As the Egyptian revolution unfolded throughout 2011 and the ensuing years, no one was better positioned to comment on it—and try to push it in productive directions—than best-selling novelist and political commentator Alaa Al-Aswany. For years a leading critic of the Mubarak regime, Al-Aswany used his weekly newspaper column for Al-Masry Al-Youm to propound the revolution’s ideals and to confront the increasingly troubled politics of its aftermath.
This book presents, for the first time in English, all of Al-Aswany’s columns from the period, a comprehensive account of the turmoil of the post-revolutionary years, and a portrait of a country and a people in flux. Each column is presented along with a context-setting introduction, as well as notes and a glossary, all designed to give non-Egyptian readers the background they need to understand the events and figures that Al-Aswany chronicles. The result is a definitive portrait of Egypt today—how it got here, and where it might be headed.
The reign of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1941–79), marked the high point of Iran’s global interconnectedness. Never before had Iranians felt the impact of global political, social, economic, and cultural forces so intimately in their national and daily lives, nor had Iranian actors played such an important global role – on battlefields, barricades, and in board rooms far beyond Iran’s borders. Iranian intellectuals, technocrats, politicians, workers, artists, and students alike were influenced by the global ideas, movements, markets, and conflicts that they also helped to shape.
From the launch of the Shah’s White Revolution in 1963 to his overthrow in the popular revolution of 1978–79, Iran saw the longest period of sustained economic growth that the country had ever experienced. An entire generation took its cue from the shift from oil consumption to oil production to dream of, and aspire to, a modernized Iran, and the history of Iran in this period has tended to be presented as a prologue to the revolution. Those histories usually locate the political, social, and cultural origins of the revolution firmly within a national context, into which global actors intruded as Iranian actors retreated. While engaging with that national narrative, this volume is concerned with Iran’s place in the global history of the 1960s and ’70s. It examines and highlights the transnational threads that connected Pahlavi Iran to the world, from global traffic in modern art and narcotics to the embrace of American social science by Iranian technocrats and the encounter of European intellectuals with the Iranian Revolution. In doing so, this book seeks to fully incorporate Pahlavi Iran into the global history of the 1960s and ’70s, when Iran mattered far beyond its borders.
In Rethinking Islam, Katajun Amirpur argues that the West’s impression of Islam as a backward-looking faith, resistant to post-Enlightenment thinking, is misleading and—due to its effects on political discourse—damaging. Introducing readers to key thinkers and activists—such as Abu Zaid, a free-thinking Egyptian Qur’an scholar; Abdolkarim Soroush, an academic and former member of Khomeini’s Cultural Revolution Committee; and Amina Wadud, an American feminist who was the first woman to lead the faithful in Friday Prayer—Amirpur reveals a powerful yet lesser-known tradition of inquiry and dissent within Islam, one that is committed to democracy and human rights. By examining these and many other similar figures’ ideas, she reveals the many ways they reject fundamentalist assertions and instead call for a diversity of opinion, greater freedom, and equality of the sexes.
The Constitutional Revolution of 1906 opened the way for enormous change in Persia, heralding the modern era and creating a model for later political and cultural movements in the region. Broad in its scope, this multidisciplinary volume brings together essays from leading scholars in Iranian Studies to explore the significance of this revolution, its origins, and the people who made it happen.
As the authors show, this period was one of unprecedented debate within Iran’s burgeoning press. Many different groups fought to shape the course of the Revolution, which opened up seemingly boundless possibilities for the country’s future and affected nearly every segment of its society. Exploring themes such as the role of women, the use of photography, and the uniqueness of the Revolution as an Iranian experience, the authors tell a story of immense transition, as the old order of the Shah subsided and was replaced by new institutions, new forms of expression, and a new social and political order.
Set against the backdrop of Iran’s struggle against the rising powers of Russia and Britain, the memoirs of Mirza Riza Khan Arfa’-ed-Dowleh—otherwise known as Prince Arfa (1853–1902)—are packed with picaresque adventures as the prince tells the story of his rise from humble provincial beginnings to the heights of the Iranian state. With this translation, his incredible story is brought to life for the first time in English.
