Libyco-Berber sibilant signs has important implications as to how the relationship between Libyco-Berber and Proto-Berber is to be assessed.
By: Andrew G. McLaren
Abstract: This article documents the main developments in the textual history of a short polemical treatise ascribed to Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal (d. 241/855), al-Radd ‘alā al-zanādiqa wa-l-jahmiyya. In particular, I show that three different, if related, recensions of the text exist in manuscript. Then, drawing on evidence from the text and biobibliographical sources, I show that al-Radd only emerged over several centuries. The idea for the text finds its roots in the earlist elaborations of Hanbali theology, perhaps even in the notebooks of Ibn Ḥanbal himself. The first recension of the text, however, only emerged after the mid-fourth/tenth century in Baghdad. Another recension appears at the beginning of the sixth/twelfth century, perhaps also in Baghdad. These recensions were combined to form a third recension no later than the eighth/fourteenth century, and it is the third recension that became the basis for most print editions of the work.
Innovation, Influence, and Borrowing in Mamluk-Era Legal Maxim Collections: The Case of Ibn ʿAbd al-Salām and al-Qarāfī
By: Mariam Sheibani
Abstract: Recent scholarship has emphasized the contributions of the great Maliki jurist Shihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī (d. 684/1285) to Islamic legal thought. However. al-Qarāfī’s compilation of legal maxims and distinctions, al-Furūq, has not yet been studied, nor has the collection of his teacher, the prominent Shafi’i jurist Ibn ‘Abd al-Salām (d. 660/1262), known as al-Qawā’id al-kubrā. Furthermore, the original thought of Ibn ‘Abd al-Salām and his formative influence on al-Qarāfī have been understated. This article compares their two works to demonstrate that al-Qarāfī based his collection in large part on Ibn ‘Abd al-Salām’s al-Qawā’id and it examines the techniques that al-Qarāfī used, which included reordering, refining, and supplementing borrowed maxims, and anonymizing references to his teacher. Most salient, however, is al-Qarāfīs “Malikization” of maxims, which entailed replacing Shafi’i doctrines and authorities with their Maliki counterparts and deploying maxims to defend Maliki doctrines. The article concludes by explaining al-Qarāfī’s authorial choices in light of his Maliki affiliation and the politics between the legal schools in Mamluk Cairo
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (Volume 63, Issue 5-6)
Aḥmad Yasavī and the Ismāʿīlīs of Badakhshān: Towards a New Social History of Sufi-Shīʿī Relations in Central Asia
By: Daniel Beben
Abstract: This article examines how a text attributed to the renowned Central Asian Sufi figure Aḥmad Yasavī came to be found within a manuscript produced within the Ismāʿīlī Shīʿī community of the Shughnān district of the Badakhshān region of Central Asia. The adoption of this text into an Ismāʿīlī codex suggests an exchange between two disparate Islamic religious traditions in Central Asia between which there has hitherto been little evidence of contact. Previous scholarship on Ismāʿīlī-Sufi relations has focused predominately on the literary and intellectual engagement between these traditions, while the history of persecution experienced by the Ismāʿīlīs at the hands of Sunnī Muslims has largely overshadowed discussions of the social relationship between the Ismāʿīlīs and other Muslim communities in Central Asia. I demonstrate that this textual exchange provides evidence for a previously unstudied social engagement between Ismāʿīlī and Sunnī communities in Central Asia that was facilitated by the rise of the Khanate of Khoqand in the 18th century. The mountainous territory of Shughnān, where the manuscript under consideration originated, has been typically represented in scholarship as isolated prior to the onset of colonial interest in the region in the late 19th century. Building upon recent research on the impact of early modern globalization on Central Asia, I demonstrate that even this remote region was significantly affected by the intensification of globalizing processes in the century preceding the Russian conquest. Accordingly, I take this textual exchange as a starting point for a broader re-evaluation of the Ismāʿīlī-Sufi relationship in Central Asia and of the social ‘connectivity’ of the Ismāʿīlīs and the Badakhshān region within early modern Eurasia.
