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A civilising process ? (Sixteenth-Twenty-First Century)
Adab is a concept situated at the heart of Arabic and Islamic civilisation. Adab is etiquette, ethics, and literature. It is also a creative synthesis, a relationship within a configuration. What became of it, towards modernity ? The question of the "civilising process" (Norbert Elias) helps us reflect on this story. During the modern period, maintaining one's identity while entering into what was termed "civilisation" (al-tamaddun) soon became a leitmotiv. A debate on what was or what should be culture, ethics, and norms in Middle Eastern societies accompanied this evolution. The resilient notion of adab has been in competition with the Salafist focus on mores (akhlāq). Still, humanism, poetry, and transgression are constants in the history of adab.

Contributors: Francesca Bellino, Elisabetta Benigni, Michel Boivin, Olivier Bouquet, Francesco Chiabotti, Stéphane Dudoignon, Anne-Laure Dupont, Stephan Guth, Albrecht Hofheinz, Katharina Ivanyi, Felix Konrad, Corinne Lefevre, Cathérine Mayeur-Jaouen, Astrid Meier, Nabil Mouline, Samuela Pagani, Luca Patrizi, Stefan Reichmuth, Iris Seri-Hersch, Chantal Verdeil, Anne-Sophie Vivier-Muresan.
In: Adab and Modernity
In: Adab and Modernity
In: Sufi Institutions
In: A Social History of Late Ottoman Women
In: Ethics and Spirituality in Islam


By writing Insān al-ʿuyūn fī sīrat al-nabī al-maʾmūn at the request of Shaykh al-Bakrī, the Egyptian Shaykh ʿAlī al-Ḥalabī (1635) composed a work soon known as Sīra ḥalabiyya. With a learned art of composition, he gives a very personal reading of his immediate sources of the Mamluk period, ʿUyūn al-athar fī l-funūn wa-l-shamāʾil wa-l-siyar from Ibn Sayyid al-Nās and Subul al-hudā wa-l-rashād fī sīrat khayr al-ʿibād, of al-Shāmī al-Ṣāliḥī (otherwise called al-Sīra al-Shāmiyya), while mobilizing an imposing culture of the Mamluk and Ottoman epochs. We will study it by comparing it with the contemporary commentary by al-Qalyūbī (1659?) of the famous qiṣṣat al-isrāʾ wa-l-miʿrāj due to Shaykh al-Ghayṭī (m.). Citing in particular the Shifā’ of Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ and the Khaṣāʾiṣ of Suyūṭī, the names of Ibn Ḥajar and Shaʿrānī, Ḥalabī tries to come up with a harmonised narrative of different versions that he tries to reconcile, but several stories coexist, opening the way for an endless exegesis of the episodes of the Sīra. Ḥalabī is distinguished from Qalyūbī by a form of historicisation of the Sīra, more attentive to the chronological sequence of events, as well as by a reflection on the providential inscription of the Prophet in the very ancient history of prophecy.

Open Access
In: The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam