This timely and stimulating Handbook, edited by world-class experts in the field, provides a comprehensive guide to Islamic Studies today. It examines the main issues in the field and explores the key debates. It provides readers with an indispensable, balanced guide to the roots of Islam and the challenges it faces in the twenty-first century.
Chapter 9: Arabic–Islamic Literature: Continuities and Transformations
Arabic–Islamic Literature: Continuities and Transformations
An essay of this nature must inevitably be prefaced by the question: how should we define Arabic–Islamic literature? First of all, broadly conceived, an oral or written composition in the classical (literary) Arabic language, called al-Fusha (‘the eloquent [language]’), is part of what we term Arabic literature. Such a broad rubric, therefore, covers not only belles-lettres but also works of history, philosophy, geography, medicine, and ethics, among others. The common denominator among all those who have contributed to this large and diverse corpus is the Arabic language itself. Secondly, we must remember that not all contributors were Arabs ethnically speaking; nor were they all native speakers of Arabic or only Muslims. Thus, for our purposes, we ...