Disagreements of the Jurists

Author: Devin Stewart
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479808076
Release Date: 2017-10-03
Genre: Literary Collections

A masterful overview of Islamic law and its diversity Al-Qadi al-Nu'man was the chief legal theorist and ideologue of the North African Fatimid dynasty in the tenth century. This translation makes available for the first time in English his major work on Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh), which presents a legal model in support of the Fatimid claim to legitimate rule. Composed as part of a grand project to establish the theoretical bases of the official Fatimid legal school, Disagreements of the Jurists expounds a distinctly Shi'i system of hermeneutics. The work begins with a discussion of the historical causes of jurisprudential divergence in the first Islamic centuries and goes on to engage, point by point, with the specific interpretive methods of Sunni legal theory. The text thus preserves important passages from several Islamic legal theoretical works no longer extant, and in the process throws light on a critical stage in the development of Islamic legal theory that would otherwise be lost to history.

Consorts of the Caliphs

Author:
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479804771
Release Date: 2017-09-05
Genre: History

Lyrical biographical sketches of the concubines of ancient Baghdad Consorts of the Caliphs is a seventh/thirteenth-century compilation of anecdotes about thirty-eight women who were consorts to those in power, most of them concubines of the early Abbasid caliphs and wives of latter-day caliphs and sultans. This slim but illuminating volume is one of the few surviving texts by the prolific Baghdadi scholar Ibn al-Sa'i, who chronicled the academic and political elites of his city in the final years of the Abbasid dynasty and the period following the cataclysmic Mongol invasion of 656 H/1258 AD. In this work, Ibn al-Sa'i is keen to forge a connection between the munificent wives of his time and the storied lovers of the so-called golden age of Baghdad. Thus, from the earlier period, we find Harun al-Rashid pining for his brother’s beautiful slave, Ghadir, and the artistry of such musical and literary celebrities as Arib and Fadl, who bested the male poets and singers of their day. From times closer to Ibn al-Sa?i’s own, we meet women such as Banafsha, who endowed law colleges, had bridges built, and provisioned pilgrims bound for Mecca; slave women whose funeral services were led by caliphs; and noble Saljuq princesses from Afghanistan. Informed by the author’s own sources, his insider knowledge, and well-known literary materials, these singular biographical sketches bring the belletristic culture of the Baghdad court to life, particularly in the personal narratives and poetry of culture heroines otherwise lost to history.

The Excellence of the Arabs

Author: Ibn Qutaybah,
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479809578
Release Date: 2017-04-04
Genre: History

The Excellence of the Arabs is a spirited defense of Arab identity—its merits, values, and origins—at a time of political unrest and fragmentation, written by one of the most important scholars of the early Abbasid era. In the cosmopolitan milieu of Baghdad, the social prestige attached to claims of being Arab had begun to decline. Although his own family originally hailed from Merv in the east, Ibn Qutaybah (213-76 H/828-89 AD) locks horns with those members of his society who belittled Arabness and vaunted the glories of Persian heritage and culture. Instead, he upholds the status of Arabs and their heritage in the face of criticism and uncertainty. The Excellence of the Arabs is in two parts. In the first, Arab Preeminence, which takes the form of an extended argument for Arab privilege, Ibn Qutaybah accuses his opponents of blasphemous envy. In the second, The Excellence of Arab Learning, he describes the fields of knowledge in which he believed pre-Islamic Arabians excelled, including knowledge of the stars, divination, horse husbandry, and poetry. And by incorporating extensive excerpts from the poetic heritage—“the archive of the Arabs”—Ibn Qutaybah aims to demonstrate that poetry is itself sufficient corroboration of Arab superiority. Eloquent and forceful, The Excellence of the Arabs addresses a central question at a time of great social flux at the dawn of classical Muslim civilization: what did it mean to be Arab?

Scents and Flavors

Author:
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479843930
Release Date: 2017-05-02
Genre: Literary Collections

