[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the seventeenth 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 three-to-four parts, depending on the number of articles included.]
Arab Studies Quarterly (Volume 43, Issue 3)
1001 Nights with Animus
By: Seda Demiralp
Abstract: This paper provides a Jungian interpretation of the frame story of 1001 Nights. Using a psychodynamic approach, the key characters in the frame story are considered as different pieces of the female psyche during the journey of individuation. This reveals the story's hidden content about inner enemies of the female psyche, such as a tyrannical animus that feeds from an oppressive environment. With a happy ending that represents the union of the ego and the animus, 1001 Nights highlights a path to women's empowerment and social harmony that involves facing inner and outer demons. The essay also argues that with its emphasis on freedoms as a source of individual and social peace, 1001 Nights captures the Zeitgeist of the period from which it emerged, namely 9th-century Abbasid rule, particularly under the reign of Caliph al-Mamun.
Sabry Musa's Lord of the Spinach Field (1987): A Critique of Post-Colonial Utopianism
By: Marwa Essam Eldin Fahmy Alkhayat
Abstract: The present study examines the aesthetic features of Sabry Musa's Lord of the Spinach Field (1987) through Karl-Heinz Bohrer's “Utopia of the Subject” to foreground Homo's quest for a wished-for yet unattainable reality. Post-Colonial Utopianism depicts man's inner turmoil to force an act of willful rethinking to enhance the “anticipatory consciousness” of a better life, a point interrogated within Ernst Bloch's Principle of Hope to propose the concept of the “Not-Yet-Become”: the not realized futuristic reality. Therefore, the interest is in utopia/dystopia historicities as analytical markers of historical inquiry to analyze specific space/time coordinates; post-colonial pitfalls of a technoscience dystopia. As such, the remarkable characteristic of Post-Colonial Utopianism is critique, and “Subjective Utopia” strives to achieve a breach in the teleological ideology of historical structures; thereby, transformation is the central aesthetic strategy of post-colonial critique.
Abject Talks Gibberish: “Translating” Abjection in Rabih Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman
By: Mohamed Salah Eddine Madiou
Abstract: The Lebanese Civil War, stretching over two decades of Lebanon's history, features prominently in any discussion of Rabih Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman (2014), a novel fashioned according to the pent-up frustrations of a post-trauma period. Alameddine's novel manifests traumatic signposts of the civil war, which make it indelibly situational, and accordingly latches onto complex psychological issues. It is branded with the mark of “abject,” which besots its pages, a phenomenon that threatens identity beyond measure, triggering even an existentialist entropy. In making an effort to (persistently) “describe” this complex phenomenon beyond ken, the novel enmeshes in a baroque and a quite wordy style that tells of an arduous quest on the author's (and characters‘) part to find the “right” word for “abject.” Drawing mainly on Sigmund Freud's essay “The Uncanny” and Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror, this article proposes to skirt the psychological archaeology of “abject” in An Unnecessary Woman. It argues that the Lebanese Civil War is not the originator of the characters’ feeling of abjection in the novel. Rather, it contends that this feeling, already inherent in the human being and thus universal, is activated by abject threats, such as, in this premise, the civil war, its suspect entourage, and aging.
A Theory of Judgment in Averroes
By: Rayyan Dabbous
Abstract: Not available
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (Volume 84, Issue 2)
A seal of Solomon son of Azariah, “son of the exilarch of all Israel”
By: Michael Zellmann-Rohrer
Abstract: Publication of a seal of rock crystal in London (British Museum), with an inscription in Aramaic and Hebrew naming the bearer, one Solomon b. Azariah, as grandson (or perhaps son) of an exilarch. An identification of the bearer as Solomon, son of the Jewish exilarch Azariah b. Solomon (c. 975) and grandson of the exilarch Solomon b. Josiah (c. 951–3), is considered, as is the alternative possibility that the grandfather was the exilarch Solomon b. Hisdai (c. 730–58).
Bene Pareza: A new talmudic lexeme
By: Amit Gvaryahu
Abstract: The Persian lexeme pahrēz-, pahrēxtan (inf.), “to avoid, to abstain” and also “to care, to protect”, is found in Jewish, Christian, and Mandaic magical literature. It is also current in Mandaic works, and is found in some Geonic works in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. It has not yet been found in the Babylonian Talmud itself. In this article I discuss a recently discovered occurrence of this word in a reconstructed codex of chapters of Babylonian Talmud, found in the Cairo Genizah (GM). I begin with a reading of the talmudic sugiya. I then discuss other uses of pahrēz in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, in other dialects of Eastern Aramaic, and in Middle Persian. I end with a re-reading of the talmudic sugiya in GM in light of the meaning of pahrēz.
The conversions of ʿAbdallāh ibn Salām (d. 43/633): A legendary moment in the biography of Muḥammad's Jewish companion
By: Samuel A. Stafford
Abstract: The Jewish scholar ʿAbdallāh b. Salām is a legendary figure from early Islam who is regarded in Islamic tradition as the archetypal Jewish convert to Islam during the Prophet's career, the pre-eminent authority on Jewish scriptures in seventh-century Arabia, and a renowned Companion. This study examines the traditions on Ibn Salām's conversion that were recorded in the biographical literature and Quranic commentaries of classical Islam and identifies the literary tropes from Muḥammad's biography featured in these traditions. Scrutiny of the evidence shows that the reports on the date and circumstances of Ibn Salām's conversion were shaped by a number of factors, including, the biases of his descendants, Quranic exegesis, and anti-Jewish polemics. Ibn Salām's legendary conversion served as a vehicle for diverse groups of Muslims to promote their doctrines and supply the Prophet with Biblical legitimacy.
Monetary reform under the Sufyanids: the papyrological evidence
By: Mehdy Shaddel
Abstract: For the past fifty years, there has been a debate over whether the Umayyad caliph Muʿāwiya introduced a short-lived gold coinage in Syria. After reappraising the literary evidence, this study argues that an enigmatic phrase in a papyrus from this period constitutes evidence for state enforcement of the circulation of a new kind of gold coinage issued under Muʿāwiya. A die-study of the extant specimens of a peculiar imitation of Byzantine gold which has had its crosses effaced, and has been attributed to Muʿāwiya on the basis of the testimony of literary sources, confirms them to be the result of a large-scale, albeit ultimately unsuccessful, initiative. This demonstrates that, in addition to the east, there also existed a separate drive towards an expansion of the money supply in Syria-Egypt during the latter half of Muʿāwiya's caliphate, a development which testifies to a relatively substantial programme of state-building by the caliph.
