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The Epistle of Forgiveness Cover

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The Epistle of Forgiveness

Volume Two: Hypocrites, Heretics, and Other Sinners

Abu l-Ala al-Maarri

One of the most unusual books in classical Arabic literature, The Epistle of Forgiveness is the lengthy reply by the prolific Syrian poet and prose writer, Abu l-'Ala' al-Ma'arri (d. 449 H/1057 AD), to a letter by an obscure grammarian, Ibn al-Qarih. With biting irony, The Epistle of Forgiveness mocks Ibn al-Qarih’s hypocrisy and sycophancy by imagining he has died and arrived with some difficulty in Heaven, where he meets famous poets and philologists from the past. He also glimpses Hell, and converses with the Devil and various heretics. Al-Ma'arri—a maverick, a vegan, and often branded a heretic himself—seems to mock popular ideas about the Hereafter.
 
This second volume is a point-by-point reply to Ibn al-Qarih’s letter using al-Ma'arri’s characteristic mixture of erudition, irony, and admonition, enlivened with anecdotes and poems. Among other things, he writes about hypocrites; heretical poets, princes, rebels, and mystics; apostates; piety; superstition; the plight of men of letters; collaborative authorship; wine-drinking; old age; repentance; pre-Islamic pilgrimage customs; and money. This remarkable book is the first complete translation in any language, all the more impressive because of al-Ma'arri’s highly ornate and difficult style, his use of rhymed prose, and numerous obscure words and expressions.
 
Geert Jan van Gelder was Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford from 1998 to 2012. He is the author of several books on classical Arabic literature, including Beyond the Line: Classical Arabic Literary Critics on the Coherence and Unity of the Poem and Of Dishes and Discourse: Classical Arabic Literary Representations of Food.
 
Gregor Schoeler was the chair of Islamic Studies at the University of Basel from 1982 to 2009. His books in the fields of Islamic Studies and classical Arabic literature include The Oral and the Written in Early Islam, and Paradies und Hölle, a partial German translation of The Epistle of Forgiveness.

The Epistle of Forgiveness Cover

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The Epistle of Forgiveness

Volume One: A Vision of Heaven and Hell

Abu l-Ala al-Maarri

One of the most unusual books in classical Arabic literature, The Epistle of Forgiveness is the lengthy reply by the prolific Syrian poet and prose writer Abu l-'Ala' al-Ma'arri (d. 449 H/1057 AD), to a letter written by an obscure grammarian, Ibn al-Qarih. With biting irony, The Epistle of Forgiveness mocks Ibn al-Qarih's hypocrisy and sycophancy by imagining he has died and arrived with some difficulty in Heaven, where he meets famous poets and philologists from the past. He also glimpses Hell, and converses with the Devil and various heretics. Al-Ma'arri—a maverick, a vegan, and often branded a heretic himself—seems to mock popular ideas about the Hereafter. This book, the first of two volumes, includes Ibn al-Qarih’s initial letter to al-Ma'arri, as well as the first half of The Epistle of Forgiveness.
 
This translation is the first complete translation in any language and retains the many digressions, difficult passages, and convoluted grammatical discussions of the original typically omitted in other translations. It is accompanied by a comprehensive introduction and detailed annotation. Replete with erudite commentary, amusing anecdotes, and sardonic wit, The Epistle of Forgiveness is an imaginative tour-de-force by one of the most pre-eminent figures in classical Arabic literature.

The Epistle on Legal Theory Cover

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The Epistle on Legal Theory

al-Shafii

The Epistle on Legal Theory is the oldest surviving Arabic work on Islamic legal theory and the foundational document of Islamic jurisprudence. Its author, Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i (d. 204 H/820 AD), was the eponym of the Shafi'i school of legal thought, one of the four rites in Sunni Islam. This fascinating work offers the first systematic treatment in Arabic of key issues in Islamic legal thought. These include a survey of the importance of Arabic as the language of revelation, principles of textual interpretation to be applied to the Qur’an and prophetic Traditions, techniques for harmonizing apparently contradictory precedents, legal epistemology, rules of inference, and discussions of when legal interpretation is required. The author illustrates his theoretical claims with numerous examples drawn from nearly all areas of Islamic law, including ritual law, commercial law, tort law, and criminal law. The text thus provides an important window into both Islamic law and legal thought in particular and early Islamic intellectual history in general .
 
