Though there have been many studies on the Qur’an’s importance in tafsīr (Qur’anic commentary), there are comparatively few which look at the reception of the Qur’an in other forms of literature. This volume seeks to rectify the gap in the scholarship by placing the Qur’an in its broader cultural and literary contexts. It explores the relation of Arabic (and Persian) classical literary traditions (adab) to the Qur’an from pre-Islamic times until the fifteenth century CE, focusing on the various ways in which the classical literati (udabāʾ) engaged with the Qur’anic text, linguistically, conceptually, structurally and aesthetically, to create works that combined the sacred with the profane, thereby blurring the boundaries between formal tafsīr and adab.
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 in early Fatimid history has been a subject of earlier scholarship, but the more recent availability of a number of Fatimid texts providing intimate, eye-witness accounts of the role of the Saqaliba among the Fatimids invites a fresh exploration of the subject. Drawing upon these texts as well as a range of non-Fatimid sources, this study examines the social and political developments in the nascent North African Fatimid state that led to the rise of the Saqaliba to prominent positions in the Fatimid administration and in their military and naval forces. The circumstances that enabled the Saqaliba to secure senior, trusted positions in the caliphal household and the reconfiguration of the Slavs’ social status through their religious allegiance to the Ismaili imam-caliph will also be examined.