Materia Medica Tocharo-Hvatanica
By: Federico Dragoni
Abstract: The two languages once spoken in the oases in the North of the Tarim basin, Tocharian A and B, have preserved many Iranian loanwords. These belong to different chronological layers and are of different dialectal origins. Whereas the oldest layers are now most likely seen as belonging to an unattested Old Iranian dialect, more recent layers have not yet been studied in detail. In this respect, the vocabulary of medical texts represents an important field of enquiry. Most terms come from Middle Indian, but a significant number are of Middle Iranian origin. This component, mostly ingredients and technical vocabulary, seems to be largely of Khotanese origin. The article introduces the material and examines possible scenarios for historical transmission and contact between the North and the South of the Tarim Basin.
Comparative Studies in Society and History (Volume 63, Issue 3)
When Palestinians Became Human Shields: Counterinsurgency, Racialization, and the Great Revolt (1936–1939)
By: Charles Anderson
Abstract: This article examines the origins of human shielding—the practice of employing hostages on the battlefield—in Arab Palestine during the Great Revolt in the 1930s. The Palestinian rebellion vexed the British for over three years, and during its second phase (1937–1939), lightly armed rebels beat back the colonial authorities from broad stretches of the country, putting continued colonial control of the territory in serious jeopardy. Britain only defeated the insurgency through a harsh repertoire of collective punishments and “dirty war” tactics. British forces used Palestinians as human shields in a systematic fashion during the revolt's second phase, attempting thereby to stave off the insurgents’ consistent and effective attacks on transportation arteries. Beyond its battlefield rationale, this article contends that human shielding was critically tied to two other dynamic processes. The military's adoption of unauthorized tactics like human shielding was part of a broader pattern of rejecting its institutional subordination to civilian authorities and of seeking direct control over the Palestine government in order to assure its unfettered command over the revolt's suppression. At the same time, the conversion of colonized bodies into literal shields bespoke a process of deepening, corporeal racialization that had profound consequences for the Palestinians, stripping them of any figment of legal rights or protections and signaling the utter disposability of Arab life.
Hegemonic Muslim Masculinities and Their Others: Perspectives from South and Southeast Asia
By: Michael G. Peletz
Abstract: This article provides ethnographic, comparative, and theoretical perspectives on Muslim masculinities in South and Southeast Asia, home to more than half the world's 1.9 billion Muslims. Its empirical and thematic focus broadens the scholarly discussion of gender and sexuality among Muslims insofar as most of the literature deals with the Middle East and North Africa and is devoted to women and the discourses and practices of femininity and sexuality associated with them. More specifically, the article develops theoretical insights bearing on gender hegemonies and the pluralities and hierarchies of discourses on masculinities in the Muslim-majority nations of Pakistan and Malaysia, each of which illustrates broad trends in the region. It thus sheds important light on the empirical diversity of Muslim masculinities (amidst commonalities) and some of the ways they have been informed by locally and regionally variable macro-level processes keyed to colonialism, postcolonial nation-building, global/neoliberal capitalism, and post-Cold War geopolitical struggles including the Global War on Terror.
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (Volume 41, Issue 2)
Televised Tears: Artifice and Ambivalence in Islamic Preaching
By: Yasmin Moll
Abstract: The practice of feigning weeping in devotional contexts, including in hortatory preaching, is closely associated in Egypt with Islamic Revivalism. It is an expression of pious humility through which worshippers pretend to cry in order to (ideally) develop the embodied capacity to shed tears in the future. Secular Egyptians tend to dismiss such weeping as insincere, but so, too, do many participants in the piety movement in a specific context: on-camera weeping. Drawing on fieldwork with Islamic television preachers and their followers in Cairo, this article explores how the mass-mediated artifice of preacherly weeping provokes expressions of religious ambivalence about an otherwise authoritative ritual practice. While televised tears facilitate the sense of intimacy that many viewers identify as key to their religious adherence, the preacher's lachrymose passion as dramaturgical enskillment coexists uneasily with the pious discipline of sincere self-cultivation. Understanding why this is so illuminates the changing criteria for ritual aptness in a mass media age.
“I Do Not Forgive!”: Hope and Refusal in Tunisia's Democratic Transition
By: Alyssa Miller
Abstract: Reconciliation is a central goal of transitional justice. Yet, its importance for democratization can give reconciliation a coercive edge, pressuring victims to abandon legitimate grievances for the good of the nation to come. This article considers struggles over popular sovereignty in Tunisia's democratic transition, by examining the anticorruption campaign Manish Msamah (“I do not forgive”). Manish Msamah was formed in 2015 to defeat the Project Law on Economic and Financial Reconciliation, legislation that proposed amnesty for crony capitalists who profited from the Ben Ali dictatorship. Drawing on participant observation, media analysis, and activist interviews, the author shows how Manish Msamah debunks the ruse of consent at the heart of reconciliation, and in doing so maintains fidelity to the ideals of the 2011 Revolution. The campaign is revealed as an early participant in the “second wave” of the Arab Spring, which has refused the lure of procedural democracy in favor of deeper structural change.
The Sovereign and the Sensible: Islam, Prostitution, and Moral Order in Tehran, 1911–22
By: Jairan Gahan
Abstract: This article investigates the history of the formation of the red-light district of Tehran in 1922, to tackle larger questions about the genealogy of the constitutional Islamic state in Iran in the twentieth century. Through an engagement with the Islamic local campaign against prostitution and the state's subsequent sovereign decision to form the district, this article demonstrates how Islamic public sensibilities moved to the forefront of analytics of governance, under postconstitutional state formations (1911–). This revisionist narrative remaps the force of religion in Tehran, a city that is so often glossed as a case of state-oriented top-down secularization and subsequent Islamization in the twentieth century. The aim is not to question the process of secularization or to render it incomplete, but to demonstrate how secularism in Iran negotiated and consolidated a particular relationship between Islam and sovereign modern rule. As such, this work reads the history of the district against the grain of the grand narrative of the Islamic Revolution's (1979) moment of rupture to trace the genealogical roots of moral governance in the Islamic Republic today, within the postconstitutional state formations in the early twentieth century.
