Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Letter from the General Editor, About This Paperback, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-xiii

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Foreword

Matthew Reynolds

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pp. xv-xx

The main character in this book is dead but seems intensely alive. He is a literary man and people call him “the Sheikh.” He is also anxious, impetuous, curious, ineffectual, and amazingly, amusingly pedantic. When he is resurrected he can’t bear the thought of waiting the standard...

Abbreviations used in the Introduction and Translation

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p. xxi

Acknowledgments

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p. xxii

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Introduction

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pp. xxiii-xlii

The lengthy, mocking reply by a cantankerous maverick, obsessed with lexicography and grammar, to a rambling, groveling, and self-righteous letter by an obscure grammarian and mediocre stylist: this does not sound, prima facie, like a masterwork to be included in a series of Arabic...

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A Note on the Text

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pp. xliii-xlix

The present translators originally harbored some doubts about translating the text in full. However, it is the admirable purpose of the Library of Arabic Literature to present complete texts. We consented and took on the task as a daunting but stimulating challenge. The present translation...

Notes to the Introduction

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pp. l-liv

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The Epistle of Ibn al-Qāriḥ

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pp. 1-38

We commence in His name, seeking success through His benediction. Praise be to God, the originator of blessings, Who is alone in being pre-eternal; Who is exalted above any likeness to His creatures and above the attributes of those who have been brought into being; Who bestows...

The Epistle of Forgiveness

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Preamble

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pp. 41-45

The Mighty One (al-Jabr), from whom comes the name of Gabriel—He is the Way to all good things—knows that there is a tree (ḥamāṭah)156 within me, one that never was an afāniyah tree, and on which there lived no stinging snake,157 one that produces fruit for the love...

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Paradise (I)

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pp. 46-102

On account of this praise, if God wills, for the venerable Sheikh trees will have been planted and their delicious fruit to him granted. Each tree provides shade from the East to the West extending, not at all like the “Tree of Suspending.”—As you know, this was a tree that was venerated...

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The Sheikh’s Story of his Resurrection, the Day of Judgement, and his Entry into Paradise

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pp. 103-112

Then the Sheikh says (may God make him speak meritoriously when he says something, if his Lord will him to say something!): I’ll tell you my own story. After I got up and rose from my grave and had arrived at the Plane of Resurrection (“plane” being like “plain,” with a different...

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Paradise (II)

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pp. 113-128

“So which one of you” (continues the Sheikh, addressing the five one-eyed poets) “is the Camel-herd?” “This is he,” they answer. The Sheikh greets him and says, “I hope I shall not find you like your friends, without any recollection or having lost your knowledge of the Arabic...

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Between Paradise and Hell

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pp. 129-141

Then it occurs to him that he would like to see the people in Hell and how things are with them, that his gratitude for his blessings be magnified. For God says,487 «One of them said: I had a companion who would say, “Are you really one of those who believe that if we die and have turned...

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Hell

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pp. 142-172

The Sheikh looks down and sees Satan540 (God curse him!), writhing in fetters and chains, while Hell’s angels have a go at him with iron cudgels. The Sheikh says, “Thanks be to God, who has got the better of you, enemy of God and of His friends! How many generations of Adam’s children...

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Return to Paradise

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pp. 173-184

Having found few pearls of wisdom with them, the Sheikh leaves them in their neverending misery. He sets out for his dwelling in Paradise. On the way he meets Adam (peace be upon him). “Our father,” he says, “May God bless you! There is some poetry that has been transmitted...

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On Hypocrisy

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pp. 185-192

I have understood the Sheikh’s words, “may God make me his ransom”;730 he does not intend to be a hypocrite in saying this. Mankind is far from being in agreement; yet this731 is a natural trait by which the Sheikh is distinguished from others. People coexist by means...

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The Sheikh’s Return to Aleppo

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pp. 193-203

The Sheikh mentioned that he arrived in Aleppo—may God protect it! If it possessed reason it would have rejoiced at his arrival just as a bereaved crone who has lost her wits rejoices, a woman who has neglected the good management and care of her camels. Her only son has gone...

Heretics, Apostates, and Impious Poets

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pp. 204-249

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Old Age, Grave Sins, Pilgrimages, and Sincere Repentance

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pp. 250-282

As for the Sheikh’s reference to his old age,1134 God (praised be He!) has created gall as well as honey, a desire for the Fleeting World as well as abstemiousness from it. When an intelligent person looks at it closely he sees that life only draws him to harm and drives his body onward...

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The Stolen Dinars and the Number Eighty

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pp. 283-297

I was pleased that the Sheikh’s dinars were returned to him.1385 They are helpers; their various kinds resemble one another. People have duties toward them; they can be devoted if (other people’s) disobedience is feared...

Notes

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pp. 298-424

Glossary of Names and Terms

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pp. 425-462

Bibliography

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pp. 463-483

Further Reading

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pp. 484-489

Index

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pp. 490-526

About the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute

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p. 527

About the Translators

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p. 528

The Library of Arabic Literature

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pp. 529-530