Coptic contributions to the formative theological debates of Christianity have long been recognized. Less well known are other, equally valuable, Coptic contributions to the transmission and preservation of technical and scientific knowledge, and a full understanding of how Egypt’s Copts survived and interacted with the country’s majority population over the centuries. Studies in Coptic Culture attempts to examine these issues from divergent perspectives. Through the careful examination of select case studies that range in date from the earliest phases of Coptic culture to the present day, twelve international scholars address issues of cultural transmission, cross-cultural perception, representation, and inter-faith interaction. Their approaches are as varied as their individual disciplines, covering literary criticism, textual studies, and comparative literature as well as art historical, archaeo-botanical, and historical research methods. The divergent perspectives and methods presented in this volume will provide a fuller picture of what it meant to be Coptic in centuries past and prompt further research and scholarship into these subjects.
Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes is an account of the Mevlevi Sufi order and its founder, the poet and mystic Mevlana Jalalu’ddin Rumi. Rumi danced and sang his famous verses in memory of his friend and teacher Shams Tabriz, who opened to him the way to direct experience of the Divine Beloved. After Rumi’s death in 1273, the whirling dance was introduced as part of the Mevlevi ritual, a statement of a timeless and passionate yearning toward God. Author Shems Friedlander has been doing documentary photography of the whirling dervishes since his first trip to Konya in 1973, and this book features haunting, evocative pictures of the order’s dancers, clad in their traditional white skirts and tall hats that represent their tombstones. Taken within the dervish lodges, known as tekkes, these photographs provide an insider’s view of ceremonies usually closed to the public. Friedlander’s images of the dervishes in mid-whirl evoke the exaltation of union with the divine source. In addition to Rumi’s life story and the accounts of dervishes past and present, the book features excerpts from Rumi’s poetry and the teachings of other Sufi masters, descriptions of the tekke and the symbolism of the dervish ceremony, an overview of the music that accompanies the Mevlevis’ turn, and a concluding section on the universality of Rumi’s message of love. This classic account of the Whirling Dervishes is now presented in a new and revised edition containing additional text and photographs.
For more than a millennium, Sufism has been the core of the spiritual experience of countless Muslims. As the chief mystical tradition of Islam, it has helped to shape the history of Islamic societies. Although it is the Sufi face of Islam that has often appealed to Westerners, Sufis and Sufism remain mysterious to many in the West, and are still widely misunderstood. In this new, redesigned paperback edition of this bestselling book, a scholar with long experience of Sufism in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe succinctly presents the essentials of Sufism and shows how Sufis live and worship, and why. As well as what Sufism is and where it comes from, the book discusses Sufi orders not only in the Islamic world but also in the West. The political, social, and economic significance of Sufism is outlined, and the question of how and why Sufism has become one of the more controversial aspects of contemporary Islamic religious life is addressed. This book assumes no prior knowledge of the subject. It is a penetrating and concise introduction for everyone interested in Islam and Islamic societies.
The Liturgy of St. Basil is sung in the Coptic language, directly descended from the language of the pharaohs, and the melodies are also thought to have their roots in ancient Egypt. This set of four audio CDs has been produced to accompany the major publication The Coptic Orthodox Liturgy of St. Basil with Complete Musical Transcription (AUC Press, 1998), which provides fascinating documentation of this ancient tradition. The three-hour liturgy is part of a unique musical tradition transmitted orally through some twenty centuries by generations of singers in Egypt’s ancient Coptic Orthodox Church, and still used today. For these CDs, the liturgy was sung by Sadek Attallah, chief cantor of the Institute of Coptic Studies, Cairo, and recorded at the Institute of Coptic Studies under the supervision of Dr. Ragheb Moftah. This unique set of recordings will be of great value to Copts around the world, as well as to musicologists, ethnologists, and students of religious traditions. Also available from the AUC Press: The Coptic Orthodox Liturgy of St. Basil with Complete Musical Transcription Compiled by Ragheb Moftah Music transcription by Margit Toth Text edited by Martha Roy
In Volume 1 of this series, Stephen Davis contended that the themes of “apostolicity, martyrdom, monastic patronage, and theological resistance” were determinative for the cultural construction of Egyptian church leadership in late antiquity. Volume 2, The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt, shows that the medieval Coptic popes (641–1517 CE) were regularly portrayed as standing in continuity with their saintly predecessors; however, at the same time, they were active in creating something new, the Coptic Orthodox Church, a community that struggled to preserve a distinctive life and witness within the new Islamic world order. Building on recent advances in the study of sources for Coptic church history, the present volume aims to show how portrayals of the medieval popes provide a window into the religious and social life of their community.