Dead Sea Discoveries (Volume 28, Issue 2)
Scribes and Scrolls at Qumran, by Sidnie White Crawford
By: Michael Owen Wise
Abstract: Not available
Some Proposed Connections between the Visions of Amram and the Four Kingdoms in View of the Aramaic Literature from Qumran
By: Daniel A. Machiela
Abstract: The Visions of Amram (4Q543–549) and Four Kingdoms (4Q552–553) are two Aramaic compositions from Qumran that have been recognized to contain apocalyptic dream-visions. In this article I propose some special connections between the dream-visions in these two works, centered on similar dialogues that take place between the seers in each text and characters seen in the dreams. These connections suggest that the Visions of Amram and Four Kingdoms emerged from a shared or closely related authorial setting. I also suggest that the connections discussed in this article are indicative of other literary affinities exhibited more generally among the Qumran Aramaic corpus, affinities that point toward a broader literary movement of which the Visions of Amram and Four Kingdoms were part.
The Intertextual Rhetoric of the Apostrophe to Zion (11QPsaXXII, 1–15): A Literary and Theological Reconfiguration of Lamentations
By: Hyun Woo Kim
Abstract: Considerable agreement has existed concerning the intertextual relations between the Apostrophe to Zion (Ap Zion) and Third Isaiah. But I propose to reread Ap Zion as a literary and theological response to the most famous lament over Zion, exemplified in the book of Lamentations. The common acrostic feature and leitmotif of Zion shared by Lamentations and Ap Zion clearly reflect the latter’s deliberate attention to the former. In this reconsideration, I argue that the much-acclaimed intertextuality between Ap Zion and Third Isaiah is the consequence of the pre-established Isaianic inner-biblical allusion (Second Isaiah) to Lamentations. To expand on this proposal, the paper will explore the multilayered intertextuality between Lam 2, Isa 49, and Ap Zion through classifying their lexical, thematic, structural, and theological associations.
The Assessment of Variation: The Case of the Aramaic Levi Document
By: Hanneke van der Schoor
Abstract: Paleographers differ in considering variation in scribal hands preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Mostly formal manuscripts have been used as pegs both in establishing the date of a particular manuscript and in assessing whether different fragments could have been written by the same scribe. However, informal manuscripts are likely to display more variation in arrangement and formation of letter forms. This article proposes to differentiate between formal and informal manuscripts and to assess the degree of variation in both. Such a distinction leads to a reassessment of the manuscript evidence of the Aramaic Levi Document, which this article argues has been preserved in a maximum of three, instead of six, manuscripts in Cave 4.
Born of Woman, Fashioned from Clay: Tracking the Homology of Earth and Womb from the Hebrew Bible to the Psalms of Thanksgiving
By: Nicholas A. Meyer
Abstract: This essay traces the features of a symbolic construct which seldom garners much attention among scholars of biblical and Second Temple texts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, namely, the likening of earth and womb. It contends that understanding this symbolism brings clarity to several texts whose interpretation is disputed and illuminates important aspects of sectarian thought, including a perspective on human sexuality which has escaped some current scholarship. The representation of the sexed body in the Thanksgiving Psalms (or “Hodayot”) receives extended attention. These psalms, it is shown, have been influenced by the negative rhetorical application of the phrase “born of woman” as found in the book of Job and by a tradition reflected in Jubilees and 4Q265 which employs the creation of Adam and Eve as a paradigm for the purification of new mothers (as described in Lev 12). The argument will show how a homology of earth and womb lies behind or can be derived from each of these traditions and how it comes to shape a profoundly negative, if highly contextualized, view of sexuality in the Psalms of Thanksgiving.
Iran and the Caucasus (Volume 25, Issue 2)
Lambdacism and the Development of Old Iranian *tin Pashto
By: Julian Kreidl
Abstract: It is a well-known fact that Pashto belongs to those Eastern Iranian languages, which show lambdacism. While similarities exist with Bactrian and Munji-Yidgha, the situation in Pashto is not exactly the same, and is in any case far more complicated. Especially interesting in this respect is the development of Old Iranian *t, which is sometimes shifted to l in Pashto proper and y in Waneci, sometimes yields the voiced dental d, or, as a third outcome, disappears in all varieties. In this paper, it is argued that the first lambdacism of (Old Iranian *d >) *δ > l, in the early first millennium A.D., spread from Bactrian, the prestigious lingua franca of the Kushan and subsequent Empires, into the contemporary ancestors of Munji(-Yidgha), Pashto and Prasun. Almost a millennium later, there was another, geographically far more limited lambdacism. This time, one subgroup of Pashto from which all Pashto proper dialects would emerge, changed, at least in certain environments, (Old Iranian *t >) *d > *δ to l, while it was changed to a palatal glide in Waneci. In other phonological environments, *d had disappeared before it could be shifted to l and y, respectively, and left no traces in contemporary dialects. In those cases where *t corresponds to d in all contemporary varieties of Pashto, we are dealing with a secondary restoration of the dental or sandhi, which lead to a voicing of initial *t.
A Struggle for Identity: The Ismailis in the Afghan War (1979-1989)
By: Victoria Arakelova, Nelli Khachaturian
Abstract: The paper is a part of a wider research on the Ismaili identity, peculiarities of the Ismailis’ self-identification in various parts of the world under different historical circumstances. The ambiguous status of the Ismailis in Afghanistan turned to be particularly problematic by the end of the 19th century when the Pashtuns became dominant in the traditionally Ismaili-inhabited areas. In a hostile milieu, under severe persecutions, the local Ismaili identity acquired a tendency of unification with other ethno-religious identities, the principle of taqiyya having been widely spread. Since then, the Ismailis became especially dependent on the political situation in Afghanistan and the policy of its rulers towards ethnic and religious minorities. The War of 1979-1989 turned to be the most dramatic episode in the history of the Ismaili community in Afghanistan when its very survival appeared to be questioned: Ismaili intellectuals left the region, and lower social layers got involved in drug cultivation and trafficking. Supporting any of the conflict’s sides could have led to a community tragedy, possibly to its complete annihilation. The limited information we obtained, including the memoirs of the Afghan War veterans, demonstrate the identity split in the Ismaili community of Afghanistan whose members were fighting on the opposite sides of the armed conflict.