The Arabic text has been established on the basis of the two most important critical editions and includes variants in the notes, while the English text is a new translation by a leading scholar of Shafi'i and his thought. The Epistle on Legal Theory represents one of the earliest complete works on Islamic law, one that is centrally important for the formation of Islamic legal thought and the Islamic legal tradition.

Ethnographic Encounters in Israel Cover

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Ethnographic Encounters in Israel

Poetics and Ethics of Fieldwork

Edited by Fran Markowitz

Israel is a place of paradoxes, a small country with a diverse population and complicated social terrain. Studying its culture and social life means confronting a multitude of ethical dilemmas and methodological challenges. The first-person accounts by anthropologists engage contradictions of religion, politics, identity, kinship, racialization, and globalization to reveal fascinating and often vexing dimensions of the Israeli experience. Caught up in pressing existential questions of war and peace, social justice, and national boundaries, the contributors explore the contours of Israeli society as insiders and outsiders, natives and strangers, as well as critics and friends.

Everyday Life and Consumer Culture in Eighteenth-Century Damascus Cover

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Everyday Life and Consumer Culture in Eighteenth-Century Damascus

By James Grehan

Draws on court records and the city's dazzling literary tradition to explore the material culture of premodern Damascus and provides an unusual and intimate account of the choices, constraints, and compromises that defined consumer behavior.

Exile from Exile Cover

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Exile from Exile

Israeli Writers from Iraq

The standard histories of Israeli literature limit the canon, virtually ignoring those who came to Israel from Jewish communities in the Middle East. By focusing on the work of Iraqi-born authors, this book offers a fundamental rethinking of the canon and of Israeli literary history. The story of these writers challenges common conceptions of exile and Zionist redemption. At the heart of this book lies the paradox that the dream of ingathering the exiles has made exiles of the ingathered. Upon arriving in Israel, these writers had to decide whether to continue writing in their native language, Arabic, or begin in a new language, Hebrew. The author reveals how Israeli works written in Arabic depict different memories of Iraq from those written in Hebrew. In addition, her analysis of the early novels of Hebrew writers set against the experience of “transit camps” (ma’abarot) argues for a re-evaluation of the significance of this neglected literary subgenre.

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Exiled in the Homeland

Zionism and the Return to Mandate Palestine

By Donna Robinson Divine

Offering a new perspective on Zionism, Exiled in the Homeland draws on memoirs, newspaper accounts, and archival material to examine closely the lives of the men and women who immigrated to Palestine in the early twentieth century. Rather than reducing these historic settlements to a single, unified theme, Donna Robinson Divine’s research reveals an extraordinary spectrum of motivations and experiences among these populations. Though British rule and the yearning for a Jewish national home contributed to a foundation of solidarity, Exiled in the Homeland presents the many ways in which the message of emigration settled into the consciousness of the settlers. Considering the benefits and costs of their Zionist commitments, Divine explores a variety of motivations and outcomes, ranging from those newly arrived immigrants who harnessed their ambition for the goal of radical transformation to those who simply dreamed of living a better life. Also capturing the day-to-day experiences in families that faced scarce resources, as well as the British policies that shaped a variety of personal decisions on the part of the newcomers, Exiled in the Homeland provides new keys to understanding this pivotal chapter in Jewish history.

