Articles

From Slaves to Supporters: The role of the 'Slavs' in the Fatimid Mediterranean Empire in the Fourth/Tenth Century CE The growing prominence of the Saqaliba, slaves of Slavic origin, across major areas of Fatimid administration and household affairs was among the distinctive features of the initial sixty-year phase of the Fatimid rule in North Africa. The military and administrative involvement of the Slavs...
حديث موسى مع الله (مناجاة موسى) في رسائل إخوان الصفاء هذه نسخة محررة من مقالة نشرت بالأصل في ’الكتاب: قدسية النص في العالم الإسلامي. وقائع الندوة الدولية التي عقدت في لوفين ولوفان-لا-نوف بين 29 أيار و1 حزيران 2002‘، حررها دانييل دو سميت، غودفرويدا كالاتايا، و جان فان ريث، ونشرت من قبل أكتا أوريانتاليا بيلجيكا (Acta Orientalia Belgica)، الإصدار...
Governance and Pluralism under the Fatimids (909-996 CE) The medieval Mediterranean littoral was a region inhabited by people of diverse ethnic backgrounds and religious persuasions. This was evident in 10th century Egypt, the mainstay of Fatimid domains, a land in which lived Arabs, Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Berbers and Sudanese - among whom were...
The Conversation between Moses and God (Munajat Musa) in the Epistles of the Pure Brethren (Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’) This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared in Al-Kitab: La Sacralité du Texte Dans Le Monde de l‘Islam. Actes du Symposium International Tenu à Leuven et Louvain-la-Neuve du 29 Mai au 1 Juin 2002, ed. Daniel De Smet, Godefroyde Callataÿ, and JanVan Reeth, published by...
What is Shi'a Islam? The historical formation of the worldwide Muslim community or Umma, as it is known in Arabic, has resulted in a great deal of diversity that reflects a rich intellectual, spiritual, and institutional pluralism. In seeking to express a response to the primal message of Islam, Muslims have...
The Function of Asbab al-Nuzul in Qur’anic Exegesis This paper presents the extensive and in-depth research of Professor Andrew Rippin on the function of asbab in Qur’anic exegesis. His intention is to answer some very specific questions such as whether sabab (plural asbab) provide history or strict exegesis. In order to hone in on the subject...
Divine Law / Divine Command: The Ground of Ethics in the Western Tradition-Muslim Perspectives The article posits that the ethical roots of the pre-modern Western tradition are not just based in biblical norms. The author delves into the origins and roots of Muslim ethics from revelation to the shaping of Muslim law, suggesting a strong connection between western and Muslim values based...
The Function of Asbab al-Nuzul in Qur’anic Exegesis This paper presents the extensive and in-depth research of Professor Andrew Rippin on the function of asbab in Qur’anic exegesis. His intention is to answer some very specific questions such as whether sabab (plural asbab) provide history or strict exegesis. In order to hone in on the subject...
Avicenna on Matter, The Disobedience of Matter and Evil: Reconciling Metaphysical Stances and Qur’anic Perspective Avicenna generally believed in the traditional Aristotelian analysis of existents divided into the constituent elements of matter (madda) and form (sura) which are joined together to form the substance, which Aristotle called ousia. Avicenna even adopts the Aristotelian definition of substance...
Historical representations of a Fatimid Imam-caliph: Exploring al-Maqrizi’s and Idris’ writings on al-Mu‘izz Li Din Allah It is a happenstance of history that the two most comprehensive extant sources on the Fatimid era (909-1171 CE) were composed by two 15th Century scholars: Taqi al-Din Ahmad b. Ali al-Maqrizi (d.1449 CE) and ‘Imad al-Din ldris (d.1468 CE). Although they composed their works almost three...
The Sacred Music of Islam: Sama‘ in the Persian Sufi tradition The creation of a specific liturgy, composed of prayer, litanies, singing, music and sometimes dance, known as Sama‘, integrating music into the practice of meditation, is an important aspect of the contemplative life in Muslim Sufism. The essay explores the basic theological and mystical...
The Ismaili Vocabulary of Creation It has been noted by several authors that classical Greek philosophers operated under the fundamental assumption that the universe consisted of only two realms - the intelligible and the sensible.[i] Many of their philosophical speculations moreover were ultimately based on an attempt to...
The Sources of Ismaili Law This paper was delivered at the Congress of the American Oriental Society in Santa Barbara in March 1974. In it, Wilferd Madelung presents his exhaustive research into the origins and sources of a monumental document that was considered lost to history; the Kitab al-idah, Qadi al-Nu‘man's...
Loving Compassion in Islam and Buddhism: Rahma and Karuna In this article the author intends to show ways in which the Islamic conception of Rahma can be seen to serve a function similar to compassion in Mahayana Buddhism, which comes to play a determinative role, elevated as the very principle, cosmological and not simply ethical, which motivates...
Governing Diverse Communities: A Medieval Muslim Illustration  Abstract The unfoldingof the recent, people-led demonstrations across the Middle East brings to the fore the perennial question of what constitutes good governance and how the quest for good order is to be fulfilled. One way to respond to this question is to examine models of authority and...
A Destructive Vacuum: The Marginalisation of Local Knowledge and the Reassertion of Local Identities In this chapter, the author examines the implications of two contemporary trends: increasing homogenisation of higher education across many parts of the world and the reassertion of affiliations to local identities. It is argued that in some cases such homogenisation has resulted in the...
Al-Suyuti on the Merits of Imam ‘Ali There are a great many short hadith (traditions attributed to Prophet Muhammad) collections comprising forty ahadith (pl. of hadith). The most famous is the Forty Ahadith of Muhyi al-Din Abu Zakariyya Yahya b. Sharaf al-Nawawi (d. 631/1233). The al-Nawawi collection, actually containing forty-...
Beyond Polemics and Pluralism: The Universal Message of the Qur’an This passage from the Qur’an demonstrates clearly the spiritual sterility of polemics and the logical absurdity of religious chauvinism. The Qur’an does not allow us to play the game of polemics, it is not possible to claim that only those called ‘Muslims’ go to Heaven; rather, we are called...
Aspects of Ismaili Theology: The Prophetic Chain and the God Beyond Being The Ismailis appeared first on the stage of the history of Islam in the second half of the third century AH /ninth century CE and spread with astonishing rapidity. Centred originally in Khuzistan in south-western Iran, its missionaries carried its message throughout the Islamic world from...
Fatimid Art, Precursor or Culmination There were several occasions over the past decade for scholars with different specialities to interpret rather than describe the historical and cultural phenomenon of the Fatimids. At the time of the great colloquium celebrating Cairo’s first millennium, the late Gustav von Grunebaum,...

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