Pashtuns’ Tribal Islam: The Beginning of Written History
By: Mikhail Pelevin
Abstract: The complicated process of the Pashtun tribes’ conversion to Islam is indirectly reflected in tribal genealogies, which bear traces of artificial Islamification. Recorded in the early 17th century, these genealogies are poorly consistent with apocryphal Hadiths and hagiographies intended to prove that Pashtuns had steadily adhered to Sunni Islam since the times of the Prophet Muḥammad. The politicised concept of the primordial adherence of Pashtuns to Islam was likely to have been released for wide circulation during the reign of the Lodī sultans in the late 15th century. By the mid-17th century, it became an integral part of Pashtun ethnic identity. However, written sources in Pashto and Persian dating from the same period and originating from tribal areas are unanimous in describing Pashtuns’ religious beliefs and practices as a motley assemblage of Pīrī-murīdī and Pīrparastī customs conforming to the tribalistic ideology of a segmentary Islamic society. More sophisticated forms of Pashtuns’ tribal Islam emerged with the progress of literature in the native vernacular.
Iranian Studies (Volume 54, Issue 3-4)
New Histories for the Age of Speed: The Archaeological–Architectural Past in Interwar Afghanistan and Iran
By: Nile Green
Abstract: By conceiving two emergent nation-states as a single region linked by conjoining roads, shared technologies and circulating researchers, this essay traces the emergence of a common “intellectual infrastructure” that during the interwar decades enabled European, American, Iranian, Afghan and Indian scholars to promote archeological and architectural interpretations of the Iranian and Afghan past. Taking Robert Byron’s Road to Oxiana as a fixed point of reference, the following pages survey the motor-linked sites where these new disciplinary approaches were developed and disseminated. By positioning Byron amid a larger cadre of investigators publishing in Farsi, Dari and Urdu no less than English, French and German, the essay shows how shifts in Iranian perceptions of the ancient and medieval past were part of a larger regional development, unfolding not only in familiar dialogue with Europe, but also in conversation and to some degree competition with nationalist scholarship in Afghanistan and India. Together with the journals, museums, learned societies and congresses which were launched in the 1920s and 1930s, cars and cameras—those key tools of the “age of speed”—were central to these learned ventures. Far from generating uniformity, this shared intellectual infrastructure enabled multiple interpretations of the archaeological and architectural past that were nonetheless mutually intelligible and methodologically consistent.
Jan Lucasz. van Hasselt: A Dutch Painter in Safavid Isfahan
By: Willem Floor, Forough Sajadi
Abstract: In February 1617, Jan Lucasz. van Hasselt arrived in Persia accompanying Pietro Della Valle (1586–1652), a Roman noble. Sometime between 1618 and 1621 Van Hasselt entered the service of Shah ʿAbbas I (r. 1588–1629), for whom he worked as a painter until the death of the shah. Later, during the reign of Shah Safi I (r. 1629–42) and until 1654 he tried to establish himself as a commercial agent for Persia. The present paper examines the career of this Dutch painter in Persia and the Netherlands. Meanwhile the artworks that may be attributed to him will be discussed.
Emissaries of Enlightenment: Azeri Theater Troupes in Iran and Central Asia, 1906–44
By: Kelsey Rice
Abstract: At the turn of the century, Azeri intellectuals embraced their unique position at the intersection of the Russian, Ottoman, and Iranian Empires by taking on the self-appointed role trans-imperial reformers. Moving with relative ease from Baku to Istanbul, Tabriz, Tehran, Bukhara, and beyond, Azeri reformist intellectuals were neither insular nor modest in their aspirations as they promoted social and cultural reform. This article explores Azeri efforts to promote their vision of progress to fellow Muslims in Iran and Central Asia through the most radical genre of cultural expression embraced by Azeri intellectuals: the theater. Using indigenous language sources to focus on these activities, this article demonstrates the far-reaching influence of Azeri cultural productions and the expansive ambitions of Azeri reformist intellectuals.
Zoroastrian Doctrine of Formation of Heavenly Bodies in Pahlavi Texts
By: Amir Ahmadi
Abstract: This article is about the doctrine of the formation of celestial bodies in Pahlavi texts. The doctrine is peculiar. It clashes not only with the accounts of the Gāϑā and the Younger Avesta but also with the general cosmology of Pahlavi literature. Nonetheless it must be authoritative since it is found in our main sources of Zoroastrian (Pahlavi) cosmogony and there does not seem to be an alternative account of the formation of celestial bodies. It thus prompts us to look for its background. This article presents and discusses the texts that contain the Pahlavi doctrine, examines its Avestan roots, and shows the influence of Presocratic cosmogonic speculations on the doctrine. Further, comparative material allows us to propose a conceptual genealogy of the basic constituents of the doctrine.
Sanāʾi’s Hadiqat al-haqiqeh: Between Narrative and Non-narrative
By: Parisa Zahiremami
Abstract: This paper explores the unity of the Hadiqat al-haqiqeh, a medieval mystical didactic work composed by the twelfth-century Persian poet Sanāʾi. It provides one possible reading from the text by following the link between some of the major themes discussed in its chapters. By doing so, the paper first challenges the common view of the work as a fragmentary, non-narrative text, and second it draws attention to the synthesis of political ethics and Sufi didacticism as a possible starting point in the interpretation of the work. It also highlights the possibility—and necessity—of further scholarly inquiry into the Hadiqeh, regardless of issues caused by its complex textual history.
