Vanity Post 1: News and Rumours, 2014

Over the last three weeks or so, I was without a working a computer. And even now that a new one has arrived I am struggling to get into some sort of routine with backup passwords and other obstacles. That being said, my access to sources and literature is somewhat hampered at the moment. Therefore, I have revisited some of my own writings from the 2010’s. This post contains a summary as well as some notes on my book chapter “News and Rumor – local sources of knowledge about the world”. A PDF is attached at the end.

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The Crustacean Returns: A possible context for Ibn Tulun’s observations

April 2018 saw the publication of a post on Ibn Ṭūlūn’s excursus on freshwater crustaceans indigenous to Syrian bodies of water. At the time, I could not give that much context on the meaning of this passage upon which I came in a biographical dictionary. Having recently ventured into some new literature for a course at Hamburg University, I will now try to give at least a bit more information as to the meaning of this zoological passage in a biographical work.

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The Library of Ahmad Taymur

How is Ahmad Taymur, the Egyptian bibliophile and ‘gentleman scholar’ who received an obituary in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft upon his death in 1930, still awaiting his own study? Joseph Schacht praises in said obituary Taymur’s outstanding knowledge of Arabic literature, his altruistic support of “European scholarship”, and him as the “creator of the most important private library in the orient” (p. 255). The Russian Arabist Krachkovsky mentions similar qualities of Taymur in his autobiographical work Among Arabic Manuscripts. Nonetheless, when Taymur appears at all in more recent publications, he appears mostly as a side-character to someone else who is deemed worthy of a study.

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Sufis in war: an update

In my article “Between Beirut, Cairo, and Damascus: Al-amr bi-al-maʿrūf and the Sufi/Scholar Dichotomy in the Late Mamluk Period (1480s–1510s)” I proposed that several groups named in the sources as Sufis could have resembled paramilitary groups. They were viewed as cohesive bodies of men exactly because they would act as such in military conflicts, being called upon or pledging allegiance to one faction or other. Continue reading “Sufis in war: an update”