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H. S. Nyberg’s Encounter with Egypt and the Mu‘tazilī School of Thought

In: Philological Encounters
Author:
Göran Larsson University of Gothenburg Sweden

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Abstract

In 1923, the Swedish Orientalist H. S. Nyberg (1889-1974) was awarded a scholarship that would enable him to travel to Cairo. The primary aim of the trip was to improve his skills in the spoken Arabic language and to study Istanbul and early Islamic sects. Besides studying the Arabic language, Nyberg also found an unpublished text of the Mu’tazili theologian Abū al-Ḥusayn B. ‘Uthmān al-Khayyāṭ and his refutation of Ibn ar-Rāwandī’s critique against the Mu‘tazilites. By examining Nyberg’s unpublished letters that were sent from Egypt to his friends, colleagues and family in Sweden, this article casts light on how the editing process and the discovery of al-Khayyāt’s manuscript was communicated, discussed, and reported back to Sweden. The letters also contain more general information about Nyberg’s perceptions of Egypt, Islam and the Muslim reformists and politicians that were active in Egypt.

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