Conflicting Worldviews: Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsāʾī’s Risālat al-Rashtīyah and the Problematic of Akbarīan Mysticism
By: Leila Chamankhah
Abstract: Since its earliest exposure to Iranian Sufis in the mid-seventh century, Ibn ʿArabī’s mysticism has been the subject of lively discussion and examination. It has also left its imprint on many intellectual tendencies, particularly Sufism, esotericism and ḥikmat discourse. The way Ibn ʿArabī’s books were read, interpreted and commented upon by his Iranian followers is indicative of the fact that al-Shaykh al-Akbar was too grand a figure to ignore. Even scholars such as Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsāʾī (d. 1241 AH/1826), who never hesitated in showing his distaste for Mumīt al-Dīn Ibn ʿArabī in one way or another, was influenced by his discourse. However, despite the general interest of a few scholars in al-Aḥsāʾī’s so-called “love–hate relationship” with Akbarīan mysticism, our knowledge of the nature of this relationship is quite limited. Different dimensions need to be examined to see how these two apparently conflicting worldviews understood mysticism and its fundamental tenets, including the doctrines of wilāya, theophany (tajallī), tawḥīd and divine knowledge. This article cites and analyzes al-Aḥsāʾī’s key texts, focusing on Risālat al-Rashtīyah, to examine how he understands Akbarīan mysticism, and how he develops his alternative by emphasizing a definition of the correct mysticism (maʿrifah/gnosis) in its relation to the teachings of the imāms. It explains how by distancing himself from Sufism in general, and from Ibn ʿArabī’s mysticism in particular, al-Aḥsāʾī seeks to draw the boundaries of the Shaykhī cause, not only as the true representative of Twelver Shīʿīsm, but also as the arch enemy of Ibn ʿArabī’s teachings that were but misunderstandings of Islam and of the teachings of the imāms.
Religious Modernism in Pre-University Schools: The Case of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s Iran
By: Hamid Karamipour, Matthew Shannon
Abstract: The advent of “modern” education in Iran and its acceptance by political and cultural elites dates to the Qajar era. But the elitist nature of state reforms prevented modern education from spreading throughout society until the Pahlavi era. Especially during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, modern education reached most segments of the population, including religious families from the middle classes. This research is based on Persian-language documents and informed by the English-language historiography. The article finds that the Islamic Education Society (Jāmeʿeh-ye taʿlimat-e eslāmi) propagated religious modernism through a national network of private schools beginning in the 1940s. In the 1950s and 1960s private cultural foundations used the Islamic Education Society’s model to establish the Alavi, Kamāl, and Refāh schools in Tehran. The network that supported them was a reflection of the revolutionary movement and a vehicle for its organization by the 1970s.
Falling Out of Love with the Franks: The Life and Writings of an Armenian Catholic Diplomat in the Service of Late Safavid Persia
By: Henry R. Shapiro
Abstract: This article provides a biographical vignette of the Armenian merchant and diplomat Eḷia of Erzurum (1689–1750?), based on his unpublished Armenian chronicle and personal documents which are housed in Russian archives. Eḷia’s biography demonstrates the growing influence of European missionaries and states in the eighteenth-century Ottoman and Safavid empires, while his documents yield a fresh perspective on late Safavid diplomacy and modes of socialization with Christians. Eḷia suffered twelve years of imprisonment in Russia and great disappointment seeking work in Europe. His last known act was to write a scathing critique of Roman Catholic religion and culture. In sum, Eḷia’s life provides an opportunity for exploring the dynamic of global connection and disconnection in the early modern Islamic world.
Hurufism: The Faḍlallāh Family, Children, and Testament
By: Fatih Usluer
Abstract: In Hurufi history, the identity of Faḍlallāh’s children is a controversial subject. Although the Hurufi writings provide information on Faḍlallāh Astarābādī, the information related to his family has been analyzed incorrectly. More than ten different names for Faḍlallāh's children are in circulation. This lack of clarity prevents the precise historical analysis of his children. This article shares new findings regarding the Faḍlallāh family using a unique copy of Faḍlallāh’s genealogy, which provides a list of his children and grandchildren. Other sources, including Faḍlallāh’s testament, the Maḥramnāma, and primary Hurufi sources, are also considered. This article reveals Faḍlallāh’s four children, only three of whom were alive when he died, and the roles played by Faḍlallāh’s family at the time of Shāhrukh and Jahānshāh.
Journal of Contemporary History (Volume 56, Issue 3)
‘The Battle for Abu Simbel’: Archaeology and Postcolonial Diplomacy in the UNESCO Campaign for Nubia
By: Adam C. Hill
Abstract: This essay examines the role and agency of British archaeologists in the discussions surrounding Egypt’s construction of the Aswan High Dam beginning in the late 1950s. The dam was conceived as a grand engineering project that would create new farmland and make Egypt self-sufficient in terms of its energy needs, but flooding caused by the dam threatened to destroy numerous archaeological sites along the Nile River on the border of Egypt and Sudan. With the blessing of the Egyptian and Sudanese governments, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched a complex rescue operation in 1960 with the goal of surveying the affected sites, in some cases removing entire structures to safe locations. Despite Britain’s initial reluctance—four years after the Suez crisis—to participate in a program that would benefit an avowedly hostile regime, British scientific expertise and private fundraising soon came to play an important role in UNESCO’s ‘Campaign for Nubia’. Using diplomatic papers and the records of various scientific bodies, I will argue that British participation in the UNESCO archaeological program was a crucial avenue for Anglo-Egyptian rapprochement during the 1960s and 1970s.
Cultural Resistances in Post-Authoritarian Greece: Protesting the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in 1974
By: Kostis Kornetis
Abstract: The July 1974 invasion of Cyprus by Turkey caught the Greek Colonels (1967–74) off guard, as they proved entirely incapable of responding to the casus belli, partly provoked by their own actions. Greece remained technically in the state of military mobilisation for about four months and with the democratic transition well underway. This article catalogues the ways in which this conflict mobilised Greek civil society in unprecedented ways. Using oral testimonies, press clippings and three major documentaries of the time (Nikos Koundouros’ The Songs of Fire, Michael Cacoyannis’ Attila 74, and Nikos Kavoukidis’ Testimonials), the article dissects the cultural resistances against the war in one of the most traumatic moments in contemporary Greek history. It analyses the gigantic concerts that took place in the largest stadiums of Athens to protest the war, next to mass demonstrations and popular films protesting the invasion. It argues that these cultural events and artifacts re-enacted facets of the anti-Vietnam War movement and the respective countercultural scene in the US of the late 1960s. The article concludes that these modes of cultural and political resistance activated post-authoritarian Greek civil society, renegotiating the parameters of political participation and partly resetting the agenda of the country’s foreign policy following popular demand.