This popular 13th-century Syrian cookbook is an ode to what its anonymous author calls the “greater part of the pleasure of this life,” namely the consumption of food and drink, as well as the fragrances that garnish the meals and the diners who enjoy them. Collecting 635 meticulous recipes, Scents and Flavors invites us to savor an inventive cuisine that elevates simple ingredients by combining the sundry aromas of herbs, spices, fruits, and flower essences. Organized like a meal, it opens with appetizers and juices and proceeds through main courses, side dishes, and desserts, including such confections as candies based on the higher densities of sugar syrup—an innovation unique to the medieval Arab world. Apricot beverages, stuffed eggplant, pistachio chicken, coriander stew, melon crepes, and almond pudding are seasoned with nutmeg, rose, cloves, saffron, and the occasional rare ingredient like ambergris to delight and surprise the banqueter. Bookended by chapters on preparatory perfumes, incenses, medicinal oils, antiperspirant powders, and after-meal hand soaps, this comprehensive culinary journey is a feast for all the senses. With the exception of four extant Babylonian and Roman specimens, cookbooks did not appear on the world literary scene until Arabic speakers began compiling their recipe collections in the tenth century, peaking in popularity in the thirteenth century. Scents and Flavors quickly became a bestseller during this golden age of cookbooks, and remains today a delectable read for epicures and cultural historians alike.

A Treasury of Virtues

Author:
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479896530
Release Date: 2016-10-04
Genre: History

A Treasury of Virtues is a collection of sayings, sermons, and teachings attributed to Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 40 H/661 AD), the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, the first Shia Imam and the fourth Sunni Caliph. An acknowledged master of Arabic eloquence and a sage of Islamic wisdom, Ali was renowned for his eloquence: his words were collected, quoted, and studied over the centuries, and extensively anthologized, excerpted, and interpreted. Of the many compilations of Ali’s words, A Treasury of Virtues, compiled by the Fatimid Shafi'i judge al-Quda'i (d. 454 H/1062 AD), arguably possesses the broadest compass of genres and the largest variety of themes. Included are aphorisms, proverbs, sermons, speeches, homilies, prayers, letters, dialogues, and verse, all of which provide instruction on how to be a morally upstanding human being. The shorter compilation included here, One Hundred Proverbs, is attributed to the eminent writer al-Jaziz (d. 255 H/869 AD). This volume presents the first English translation of both of these important collections.

Light in the Heavens

Author: Tahera Qutbuddin
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479871469
Release Date: 2016-11-08
Genre: Literary Collections

The words of Muhammad (d. 11 H/632 AD), God's messenger and prophet of Islam, have a special place in the hearts of his followers. Wielding an authority second only to the Qur'an, Muhammad’s hadith are cited by scholars as testimonial texts in a vast array of disciplines—including law, theology, metaphysics, poetry, grammar, history, and medicine—and are quoted by Muslims to one another in their daily lives. Assembling Muhammad’s words has been a major preoccupation for scholars throughout the fourteen centuries since his death, resulting in an abundance of compilations. Among the legally-grounded collections, which aimed to guide the community in its practice of religious law and ritual worship, one which stands out in particular is Light in the Heavens (Kitab al-Shihab) by al-Qadi al-Quda'i (d. 454 H/1062 AD), a Shafi'i judge in the Fatimid court in Egypt. The collection’s overall conceptualization is distinctively ethical and pragmatic, and offers humanitarian lessons and practical insights with universal appeal. From North Africa to India, generations have used Light in the Heavens as a teaching text for children as well as adults, and many of its 1200 sayings are familiar to individuals of diverse denominations and ethnicities. For Muslims—who consider Muhammad’s teachings the fount of wisdom and the beacon of guidance in all things, mundane and sublime—these sayings provide a direct window into the inspired vision of one of the most influential humans to have walked the Earth.

Risible Rhymes

Author: Humphrey Davies
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479877928
Release Date: 2016-10-04
Genre: History

Written in mid-17th century Egypt, Risible Rhymes is a short, comic disquisition on “rural” verse, mocking the pretensions and absurdities of uneducated poets from Egypt’s countryside. Like al-Shirbini’s Brains Confounded, written some forty years later, it combines a biting satire on Egyptian rural society with a hilarious parody of the verse-and-commentary genre so beloved by scholars of the day. The two texts also share six overlapping short poems, which suggests that they emanate from a common corpus of pseudo-rural verse that circulated in Ottoman Egypt. Nothing is known about the author, al-Sanhuri, who likely hailed from Egypt’s Fayyum region, although he describes his text as having been written at the behest of an unnamed friend. Alongside the later Brains Confounded, al-Sanhuri’s Risible Rhymes provides further evidence of a hitherto unrecognized genre of Arabic literature during this period, namely, mock-scholarly commentary on verse of supposedly rural provenance. Preoccupation with the countryside as a cultural, social, economic, and religious locus in its own right is unique in pre-twentieth-century Arabic literature. Using clever literary analysis and wordplay, this mordant commentary offers readers a rare window on rural life in Ottoman-era Egypt.