Prince Arfa writes with arresting wit about the deadly intrigues of the Qajar court. Lamentingly, but resolutely, he chronicles the decline of Iran from a once great empire to an almost bankrupt, lawless state, in which social unrest is channelled and exploited by the clergy. He describes the complex interactions between Iran and Europe, including an account of Naser-od-Din Shah’s profligate visits to Britain and France; the splendor and eccentricities of the doomed Tsar Nicholas II’s court; the Tsar’s omen-laden coronation; and his own favor with the Tsarina, who would grant him concessions on matters of vital importance to his country. The result is a memoir of extraordinary political intrigue.
This collection of scholarly essays on Egyptian culture, history, society, archeology, literature, art, and conservation is published in memory of Werner Mark Linz, who spent much of the latter part of his professional life as the Director of the American University in Cairo Press. East-West Divan is the first volume of the Gingko Library, a publishing project that embraces scholarship from both East and West, conceived by Werner Mark Linz to foster greater cross-cultural understanding. Among the contributors to this collection are the Egyptian novelist Alaa Al Aswany, author of The Yacoubian Building; Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass; the renowned Swiss theologian, Hans Küng; the author of the acclaimed A Fort of Nine Towers, Qais Akbar Omar; and Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan.
This authoritative work sheds light on the religious world of the Kalasha people of the Birir valley in the Chitral district of Pakistan, focusing on their winter feasts, which culminate every year in a great winter solstice festival. The Kalasha are not only the last example of a pre-Islamic culture in the Hindu Kush and Karakorum mountains but also practice the last observable example anywhere in the world of an archaic Indo-European religion. In this book, Augusto S. Cacopardo takes readers inside the world of the Kalasha people.
Cacopardo outlines the history and culture of this ancient but still extant people. Exploring an array of relevant literature, he enriches our understanding of their practices and beliefs through illuminating comparisons with both the Indian religious world and the religious folklore of Europe. Bringing together several disciplinary approaches and drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, this book offers the first extended study of this little-known but fascinating Kalasha community. It will take its place as a standard international reference source on the anthropology, ethnography, and history of religions in Pakistan and Central South Asia.
Before the time of Napoleon, the most ambitious effort to explore and map the Nile was undertaken by the Ottomans, as attested by two monumental documents: an elaborate map, with 475 rubrics, and a lengthy travel account. Both were achieved at about the same time—c. 1685—and both by the same man.
Evliya Çelebi’s account of his Nile journeys, in the tenth volume of his Book of Travels (Seyahatname), has been known to the scholarly world since 1938, when that volume was first published. The map, held in the Vatican Library, has been studied since at least 1949. Numerous new critical editions of both the map and the text have been published over the years, each expounding upon the last in an attempt to reach a definitive version. The Ottoman Explorations of the Nile provides a more accurate translation of the original travel account. Furthermore, the maps themselves are reproduced in greater detail and vivid color, and there are more cross-references to the text than in any previous edition. This volume gives equal weight and attention to the two parts that make up this extraordinary historical document, allowing readers to study the map or the text independently, while also using each to elucidate and accentuate the details of the other.
Think of a map of World War I and chances are that map will be of Europe—but the First World War had just as heavy an impact on the Middle East, shaping the region into what we know it as today. This book gathers together leading scholars in the field to examine this impact, which is crucial to understanding the region’s current problems and the rise of groups like the Islamic State.
In addition to recounting the crucial international politics that drew fierce lines in the sands of the Middle East—a story of intrigue between the British, Russians, Ottomans, North Africans, Americans, and others—the contributors engage topics ranging from the war’s effects on women, the experience of the Kurds, sectarianism, the evolution of Islamism, and the importance of prominent intellectuals like Ziya Gökalp and Michel ‘Aflaq. They examine the dissolution of the Ottoman empire, the exploitation of notions of Islamic unity and pan-Arabism, the influences of Woodrow Wilson and American ideals on Middle East leaders, and likewise the influence of Vladimir Lenin’s vision of a communist utopia. Altogether, they tell a story of promises made and promises broken, of the struggle between self-determination and international recognition, of centuries-old empires laying in ruin, and of the political poker of the twentieth century that carved up the region, separating communities into the artificial states we know today.