A Jewish Italienische Reise during the Nazi period
By: Sarah Wobick-Segev
Abstract: This article unravels the complexities revealed in the act of traveling to and photographing Fascist Italy in order to consider the intricacies of a particularly German-Jewish engagement with contested and highly politicized spaces and scenes. It examines four specific images in the album: namely, one photo from South Tyrol/Alto Adige along with the three images from a Fascist night-time rally in Venice. Together, they visually capture the Italian celebration of its conquest of Ethiopia in May 1936. I argue that for these German-Jewish tourists Italy served as a means to critically contemplate Fascist politics and to understand their place as German Jews in the contemporary world order. The coincidental timing of Italy’s victory over Ethiopian forces afforded the travelers with an unusual, though not entirely unique opportunity to witness, and participate in, a Fascist spectacle, even as they negotiated its meaning. The timing of their visit also allowed the individual(s) to make both a visual and a brief textual statement about colonialism in its last throes, shortly before the Second World War broke out and before the beginning of decolonization.
Twice Exiled: Leo Zuckermann (1908–85) and the Limits of the Communist Promise
By: Philipp Graf
Abstract: Beginning with an encounter between Erich Honecker and the Jewish communist Leo Zuckermann that took place in Mexico City in September 1981, this article investigates the relationship of the communist movement in the German-speaking world to the ‘Jewish question’ and the Holocaust. At a reception of the GDR embassy on the occasion of Honecker’s state visit, the Chairman of the State Council shook hands with Zuckermann, a formerly high-ranking Socialist Unity Party of Germany functionary who had fled the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1952, and assured him that he was happy to see him again. This gesture by Honecker rehabilitated a man over whom a blanket of silence had been spread in the GDR decades earlier: during his first exile in Mexico, Zuckermann had developed positions that granted the Jewish people in light of the crimes of National Socialism the right both to restitution and to an independent state. This article offers new insights into the genesis of Zuckermann’s thinking and illuminates the reactions of the party leadership, which was surprisingly not opposed to such partisanship on behalf of the Jewish collective during a short ‘interim period’ from 1943/4 to 1948/9.
Early Reactions to Raul Hilberg’s History of the Holocaust, 1961–7
By: Olof Bortz
Abstract: Raul Hilberg’s landmark study of the Holocaust, The Destruction of the European Jews, was published in 1961. This article tells the story of the early response to Hilberg’s book. For the first time, journalists, scholars, intellectuals and representatives of Jewish communities engaged in a debate about the history and political significance of the Holocaust. This debate preceded the controversy surrounding Hannah Arendt’s articles on the trial of Adolf Eichmann and had more far-reaching consequences. Countless reviewers in the American press praised Hilberg’s analysis of the bureaucratic administration of genocide. They noted his conclusion that all of German society was involved in the ‘destruction process’ and its implications for the contemporary West German leadership. Scholars also lauded Hilberg’s book, although some of them criticized his inclusive perpetrator category and argued that he overlooked the importance of Nazi ideology and dictatorship. Hilberg’s claim that Jewish victims abetted their persecutors gave rise to a debate in Jewish journals and newspapers. Writers and historians objected to Hilberg’s purported ignorance of their experiences and of Jewish history. As this article shows, the reception of Hilberg’s work marks a crucial step in the formation of the Holocaust as part of historical consciousness.
Journal of the American Oriental Society (Volume 141, Issue 3)
The Use of the Relative and Near Demonstrative Pronouns in the Introduction of Phoenician, Old Aramaic, and Samʾalian Dedication Inscriptions
By: Samuel L. Boyd
Abstract: The orthography of the relative pronoun and the near demonstrative pronoun in the Byblian dialect of Phoenician is exactly the same, meaning that the grapheme z in introductions to dedication inscriptions has been left to interpretation. The historically related nature of these pronouns and their linguistic development led to this situation, in which the written expression of both pronouns in Byblian is identical. In this article, I examine this situation from a variety of perspectives, using both inner-Phoenician word order and comparative data from related languages, in order to show that two patterns underlie the pronoun z in the introduction to Byblian dedication inscriptions. First, I present the historical data regarding the development of the near demonstrative and relative pronouns in Phoenician. Next, I provide an analysis of the syntax of Phoenician dedication inscriptions and offer comparative material in mortuary inscriptions in Phoenician as well as evidence from Old Aramaic and Samʾalian. In doing so, I argue that, in light of comparative evidence, there is good reason to posit that two patterns exist underlying Byblian z, one in which the grapheme indicates the relative pronoun and another in which the grapheme indicates the near demonstrative.
White Death: Ibn al-ʿArabī on the Trials and Virtues of Hunger and Fasting
By: Atif Khalil
Abstract: The article presents an analysis of Ibn al-ʿArabī‘s (d. 1240) treatment of fasting and hunger as it appears in chapters 106 and 107 of al-Futūḥāt al-makkiyya (Meccan revelations). In the process of examining this very short section of the encyclopedic text, the essay both draws out the deeper theological significance of hunger and fasting and highlights the virtues and trappings of the spiritual exercise in the mystic's thought. An attempt is also made to situate some of Ibn al-ʿArabī‘s ideas within the broader context of the earlier Sufi tradition to which he was heir.
Daniel 1–6 in Classical Islamic Culture and the Gospel According to Ibn Hishām
By: A. J. Silverstein
Abstract: This article assesses the importance of the biblical book of Daniel in the first four Islamic centuries, focusing in particular on the legendary materials contained in Daniel 1–6. The article is divided into three sections. In the first section the treatments of Daniel 1–6 in Isrāʾīliyyāt works are examined, and it is shown that summaries of Daniel 1–6 in these works display evidence of oral transmission. Additionally, it is shown that some authors' familiarity with Daniel legends led them to insert this character into “biblical” narratives that do not otherwise relate to him. In the second section it is argued that Daniel's exploits were so widely known that they served as a sort of yardstick for judging the relative importance of some other “heroic” figures who are described in classical Islamic sources. In the third section it is postulated that the introductory sections of Ibn Hishām's Sīra consciously relate stories with Daniel-ic associations in order to bring the Sīra into line with the Christian Gospels.