The Copts, adherents of the Egyptian Orthodox Church, today represent the largest Christian community in the Middle East, and their presiding bishops have been accorded the title of pope since the third century ad. This major new three-volume study of the popes of Egypt covers the history of the Alexandrian patriarchate from its origins to the present-day leadership of Pope Shenouda III. The first volume analyzes the development of the Egyptian papacy from its origins to the rise of Islam. How did the papal office in Egypt evolve as a social and religious institution during the first six and a half centuries ad? How do the developments in the Alexandrian patriarchate reflect larger developments in the Egyptian church as a whole—in its structures of authority and lines of communication, as well as in its social and religious practices? In addressing such questions, Stephen J. Davis examines a wide range of evidence—letters, sermons, theological treatises, and church histories, as well as art, artifacts, and archaeological remains—to discover what the patriarchs did as leaders, how their leadership was represented in public discourses, and how those representations definitively shaped Egyptian Christian identity in late antiquity. The Early Coptic Papacy is volume one of The Popes of Egypt: A History of the Coptic Church and Its Patriarchs, edited by Stephen J. Davis and Gawdat Gabra. Forthcoming: Volume 2 The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt Mark N. Swanson Volume 3 The Emergence of the Modern Coptic Papacy Magdi Girgis, Michael Shelley, and Nelly van Doorn–Harder
This third and final volume of The Popes of Egypt spans the five centuries from the arrival of the Ottomans in 1517 to the present era. Hardly any scholarly work has been written about the Copts during the Ottoman period. Using court, financial, and building records, as well as archives from the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate and monasteries, Magdi Guirguis has reconstructed the authority of the popes and the organization of the Coptic community during this time. He reveals that the popes held complete authority over their flock at the beginning of the Ottoman rule, deciding over questions ranging from marriage and concubines to civil disputes. As the fortunes of Coptic notables rose, they gradually took over the pope’s role and it was not until the time of Muhammad Ali that the popes regained their former authority. In the second part of the book, Nelly van Doorn-Harder analyzes how with the dawning of the modern era in the nineteenth century, the leadership style of the Coptic popes necessarily changed drastically. As Egypt’s social, political, and religious landscape underwent dramatic changes, the Coptic Church experienced a virtual renaissance, and expanded from a local to a global institution. Furthermore she addresses the political, religious, and cultural issues faced by the patriarchs while leading the Coptic community into the twenty-first century.
The Copts, adherents of the Egyptian Orthodox Church, today represent the largest Christian community in the Middle East, and their presiding bishops have been accorded the title of pope since the third century AD. This study analyzes the development of the Egyptian papacy from its origins to the rise of Islam. How did the papal office in Egypt evolve as a social and religious institution during the first six and a half centuries AD? How do the developments in the Alexandrian patriarchate reflect larger developments in the Egyptian church as a whole—in its structures of authority and lines of communication, as well as in its social and religious practices? In addressing such questions, Stephen J. Davis examines a wide range of evidence—letters, sermons, theological treatises, and church histories, as well as art, artifacts, and archaeological remains—to discover what the patriarchs did as leaders, how their leadership was represented in public discourses, and how those representations definitively shaped Egyptian Christian identity in late antiquity. The Early Coptic Papacy is Volume 1 of The Popes of Egypt: A History of the Coptic Church and Its Patriarchs. Also available: Volume 2, The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt, 641–1517 (Mark N. Swanson) and Volume 3, The Emergence of the Modern Coptic Papacy (Magdi Girgis, Nelly van Doorn-Harder).