A century ago, as World War I got underway, the Middle East was dominated, as it had been for centuries, by the Ottoman Empire. But by 1923, its political shape had changed beyond recognition, as the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the insistent claims of Arab and Turkish nationalism and Zionism led to a redrawing of borders and shuffling of alliances—a transformation whose consequences are still felt today.
This fully revised and updated second edition of Making the Modern Middle East traces those changes and the ensuing history of the region through the rest of the twentieth century and on to the present. Focusing in particular on three leaders—Emir Feisal, Mustafa Kemal, and Chaim Weizmann—the book offers a clear, authoritative account of the region seen from a transnational perspective, one that enables readers to understand its complex history and the way it affects present-day events.
The Fertile Crescent region—the swath of land comprising a vast portion of today’s Middle East—has long been regarded as pivotal to the rise of civilization. Alongside the story of human development, innovation, and progress, there is a culinary tradition of equal richness and importance.
In The Culinary Crescent: A History of Middle Eastern Cuisine, Peter Heine combines years of scholarship with a personal passion: his knowledge of the cookery traditions of the Umayyad, Abbasid, Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal courts is matched only by his love for the tastes and smells produced by the contemporary cooking of these areas today. In addition to offering a fascinating history, Heine presents more than one hundred recipes—from the modest to the extravagant—with dishes ranging from those created by the “celebrity chefs” of the bygone Mughal era, up to gastronomically complex presentations of modern times.
Beautifully produced, designed for both reading and cooking, and lavishly illustrated in color throughout, The Culinary Crescent is sure to provide a delectable window in the history of food in the Middle East.
The story of Christmas—familiar and heart-warming, a story of hope and peace encapsulated by the birth of the infant Jesus—is also a story that unites two faiths often at odds with one another. Luke and Matthew’s accounts of the Nativity in the Bible find their detailed parallels in Surah 19 and Surah 3 of the Qur’an.
From this starting point, Karl-Josef Kuschel begins to look for Christmas in the Qur’an; a challenge for both Christians and Muslims to engage in a deeper dialogue about the fundamental questions of their faiths. By going back to the word, this detailed analysis of the original texts in both the New Testament and the Qur’an provides a revealing—and timely—new perspective for interreligious dialogue.
In the early 1250s, Möngke Khan, grandson and successor of the mighty Mongol emperor, Genghis Khan, sent out his younger brothers Qubilai and Hulegu to consolidate his power. Hulegu was welcomed into Iran while his older brother, Qubilai, continued to erode the power of the Song emperors of southern China. In 1276, he finally forced their submission and peacefully occupied the Song capital, Hangzhou. The city enjoyed a revival as the cultural capital of a united China and was soon filled with traders, adventurers, artists, entrepreneurs, and artisans from throughout the great Mongol Empire—including a prosperous, influential, and seemingly welcome community of Persians. In 1281, one of the Persian settlers, Ala al-Din, built the Phoenix Mosque in the heart of the city where it still stands today. This study of the mosque and the Ju-jing Yuan cemetery, which today is a lake-side public park, casts light on an important and transformative period in Chinese history, and perhaps the most important period in Chinese-Islamic history. The book is published in the Persian Studies Series of the British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS) edited by Charles Melville.
Naguib Mahfouz is one of the most important writers in contemporary Arabic literature. Winner of the Nobel Prize in 1988 (the only Arab writer to win the prize thus far), his novels helped bring Arabic literature onto the international stage. Far fewer people know his nonfiction works, however—a gap that this book fills. Bringing together Mahfouz’s early nonfiction writings (most penned during the 1930s) which have not previously been available in English, this volume offers a rare glimpse into the early development of the renowned author.
As these pieces show, Mahfouz was deeply interested in literature and philosophy, and his early writings engage with the origins of philosophy, its development and place in the history of thought, as well its meaning writ large. In his literary essays, he discusses a wide range of authors, from Anton Chekov to his own Arab contemporaries like Taha Hussein. He also ventures into a host of important contemporary issues, including science and modernity, the growing movement for women’s rights in the Arab world, and emerging ideologies like socialism—all of which outline the growing challenges to traditional modes of living that we saw all around him.
