Monographs - Islamic History and Civilization

Economy and Society in an Ottoman City: Bursa, 1600-1700
Gerber H. Economy and Society in an Ottoman City: Bursa, 1600-1700. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation; 1988 pp. 227.Abstract

This book is devoted to the social and economic history of the western Anatolian city of Bursa in the 17th century. During this period, Bursa was a major Middle Eastern center. The study examines the economic activity of the city (commerce, crafts and banking) and attempts to evaluate the role of the waqf in this sphere. The author has based himself primarily on legal documents preserved in the city’s archives.

A major concern of this book is whether a decline occurred in the Ottoman Empire at this time. The author concludes that this is primarily true for the end of the century, but that this decline was cyclical rather than long-term. The author also points out that the gap between East and West was not as great as is often assumed.

 

Black Banners from the East: The Establishment of the ‘Abbāsid State - Incubation of a Revolt (Black Banners from the East, volume 1)
Sharon M. Black Banners from the East: The Establishment of the ‘Abbāsid State - Incubation of a Revolt (Black Banners from the East, volume 1).; 1983 pp. 265.Abstract

Black banners from the East tells the story of the first revolution in Islam which caused not merely the change of dynasties, but the end of the formative period of Islamic civilization. It is the story of a messianic movement striving and succeeding in establishing the throne of its Caliph-Messiah. The two volumes of Black banners from the East describe the two stages of the revolution from its early Shīʿī roots to the major military victories over the Umayyad army and the establishment of the ʿAbbāsī state. While the two volumes form a coherent study, each one of them is independent and can be read on its own.

Volume 1, The establishment of the ʿAbbāsid state---Incubation of a revolt, describes the clandestine activity of the movement that began after the collapse of al-Mukhtār's venture. It describes the methods, ideology, and system of activity which the members of the movement followed in order to prepare the hearts and minds and create the wide popular support for its goals. The mechanism of the incubation of this revolt is a fascinating story, describing in detail the development of a pure Shīʿī movement, the Hāshimiyya, into an ʿAbbāsī propaganda machine which prepared the revolt.

 

The Banū Sulaym: A Contribution to the study of Early Islam
Lecker M. The Banū Sulaym: A Contribution to the study of Early Islam. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation; 1989 pp. 269.Abstract

This is the first attempt to study an Arabian tribe in monograph form. The book is a history of the Banū Sulaym during the transition period from Jāhiliyya to Islam. It focuses on Sulaym’s links with the Prophet Muḥammad and with the people of Mecca and Medina. The book expands the rather meager evidence found about them in Islamic historiography by exploring other types of literature, such as geography, genealogy and biography. It contributes to a better understanding of the Arabian environment in which Islam emerged.

 

Revolt - the Social and Military aspects of the ‘Abbāsid Revolution (Black Banners from the East, volume 2)
Sharon M. Revolt - the Social and Military aspects of the ‘Abbāsid Revolution (Black Banners from the East, volume 2).; 1990 pp. 335.Abstract

Black banners from the East tells the story of the first revolution in Islam which caused not merely the change of dynasties, but the end of the formative period of Islamic civilization. It is the story of a messianic movement striving and succeeding in establishing the throne of its Caliph-Messiah. The two volumes of Black banners from the East describe the two stages of the revolution from its early Shīʿī roots to the major military victories over the Umayyad army and the establishment of the ʿAbbāsī state. While the two volumes form a coherent study, each one of them is independent and can be read on its own.

Volume 2, Revolt---the social and military aspects of the ʿAbbāsid revolution, deals with the revolt itself and with it social and military aspects. It describes the rather short but decisive phase of the change that an ideological movement undergoes in order to be able to achieve its political Goal - capturing the government. The book follows step by step the emergence of the Hāshimiyyah-ʿAbbāsiyyah from hiding into the open political and military arena, under the leadership of Abū Muslim,  the character of the army it created, its social origins, its structure and the institutions which supported it. The success of the ʿAbbāsī movement relied completely on the special features of this military power whose creation revolutionized, as a by-product, the whole military system in Islam.

