Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies

A muraqqa' by the Istanbul-born calligrapher Yedikuleli Seyid Abdullah (d. 1144/1731)

ISSN: 0806-198X

Editors: Lutz E. Edzard and Stephan Guth, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), University of Oslo, Norway
Home > Archive: vol.15 (2015)

Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies

Volume 15 (2015)

Edited by L. E. Edzard and S. Guth


Ivan V. Sivkov, The Concept of Ministry in the Arabic Political Tradition: Its origin, development, and linguistic reflection (.pdf 707 kB, pp. 227–244).

Abstract: The paper presents the results of an analysis of the term “ministry” (wizāra) as one of the pivotal concepts in the Arabic/Islamic political tradition. The ministry as key political/administrative institution in the Arabic/Islamic traditional state machinery is researched from a historical/institutional perspective. The concept of ministry is treated from the point of its origin and historical development, as well as its changeable role and meaning in the variable Arabic political system. The paper is primarily dedicated to the investigation of the realization of the concept of ministry and its different types and branches in the Arabic language through the etymological and semantic examination of the terms used to denote this institution during the long period of administrative development of the Arabic world from its establishment as such and during the inception of the ʿAbbāsid caliphate to its usage in administrative apparatus of modern Arab states. The paper is based on Arabic narrative sources such as historical chronicles, collections of the official documents of modern Arabic states, and the lists of its chief magistrates (with special reference to government composition and structure).


Brynjar Lia, Autobiography or Fiction? Hasan al-Bannā’s Memoirs Revisited (.pdf 707 kB, pp. 199–226).

Abstract: Scholars dealing with the rise of contemporary Islamism and the Muslim Brothers’ early history frequently turn to Hasan al-Bannā’s autobiography, Mudhakkirāt al-Da'wah wa’l-Dā'iyah (Memoirs of the Call and the Preacher) as one major source of information about the movement’s origin. Despite the centrality of this autobiography and the abundance of references to it in Islamist literature, it remains poorly understood. Drawing upon a range of under-explored primary sources, this article argues that the autobiography was never written as a traditional ex post facto memoir. Only by recognizing its fictionalized nature and by exploring the boundaries between biography and fiction, can al-Bannā’s memoirs can be properly understood.


Guela Elimelekh, Rebellion in a World of Totalitarianism. Sharif Hatatah’s Novel The Eye with an Iron Lid (.pdf 193 kB, pp. 179–197).

Abstract: Political freedom in the Arab world and rebellion against it underpin the novel al-Ayn dhat al-jafn alma'dani (The Eye with an Iron Lid, 1980) by Egyptian author Sharif Hatatah (1923– ). This novel set in 1940s Egypt, a decade of national and social ferment, harshly criticizes British colonialism and the Egyptian governments of the time. The narrative depicts the struggle of the Egyptian national movement as well as the brutal denial of political and individual freedoms that led to the July 1952 revolution. The novel is profoundly autobiographical, and Hatatah’s life story as a doctor, writer and political activist depicted in his al-Nawafidh al-maftuhah (The Open Windows, 2006) contributes valuable background. A wide-ranging analysis of the author and his novel embraces comparative literature, especially within the Arabic prison literature genre, recent critical studies, the existential philosophy of Albert Camus and the psychological elements of fear of death, loneliness and persecution. At its root the article spotlights the adage, the people’s fear of the leadership and the leadership’s fear of the people, that drives so much of contemporary Middle Eastern conflict and oppression.


Gert Borg, Poetry as a Source for the History of Early Islam: The case of (al-)ʿAbbās b. Mirdās (.pdf 972 kB, pp. 137–163).

Abstract: We expect poetry to be poetical, an expression of emotions, meditative and the like. It seems unusual to even consider the value of poetry as a historical source, but given the characteristics of early Arabic poetry this objective becomes less farfetched: Arab poets used their poetic compositions sometimes as the media of the time, to state publicly their points of view and their deliberations. By studying these we come across motivations, reflections of discussions and considerations of the options that these individuals had. For an era of turmoil like the beginning of Islam we can hardly come closer to the persons who witnessed it than reading and interpreting their own words.


Dana Awad, The Evolution of Arabic Writing Due to European Influence: The case of punctuation (.pdf 193 kB, pp. 117–136).

Abstract: The spread of foreign languages, especially French, under European colonial rule inspired certain Arabic writers and scholars in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century to look at ways to develop the Arabic language. This happened because they felt that foreign languages had started to overtake Arabic because they were easier to read (Zaki 1901: 2). In this paper, I will discuss the use of punctuation marks in Arabic texts since the mid-nineteenth century as an example of the evolution of Arabic writing due to European influence. I will explain the reasons why punctuation marks were integrated into Arabic texts, quoting Arabic writers and scholars from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. These include Zaynab Fawwāz, the first writer to address the issue of punctuation marks in Arabic writings (Fawwaz 2007: 105-107), and Ahmad Zakī who officially integrated punctuation into the Arabic language (Zaki 1912). I will also explain the opposition that came from conservative scholars who were reluctant to change any aspect of Arabic writing. This is because they believed in the sanctity of Arabic as it is the language of the Qurʾān and it represents Arabic identity. Therefore, one should avoid any “borrowing” from colonial languages in order to preserve Arabic identity (Meynet 1971: 94).


Mustafa BinMayaba, From Expulsion to Readmission: Ibn Abi Hafsa's Rhetorical Technique at the Abbasid Court (.pdf 990 kB, pp. 93–116).

