In The Arab Thieves, Peter Webb critically explores the classic tales of pre-Islamic Arabian outlaws in Arabic Literature. A group of Arabian camel-rustlers became celebrated figures in Muslim memories of pre-Islam, and much poetry ascribed to them and stories about their escapades grew into an outlaw tradition cited across Arabic literature. The ninth/fifteenth-century Egyptian historian al-Maqrīzī arranged biographies of ten outlaws into a chapter on ‘Arab Thieves’ in his wide-ranging history of the world before Muhammad. This volume presents the first critical edition of al-Maqrīzī’s text with a fully annotated English translation, alongside a detailed study that interrogates the outlaw lore to uncover the ways in which Arabic writers constructed outlaw identities and how al-Maqrīzī used the tales to communicate his vision of pre-Islam. Via an exhaustive survey of early Arabic sources about the outlaws and comparative readings with outlaw traditions in other world literatures, The Arab Thieves reveals how Arabic literature crafted lurid narratives about criminality and employed them to tell ancient Arab history.
Peter Webb, Ph.D. SOAS, University of London, is University Lecturer in Arabic Literature and Culture at Leiden University. A specialist on Arabic literature about the Arabs and pre-Islamic Arabia, his publications include Imagining the Arabs: Arab Identity and the Rise of Islam (Edinburgh, 2016).
List of Plates and TablesAbbreviationsAcknowledgements Introduction
Part 1 Study of the Arab Thieves
1 Outlaw Literature
2 “Arab Thieves”: Establishing a Category 2.1 Ṣuʿlūk/Ṣaʿālīk 2.2 Fātik/Futtāk 2.3 Liṣṣ/Luṣūṣ 2.4 The Runners 2.5 The Arab Ravens 2.6 Lions and Wolves 2.7 Thievery Semantics: Conclusions
3 Thieves and Arab History 3.1 Outlaws and Arabness in the Third/Ninth Century 3.2 Outlaws and Arabness in the Fourth/Tenth Century 3.3 The Ayyubid- and Mamluk-Eras 3.4 al-Maqrīzī and His Luṣūṣ al-ʿArab
4 Contemporary Outlaws: Criminality in al-Maqrīzī’s Own World
5 Al-Maqrīzī’s Manuscript: Its Conceptual, Narrative and Physical Structure 5.1 The Thieves 5.2 Narrative Structure 5.3 The Book
6 The Sources 6.1 Dictionaries and the List of ‘Arab Thieves’ 6.2 Al-Maqrīzī’s Sources: Overview 6.3 Al-Maqrīzī’s Copying Style: Case Studies 6.4 Al-Maqrīzī and Outlaw Poetry: Specialised Collections 6.5 Sources: Conclusions
7 Concluding Remarks Plates
Part 2 Critical Edition and Translation
The Holograph The Translation Abbreviations and Symbols
Text and Translation of al-Maqrīzī’s al-Ḫabar ʿan al-baṣar, vol. V, Sections 1–2: the Arab Thieves
Section on the Arabs’ Religions before Islam Section on the Arab Hussies Section on the Arab ThievesʿAmr of the DogTaʾabbaṭa ŠarranAl-ŠanfaráAl-Sulayk b. al-Sulakah al-SaʿdīAl-MuntaširAwfá b. Maṭar al-MāzinīʿAmr b. BarrāqahAl-UḥaymirNiẓāmYazīd BibliographyList of Quoted ManuscriptsIndex of VersesIndex of Names (People and Places)Index of Quoted Titles in al-Ḫabar ʿan al-bašarIndex of Sources in al-Ḫabar ʿan al-bašarIndex of GlossesIndex of Technical TermsFacsimile of MS Fatih 4340 (Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi), fols. Ia–b, 1a–3b, 4*a–b, 4a–9b, 10*a–b, 10a–15b
Those interested in the history of Arabia and Arabic literature, and all interested in the topics of outlaw traditions and tales of bandit heroes in other regions and languages.