Christianity arrived early in Egypt, brought—according to tradition—by Saint Mark the Evangelist, who became the first patriarch of Alexandria. The Coptic Orthodox Church has flourished ever since, with millions of adherents both in Egypt and in Coptic communities around the world. Since its split from the Byzantine Church in 451, the Coptic Church has proudly maintained its early traditions, and influence from outside has been minimal: the liturgy is still sung to unique rhythms in Coptic, a late stage of the same ancient Egyptian language that is inscribed in hieroglyphs on temple walls and papyri. Dr. Otto Meinardus, a leading authority on the history of the Coptic Church, here revises, updates, and combines his renowned studies Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern (AUC Press, 1965, 1977) and Christian Egypt, Faith and Life (AUC Press, 1970) into a new, definitive, one-volume history, surveying the twenty centuries of existence of one of the oldest churches in the world.
Before Sept. 11th, few Westerners had heard of Wahhabism. Today, it is a much more widely known. Frequently mentioned in association with Osama bin Laden, Wahhabism is portrayed by the media and public officials as an intolerant, puritanical, militant interpretation of Islam that calls for the wholesale destruction of the West in a jihad of global proportions. In the first study ever undertaken of the writings of Wahhabism’s founder, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1702-1791), Natana DeLong-Bas shatters these stereotypes and misconceptions. Her reading of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s works produces a revisionist thesis: Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was not the godfather of contemporary terrorist movements. Rather, he was a voice of reform, reflecting mainstream 18th-century Islamic thought. His vision of Islamic society was based upon a monotheism in which Muslims, Christians and Jews were to enjoy peaceful co-existence and cooperative commercial and treaty relations. Eschewing medieval interpretations of the Quran and hadith (sayings and deeds of the prophet Muhammad), Ibn Abd al-Wahhab called for direct, historically contextualized interpretation of scripture by both women and men. His understanding of theology and Islamic law was rooted in Quranic values, rather than literal interpretations. A strong proponent of women’s rights, he called for a balance of rights between women and men both within marriage and in access to education and public space. In the most comprehensive study of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s interpretation of jihad ever written, DeLong-Bas details a vision in which jihad is strictly limited to the self-defense of the Muslim community against military aggression. Contemporary extremists like Osama bin Laden do not have their origins in Wahhabism, she shows. The hallmark jihadi focus on a cult of martyrdom, the strict division of the world into two necessarily opposing spheres, the wholescale destruction of both civilian life and property, and the call for global jihad are entirely absent from Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s writings. Instead, the militant stance of contemporary jihadism lies in adherence to the writings of the medieval scholar, Ibn Taymiyya, and the 20th century Egyptian radical, Sayyid Qutb. This book fills a gap in the literature about Wahhabism by returning to the original writings of its founder.
Outsiders have long observed the contours of the flourishing scholarly traditions of African Muslim societies, but the most renowned voices of West African Sufism have rarely been heard outside of their respective constituencies. This volume brings together writings by Uthman b. Fudi (d. 1817, Nigeria), Umar Tal (d. 1864, Mali), Ahmad Bamba (d. 1927, Senegal), and Ibrahim Niasse (d. 1975, Senegal), who, between them, founded the largest Muslim communities in African history. Jihad of the Pen offers translations of Arabic source material that proved formative to the constitution of a veritable Islamic revival sweeping West Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Recurring themes shared by these scholars—etiquette on the spiritual path, love for the Prophet Muhammad, and divine knowledge—demonstrate a shared, vibrant scholarly heritage in West Africa that drew on the classics of global Islamic learning, but also made its own contributions to Islamic intellectual history. The authors have selected enduringly relevant primary sources and richly contextualized them within broader currents of Islamic scholarship on the African continent. Students of Islam or Africa, especially those interesting in learning more of the profound contributions of African Muslim scholars, will find this work an essential reference for the university classroom or personal library.
