In the 10th/11th century, Arabic became both the vernacular and literary language of the Samaritan community, along with the two languages of the liturgy: Samaritan Hebrew and Samaritan Aramaic; Samaritan Neo Hebrew was also employed at this time mainly for the composition of religious poems. Together with the introduction of the Arabic language, the Samaritans started to use the Arabic script, along with the Samaritan Hebrew formal and cursive scripts. In comparison with the use of the Arabic script, the Samaritan Hebrew script served mostly for more sacred texts or was employed in order to mark certain textual passages with a higher degree of sacredness. Allography of Arabic in Samaritan Hebrew letters is attested in Samaritan manuscripts since the beginning of the 13th century, although it was introduced most probably at an earlier date. This allography is employed mainly for the Arabic translation of the Samaritan Torah, for the Arabic translations of prayers, and for Samaritan Hebrew or Samaritan Aramaic quotes in Arabic texts. The replacement of Arabic by Modern Israeli Hebrew as the primary vernacular among the Samaritans living in the State of Israel led to a revival of Samaritan Hebrew allography for Arabic texts in the 20th century, mainly in festival poems in Arabic language, which are performed at certain occasions, although not all congregants are still familiar with the Arabic language and script. A close analysis demonstrates that Samaritan Hebrew allography of Arabic is the result of an intense contact between two scribal cultures, both of which were well established amongst the Samaritans. The allographic use of the Samaritan Hebrew script for writing Arabic texts originally did not aim to make these texts more accessible to Samaritan readers, but rather was employed to mark Arabic texts as belonging to the realm of the sacred.
Marking and Crossing Ethnoreligious Boundaries
Bedross Der Matossian
Armeno-Turkish played an important role in the lives of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. At a time in which more than half of the Armenians of the Empire did not speak Armenian, Armeno-Turkish came to fill an important gap. It led to the proliferation of literacy among Armenians and allowed them to mark and strengthen their ethno-religious boundaries vis-à-vis other ethno-religious groups in the Ottoman Empire, while simultaneously allowing for the crossing of these boundaries which, in general, were characterized by fluidity. The 19th century represents an important phase in the development of Armeno-Turkish. Its development cannot be attributed to one factor; rather to a host of factors that include the impact of the Armenian Zart‘ōnk‘ (awakening), the spread of Catholicism and Protestantism, the impact of the Tanzimat Reforms (1839–1876), the development of Armenian ethno-religious boundaries, and the role of print culture. Finally, Armeno-Turkish raises important questions regarding identity formation, belonging, and cross-cultural interaction.
Nuria de Castilla
Saadya ben Joseph al-Fayyumi (Saˁīd b. Yūsuf al-Fayyūmī, Saadya Gaon, b. Egypt 882—d. Baghdad 942) translated the Pentateuch as well as several other parts of the Bible into Arabic in the first half of the 10th century. The translation, named tafsīr by Saadya himself, was transmitted in two versions, one in Hebrew letters, probably intended for and used by Jewish-Rabbanite communities, and another in Arabic letters, probably intended for and used by other communities. Several manuscripts holding a Saadyan version in Arabic letters were used by Christian communities in the Near East. Some of these manuscripts probably reached the Samaritans, or at least one Samaritan community. The main source consisting of the Samaritan version of Saadya Gaon’s translation of the Pentateuch is MS London BL OR 7562. The article discusses the status of this manuscript among the other Samaritan Arabic translations, its characteristics, and demonstrates the reflections of Arabic and Syriac vocabulary in its Samaritan script.
Language, Identity, and Community Boundaries in the Literature of Religious Polemics of the Muslims of Late Medieval Christian Iberia
Mònica Colominas Aparicio
The present study discusses language as a tool of identity construction by Muslims from the Late Medieval and Early Modern Christian Iberian Peninsula who could practice Islam by law in exchange for paying taxes (Mudejars). Their writings, as well as those of the group who were later forced to convert to Christianity (Moriscos), are in various languages and scripts. The Arabic (Aljamiado) used to transcribe Romance is distinctive and abundant evidence of it is left from the later Morisco period. The earlier uses of language by the Mudejars are nonetheless essential to understand how Muslims negotiated their community boundaries within a Christian majority society. My analysis will concentrate on two Mudejar polemics against the Christians and the Jews, which were most likely composed in fourteenth-century Aragon. In these works, approaches to language and the interplay of Arabic—both as a target language and as a script—with Romance escape discrete definitions of religion and culture.1
Beginning late nineteenth century Ottoman-Turkish intellectuals fought for an orthographic revolution to change the spelling of the name Türk—which was once used to refer to the “simple folk” or Muslims generally and was written as ترك (t-r-k) in Arabic letters—by adding the letter ‘wāw’ (و) to it, spelling the name as تورك (t-u-r-k) in print. The additional letter was a necessity in the minds of the revolutionaries to make visible the Turkish nation as opposed to the multitude. The paper interprets these intellectuals’ thoughts and assumptions on scripts, writing and language as they relate to politics and identity and as part of the history of Ottoman-Turkish literary modernity, which would culminate in the adoption of Roman letters in the modern Turkish Republic.
M. Brett Wilson
This article explores debates surrounding the controversial spiritual exercise of rābiṭa – the binding of the disciple with a Sufi master by envisioning the image of the master in different parts of the body. Despite being criticized as a non-Qurʾanic practice and as a form of idolatry, rābiṭa was made a ritual of prominence among the Khālidī-Naqshbandī suborder which took shape in early nineteenth-century Syria and spread throughout the late Ottoman Empire. Tracing defenses of the practice from Arabic sources in the early nineteenth century to Turkish language treatises in the twentieth century, I argue that the Sufi ādāb manual al-Bahja al-saniyya composed by Muḥammad b. ʿAbdallāh al-Khānī (1798-1862) established a repertoire of arguments that have been adopted and reused in Turkish language treatises until the present with little variation, revealing a remarkable continuity of apologetics over nearly two centuries. Additionally, the article considers the role of this ritual in defining the nature of master-disciple relationships and establishing hierarchies of Sufi devotion and obedience.