Volume 7 (2007)
Edited by Alex Metcalfe with Joseph Norment Bell
Zoltan Szombathy, Freedom of Expression and Censorship in Medieval Arabic Literature (PDF file, 256 kB, pp. 1-24)
Abstract: This article explores the restraints placed upon literary production in medieval Arabic literature (particularly poetry) and the ways in which such control was effected. After surveying the various ways of controlling the production of texts, which ranged from mild self-censorship to the actual execution of authors by state authorities, we will try to find general patterns in the data, with a special emphasis on the different treatment of lèse-religion and lèse-majesté respectively.
Stephan Guth, Individuality Lost, Fun Gained: Some Recurrent Motifs in Late Twentieth-Century Arabic and Turkish Novels (PDF file, 284 kB, pp. 25-49)
Abstract: Starting from an alternative description, based mainly on German literature, of what has come to be called 'postmodernism', the present study re-examines Arabic and Turkish novels from the 1980s and 1990s in the light of this description. It is argued that the descriptive categories developed on the basis of European texts also make sense for texts from the Middle East and North Africa, suggesting that the way life is perceived in these regions at the end of the twentieth century does not differ fundamentally from how it is experienced in a Western country- there is a global discursive community with similar outlooks on life on both sides, rather than a 'clash of civilisations'. The alternative description also assigns many 'postmodern' features their place in a 'structure of meaning', which sheds some new light on the inner architecture of the period in question and on the function of the parts in a corresponding whole.
Ahmad Atif Ahmad, Al-Ghaz?l?'s Contribution to the Sunn? Juristic Discourses on Apostasy (PDF file, 284 kB, pp. 50-73)
Abstract: The significance of al-Ghazali in Islamic intellectual history cannot be disputed, but his influence on the Sunni juristic discourse on apostasy may be exaggerated. Ghazali's contribution to the Sunni juristic discourse on apostasy includes a trilogy: first, an attack on the philosophers known as Tahafut al-Falasifa ('Incoherence of the Philosophers') in which he accuses them of infidelity if they believe in the eternity of the world or God's ignorance of the particular events of the world or deny bodily resurrection in the world to come. Second, is an attack on his contemporary Isma'ilis in his Fada'il al-Batiniyya ('Scandals of the Esoteric Factions'), where he held their leaders to be infidels in addition to being a source of sedition. Third, comes an attempt at providing a conceptual distinction between doctrinal heresy and apostasy while equating the concept of zandaqa with apostasy in his Faysal al-Tafriqa bayn al-Islam wa-l-Zandaqa ('Distinction between Islam and Zandaqa/Unbelief'). The Sunni juristic discourse on apostasy was neither influenced by Ghazali's attempt to provide a decisive conceptual distinction between apostasy and doctrinal heresy nor by his equating of zandaqa and apostasy. Sunni jurists referred to examples of apostasy which Ghazali provided but did not seem to agree with his ambition of resolving the question of apostasy and distinguishing it from heresy once and for all, which left deciding who is an apostate in specific cases a matter of judicial discretion.
Abdessatar Mahfoudhi, The Place of the Etymon and the Phonetic Matrix in the Arabic Mental Lexicon (PDF file, 347 kB, pp. 74-102)
Abstract: Two units have traditionally been proposed as the basis of the organization of the Arabic lexicon: the root and the stem. The root approach, the most common, is based on the root and pattern theory of Arabic morphology, which contends that derivation is based on the interleaving of consonantal roots into patterns. By contrast, the stem approach is based on the stem-based theory of Arabic morphology whose main tenet is that the stem is the basis of derivation. More recently, George Bohas has challenged these two approaches. He proposes that the Arabic lexicon is organized in three layers under three units: the phonetic matrix, the etymon, and the 'radical'. These three proposals have different implications for the Arabic mental lexicon. This study discusses these theories with a focus on the validity of the notions of the etymon and matrix in the Arabic mental lexicon in light of old and new psycholinguistic evidence.
Ze'ev Maghen, 'They Shall Not Draw Nigh'. The Access of Unbelievers to Sacred Space in Islamic and Jewish Law (PDF file, 288 kB, pp. 103-31)
Abstract: This essay compares the Sunni Muslim position(s) concerning the ingress of non-Muslims to the Meccan Sanctuary with the Rabbinic outlook on the entry of non-Jews into the Temple precinct. In both cases, the issue is one of purity and pollution, and the algorithms of each religion's ritual code are therefore probed in search of the underlying bases for their respective policies on the subject. The discussion will follow the legists through their intricate evaluation of what is perceived by many today to be 'minutiae' - it was certainly not seen thus by the jurists themselves. The attitudes of Shari'a and Halakha to immersion for the sake of conversion also harbor significant implications for this question, and space is devoted to elucidating the two systems' variant rationales for requiring this ceremony. Our conclusions reveal a significant difference - indeed, a diametric antithesis - between Judaism's and Islam's conceptions of the cultic status of the other.