A Compendium of Knowledge from the Classical Islamic World
Author: Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri
For the first time in English, a catalog of the world through fourteenth-century Arab eyes—a kind of Schott’s Miscellany for the Islamic Golden Age An astonishing record of the knowledge of a civilization, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition catalogs everything known to exist from the perspective of a fourteenth-century Egyptian scholar and litterateur. More than 9,000 pages and thirty volumes—here abridged to one volume, and translated into English for the first time—it contains entries on everything from medieval moon-worshipping cults, sexual aphrodisiacs, and the substance of clouds, to how to get the smell of alcohol off one’s breath, the deliciousness of cheese made from buffalo milk, and the nesting habits of flamingos. Similar works by Western authors, including Pliny’s Natural History, have been available in English for centuries. This groundbreaking translation of a remarkable Arabic text—expertly abridged and annotated—offers a look at the world through the highly literary and impressively knowledgeable societies of the classical Islamic world. Meticulously arranged and delightfully eclectic, it is a compendium to be treasured—a true monument of erudition. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
A Compendium of Knowledge from the Classical Islamic World
Author: Aḥmad ibn ʻAbd al-Wahhāb Nuwayrī
Category: Civilization, Arab
For the first time in English, a catalog of the world through fourteenth-century Arab eyes--a kind of Schott's Miscellany for the Islamic Golden Age An astonishing record of the knowledge of a civilization, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition catalogs everything known to exist from the perspective of a fourteenth-century Egyptian scholar and litterateur. More than 9,000 pages and thirty volumes--here abridged to one volume, and translated into English for the first time--it contains entries on everything from medieval moon-worshipping cults, sexual aphrodisiacs, and the substance of clouds, to how to get the smell of alcohol off one's breath, the deliciousness of cheese made from buffalo milk, and the nesting habits of flamingos. Similar works by Western authors, including Pliny's Natural History, have been available in English for centuries. This groundbreaking translation of a remarkable Arabic text--expertly abridged and annotated--offers a look at the world through the highly literary and impressively knowledgeable societies of the classical Islamic world. Meticulously arranged and delightfully eclectic, it is a compendium to be treasured--a true monument of erudition. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Al-Nuwayri and the Islamic Encyclopedic Tradition
Author: Elias Muhanna
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Category: Literary Criticism
Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri was a fourteenth-century Egyptian polymath and the author of one of the greatest encyclopedias of the medieval Islamic world—a thirty-one-volume work entitled The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition. A storehouse of knowledge, this enormous book brought together materials on nearly every conceivable subject, from cosmology, zoology, and botany to philosophy, poetry, ethics, statecraft, and history. Composed in Cairo during the golden age of Islamic encyclopedic activity, the Ultimate Ambition was one of hundreds of large-scale compendia, literary anthologies, dictionaries, and chronicles produced at this time—an effort that was instrumental in organizing the archive of medieval Islamic thought. In the first study of this landmark work in a European language, Elias Muhanna explores its structure and contents, sources and influences, and reception and impact in the Islamic world and Europe. He sheds new light on the rise of encyclopedic literature in the learned cities of the Mamluk Empire and situates this intellectual movement alongside other encyclopedic traditions in the ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment periods. He also uncovers al-Nuwayri’s world: a scene of bustling colleges, imperial chanceries, crowded libraries, and religious politics. Based on award-winning scholarship, The World in a Book opens up new areas in the comparative study of encyclopedic production and the transmission of knowledge.
As Depicted in the Original Texts
Author: A J Arberry
Originally published in 1964, this volume gathers together extracts from many of Arberry’s best-known works and supplements them with a selection of previously unpublished translations. The material therefore presents a vivid picture of the richness and variety of Islamic civilization from its origins to the late twentieth century.