Together, these essays offer a fascinating window not just into the mind of Mahfouz himself but the changing landscape of Egypt during that time, from the development of Islam to the struggles between tradition, modernity, and the influences of the West.
When Naguib Mahfouz quit his job as a civil servant in 1971, a Nobel Prize in literature was still off on the horizon, as was his global recognition as the central figure of Arab literature. He was just beginning his post on the editorial staff of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, and elsewhere in Cairo, Anwar Sadat was just beginning his hugely transformative Egyptian presidency, which would span eleven years and come to be known as the Sadat era. This book offers English-language readers the first glimpse of the Sadat era through Mahfouz’s eyes, a collection of pieces that captures one of Egypt’s most important decades in the prose of one of the Middle East’s most important writers.
This volume stitches together a fascinating and vivid account of the dramatic events of Sadat’s era, from his break with the Soviet Union to the Yom Kippur War with Israel and eventual peace accord and up to his assassination by Islamic extremists in 1981. Through this tumultuous history, Mahfouz takes on a diverse array of political topics—including socioeconomic stratification, democracy and dictatorship, and Islam and extremism—which are still of crucial relevance to Egypt today. Clear-eyed and direct, the works illuminate Mahfouz’s personal and political convictions that were more often hidden in his novels, enriching his better-known corpus with social, political, and ideological context.
These writings are a rare treasure, a story of a time of tremendous social and political change in the Middle East told by one if its most iconic authors.
Generations of highly skilled masons, carpenters and craftspeople have deftly employed local materials and indigenous technologies to create urban architectural assemblages, gardens, and rural landscapes that dialogue harmoniously with the natural contours and geological conditions of Yemen. Unfortunately, a sharp escalation in military action and violence in the country since the 1990s has had a devastating impact on the region’s rich cultural heritage. In bringing together the astute observations and reflections of an international and interdisciplinary group of acclaimed scholars, this book aims to raise awareness of Yemen’s long history of cultural creativity and the urgent need for international collaboration to protect it and its people from the destructive forces that have beset the region.
Javanmardi is one of those Persian terms that is frequently mentions in discussions of Persian identity, and yet its precise meaning is difficult to comprehend. A number of equivalents have been offered, including chivalry and manliness, and while these terms are not incorrect, javanmardi transcends them. The concept encompasses character traits of generosity, selflessness, hospitality, bravery, courage, honesty, truthfulness and justice--and yet there are occasions when the exact opposite of these is required for one to be a javanmard. At times it would seem that being a javanmard is about knowing and doing the right thing, although this definition, too, falls short of the term's full meaning.
The present collection is the product of a three-year project financed by the British Institute of Persian Studies on the theme of "Javanmardi in the Persianate world." The articles in this volume represent the sheer range, influence, and importance that the concept has had in creating and contributing to Persianate identities over the past one hundred and fifty years. The contributions are intentionally broad in scope. Rather than focus, for example, on medieval Sufi manifestations of javanmardi, both medieval and modern studies were encouraged, as were literary, artistic, archaeological, and sociological studies among others. The opening essays examine the concept’s origin in medieval history and legends throughout a geographical background that spans from modern Iran to Turkey, Armenia, and Bosnia, among both Muslim and Christian communities. Subsequent articles explore modern implications of javanmardi within such contexts as sportsmanship, political heroism, gender fluidity, cinematic representations, and the advent of digitalization.
Market globalization, technology, climate change, and postcolonial political forces are together forging a new, more modern world. However, caught up in the mix are some powerful religious narratives that are galvanizing peoples and reimagining – and sometimes stifling – the political and social order. Some are repressive, fundamentalist imaginations, such as the so-called Islamic Caliphate. Others could be described as post-religious, such as the evolution of universal human rights out of the European Christian tradition. But the question of the compatibility of these religious worldviews, particularly those that have emerged out of the Abrahamic faith traditions, is perhaps the most pressing issue in global stability today. What scope for dialogue is there between the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian ways of imagining the future? How can we engage with these multiple imaginations to create a shared and peaceful global society? Religious Imaginations and Global Transitions is an interdisciplinary volume of both new and well-known scholars exploring how religious narratives interact with the contemporary geopolitical climate.