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Al-Maqrīzī’s al-Ḫabar ʿan al-bašar

Vol. V, Sections 1-2: The Arab Thieves

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Edited by Peter Webb

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.

Warrior Saints of the Silk Road

Legends of the Qarakhanids

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Jeff Eden

For generations, Central Asian Muslims have told legends of medieval rulers who waged war, died in battle, and achieved sainthood. Among the Uyghurs of East Turkistan (present-day Xinjiang, China), some of the most beloved legends tell of the warrior-saint Satuq Bughra Khan and his descendants, the rulers of the Qarakhanid dynasty. To this day, these tales are recited at the saints' shrines and retold on any occasion.
Warrior Saints of the Silk Road introduces this rich literary tradition, presenting the first complete English translation of the Qarakhanid narrative cycle along with an accessible commentary. At once mesmerizing, moving, and disturbing, these legends are essential texts in Central Asia's religious heritage as well as fine, enduring works of mystical literature.

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George Dimitri Sawa

The present volume consists of translated anecdotes, on musicological and socio-cultural topics, from al-Iṣbahānī’s Kitāb al-Aghānī al-Kabīr ( The Grand Book of Songs) with annotations and commentaries. It deals with musical rhythmic and melodic modes, technical terms and treatises; music instruments; composition techniques and processes; education and oral/written transmissions; vocal and instrumental performances and their aesthetics; solo and ensemble music; change and its inevitability; musical and textual improvisations; ṭarab and the acute emotions of joy or grief; medieval dances; social status. Though extracts from The Grand Book of Songs have been translated in European languages since 1816, this work presents a much larger and more comprehensive scope that will benefit musicologists, medievalist and Middle Eastern scholars as well as the general reader.

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William Tamplin

In Poet of Jordan, William Tamplin presents two decades’ worth of the political poetry of Muhammad Fanatil al-Hajaya, a Bedouin poet from Jordan and a public figure whose voice channels a popular strain of popular Arab political thought. Tamplin’s footnoted translations are supplemented with a biography, interviews, and pictures in order to contextualize the man behind the poetry.

The aesthetics and politics of vernacular Arabic poetry have long gone undervalued. By offering a close study of the life and work of Hajaya, Tamplin demonstrates the impact that one poet’s voice can have on the people and leaders of the contemporary Middle East.

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Edited by Wilferd Madelung and Abdulrahman al-Salimi

In Ibāḍī Texts from the 2nd/8th Century Abdulrahman Al-Salimi and Wilferd Madelung present an edition of fourteen Ibāḍī religious texts and explain their contents and extraordinary source value for the early history of Islam. The Ibāḍīs constitutes the moderate wing of the Kharijite opposition movement to the Umayyad and ‘Abbasid caliphates. The texts edited are mostly polemical letters to opponents or exhortatory to followers by ‘Abd Allah b. Ibad , Abu l-‘Ubayda Muslim b. Abi Karima and other Ibadi leaders in Basra, Oman and Hadramawt. An epistle detailing the offences of the caliph ‘Uthman is by the early Kufan historiographer al-Haytham b. ‘Adi. By their early date and independence of the mainstream historical tradition these txts offer the modern historian of Islam an invaluable complement to the well-known literary sources.

Metapoesis in the Arabic Tradition

From Modernists to Muḥdathūn

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Huda J. Fakhreddine

In Metapoesis in the Arabic Tradition Huda J. Fakhreddine expands the study of metapoesis to include the Abbasid age in Arabic literature. Through this lens that is often used to study modernist poetry of the 20th and the 21st century, this book detects and examines a meta-poetic tendency and a self-reflexive attitude in the poetry of the first century of Abbasid poets. What and why is poetry? are questions the Abbasid poets asked themselves with the same persistence and urgency their modern successor did. This approach to the poetry of the Abbasid age serves to refresh our sense of what is “modernist” or “poetically new” and detach it from chronology.

The Book of Noble Character

Critical Edition of Makārim al-akhlāq wa-maḥāsin al-ādāb wa-badāʾiʿ al-awṣāf wa-gharāʾib al-tashbīhāt, Attributed to Abū Manṣūr al-Thaʿālibī (d. 429/1039)

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Bilal Orfali and Ramzi Baalbaki

This critical Arabic text edition of K. Makārim al-akhlāq wa-maḥāsin al-ādāb wa-badāʾiʿ al-awṣāf wa-gharāʾib al-tashbīhāt( Book of Noble Character, Excellent Conduct, Admirable Descriptions, and Curious Similes) is a substantial work of adab attributed to the prominent littérateur Abū Manṣūr al-Thaʿālibī (d. 429/1039) that consists of a short introduction and three chapters. The first chapter addresses acquiring noble character and excellent conduct ( al-taḥallī bi-makārim al-akhlāq wa-maḥāsin al-ādāb); the second addresses shunning away from base character and ugly traits ( al-tazakkī ʿan masāwiʾ al-akhlāq wa-maqābiḥ al-shiyam); and the third addresses admirable descriptions and curious similes ( badāʾiʿ al-awṣāf wa-gharāʾib al-tashbīhāt). At the end of the text one finds a relatively large collection of widely circulating proverbs ( amthāl sāʾira) that are alphabetically arranged. Makārim al-akhlāq is in essence an anthology of “good conduct” and of quotations suitable for social and literary discourse. It reflects the three ingredients of adab: behavior, literary culture, and learning. The work is introduced by an analytical study discussing the attribution of the work, the related genres, and the unique manuscript of the text.