Fading Corporatism Cover

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Fading Corporatism

Israel's Labor Law and Industrial Relations in Transition

Since the 1980s, industrial relations and labor law in Israel have rapidly changed from a European style of corporatism to a model of pluralism familiar to North America. The country's legal and industrial relations systems have become more decentralized, yet more intensively regulated; they are no longer centrally managed, but they do not fit the neoliberal model of a free market. In recent years, a dynamic system for voicing interests has evolved, granting more leeway to individuals, identity-based representation, and a flourishing civil society, but restraining effective collective representation.

In Fading Corporatism, Guy Mundlak explains the changing nature of labor law and industrial relations in Israel and the seemingly paradoxical outcomes of transformation as played out in numerous spheres, including the law governing the recognition of trade unions and strikes; the emergence of a human rights regime; and the regulation of temporary work agencies, Palestinian workers from the occupied territories, and migrant workers. Placing the example of Israel in a conceptual framework that draws on the literature of corporatism, Mundlak offers a theoretical coupling of legal studies and industrial relations that will interest scholars and practitioners in both fields.

Surveying legal developments from 1920 to the present, Fading Corporatism will also appeal to readers interested in the political, economic, and legal history of Israel. At the same time, Mundlak emphasizes the comparative implications of the Israeli case study. His account is particularly instructive for countries in which traditionally corporatist industrial and legal systems are experiencing similar pressures, such as the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany.

Fictions of Dignity Cover

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Fictions of Dignity

Embodying Human Rights in World Literature

by Elizabeth S. Anker

Over the past fifty years, debates about human rights have assumed an increasingly prominent place in postcolonial literature and theory. Writers from Salman Rushdie to Nawal El Saadawi have used the novel to explore both the possibilities and challenges of enacting and protecting human rights, particularly in the Global South. In Fictions of Dignity, Elizabeth S. Anker shows how the dual enabling fictions of human dignity and bodily integrity contribute to an anxiety about the body that helps to explain many of the contemporary and historical failures of human rights, revealing why and how lives are excluded from human rights protections along the lines of race, gender, class, disability, and species membership. In the process, Anker examines the vital work performed by a particular kind of narrative imagination in fostering respect for human rights. Drawing on phenomenology, Anker suggests how an embodied politics of reading might restore a vital fleshiness to the overly abstract, decorporealized subject of liberal rights.

Each of the novels Anker examines approaches human rights in terms of limits and paradoxes. Rushdie's Midnight's Children addresses the obstacles to incorporating rights into a formerly colonized nation's legal culture. El Saadawi's Woman at Point Zero takes up controversies over women's freedoms in Islamic society. In Disgrace, J. M. Coetzee considers the disappointments of post-apartheid reconciliation in South Africa. And in The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy confronts an array of human rights abuses widespread in contemporary India. Each of these literary case studies further demonstrates the relevance of embodiment to both comprehending and redressing the failures of human rights, even while those narratives refuse simplistic ideals or solutions.

Fighting for Rights Cover

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Fighting for Rights

Military Service and the Politcs of Citizenship

Leaders around the globe have long turned to the armed forces as a "school for the nation." Debates over who serves continue to arouse passion today because the military's participation policies are seen as shaping politics beyond the military, specifically the politics of identity and citizenship. Yet how and when do these policies transform patterns of citizenship? Military service, Ronald R. Krebs argues, can play a critical role in bolstering minorities' efforts to grasp full and unfettered rights. Minority groups have at times effectively contrasted their people's battlefield sacrifices to the reality of inequity, compelling state leaders to concede to their claims. At the same time, military service can shape when, for what, and how minorities have engaged in political activism in the quest for meaningful citizenship.

Employing a range of rich primary materials, Krebs shows how the military's participation policies shaped Arab citizens' struggles for first-class citizenship in Israel from independence to the mid-1980s and African Americans' quest for civil rights, from World War I to the Korean War. Fighting for Rights helps us make sense of contemporary debates over gays in the military and over the virtues and dangers of liberal and communitarian visions for society. It suggests that rhetoric is more than just a weapon of the weak, that it is essential to political exchange, and that politics rests on a dual foundation of rationality and culture.

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