Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction

Robert Hillenbrand

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pp. xi-xvii

The long-overdue publication of The Arabic Book in an English translation is matter for celebration. The work was written before its time and has yet to be superseded. It deals with a subject that of its very nature touches upon every branch of Islamic studies, though it cannot be said to belong principally to any single one of them. ...

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1. Writing and Books in Arabia before Islam

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pp. 3-11

The Arabic book owes its origin to Islam, and this has given it a character that it has retained. This does not mean, however, that written records were unknown in the Arabian peninsula before the coming of the Prophet around the year 600 (his emigration from Mecca to Medina, the starting point of the Muslim calendar, took place in A.D. 622). ...

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2. The Qur'ān and Arabic Literature

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pp. 12-19

Arabs use the same term, kitāb, to denote both a book and any other piece of writing, short or long, whether a letter, inscription, document, or anything else. If they speak of "the book," al-kitāb, that is, the book in its truest sense, they mean the Qur'ān. In no other religion does the book play such a role as it does in Islam. ...

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3. Composition and Transmission of Books

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pp. 20-36

The starting point and center of the prodigious literary activity that developed in Islamic lands was the mosque. People did not merely foregather for religious services: the government's public announcements were made in the mosque; judicial proceedings were held there; and, most notably, every aspect of the intellectual life of Islam was cultivated in the mosque. ...

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4. Scribes and Booksellers

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pp. 37-53

In scarcely any other culture has the literary life played such a role as in Islam. Learning ('ilm), by which is meant the whole world of the intellect, engaged the interest of Muslims more than anything else during the golden age of Islam and for a good while thereafter. ...

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5. Writing Materials

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pp. 54-71

Ibn al-Nadīm gives in his work a survey of the materials used by various peoples for writing on. Apart from stone and metal, which were used for inscriptions "for eternity," he mentions wood, bark, the leaves of trees (especially palm), silk, skin, parchment, papyrus, and finally paper.1 ...

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6. Arabic Script; Calligraphers

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pp. 72-88

We already know something of the prehistory of the Arabic script, since we have seen that it evolved quite naturally from an Aramaic type, whereas it is not clear what the background was before Islam of the creation of a universal Arabic script of the southern Arabian type. In the Islamic literary world much attention was paid to the script and its history.1 ...

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7. Book Painting

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pp. 89-100

There is a wide and characteristic difference between the relationship of Muslims to calligraphy and their relationship to pictorial art. Calligraphy was created by Islam itself, inspired by its veneration for the Divine Book: it was an applied art that developed in harmony with literature, attaining its pinnacle, like the latter, in the ninth to thirteenth centuries; ...

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8. Bookbinding

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pp. 101-112

Writings on papyrus sheets took the form of long strips, which were rolled up for storage. Parchment writings in roll form exist too, but there is no evidence in the Muslim tradition of book rolls having been used in ancient times.1 Nevertheless, in the Heidelberg papyrus collection there is in fact an Arabic book roll, 183 cm in length, of the mid-ninth century.2 ...

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9. Libraries

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pp. 113-130

The unexamined flowering of the art of book production in Islam was due in no small degree to the ardent interest taken in books by men of wealth. Literature enjoyed such universal esteem that it was natural for those who could afford it to take some share in it and work for its advancement. ...

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10. Printed Books

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pp. 131-142

When the art of book printing began to come into use in Europe in the middle of the fifteenth century, Muslim culture had passed its zenith, and no movement was to be perceived in the literary world capable of stimulating interest in novel methods of book production. ...

Bibliography

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pp. 143-160

Index

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pp. 161-175

Illustrations

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