By: Jelle Bruning
Abstract: This article discusses the commercial, socio-economic and legal dynamics of slave trading in Egypt on the basis of papyri from the AH third-fourth/ninth-tenth centuries CE. Particular focus is given to the activities of slavers, the networks of professional slave traders, the socio-economics of slave acquisition, and commercial dynamics at slave markets. Much of the discussion draws on the contents of five contemporary papyrus documents that are presented, translated and annotated in the appendix.
Seeing Like a Khedivate: Taxing Endowed Agricultural Land, Proofs of Ownership, and the Land Administration in Egypt, 1869
By: Adam Mestyan
Abstract: Theories of state modernization rarely consider the relationship between sovereignty and government capacity. This paper focuses on the khedivate of Egypt, a semi-independent province in the Ottoman Empire. My claim is that endowed agricultural land was a useful tool of fiscal modernization for the khedivial government. The governors taxed and made such lands alienable for public purposes. In order to support this claim, this study uses an 1869 endowment certificate of Hoşyar, mother of Khedive Ismail, to examine the regulatory context of endowed agricultural land. Through an archival anthropology of Hoşyar’s certificate, I describe the legal layer of the khedivial land administration (the regulations about agricultural land) and the physiocratic layer (the proofs of ownership such as the taqsīṭ dīwānī and written land survey registers) in comparison with the Ottoman central administration. This case study thus contributes to the discussion about the compatibility of the Muslim endowment with modernization.
By: Shayan Rajani
Abstract: This article examines a turn towards the region in two genres related to Persian poetry in eighteenth-century Sindh, the bayāẓ or poetic anthology and taẕkira or biographical dictionary. I argue that poets in Sindh’s premier city, Thatta, established Sindh as an organizing principle for poetry and the poetic community, initiating a process of regionalization in Persian after the end of Mughal rule. Notably, this was done without the patronage or encouragement of the regional successors to the Mughals in Sindh. These poets neither sought out vernaculars, nor predicated regionalization upon cultural difference. Rather, regionalization without vernacularization was the basis for their participation in the transregional enterprise of Persian poetry in a milieu where the Mughals and their officials were no longer sources of patronage or of poetic standards. The case of Persian poetry in Sindh calls for rethinking the function and status of Persian beyond its role as a language of power and for considering the role of Persian poets in bringing the region to renewed cultural salience in eighteenth-century Sindh.
By: Oded Zinger
Abstract: Petitions from the Cairo Geniza often emphasize that the petitioner is lonely or “cut off” (munqaṭiʿ) from social support. Such claims are gendered, as they are more common in women’s petitions than in men’s, and women occasionally use explicitly gendered expressions to highlight their social isolation. Claiming to lack social support had a special valency in medieval Islamicate societies due to the primacy of reciprocal social relationships in these societies. Since women’s access to cultural and social capital was more limited than men’s, women lacking effective and supportive male kin were particularly vulnerable and were recognized as deserving justice. Studying claims of social isolation thus sheds light on the social predicament of Jewish women in medieval Egypt. Finally, recognizing the currency of social isolation in women’s petition helps identify an opposite trend of social belonging in men’s petitions.
By: Alberto Feenstra
Abstract: This paper reconstructs the chain of demand for cash from Asia to the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It shows that the Javanese’s currency preferences were visible in the exports from Europe. The growing Dutch involvement in Javanese society from the 1680s increased and transformed the composition of the currencies requested from the Dutch Republic, towards more smaller denomination coins. The paper also demonstrates that with regard to the money supply, considerations of state prevailed over purely business interests. The limitations to the Dutch power forced them to adjust to the local power holders their currency preferences.
