Jean Druel and Almog Kasher, “‘Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t’: The mamnūʿ min al-ṣarf (diptotes) in Arabic grammatical tradition” in Arabica 66 (2019), pages 98‒136.
Jean Druel, “Can Ambrosiana X 56 Sup. improve our understanding of Sībawayhi’s grammar?” in Manuela E. B. Giolfo and Kees Versteegh (editors), The Foundations of Arabic Linguistics IV, Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2019, pages 133‒156.
IDEO, Professor Emeritus of the Catholic University of Leuven
icon-calendar Tuesday January 24ᵗʰ, 2017
Following the discovery of extremely old manuscripts of the Qurʾān, and the Birmingham folios having been dated between 568 and 645 AD (56 before Hiǧra and 25 after) with Carbon 14 techniques, scholars largely refuse today the late dating of the earliest copies of the Qurʾān proposed for example by John Wansbrough in his book entitled Quranic studies (Oxford University Press, 1977). See also Patricia Crone and Michael Cook who suggested that there was no indication of the existence of the Qurʾān before the end of the 1st/7th century (Hagarism, Cambridge University Press, 1977). It now seems that a better dating should be closer to the middle of the 1st/7th century, or even earlier.
The discovery in 1972 of very old Qurʾānic manuscripts in Ṣanʿāʾ elicited new studies, and the ultraviolet techniques that are now available revealed that one of the codices is actually a palimpsest, i.e. it contains an older text that has been washed away and replaced by a later one. A first edition of this older text was published by Behnam Sadeghi and Mohsen Goudarzi in Der Islam 87 (2010) under the title “Ṣanʿāʾ 1 and the origin of the Qurʾān” and an analysis of the manuscript was published between 2008 and 2014 by Elizabeth Puin under the title “Ein früher Koranpalimpsest aus Ṣanʿāʾ”. A new edition of the text is due to be published on February 28, 2017 by Asma Hilali at the Oxford University Press under the title The Sanaa palimpsest. Unfortunately, these two editions only contain the text of the 36 folios from the manuscript of Dār al-Maḫṭūṭāt (Ṣanʿāʾ) and not the 40 other folios of the same codex that were found recently in al-Maktaba al-Šarqiyya (also in Ṣanʿāʾ).
Interestingly, this older version that has been washed away seems to be, until now, the only one among all the copies of the Qurʾān to differ from the ʿUṯmānic canonical version. After the ʿUṯmānic unification of the Qurʾānic text, variant versions have indeed been erased and replaced by the canonical text. The Ṣanʿāʾ palimpsest is a convincing proof that different versions from the time of the Pophet’s companions did actually exist, a fact that was common knowledge in the Islamic medieval tradition represented among others by Ibn Abī Dāwūd’s book Kitāb al-maṣāḥif.
Archeologist, PhD student in Toulouse University
icon-calendar Monday December 19ᵗʰ, 2016
The archeological site of Sijilmasa is being excavated by a French Moroccan team. This “harbour” of transsaharian trade between the 8th and the 15th centuries has remarkable hydrolic archeological remnants that can be observed on the entire excavation zone: water harvesting, transportation, storage, and disposal of sewage water. All this equipement reveal a creative human effort and a great diversity of techniques used to manage such a precious resource in this arid zone.
Located in the Tafilalt lowland, this site is inhabited since prehistoric times. The city of Sijilmasa—or, probably rather an agglomerate of fortified houses—was founded around the mid-8th century by the Berber tribe of the Banū Midrār, at the convergence point of many caravan routes. In the beginning of the 16th century, Leo Africanus (d. 957/1550) describes it as a ruined city.
At the end of the 18th century, this very oasis zone is also the cradle of the Alaouite dynasty, that still rules Morocco today. The site of Sijilmasa was only preserved from destruction because it was used as the burial site of the Alaouites.
Eric van Lit
PhD in Islamic studies
Tuesday December 13ᵗʰ, 2016
A little problem keeps popping up century after century, in the writings of all kinds of Muslim theologians (80 to 90 authors have been identified so far); what happens if one person were to eat another person, can they both have bodily resurrection?
The first occurrence of this theological question is to be found long before the advent of Islam, in Athenagoras’ De resurrectione in the second century and Augustin (fifth century) does not hesitate to call it the strongest argument against bodily resurrection. It is also discussed by Thomas Aquinas and many medieval christian theologians.
When al-Sayyid al-Šarīf al-Ǧurgānī (d. 816/1413) deals with this issue, making a distinction between essential and non essential body parts, he actually answers the anthropological and philosophical question of what is a person. What is the link between our identity as separate persons and our body? Another question that emerges from this one is: What is resurrection, the gathering of scattered body parts or a new creation? These questions are actually what makes the cannibalism argument relevant in the end.
Some theologians argue that the body is but a mere instrument, and the soul alone will be judged at resurrection. ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (d. 877/1472) is an early example of this. This nips in the bud the very point of the discussion, that has gone as far as whether the bodily parts of a righteous person would suffer hell’s fire if these parts had been eaten by a sinner, thus becoming part of his body.
Emmanuel Pisani, « Religionsfreiheit und islamische Staaten. Die Verquickung von Theologie und Politik » in Concilium, Oktober 2016, pages 436‒447.
Jean Druel, What happened to the grammar of numerals after Sībawayhi? Amal E. Marogy and Kees Versteegh (Editors). The Foundations of Arabic Linguistics II. Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2015. 81‒99.
The notion of adab is at the heart of Arab-Islamic culture. Born in the crucible of the Arabic and Persian civilization, nourished by Greek and Indian influences, this polysemic notion could cover a variegated range of meanings: good behavior, knowledge of manners, etiquette, rules and belles-lettres and finally, literature. This collection of articles tries to explore how the formulations and reformulations of adab during the first centuries of Islam engage with the crucial period of the first great spiritual masters, exploring the importance of normativity, but also of transgression, in order to define the rules themselves. Assuming that adab is ethics, the articles analyse the genres of Sufi adab, including manuals and hagiographical accounts, from the formative period of Sufism until the modernity.
Dennis Halft, “A Persian Gospel manuscript and the London Polyglot”, in M. Pehlivanian, Ch. Rauch, and R. Vollandt, eds, Oriental Bible manuscripts from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK: An illustrated history, Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2016, 155‒157.
Dennis Halft, “The ‘Book of books’ in Persian”, in M. Pehlivanian, Ch. Rauch, and R. Vollandt, eds, Oriental Bible manuscripts from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK: An illustrated history, Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2016, 150‒154.