The great city of Alexandria is undoubtedly the cradle of Egyptian Christianity, where the Catechetical School was established in the second century and became a leading center in the study of biblical exegesis and theology. According to tradition St. Mark the Evangelist brought Christianity to Alexandria in the middle of the first century and was martyred in that city, which was to become the residence of Egypt’s Coptic patriarchs for nearly eleven centuries. By the fourth century Egyptian monasticism had begun to flourish in the Egyptian deserts and countryside. The contributors to this volume, international specialists in Coptology from around the world, examine the various aspects of Coptic civilization in Alexandria and its environs and in the Egyptian deserts over the past two millennia. The contributions explore Coptic art, archaeology, architecture, language, and literature. The impact of Alexandrian theology and its cultural heritage as well as the archaeology of its university are highlighted. Christian epigraphy in the Kharga Oasis, the art and architecture of the Bagawat cemetery, and the archaeological site of Kellis (Ismant al-Kharab) with its Manichaean texts are also discussed.
Contributors: Elizabeth Agaiby, Fr. Anthony, David Brakke, Jan Ciglenečki , Jean-Daniel Dubois, Bishop Epiphanius, Lois M. Farag, Frank Feder, Cäcilia Fluck, Sherin Sadek El Gendi, Mary Ghattas, Gisèle Hadji-Minaglou, Intisar Hazawi, Karel Innemée, Mary Kupelian, Grzegorz Majcherek, Bishop Martyros, Samuel Moawad, Ashraf Nageh, Adel F. Sadek, Ashraf Alexander Sadek, Ibrahim Saweros, Mark Sheridan, Fr. Bigoul al-Suriany, Hany Takla, Gertrud J.M. van Loon, Jacques van der Vliet, Youhanna Nessim Youssef, Ewa D. Zakrzewska, Nader Alfy Zekry.
A rigorous study of the problem of evil in Islamic theology
Like their Jewish and Christian co-religionists, Muslims have grappled with how God, who is perfectly good, compassionate, merciful, powerful, and wise permits intense and profuse evil and suffering in the world. At its core, Islamic Theology and the Problem of Evil explores four different problems of evil: human disability, animal suffering, evolutionary natural selection, and Hell. Each study argues in favor of a particular kind of explanation or justification (theodicy) for the respective evil. Safaruk Chowdhury unpacks the notion of evil and its conceptualization within the mainstream Sunni theological tradition, and the various ways in which theologians and philosophers within that tradition have advanced different types of theodicies. He not only builds on previous works on the topic, but also looks at kinds of theodicies previously unexplored within Islamic theology, such as an evolutionary theodicy.
Distinguished by its application of an analytic-theology approach to the subject and drawing on insights from works of both medieval Muslim theologians and philosophers and contemporary philosophers of religion, this novel and highly systematic study will appeal to students and scholars, not only of theology but of philosophy as well.
Four translations of major accounts of the life of the fourth-century Egyptian desert father St. Bishoi, in one volume
Saint Bishoi of Scetis (d. ca. 417) enjoys tremendous popularity throughout the Christian east, particularly among the Copts. He lived during a remarkable era in which a litany of larger-than-life monastics lived and interacted with one another. Even then, Bishoi stood out as the founder of one of the four great monasteries of Scetis (Wadi al-Natrun): those of Macarius, John the Little, Bishoi, and the Baramus. Yet in spite of Bishoi’s prominence, the various recensions of his hagio-biography have received sporadic, scattered attention.
The Life of Bishoi joins other Lives of eminent monastics of early-Egyptian monasticism: the Lives of Antony, Daniel, John the Little, Macarius, Paphnutius, Shenoute, and Syncletica. These Lives are vital for what they tell us about monastic politeia (way of life), spirituality, and theology, both of the early monastics and of those who later wrote, translated, and revised the Lives. They appeared first in Greek and Coptic, and later generations translated and revised them into Syriac, Arabic and Ge‘ez (Ethiopic).
This definitive volume contains the first English translation of the Greek, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic Lives of Bishoi, each translation accompanied by an introduction that focuses on certain aspects of the source text. It also has the first transcription and English translation of an important Greek text. The General Introduction provides rich context about the texts and textual traditions in the various languages, and thoroughly revises our knowledge about the Syriac tradition, the translation of the Syriac text here now consequently providing what is the best translation in any modern language.