Near Eastern Archaeology (Volume 83, Issue 3)
By: Lindsay Der
Abstract: Neolithic Çatalhöyük (7100–5950 BCE) is infamous for its sensational and curious material culture. Although the so-called mother goddess figurines have always been a source of great media attention, the vast majority of the visual expressions at the site are not anthropomorphic, but instead centered on wild and dangerous creatures. Many studies have previously considered the Çatalhöyük animal iconography in the context of symbolism and/or religion (Hodder and Meskell ; Stordeur ; Cauvin and Watkins ; Mellaart ). Far fewer works have scrutinized how these materializations speak to the connections forged between people and animals. This article explores the way in which animals were embedded within the social bonds and ontologies of the site through ritual practice. Ritual is not a synonym for religion, but in this study is defined as repetitive, patterned, and symbolic activity that is socially sanctioned (Firth ). In doing so, we can gain new insights into the complexity of the relationship between humans and animals and how this relationship endured across more than a thousand years of continuous occupation.
By: Kamilla Pawłowska
Abstract: The Çatalhöyük site produced material from the Neolithic occupation (7100 cal BCE–5900 cal BCE) through the Muslim period, including Bronze Age, Iron Age (Phrygian period), and Hellenistic periods. Twenty-five years of research have allowed us to study various ecofacts and artifacts, including animal and plant remains, human bones, pottery, stamp seals, and figurines. Faunal remains, which are the focus here, have been the subject of intense multidisciplinary research, particularly during the last decade. This has led to a greater understanding of Neolithic farmers’ subsistence patterns in the Anatolian region; the domestication, health and disease in past animal populations; spread of livestock; daily practices of animal food-related activities and management of waste; and of the ecological conditions of the region in which this community operated. Animals were also involved in social practice (Russell, Martin, and Twiss; Pawłowska; Pawłowska and Marciszak; Der this issue) and used as a source of raw material in manufacturing.
By: Eline Schotsmans, Gesualdo Busacca, Lucy Bennison-Chapman, Ashley Lingle, Marco Milella, Belinda Tibbetts, Christina Tsoraki, Milena Vasić, Rena Veropoulidou
Abstract: From the Middle Paleolithic onwards, pigments have been used variably in different social and ritual activities as well as in the expression of symbolism through material culture (e.g., Brooks et al.; D’Errico ). In the Levant and Anatolia, symbolic practices with pigments became increasingly common in the epipaleolithic and pre-pottery Neolithic periods (e.g., Bocquentin and Garrard; Goring-Morris, Hovers, and Belfer-Cohen; Richter et al.; Baird; Baird et al.).
By: Jesse Wolfhagen, Rena Veropoulidou, Gianna Ayala, Dragana Filipović, Ceren Kabukcu, Carla Lancelotti, Marco Madella, Kamilla Pawłowska, Carlos G. Santiago-Marrero, John Wainwright
Abstract: The transition from a mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a settled way of living is one of the most significant processes in human history. There were undeniable benefits to this process, with increased food security and longer lifespans, but there were also negative consequences associated with an increased density of living. At Çatalhöyük we have over one thousand years of continuous occupation from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic to Chalcolithic period (7100–5700 BCE). The settlement changes from a dense agglomeration in its earliest phase, where individual buildings are constructed wall to wall with no gaps or streets between them, to a more open nucleated settlement towards the end of the occupation. Large numbers of people living in a fixed location inevitably leads to the production of large amounts of waste. One of the most significant consequences of these activities is the creation of “pollution,” both in the physical environment, and the decline in air quality.
By: Arkadiusz Marciniak, Jacek Marciniak, Patrycja Filipowicz, Katarzyna Harabasz, Jędrzej Hordecki
Abstract: Çatalhöyük remains one of the most intensively and meticulously excavated prehistoric sites in the history of archaeology. Two large excavation campaigns, carried out in the years 1961–1965 and 1993–2017, have generated considerable data. A particularly large body of data was accumulated over the twenty-five-year period of excavation and analyses carried out by the Çatalhöyük Research Project. One of the project’s major undertakings was to make all data collected accessible for wider audiences (Hodder).