Court and Performance in the Pre-Modern Middle East
Author: Maurice A. Pomerantz,Evelyn Birge Vitz
Publisher: NYU Press
Category: Literary Collections
Insights into power, spectacle, and performance in the courts of Middle Eastern rulers In recent decades, scholars have produced much new research on courtly life in medieval Europe, but studies on imperial and royal courts across the Middle East have received much less attention, particularly for courts before 1500AD. In the Presence of Power, however, sheds new light on courtly life across the region. This insightful, exploratory collection of essays uncovers surprising commonalities across a broad swath of cultures. The pre-modern period in this volume includes roughly seven centuries, opening with the first dynasty of Islam, the Umayyads, whose reign marked an important watershed for Late Antique culture, and closing with the rule of the so-called “gunpowder” empires of the Ottomans and Safavids over much of the Near East in the sixteenth century. In between, this volume locates similarities across the Western Medieval, Byzantine and Islamicate courtly cultures, spanning a vast history and geography to demonstrate the important cross-pollinations that occurred between their literary and cultural legacies. This study does not presume the presence of one shared courtly institution across time and space, but rather seeks to understand the different ways in which contemporaries experienced and spoke about these places of power and performance. Adopting a very broad view of performances, In the Presence of Power includes exuberant expressions of love in Arabic stories, shadow plays in Mamluk Cairo, Byzantine storytelling, religious food traditions in Christian Cyprus, advice, and political and ethnographic performances of power.
Compilation and the Author's Craft in Abû I-Faraj al-Isbahânî's Kitâb al-aghânî
Author: Hilary Kilpatrick
This is the first systematic literary study of one of the masterpieces of classical Arabic literature, the fourth/tenth century Kitâb al-aghânî (The Book of Songs) by Abû I-Faraj al-Isbahânî. Until now the twenty-four volume Book of Songs has been regarded as a rather chaotic but priceless mine of information about classical Arabic music, literature and culture. This book approaches it as a work of literature in its own right, with its own internal logic and coherence. The study also consistently integrates the musical component into the analysis and proposes a reading of the work in which individual anecdotes and poems are related to the wider context, enhancing their meaning.
Arabs and Islam in the Nineteenth Century Imaginary
Author: Jacob Rama Berman
Publisher: NYU Press
Category: Literary Criticism
Since 1964, the annual Socialist Register has brought together leading writers on the left to investigate aspects of a common theme. The theme of this issue is the new U.S.-led imperialist project which is currently transforming relations of global power. Contributors to this volume include: Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, "The new imperialism: relations between the states of the USA and the advanced capitalist countries." Colin Leys and John S. Saul, "Development under the new imperialism." Greg Albo, "The economics of the new imperialism" David Harvey, "The geography of the new imperialism" Aijaz Ahmad, "Culture and the new imperialism." Saskia Sassen, "The imperial city, north and south." John Bellamy Foster, "Imperialism and the Ecosphere."
Urban Protest in Late Medieval Egypt and Syria
Author: Amina Elbendary
Publisher: British Academic Press
During the fifteenth century, the Mamluk sultanate that had ruled Egypt and Syria since 1249-50 faced a series of sustained economic and political challenges to its rule, from the effects of recurrent plagues to changes in international trade routes. Both these challenges and the policies and behaviors of rulers and subjects in response to them left profound impressions on Mamluk state and society, precipitating a degree of social mobility and resulting in new forms of cultural expression. These transformations were also reflected in the frequent reports of protests during this period, and led to a greater diffusion of power and the opening up of spaces for political participation by Mamluk subjects and negotiations of power between ruler and ruled. Rather than tell the story of this tumultuous century solely from the point of view of the Mamluk dynasty, Crowds and Sultans places the protests within the framework of long-term transformations, arguing for a more nuanced and comprehensive narrative of Mamluk state and society in late medieval Egypt and Syria. Reports of urban protest and the ways in which alliances between different groups in Mamluk society were forged allow us glimpses into how some medieval Arab societies negotiated power, showing that rather than stoically endure autocratic governments, populations often resisted and renegotiated their positions in response to threats to their interests. This rich and thought-provoking study will appeal to specialists in Mamluk history, Islamic studies, and Arab history, as well as to students and scholars of Middle East politics and government and modern history.
