By Muhsin al-Musawi
In this attention-grabbing research, Muhsin J. al-Musawi exhibits how deeply Islamic background and tradition is embedded within the stories of The Thousand and One Nights (known to many because the Arabian Nights) and the way this integration invitations readers to make an Islamic milieu. Conservative Islam dismisses The Thousand and One Nights as facile renowned literature, and liberal perspectives omit the wealthy Islamic context of the textual content. coming near near the textual content with a clean and impartial eye, al-Musawi reads the stories opposed to Islamic faculties of proposal and theology and recovers persuasive ancient facts to bare the cultural and spiritual fight over Islam that drives the book's narrative stress and binds its probably fragmented stories.
Written via a couple of authors over a stretch of centuries, The Thousand and One Nights depicts a burgeoning, city Islamic tradition in all its sort and complexity. As al-Musawi demonstrates, the stories record their very own locations and classes of construction, reflecting the Islamic individual's turning out to be publicity to a few entertainments and temptations and their clash with the responsibilities of religion. geared toward a various viewers, those tales stick to a story arc that starts with corruption and ends with redemption, conforming to a paradigm that agrees with the sociological and spiritual matters of Islam and the Islamic country. by means of emphasizing Islam in his research of those unique and tutorial stories, al-Musawi not just illuminates the work's constant equation among paintings and lifestyles, yet he additionally sheds mild on its underlying narrative strength. His research deals an excellent portrait of medieval Islam in addition, specially its social, political, and monetary associations and its special practices of storytelling.
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Additional info for The Islamic Context of The Thousand and One Nights
Adultery rarely passes without punishment in the tales; the case of the abducted bride and the ifrit in the frame tale is an exception, as it combines abduction, fornication, and revenge in a wilderness where laws do not hold. As the family becomes as institutionalized as the state in its keeping with middle-class ethics, its strength and unity is behind the dynamic storytelling, its cycles of loss and gain, disappointment and joy. Transgressions, including familial matters such as greed, jealousy, and deceit, have a place in this narrative.
The fifth chapter follows these narrative topics with an analysis of the tales as popular literature, a literature no less threatening to the elite and its centers of power than the sprawling suburbs that historically became a nuisance, if not a menacing presence, to the caliphate’s center and its privileged domains. In this context, the tales move away from the basic frame tale toward another habitat, where the disguised slaves of the garden scene in the frame tale are more powerful in their own mounds and outskirts, though they remain within the reach of the intimidating rod and sword of authority.
The second chapter argues that the transition into an urban society of great complexity finds itself well expressed—but not reflected—in this collection. One may suggest that other tales and collections that supposedly migrated from Indo-Persian sources, such as ibn al-Muqaffa’s (d. 759) Kalilah wa-Dimnah, are no less significant in this respect and deserve the same analytic application. The latter is an allegorical work with impressive insights into statecraft, human nature, and, by implication, right belief.