Abstract: At the ʿAbbāsid court, the caliph was in need of a poet who could project an image of himself as the legitimate Muslim ruler. Poets, on the other hand, were in need of a caliph who could bestow gifts upon them in return for their panegyrics. However, this caliph-poet relationship was extremely sensitive to shifts and shocks in politics and poetics that could render the poet a persona non grata at court. Relying primarily on Suzanne Stetkevych's formulation of the complex relationship between poet and patron in classical Arabic history, this paper will analyze the rhetorical techniques that poets who had been rejected by the caliphate court later employed in their efforts to (re)gain their position. Taraqatka zā'ratan (“She Came to You in a Dream, Out of the Blue, as a Visitor”) by Marwān b. ʾAbī Hafsa (d. 798 C.E.), will serve as a model of successful rhetorical technique. This analysis will reveal how Ibn ʾAbī Hafsa’s panegyric ode, in its structure, language and imagery, was able to obtain for the poet not only reentry into the caliphate court but also a lavish reward from the caliph.


Teresa Pepe, When writers activate readers. How the autofictional blog transforms Arabic literature (.pdf 966 kB, pp. 73–91).

Abstract: The adoption of Internet technology in Egypt has led to the emergence a new literary genre, the 'autofictional blog'. This paper explores how this genre relates to the Arabic understanding of literature, using as examples a number of Egyptian autofictional blogs written between 2005 and 2011. The article shows that the autofictional blog transforms adab into an interactive game to be played among authors and readers, away from the gatekeepers of the literary institutions, such as literary critics and publishers. In this game the author adopts a hybrid genre and mixed styles of Arabic and challenges the readers to take an active role in discovering the identity hidden behind the screen and making their way into the text. The readers, in return, feel entitled to change and contribute to the text in a variety of ways.


Muhammad al-Sharkawi, Towards Understanding the Status of the Dual in Pre-Islamic Arabic (.pdf 727 kB, pp. 59–72).

Abstract: The article suggests that the dual suffix in pre-Islamic Arabic did not differentiate for case. Tamīm, one of the most trustworthy pre-Islamic dialects, treated the dual suffix invariably although it had a full case system. There are also tokens of the same invariable treatment in the Qur'ān. The article proposes that the suffix long vowel variation due to the phenomenon of 'imāla makes the formal origin of the invariable dual suffix difficult to ascribe to the East and Northwest Semitic oblique dual allomorph.


Fayssal Tayalati, Du verbe au nom et du nom au verbe. Syntaxe et sémantique des masdars en arabe standard (.pdf 665 kB, pp. 19–57).

Abstract: The article describes the properties of deverbal nouns (masdars) in Standard Arabic. Prior accounts identify the following type (qasfu l-ʿaduwwi li-l-madīnati), among others, but neglect the masdar that introduces its internal argument as a direct complement in the genitive case and its external argument as a prepositional adjunct (tahrīru l-madīnati ʿalā yadi l-jayši). We argue that these two types reflect two different conceptualizations of ‘events’: bound-events, which describe a change that has taken place in the nature of a substance represented by the internal argument; and unbound-events, which describe a change in the relationship between the internal and external arguments. Within the lexical decomposition model, we propose a semantic basis for explaining constraints on direct transitive verbs according to (i) the type of masdars they form; (ii) the possibility of deriving a resultative passive participle (ism al-maf'ūl); and (iii) the alternation, for some verbs, between a causative and non-causative use without any morphological variation.


Manuel Sartori, Sawfa lā/lan yaf'al et /lan sawfa yaf'al - Étude de cas sur corpus pour une grammaire didactique et renouvelée de l’arabe moderne (.pdf 670 kB, pp. 1–17).

Abstract: From surveys made on the Internet, in newspapers and in novels written in Modern Standard Arabic, this article shows the existence of other forms of negation in the future than that of lan + subjunctive. It demonstrates that the so called MSA grammar books are, once again, descriptively inadequate when facing the reality of the texts. While arguing for a renewal of the teaching of the MSA grammar, this article shows that these forms are actually much older than it appears and proposes assumptions to analyze the conditions for their emergence. More specifically, the article proposes after Larcher and on the basis of non synonymy to see in the joint existence of several forms of negations in the future a probable reorganization of the negation system where, on logical and pragmatic bases, the difference would be made between a descriptive negation on one hand and a modal negation (= denial) on the other.

Archive by volume:

Vol.17 (2017) eds. L.E.Edzard, S.Guth, M. Cassarino & A. Ghersetti

Vol.16 (2016) eds. L.E. Edzard & S. Guth

Vol.15 (2015) eds. L.E. Edzard & S. Guth

Vol.14 (2014) eds. L.E. Edzard & S. Guth

Vol.13 (2013) eds. Lutz Edzard & Stephan Guth

Vol.12 (2012) eds. Antonella Ghersetti & Alex Metcalfe

Vol.11 (2011) ed. Alex Metcalfe

Vol.10 (2010) ed. Alex Metcalfe

Vol.9 (2009) ed. Alex Metcalfe

Vol.8 (2008) ed. Alex Metcalfe with Joseph Norment Bell & Lutz Edzard

Vol.7 (2007) ed. Alex Metcalfe with Joseph Norment Bell

Vol.6 (2005-6) eds. Joseph Norment Bell, Walter Herman Bell & Lutz E. Edzard

Vol.5 (2003-4) ed. Joseph Norment Bell

Vol.4 (2001-2) ed. Joseph Norment Bell with Agostino Cilardo & Stefan Leder

Vol.3 (2000) ed. Joseph Norment Bell

Vol.2 (1998-9) ed. Joseph Norment Bell

Vol.1 (1996-7) ed. Joseph Norment Bell with Petr Zemánek

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