Volume 13 (2013)
Edited by Lutz Edzard and Stephan Guth
Farid Hafez, Der Gottesstaat des Esad Bey: Eine Muhammad-Biographie aus der Sicht eines jüdischen Konvertiten zum Islam unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Dimension des Politischen (pdf 422 kB, pp. 1-21)
Esad Bey's theocratic state. A Muhammad biography from the perspective of a Jewish convert to Islam with special consideration for the political dimension.
This paper analyses the political dimension of the Muhammad biography written by Esad Bey (1905-1942), a.k.a. Leo Noussimbaum, a Jewish convert to Islam, who lived and worked as a writer in Berlin/Germany. Esad Bey, a Baku-born (Azerbaijan) Jew, who became a Muslim in an early stage of his life, had written 16 books at the age of 30, one of which became a world-bestseller. Esad Bey was a mostly unkown public figure until Tom Reiss finished the first well researched biography in 2008; yet he still continues to relatively unkown to Muslim audience. The biography of Muhammad was the second biography of Esad Bey, following his initial biography on Stalin.
The biography, that was published in 1932 in German language, is highly influenced by its time, the concurring ideologies of fascism and communism as well as the pan-Islamist thinking of Esad Bey. In a time of social assimilation of Jews, Esad Bey chose to emphasize his Muslim identity inwardly as well as outwardly through wearing the traditional Ottoman Fez. The biography Mohammed is the product of a sîrah influenced by the traditional writing of Muslims and that of Orientalists. On one side, Esad Bey tries to make his Western readership of the 1930s more sympathetic to Islam, while on the other side it reads very much as a cry to Muslim political renewal. Focus of his narration is the state that is characterized in many different ways (theocratic, despotic, socialist, democratic, etc.). This papers aims at analyzing his understanding of the theocratic democratic Islamic state as told in his biographical writing.
Dorit Gottesfeld, "Mirrors of Alienation": West Bank Palestinian Women's Literature after Oslo (pdf 365 kB, pp. 22-40)
This article examines what characterizes the writing of three prominent young women writers from the West Bank whose work was published in the period following the first intifada and the Oslo accords: Hâlah al-Bakrî from East Jerusalem, Amânî al-Junaydî from Hebron, and 'Â'ishah 'Ûdah from Ramallah.
The article shows how those new generation authors succeed in diverging from the ideological style of writing that was characteristic of the West Bank's women writers who preceded them, while continuing to 'exploit' their geographical location and voice the unique reality of life in the West Bank. It shows how these writers gaze as women ('others') upon the reality and how they create an alternative version of reality and also of the past.
Lorenz Mathias Nigst, Highway Luzûmiyyât Revisited: Some Thoughts About Abû 'l-'Alâ' al-Ma'arrî, the Freethinker (pdf 315 kB, pp. 41-57)
Al-Ma'arrî sometimes declares that being rational is tantamount to recognising mortality. He is quite emphatic in this respect insofar, as he characterises as 'sound' or 'properly working' a thinking that takes account of death. At the same time, he often utilises religious (and in particular: eschatological) content in his poems. Considering that there is a logical connection between death and eschatology, the following article tries to provide some examples of how al-Ma'arrî creatively and freely used eschatological content to communicate his idea of rationality.
Sandra S. Campbell, Famous Last Words: The Maqâtil of the Zubayrids in Medieval Islamic Histories (pdf 585 kB, pp. 58-75)
Death scenes, or maqâtil, were used by early Muslim historians to convey the meaning of lives, and to show the righteousness or sinfulness of the historical figures they were reporting about. Careful historians, such as al-Tabarî or al-Balâdhurî, eschewed the most obviously legendary tales, but seem to have exercised leniency when recounting death scenes. Using accounts of the deaths of 'Abd Allâh b. al-Zubayr and his brother Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr, I argue that the death scenes of these men reflect anxiety later Muslims felt about fighting undertaken by the sahâba and tâbi'ûn, forebears whom later Sunnis took as exemplars even though they had participated in civil wars against other Sunni figures. Both of these men died fighting for a cause that they likely deemed righteous, which raised the question of martyrdom. Could they be considered martyrs when they had died fighting other Muslims? Their death scenes indicate that these men at least died nobly, heroically fighting for their cause. Whatever their status in the next life, in their death scenes, they are given voices, posthumous though they might be, with which to preserve their memories in an edifying and morally uplifting fashion, and to hint at their ultimate fate.