Arabian Satire

Author: Marcel Kurpershoek
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479878062
Release Date: 2017-12
Genre: Literary Collections

This lively volume collects poems by Hmedan al-Shwe'ir, who lived in Najd in the Arabian Peninsula shortly before the hegemony of the Wahhabi movement in the early 18th century. A master of satire known for his ribald humor, self-deprecation, and invective verse (hija), Hmedan was acerbic in his criticisms of society and its morals, voiced in in a poetic idiom that is widely referred to as “Nabati,” here a mix of Najdi vernacular and archaic vocabulary and images dating back to the origins of Arabic poetry. In Arabian Satire, Hmedan is mostly concerned with worldly matters, and addresses these in different guises: as the patriarch at the helm of the family boat and its unruly crew; as a picaresque anti-hero who revels in taking potshots at the established order, its hypocrisy, and its moral failings; as a peasant who labors over his palm trees, often to no avail and with no guarantee of success; and as a poet recording in verse how he thinks things ought to be. The poems in Arabian Satire, reveal a plucky, headstrong, yet intensely socially committed figure—representative of the traditional Najdi ethos—who infuses his verse with proverbs, maxims, and words of wisdom expressed plainly and conversationally. Hmedan is accordingly quoted by historians of the Gulf region and in anthologies of popular sayings. This is the first full translation of this remarkable poet.

A Hundred and One Nights

Author:
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479808526
Release Date: 2017-09-05
Genre: Literary Collections

A luminous translation of Arabic tales of enchantment and wonder Translated into English for the very first time, A Hundred and One Nights is a marvelous example of the rich tradition of popular Arabic storytelling. Like the celebrated Thousand and One Nights, this collection opens with the frame story of Scheherazade, the vizier’s gifted daughter who recounts imaginative tales night after night in an effort to distract the murderous king from taking her life. A Hundred and One Nights features an almost entirely different set of stories, however, each one more thrilling, amusing, and disturbing than the last. Here, we encounter tales of epic warriors, buried treasure, disappearing brides, cannibal demon-women, fatal shipwrecks, and clever ruses, where human strength and ingenuity play out against a backdrop of inexorable, inscrutable fate. Distinctly rooted in Arabic literary culture and the Islamic tradition, these tales draw on motifs and story elements that circulated across cultures, including Indian and Chinese antecedents, and features a frame story possibly older than its more famous sibling. This vibrant translation of A Hundred and One Nights promises to transport readers, new and veteran alike, into its fantastical realms of magic and wonder.

Accounts of China and India

Author: Abu Zayd al-Sirafi
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479830596
Release Date: 2017-04-04
Genre: Literary Collections

“These accounts are full of fascination and wonder… [and] continue the contribution this excellent series is making towards integrating classics of Arabic into the global canon.” —Times Literary Supplement The ninth and tenth centuries witnessed the establishment of a substantial network of maritime trade across the Indian Ocean, providing the real-life background to the Sinbad tales. An exceptional exemplar of Arabic travel writing, Accounts of China and India is a compilation of reports and anecdotes about the lands and peoples of this diverse territory, from the Somali headlands of Africa to the far eastern shores of China and Korea. Traveling eastward, we discover a vivid human landscape—from Chinese society to Hindu religious practices—as well as a colorful range of natural wilderness—from flying fish to Tibetan musk-deer and Sri Lankan gems. The juxtaposed accounts create a kaleidoscope of a world not unlike our own, a world on the road to globalization. In its ports, we find a priceless cargo of information. Here are the first foreign descriptions of tea and porcelain, a panorama of unusual social practices, cannibal islands, and Indian holy men—a marvelous, mundane world, contained in the compass of a novella.

Period of Time

Author: Muhammad al-Muwaylihi
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479840915
Release Date: 2018-04-10
Genre: History

Trenchant and witty critiques of life in Cairo under British rule What ?Isa ibn Hisham Told Us is a masterpiece of early 20th-century Arabic prose. Penned by the Egyptian journalist Mu?ammad al-Muwayli?i, this highly original work was first introduced in serialized form in his family’s pioneering newspaper Mi?ba? al-Sharq (Light of the East) and later published in book form in 1907. Widely hailed for its erudition and mordant wit, What ?Isa ibn Hisham Told Us was embraced by Egypt’s burgeoning reading public and soon became required reading for generations of school students. Bridging classical genres and modern Arabic fiction, What ?Isa ibn Hisham Told Us is divided into two parts. Sarcastic in tone and critical in outlook, the first part of the book relates the excursions of its narrator, ?Isa ibn Hisham, and his companion, the Pasha, through a rapidly westernizing Cairo and provides vivid commentary on a society negotiating—however imperfectly—the clash between traditional norms and imported cultural values. The second half takes the narrator to Paris to visit the Exposition Universelle of 1900, where al-Muwayli?i casts a critical eye on European society, modernity, and the role of Western imperialism as it ripples across the globe. Paving the way for the modern Arabic novel, What ?Isa ibn Hisham Told Us is invaluable both for its insight into colonial Egypt and its pioneering role in Arabic literary history.