Ethnography, Engagement, Evaluations, and Endings: The Achievements and Limitations of Community Outreach at Çatalhöyük
By: Allison Mickel, Patrycja Filipowicz, Lucy Bennison-Chapman
Abstract: Over the twenty-five years of community engagement at Çatalhöyük, local community members played integral roles in the production of knowledge about the site. As workers, as cooks and housekeepers, as ethnoarchaeological consultants, as museum exhibit collaborators, men and women living around Çatalhöyük supported the research team in creating the archaeological record of the site.
Oriens (Volume 48, Issue 3-4)
By: Lijuan Lin
Abstract: A foreign saying on marriage became widely known in China through Qian Zhongshu’s 1947 novel Fortress Besieged. As the novelist tells us, this saying has its source in both English and French literature, and in its different versions, marriage is either likened to a besieged fortress or a bird cage. This paper examines the origin and transmission of the saying in Greek, Arabic and Syriac sources, and argues that this saying originated in the so-called literature of the Christianized Socratic-Cynic philosophy, which once flourished in Syria. It became popular in the Byzantine and Arabic world after having been included into several famous Greek and Arabic gnomologies. Then it was introduced into modern languages, developed into different versions, finally came to China and became a household word among Chinese people.
By: Nora Jacobsen Ben Hammed
Abstract: This article examines Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s (d. 606/1210) epistemology and his understanding of syllogistic reasoning through a consideration of Meno’s paradox. It focuses on later works, namely, al-Maṭālib al-ʿāliya, Kitāb al-Jabr, and al-Tafsīr al-kabīr as well as his treatment of the subject in al-Mulakhkhaṣ fī l-ḥikma. Informed by the theories of epistemology developed through the philosophical tradition of Meno’s paradox and first principles, Rāzī views all knowledge formed through syllogistic reasoning as dependent on axiomatic truths (al-badīhiyyāt), a concept with roots in both the philosophical and theological traditions. These first principles are formed immediately upon the presence of the requisite concepts in the mind, and thus comprise Rāzī’s implicit response to the paradox in that all subsequent knowledge does indeed require previous fundamental knowledge that is not sought nor acquired voluntarily. Finally, the article discusses a separate paradox implicit in Rāzī’s works, namely that he both asserts in sections treating divine determinism that no knowledge can in fact be acquired whatsoever while elsewhere emphasizing the fundamental importance of knowledge acquisition.
By: Khaled El-Rouayheb
Abstract: Two handbooks were central to the study of philosophy in the Islamic world in the period from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries: the introductory Hidāyat al-ḥikma by Athīr al-Dīn al-Abharī (d. 663/1265), and the more advanced Ḥikmat al-ʿayn by Abharī’s student Najm al-Dīn al-Kātibī al-Qazwīnī (d. 675/1276). Two fourteenth-century scholars play an important part in the early commentary tradition on these two works: Ibn Mubārakshāh al-Bukhārī who wrote what was to become the standard commentary on Kātibī’s Ḥikmat al-ʿayn, and Mullāzāde al-Kharziyānī, who wrote an influential commentary on Abharī’s Hidāyat al-ḥikma. Despite the impact of the two commentaries, biographical information on their authors is sparse, and what has been written often confuses them with other figures. The present article attempts to review the available evidence, and to offer more secure identifications of the two commentators.
By: Miquel Forcada
Abstract: Al-Fārābī wrote about the status of medicine in many of his works, and his definition of medicine as a productive art influenced many later scholars. This definition demystified a philosophized conception of medicine that was current among the first physicians of Islam. However, al-Fārābī’s discourse is by no means unambiguous. He says that medicine may be a science, an art, and an art that may be composite, practical, stochastic and not self-sufficient. The article analyzes the textual basis of al-Fārābī’s discourse on medicine and its most salient references and influences, in connection with al-Fārābī’s understanding of Aristotle’s scientific method.