Arin Salamah-Qudsi, Heart's Life With God: al-Ma'rifa bi-llâh (Knowledge of God) in al-Qushayrî's al-Risâla al-Qushayriyya (pdf 479 kB, pp. 76-98)
Bruno Herin, Do Jordanians really speak like Palestinians? (pdf 391 kB, pp. 99-114)
A common belief is that Jordanian Arabic is mostly similar to Palestinian Arabic. It will be shown that although the dialects of the eastern and western bank of the Jordan river are rightly classified as Southern Levantine, there is compelling linguistic evidence that the sedentary varieties spoken in Jordan did not originate from Palestine, but rather from the North, more precisely from Hôrân, an ancient settlement area of the Levant located between what is now Jordan and Syria.
Almog Kasher, The Term al-fi3l al-muta3addî bi-Harf jarr (lit. "the verb which 'passes over' through a preposition") in Medieval Arabic Grammatical Tradition (pdf 594 kB, pp. 115-145)
Contrary to the categorization of verbs with regard to their ta3addin which modern scholarship has customarily ascribed to the medieval Arab grammarians, the term al-fi3l al-muta3addî bi-Harf jarr is generally not regarded by these grammarians as a subcategory of al-fi3l al-muta3addî. Furthermore, Arab grammarians do not restrict the application of the term al-fi3l al-muta3addî bi-Harf jarr to constructions in which the prepopositions in question are governed; this has far-reaching repercussions on the notion of Zarf. The grammarians' conception of al-fi3l al-muta3addî bi-Harf jarr, surveyed in this article, is explained both against the backdrop of the early transformations the term ta3addin underwent, and within the grammarians' general theoretical framework.
Alexander Magidow, Competing Pressures in Digolossia: Avoiding Colloquial Elements in Writing Modern Standard Arabic (pdf 692 kB, 146-168)
This article investigates speaker choice of variant lexemes and structures when writing in formal Modern Standard Arabic, using a multiple-choice survey that was distributed to 28 native speakers of Damascene Arabic. The study finds that speakers tend to avoid elements that are common in their local colloquial dialect, even if they are attested and permissible in Modern Standard Arabic, what might be called "negative interference." However, in some cases interference from the colloquial form is so strong that speakers appear to be confused as to which form is correct ("positive interference"), and when given the choice, prefer to avoid problematic forms altogether. These results suggest that there are a number of competing pressures in diglossia, supplementing previous studies which have primarily found evidence of positive interference from the local dialects on Modern Standard Arabic. This study concludes that this avoidance behavior may explain the historical robustness of diglossia, as well as some of the regional variation that occurs in Modern Standard Arabic.
Waed Athamneh and Caroleen Marji Sayej, Engaging the Authoritarian State: Voices of Protest in Syria (pdf 527 kB, pp. 169-190)
This paper captures the discursive interaction between the Syrian regime and the protesters during the revolt that began in March 2011. The purpose of this study is two-fold. First, we trace the use of symbolic rhetoric as a method of control long used by the Syrian regime to shape permissible discourses in society. The Assad family has long relied on the powerful symbols of Baathism, Pan Arabism, and resistance to colonialism to justify its rule with an iron fist. Second, we demonstrate that the protesters are using the same tactics to challenge the regime, as a form of reverse indoctrination, to undermine and counter its dominant narratives. They have engaged the authoritarian state through the use of poetry, music and slogans. The power of their words represents a symbolic collapse of the regime as the protesters negate and reinvent their political identity.
Kasper Mathiesen, Anglo-American 'Traditional Islam' and Its Discourse of Orthodoxy (pdf 472 kB, pp. 191-219)
Since the late 1980's a current or denomination that is often referred to as Traditional Islam has crystallised within the broader landscape of Sunni Islam in the English-speaking world. This analysis sheds light on Traditional Islam's discourses of orthodoxy and orthopraxis, its historical narratives, rhetoric regarding contemporary Islam and how it construes the metastructure of Islam and the Islamic sciences. It is mainly based on essays by Nuh Ha Mim Keller and Abdul Hakim Murad and carves out an overview of contemporary Traditional Islam and its central fields of discourse and scholarly contention. Contemporary Traditional Islam's understanding of Islam is established by reference to the famous hadîth Jibrîl that speaks of a tripartite structure of the religion consisting of islâm, îmân and ihsân. Through the specification of each of these subfields of revealed knowledge Traditional Islamic discourse instructs its adherents regarding the nature of orthodoxy and its understanding of the Islamic past, present and future. Traditional Islam's discursive bid for orthodoxy challenges other strands and conceptualisations of normative Islam, not least those predominant within groups and currents associated within salafism, revivalism and reformism.