Arabic Oration: Art and Function, a narrative richly infused with illustrative texts and original translations, Tahera Qutbuddin presents a comprehensive theory of this preeminent genre in its foundational oral period, 7th-8th centuries AD. With speeches and sermons attributed to the Prophet Muḥammad, ʿAlī, other political and military leaders, and a number of prominent women, she assesses types of orations and themes, preservation and provenance, structure and style, orator-audience authority dynamics, and, with the shift from an oral to a highly literate culture, oration’s influence on the medieval chancery epistle. Probing the genre’s echoes in the contemporary Muslim world, she offers sensitive tools with which to decode speeches by mosque-imams and political leaders today.
Al-Muʾayyad al-Shīrāzī was a medieval Arabic-Islamic scholar and poet committed to the Fatimid religio-political ideology. Chief missionary for their Caliph-Imams, he founded the dynamic tradition of "Fatimid
daʿwa (religious mission) poetry” that flourished after him for a thousand years through the succeeding Ṭayyibī daʿwa and continues to thrive today.
This study examines the manner in which al-Muʾayyad's mission informed the aesthetic rules, motifs, structures, genres, motives, addressees, and aspirations of his poetry. It analyzes the characteristics of al-Muʾayyad's verse that render it distinctive, above all, its use of a unique form of esoteric
tāwīl-based religious symbolism—metaphor, in fact, as manifestation, where what appears to be metaphor is the theological reality of the Imam. This book features a large number of original translations.