Mission to the Volga

Author: Ahmad Ibn Fadlan
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479899890
Release Date: 2017-04-04
Genre: History

“A compelling account which is, among other things, the earliest first-hand description of travel from the Muslim world.” —Times Literary Supplement Mission to the Volga is the earliest surviving instance of sustained first-person travel narrative in Arabic—a pioneering text of peerless historical and literary value. In its pages, we move north on a diplomatic mission from Baghdad to the upper reaches of the Volga River in what is now central Russia. In this colorful documentary from the tenth century, the enigmatic Ibn Fa?lan relates his experiences as part of an embassy sent by Caliph al-Muqtadir to deliver political and religious instruction to the recently-converted King of the Bulghars. During eleven months of grueling travel, Ibn Fa?lan records the marvels he witnesses on his journey, including an aurora borealis and the white nights of the North. Crucially, he offers a description of the Viking Rus, including their customs, clothing, body painting, and a striking account of a ship funeral. Together, these anecdotes illuminate a vibrant world of diversity during the heyday of the Abbasid Empire, narrated with as much curiosity and zeal as they were perceived by its observant beholder.

The Life of Ibn Hanbal

Author: Ibn al-Jawzi
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9781479805303
Release Date: 2016-10-04
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 H/855 AD), renowned for his profound knowledge of hadiths—the reports of the Prophet’s sayings and deeds—is a major figure in the history of Islam. He was famous for living according to his own strict interpretation of the Prophetic model and for denying himself the most basic comforts, even though his family was prominent and his city, Baghdad, was then one of the wealthiest in the world. Ibn Hanbal’s piety and austerity made him a folk hero, especially after he resisted the attempts of two caliphs to force him to accept rationalist doctrine. His subsequent imprisonment and flogging is one of the most dramatic episodes of medieval Islamic history, and his principled resistance influenced the course of Islamic law, the rise of Sunnism, and the legislative authority of the caliphate. The Life of Ibn Hanbal is a translation of the biography of Ibn Hanbal by the Baghdad preacher, scholar, and storyteller Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597 H/1200 AD), newly abridged for a paperback readership by translator Michael Cooperson. Set against the background of fierce debates over the role of reason and the basis of legitimate government, it tells the formidable life tale of one of the most influential Muslims in history.

Virtues of the Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Author: Ibn al-Jawzi
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9780814771952
Release Date: 2015-01-02
Genre: Literary Collections

First Prize, Arabic to English Category, for the Sheikh Hamad Award for Translation and International Understanding (Doha, Qatar) Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 H/855 AD), renowned for his profound knowledge of hadith—the reports of the Prophet’s sayings and deeds—is a major figure in the history of Islam. Ibn Hanbal’s piety and austerity made him a folk hero, especially after his principled resistance to the attempts of two Abbasid caliphs to force him to accept rationalist doctrine. His subsequent imprisonment and flogging became one of the most dramatic episodes of medieval Islamic history. Ibn Hanbal’s resistance influenced the course of Islamic law, the rise of Sunnism, and the legislative authority of the caliphate. Virtues of the Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal is a translation of the biography of Ibn Hanbal penned by the Baghdad preacher, scholar, and storyteller, Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597 H/1201 AD). It includes insights into Ibn Hanbal’s childhood, travels, and teachings, as well as descriptions of his way of life. This second and final volume gives a vivid account of Ibn Hanbal’s legendary confrontation with the caliphal Inquisition, including his imprisonment, trial, and flogging. Ultimately, it recounts how the people of Baghdad came to admire him as a symbol of Sunni Islam.

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought

Author: Gerhard Böwering
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691134840
Release Date: 2013
Genre: Political Science

"In 2012, the year 1433 of the Muslim calendar, the Islamic population throughout the world was estimated at approximately a billion and a half, representing about one-fifth of humanity. In geographical terms, Islam occupies the center of the world, stretching like a big belt across the globe from east to west."--P. vii.