Arab Travellers in the Far North
Author: Ibn Fadlan
Publisher: Penguin UK
In 922 AD, an Arab envoy from Baghdad named Ibn Fadlan encountered a party of Viking traders on the upper reaches of the Volga River. In his subsequent report on his mission he gave a meticulous and astonishingly objective description of Viking customs, dress, table manners, religion and sexual practices, as well as the only eyewitness account ever written of a Viking ship cremation. Between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, Arab travellers such as Ibn Fadlan journeyed widely and frequently into the far north, crossing territories that now include Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Their fascinating accounts describe how the numerous tribes and peoples they encountered traded furs, paid tribute and waged wars. This accessible new translation offers an illuminating insight into the world of the Arab geographers, and the medieval lands of the far north.
Dhimmis and Others in the Empire of Law
Author: Anver M. Emon
Publisher: OUP Oxford
The question of tolerance and Islam is not a new one. Polemicists are certain that Islam is not a tolerant religion. As evidence they point to the rules governing the treatment of non-Muslim permanent residents in Muslim lands, namely the dhimmi rules that are at the center of this study. These rules, when read in isolation, are certainly discriminatory in nature. They legitimate discriminatory treatment on grounds of what could be said to be religious faith and religious difference. The dhimmi rules are often invoked as proof-positive of the inherent intolerance of the Islamic faith (and thereby of any believing Muslim) toward the non-Muslim. This book addresses the problem of the concept of 'tolerance' for understanding the significance of the dhimmi rules that governed and regulated non-Muslim permanent residents in Islamic lands. In doing so, it suggests that the Islamic legal treatment of non-Muslims is symptomatic of the more general challenge of governing a diverse polity. Far from being constitutive of an Islamic ethos, the dhimmi rules raise important thematic questions about Rule of Law, governance, and how the pursuit of pluralism through the institutions of law and governance is a messy business. As argued throughout this book, an inescapable, and all-too-often painful, bottom line in the pursuit of pluralism is that it requires impositions and limitations on freedoms that are considered central and fundamental to an individual's well-being, but which must be limited for some people in some circumstances for reasons extending well beyond the claims of a given individual. A comparison to recent cases from the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Court of Human Rights reveals that however different and distant premodern Islamic and modern democratic societies may be in terms of time, space, and values, legal systems face similar challenges when governing a populace in which minority and majority groups diverge on the meaning and implication of values deemed fundamental to a particular polity.
Author: Nathan Hofer
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
This book is the first systematic investigation of how and why Sufism became extraordinarily popular across Egypt in the 12th - 14th centuries.
Female Empowerment in Arabic Popular Literature
Author: Remke Kruk
Colloquial Arabic storytelling is most commonly associated with the Arabian Nights. But few people are aware of a much larger corpus of narrative texts known as popular epic. These heroic romantic tales, originating in the Middle Ages, form vast cycles of adventure stories whose most remarkable feature is their portrayal of powerful and memorable women. Wildly appreciated by medieval audiences, and spread by professional storytellers throughout the cities of the Muslim world, this material was printed and reprinted over the centuries and remains a vital part of Arab culture. Yet virtually none is available in translation, and so remains almost unknown to a non-Arab public. Remke Kruk at last makes these neglected romances available to a Western audience. She recounts the story of Princess Dhat al-Himma, brave and undefeated leader of the Muslim army in its wars against the Byzantines; of Ghamra, brought up as a boy to become a fearless leader of men; and of Qannasa, an infidel, raiding from her mountain fortress to capture and seduce her enemies before putting them pitilessly to the sword. The Warrior Women of Islam puts a bold new complexion on gender roles and the wider perception of women in the Middle East.
Religious Authority and Media in Contemporary Egypt
Author: Jacquelene G. Brinton
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Preaching Islamic Renewal examines the life and work of Muhammad Mitwalli Sha‘rawi, one of Egypt's most beloved and successful Islamic preachers. His wildly popular TV program aired every Friday for years until his death in 1998. At the height of his career, it was estimated that up to 30 million people tuned in to his show each week. Yet despite his pervasive and continued influence in Egypt and the wider Muslim world, Sha‘rawi was for a long time neglected by academics. While much of the academic literature that focuses on Islam in modern Egypt repeats the claim that traditionally trained Muslim scholars suffered the loss of religious authority, Sha‘rawi is instead an example of a well-trained Sunni scholar who became a national media sensation. As an advisor to the rulers of Egypt as well as the first Arab television preacher, he was one of the most important and controversial religious figures in late-twentieth-century Egypt. Thanks to the repurposing of his videos on television and on the Internet, Sha‘rawi’s performances are still regularly viewed. Jacquelene Brinton uses Sha‘rawi and his work as a lens to explore how traditional Muslim authorities have used various media to put forth a unique vision of how Islam can be renewed and revived in the contemporary world. Through his weekly television appearances he popularized long held theological and ethical beliefs and became a scholar-celebrity who impacted social and political life in Egypt.