 

Studies in Early Ismā‘īlism
Stern SM. Studies in Early Ismā‘īlism.; 1983 pp. 340.Abstract

Studies in Early Ismāʿīlism treats major aspects of the history and doctrine of Ismāʿīlī Shīʿism, one of Stern’s main fields of research.  Basing himself largely on previously untapped sources, Stern deals with central questions such as the dating and authorship of the Epistles of Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ, and the historical and doctrinal affinity between the Qarmaṭians of Baḥrayn and the Fāṭimīs, the two prevailing Ismā‘īlī groups in the formative period of Ismāʿīlism.

The chapter on Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī’s analysis of Persian religions is an exemplary study in comparative religion. It shows how Abū Ḥātim and other leading Ismāʿīlī philosophers accommodated sects like the Zoroastrians and Ṣābians to the Ismāʿīlī system, and explores their attitude to religious leaders like Mazdak, Mānī, Dayṣān and Zoroaster.

Another outstanding study included in the book—“Abū’l-Qāsim al-Bustī and his refutation of Ismāʿīlism”—impressively demonstrates how a polemical treatise can also be used as a source for the reconstruction of early Ismāʿīlī history.  This book, a unique treasure trove of erudition, will be of great interest to students of medieval Muslim doctrine, philosophy and history.

 

A Handbook of Early Middle Arabic
Blau J. A Handbook of Early Middle Arabic. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation; 2002 pp. 262.Abstract

In the present Handbook of Early Middle Arabic, Professor Joshua Blau of  the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the undisputed dean of the study of Middle Arabic, presents a reliable and up-to-date survey, comprehensive yet concise, of the whole field.

The Handbook contains a grammatical outline of Middle Arabic structure, annotated examples of the main Middle Arabic varieties and a glossary of all words occurring in the book.

An important feature of the book is the variety of texts presented. These cover (a) Muslim, (b) Christian and (c) Jewish Middle Arabic, each represented by typical or noteworthy examples, some of them published here for the first time. Particularly significant are the Jewish texts, Rabbanite and Karaite, which have been transmitted in different orthographical modes. Standard Judaeo-Arabic orthography is represented by samples from Saadia Gaon, Qirqisānī and David b. Abraham al-Fāsī. Linguistically more revealing are Judaeo-Arabic writings in the earlier phonetic orthography; these are exemplified in the Handbook by selected texts on papyrus, by specimens of a translation of Halakhot Pesuqot and a translation of the Biblical  book of Proverbs. In the Appendix, two examples of vocalized Middle Arabic are given: one written in Coptic characters, the other a Judaeo-Arabic letter from the Cairo Geniza.

Professor Blau's Handbook will enable all Arabists to gain immediate access to the world of Middle Arabic, guided in their journey by the leading authority in the field.  On the one hand, scholars familiar only with the classical, literary tongue will be able to see in what directions the language subsequently developed; on the other hand, Arabic dialectologists will be afforded a valuable glimpse into the history of modern colloquial forms. The Handbook will thus be a valuable tool for all who are concerned with the history of the Arabic tongue.

An important feature of the book is the variety of texts presented. These cover (a) Muslim, (b)  Christian and  (c) Jewish  Middle  Arabic,  each  represented by typical or noteworthy examples, some of them published  here for  the first time. Particularly significant are the Jewish texts, Rabbanite and Karaite, which have been transmitted in different orthographical modes. Standard Judaeo-Arabic orthography is represented by samples from Saadia Gaon, Qirqisānī and David b. Abraham al-Fāsī. Linguistically more revealing are Judaeo-Arabic writings in the earlier phonetic orthography; these are exemplified in the Handbook  by selected texts on papyrus, by specimens of a translation  of Halakhot Pesuqot and a translation of the Biblical  book of Proverbs. In the Appendix, two examples of vocalized Middle Arabic are given: one written in Coptic characters, the other a Judaeo-Arabic letter from the Cairo Geniza.

 

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