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (Volume 64, Issue 4)
Wandering Days: Two Sources in Poetry on the Abbasid Reforms of the Fiscal Schedule
By: Massimiliano Borroni
Abstract: A close reading of two poetical sources provides new data on the reforms of the fiscal schedule of the Abbasid state in the ninth century. This paper reconstructs the calendrical complications in those Abbasid regions that followed Iranian administrative tradition and its solar calendar without intercalations. Two reforms were issued under al-Mutawakkil and al-Muʿtaḍid to correct the fiscal schedule of these regions. A panegyric by al-Buḥturī allows us to confirm and contextualize al-Mutawakkil’s reform in the final years of his caliphate. A few verses by Ibn al-Muʿtazz give a significant description of the close connection between al-Muʿtaḍid’s reform of the Iranian New-Year’s day and the construction of his public figure.
Curious Readers: The Bodleian’s Book of Curiosities as a Fatimid View of the World Through Ottoman Eyes
By: Boris Liebrenz
Abstract: An illustrated cosmographical and geographical manuscript at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, known as the Book of Curiosities, has recently seen a rare confluence of public and scholarly attention. It is widely regarded as one of the outstanding Arabic works of geography, with stylistically idiosyncratic maps and a text that can be traced back to Egypt in the Fatimid period. However, few concrete facts are known about the history of this unique artefact. This article will identify and analyse the traces left by some of its previous owners and thus unlock the Ottoman history of this Fatimid work. By placing it in a concrete temporal and geographical context, we are better able to envisage the intellectual, social, and political environment in which this book could make sense to its owners and readers.
Şeyhulislâm Feyzullah Efendi, the Ḥanafī Mufti of Jerusalem and the Rise of the Provincial Fatāwā Collections in the Eighteenth Century
By: Guy Burak
Abstract: The article examines the rise of standardized collections of fatāwā issued by officially appointed provincial Hanafi muftis across the Ottoman Empire in the long eighteenth century. The article focuses on the earliest compilation, that of the Jerusalemite Ḥanafī mufti, ʿAbd al-Raḥīm b. Abī al-Luṭf. This compilation was commissioned by the famous chief imperial mufti Feyzullah Efendi. The article then traces the proliferation of the standardized fatāwā compilation over the course of the eighteenth century, from Medina to the Balkans. This essay seeks to examine the emergence of local/provincial compilations of fatāwā over the eighteenth century as yet another chapter in the long intervention of the Ottoman dynasty (through its learned hierarchy) in the regulation of the doctrines of the Ḥanafī madhhab at the imperial and provincial levels. Focusing on Feyzullah Efendi’s initiative and its aftermath may cast light on specific venues and practices in which this intervention took place in a particular historical moment.
Near Eastern Archaeology (Volume 84, Issue 2)
Yotvata in the Southern Negev and Its Association with Copper Mining and Trade in the Early Iron Age
By: Lily Singer-Avitz
Abstract: Yotvata is the modern name of a small oasis located on the western edge of the southern Arabah Valley in the southern Negev. In Arabic it was called ‘Ein Ghadian, probably after the Saxaul bush (Haloxylon persicum) (ghada in Arabic), commonly found in the surrounding sands. The Arabah Valley stretches from the southern edge of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba). The valley has an extremely hot and dry climate. Absolute temperatures in the summer reach 45° C and the mean annual rainfall is 30 mm (Bruins 2006: 29–32). The oasis is situated on the main road to Eilat, about 40 km (25 mi.) north of the city, at an elevation of 125 m above sea level.
Everything But The Oink: On the Discovery of an Articulated Pig in Iron Age Jerusalem and Its Meaning to Judahite Consumption Practices
By: Lidar Sapir-Hen, Joe Uziel, and Ortal Chalaf
Abstract: Pork consumption and avoidance during the Iron Age in the southern Levant is extensively discussed in the context of the identity of the populations of ancient Israel. It is often examined by calculating pig frequencies in faunal assemblages (Hesse 1990;Hesse and Wapnish 1997, 1998; Faust and Lev-Tov 2011; Maeir, Hitchcock, and Horwitz 2013; Meiri et al. 2013; Sapir-Hen et al. 2013; Faust and Lev-Tov 2014; Sapir-Hen, Meiri, and Finkelstein 2015; Maeir and Hitchcock 2017; Sapir-Hen 2019a). Recent studies that reviewed data on pig frequencies in correlation to the subphases of the Iron Age have shown that while frequencies of pork consumption fluctuated in the Northern Kingdom, it remained constantly low in Judah throughout the Iron Age (Sapir-Hen et al. 2013; Sapir-Hen 2019a). In Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, low frequencies or absence of pigs (0–2 percent of livestock) were found in all excavated sites (see further below). Thus, the discovery of an articulated pig in an Iron Age IIB (eighth century BCE) building during recent excavations along the eastern slopes of the City of David is intriguing.
A Bone Projectile Point and Its Possibly Associated Workshop from the Iron Age IIA of Tell eṣ-Ṣafi/Gath
By: Liora Kolska Horwitz, Maria Eniukhina, Ron Kehati, Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, and Aren M. Maeir
Abstract: Although not as old as artifacts made of stone, the manufacture and use of bone tools is of great antiquity, with the earliest known bone artifacts from Lower Paleolithic sites in Africa: Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) dating to 2.1–1.1 Ma and the sites of Swartkrans, Sterkfontein, Drimolen (South Africa), dated to around 1.8/1.7 Ma to 1.4/1.0 Ma (Bradfield and Choyke 2016). From this point on in time, alongside stone and metal artifacts, universally, people continued to manufacture and use bone tools. This practice continued even into recent times, as attested by innumerable ethnographic examples of bone artifacts and ornaments (e.g., Stordeur 1980; Ayalon and Sorek 1999; Walshe 2008; Legrand-Pineau et al. 2010; Stone 2011; Bradfield 2012). Often, lithic and metal tools were used for bone working, illustrating the continued value of bone even in historic periods.