Religion and Identity in Colonial India
Author: Teena Purohit
Publisher: Harvard University Press
An Arab-centric perspective dominates the West’s understanding of Islam. Purohit presses for a view of Islam as a heterogeneous religion that has found a variety of expressions in local contexts. The Ismaili community in colonial India illustrates how much more complex Muslim identity is, and always has been, than the media would have us believe.
Author: Aishah al-Bauniyyah
Publisher: NYU Press
Category: Literary Collections
Aishah al-Bauniyyah of Damascus was one of the great women scholars in Islamic history. Born into a prominent family of pious scholars and Sufi devotees, Aishah received a thorough religious education and memorized the Quran at age eight. A mystic and a prolific poet and writer, she composed more works in Arabic than any other woman before the 20th century. Yet despite her extraordinary literary and religious achievements, Aishah al-Bauniyyah remains largely unknown. For the first time, her key work, The Principles of Sufism, is available in English translation. The Principles of Sufism is a mystical guide book to help others on their spiritual path. Outlining the four principles of Repentance, Sincerity, Remembrance, and Love, it traces the fundamental stages and states of the spiritual novice’s transformative journey, emphasizing the importance of embracing both human limitations and God’s limitless love. Drawing on lessons and readings from centuries-old Sufi tradition, Aishah advises the seeker to repent of selfishness and turn to a sincere life of love. In addition to his lucid translation, Th. Emil Homerin provides an insightful introduction, notes and a glossary to Aishah al-Bauniyyah’s remarkable account of the pursuit of mystical illumination.
Plurality and Diversity in an Arabic Library
Author: Konrad Hirschler
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
The written text was a pervasive feature of cultural practices in the medieval Middle East. At the heart of book circulation stood libraries that experienced a rapid expansion from the twelfth century onwards. While the existence of these libraries is well known our knowledge of their content and structure has been very limited as hardly any medieval Arabic catalogues have been preserved. This book discusses the largest and earliest medieval library of the Middle East for which we have documentation "e; the Ashrafiya library in the very centre of Damascus "e; and edits its catalogue. This catalogue shows that even book collections attached to Sunni religious institutions could hold rather unexpected titles, such as stories from the 1001 Nights, manuals for traders, medical handbooks, Shiite prayers, love poetry and texts extolling wine consumption. At the same time this library catalogue decisively expands our knowledge of how the books were spatially organised on the bookshelves of such a large medieval library. With over 2,000 entries this catalogue is essential reading for anybody interested in the cultural and intellectual history of Arabic societies. Setting the Ashrafiya catalogue into a comparative perspective with contemporaneous libraries on the British Isles this book opens new perspectives for the study of medieval libraries.
Arabic Knowledge Construction
Author: Muhsin J. al-Musawi
Publisher: University of Notre Dame Pess
In The Medieval Islamic Republic of Letters: Arabic Knowledge Construction, Muhsin J. al-Musawi offers a groundbreaking study of literary heritage in the medieval and premodern Islamic period. Al-Musawi challenges the paradigm that considers the period from the fall of Baghdad in 1258 to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1919 as an "Age of Decay" followed by an "Awakening" (al-nahdah). His sweeping synthesis debunks this view by carefully documenting a "republic of letters" in the Islamic Near East and South Asia that was vibrant and dynamic, one varying considerably from the generally accepted image of a centuries-long period of intellectual and literary stagnation. Al-Musawi argues that the massive cultural production of the period was not a random enterprise: instead, it arose due to an emerging and growing body of readers across Islamic lands who needed compendiums, lexicons, and commentaries to engage with scholars and writers. Scholars, too, developed their own networks to respond to each other and to their readers. Rather than addressing only the elite, this culture industry supported a common readership that enlarged the creative space and audience for prose and poetry in standard and colloquial Arabic. Works by craftsmen, artisans, and women appeared side by side with those by distinguished scholars and poets. Through careful exploration of these networks, The Medieval Islamic Republic of Letters makes use of relevant theoretical frameworks to situate this culture in the ongoing discussion of non-Islamic and European efforts. Thorough, theoretically rigorous, and nuanced, al-Musawi's book is an original contribution to a range of fields in Arabic and Islamic cultural history of the twelfth to eighteenth centuries.
How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation
Author: Michael Zielenziger
The world’s second-wealthiest country, Japan once seemed poised to overtake America. But its failure to recover from the economic collapse of the early 1990s was unprecedented, and today it confronts an array of disturbing social trends. Japan has the highest suicide rate and lowest birthrate of all industrialized countries, and a rising incidence of untreated cases of depression. Equally as troubling are the more than one million young men who shut themselves in their rooms, withdrawing from society, and the growing numbers of “parasite singles,” the name given to single women who refuse to leave home, marry, or bear children. In Shutting Out the Sun, Michael Zielenziger argues that Japan’s rigid, tradition-steeped society, its aversion to change, and its distrust of individuality and the expression of self are stifling economic revival, political reform, and social evolution. Giving a human face to the country’s malaise, Zielenziger explains how these constraints have driven intelligent, creative young men to become modern-day hermits. At the same time, young women, better educated than their mothers and earning high salaries, are rejecting the traditional path to marriage and motherhood, preferring to spend their money on luxury goods and travel. Smart, unconventional, and politically controversial, Shutting Out the Sun is a bold explanation of Japan’s stagnation and its implications for the rest of the world. From the Hardcover edition.
Author: Leonard Peikoff
Ayn Rand chose Leonard Peikoff to be her successor as the spokesman for Objectivism. And in this brilliantly reasoned, thought-provoking work we learn why, as he demonstrates how far America has been detoured from its original path and led down the same road that Germany followed to Nazism. Self-sacrifice, Oriental mysticism, racial "truth," the public good, doing one's duty—these are among the seductive catch-phrases that Leonard Peikoff dissects, examining the kind of philosophy they symbolize, the type of thinking that lured Germany to its doom and that he says is now prevalent in the United States. Here is a frightening look at where America may be heading, a clarion call for all who are concerned about preserving our right to individual freedom. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Great Age of the Seljuqs
Author: Sheila R. Canby,Deniz Beyazit,Martina Rugiadi,A. C. S. Peacock
Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Rising from humble origins as Turkish tribesmen, the powerful and culturally prolific Seljuqs—an empire whose reach extended from Central Asia to the eastern Mediterranean—dominated the Islamic world from the eleventh to the fourteenth century. Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs examines the roots and impact of this formidable dynasty, featuring some 250 objects as evidence of the artistic and cultural flowering that occurred under Seljuq rule. Beginning with an historical overview of the empire, from its early advances into Iran and northern Iraq to the spread of its dominion into Anatolia and northern Syria, Court and Cosmos illuminates the splendor of Seljuq court life. This aura of luxury extended to a sophisticated new elite, as both sultans and city dwellers acquired dazzling glazed ceramics and metalwork lavishly inlaid with silver, copper, and gold. Advances in science and technology found parallels in a flourishing interest in the arts of the book, underscoring the importance the Seljuqs placed on the scholarly and literary life. At the same time, the unrest that accompanied warfare between the Seljuqs and their enemies as well as natural disasters and unexplainable celestial phenomena led people to seek solace in magic and astrology, which found expression in objects adorned with zodiacal and talismanic imagery. These popular beliefs existed alongside devout adherence to Islam, as exemplified by exquisitely calligraphed Qur’ans and an array of building inscriptions and tombstones bearing verses from the holy book. The great age of the Seljuqs was one that celebrated magnificence, be it of this world or in the celestial realm. By revealing the full breadth of their artistic achievement, Court and Cosmos provides an invaluable record of the Seljuqs’ contribution to the cultural heritage of the Islamic world.