Divine Cults in the Sacred Precinct of Girsu
By: Sébastien Rey
Abstract: Sumer in present-day southern Iraq is the heartland of the first cities and birthplace of writing (fig. 1). It is where, between 3500 and 2000 BCE, its inhabitants, the Sumerians, instituted the first codes of law, advanced metallurgy to craft new tools and weapons; enhanced wheel technology and invented the potter’s wheel. The Sumerians organized long-distance trade over land and sea; they carved monumental sculptures and wrote poems, epic myths, and musical hymns (Jacobsen 1987; Bottéro and Kramer 1989). They created irrigation canal networks and built bridges, temples, and stepped towers “reaching the heavens,” their time-honored ziggurats (George 1993). It is the sum of these innovations that characterizes Sumer as one of the first civilizations of the ancient world.
Literacy in Judah and Israel: Algorithmic and Forensic Examination of the Arad and Samaria Ostraca
By: Shira Faigenbaum-Golovin, Arie Shaus, Barak Sober, Yana Gerber, Eli Turkel, Eli Piasetzky, and Israel Finkelstein
Abstract: A highly discussed issue in the fields of Hebrew epigraphy and biblical research is the level of literacy in the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel and Judah (Rollston 2010; Davies and Römer 2013; Schmidt 2015). Treating this topic using biblical texts, for example, the references to scribes at the time of a given monarch, may lead to circular argumentation: The reality behind a given account may reflect the time of the authors, who could have lived centuries later and retrojected their own situation back onto earlier history. A preferable methodology is to consider the material evidence—the corpora of Iron Age Hebrew ostraca from archaeological excavations. The idea is to use algorithmic and forensic methods to distinguish between handwritings and thus the number of authors in a given corpus.
Communal Architecture at Boncuklu Tarla, Mardin Province, Turkey
By: Ergül Kodaş
Abstract: Villages of the Preceramic Neolithic in the Near East are marked by a new style of construction, created to play a new, essential function. Indeed, it is in this period that, outside of residential habitations, communal buildings make their first appearance in the heart of Near Eastern villages. It is without doubt one of the first clear, historical attestations of social differentiation/organization in architecture. Truly, reflections on such constructions lead one to attribute to them adjectives aimed at encapsulating their supposed functions, such as “collective,” “communal,” “monumental,” “public,” “cultic,” “storage structures,” or even “megalithic” (Aurenche and Kozlowski 2000; Stordeur 2014; Watkins 2006; Goring-Morris and Belfer-Cohen 2014; Hauptmann 2012). The terminology here reflects considerably varying interpretations, often complementary and essentially derived from the architectural data, as the buildings reveal ground plans and internal structures that are quite distinct.
Oriens (Volume 49, Issue 1-2)
The Makeover of Ḥayy: Transformations of the Sage’s Image from Avicenna to Ibn Ṭufayl
By: Sarah Stroumsa
Abstract: This paper focuses on the literary relationship between Ibn Ṭufayl’s Ḥayy and Avicenna’s (the latter being ostensibly the immediate source of inspiration of the former), and on the philosophical implications of this literary relationship. While Ibn Ṭufayl borrowed Avicenna’s protagonists and framework, he eliminated the figure of the guiding sage, thus breaking sharply not only from Avicenna but also from the conventions of the literary genre that served as his model, the initiation story. This paper is primarily dedicated to presenting this dramatic, yet hitherto under-estimated, change, and to examining possible explanations for Ibn Ṭufayl’s revolutionary move.
al-Nuzha al-Sāsāniyya by Shīrīn Maghribī (d. 810/1408): A Recently-Discovered Cosmological Treatise in Persian of the School of Ibn al-ʿArabī
By: Giovanni Maria Martini
Abstract: This article presents for the first time the treatise al-Nuzha al-Sāsāniyya by the Tabrizi Sufi scholar and poet Muḥammad Shīrīn Maghribī (d. 810/1408), hitherto considered lost. The analysis of this Persian cosmology work, the rich graphic materials it contains, and its relationship with some of Ibn al-ʿArabī’s (d. 638/1240) most important cosmological texts including the treatise ʿUqlat al-mustawfiz and Chapter 371 of al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya, offers a unique opportunity for shedding new light on Maghribī as an eminent member of the so-called ‘School of Ibn al-ʿArabī’ and on his intellectual activity as a teacher and interpreter of the works and ideas of the Shaykh al-Akbar. At the same time, it explores the use of visual elements, and more specifically of diagrams, in the Sufi literature of the period, and their potential value for codicological and philological purposes.
The Case of the Missing Disciple: Abū l-Ḥasan al-Rustughfanī and the First Reception of al-Māturīdī’s Theology in Samarqand
By: Ramon Harvey
Abstract: Despite recognition of Abū l-Ḥasan al-Rustughfanī (d. ca. 345/956) as the most important student of Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī (d. 333/944), a sustained treatment of his theological views has not hitherto appeared. One of the challenges that has been identified in prior studies is a lack of primary sources. To overcome this obstacle, I analyse manuscripts of “Bāb al-mutafarriqāt min fawāʾid” and “al-Asʾila wa-l-ajwiba,” two texts recording al-Rustughfanī’s theological responsa, locating them within available bibliographic information and discussing the question of literary structure. I then contextualise the material within the polemical milieu of mid-fourth/tenth century Samarqand, arguing that al-Rustughfanī is the earliest figure in the Samarqandī Ḥanafī kalām tradition to self-consciously adopt the full name ahl al-sunna wa-l-jamāʿa to express his theological identity. Finally, I provide an annotated theological overview of the main doctrines found in the texts with a detailed case study on divine speech and the Qurʾān, showing how al-Rustughfanī bridges the gap between al-Māturīdī’s rationalistic kalām and the Ḥanafī traditionalism of al-Ḥakīm al-Samarqandī (d. 342/953).
The Muʿtazila on Covenantal Theology: A Study of Individualist Approaches
By: Tariq Jaffer
Abstract: This article examines how three leading exegetes of the Muʿtazilite school tradition – ʿAbd al-Jabbār (d. 415/1025), Jishumī (d. 494/1101), and Zamakhsharī (d. 538/1144) – conceptualized the Qurʾānic idea of covenant in divergent ways. It also illustrates how they related the idea of covenant to their broader thought world to forge an interpretation of the meaning of human history and salvation. It argues that these three commentators, although they are linked to one another by a loose form of teacher-student discipleship, share only basic ideas and applied hermeneutical devices and interpretive principles in considerably different ways. It is unlikely that they relied on one another when they composed their commentaries.