In 1932 the Al Saud family incorporated the kingdom of Hijaz, once the cultural hub of the Arabian world, into the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The urban, cosmopolitan Hijazis were absorbed into a new state whose codes of behavior and rules were determined by the Najdis, an ascetic desert people, from whom the Al Saud family came. But the Saudi rulers failed to fully integrate the Hijaz, which retains a distinctive identity to this day. Here May Yamani traces the fortunes of the distinctive and resilient culture of the Hijazis, from the golden age of Hashemite Mecca to Saudi domination to its current resurgence. The Hijazis today emphasise their regional heritage in religious ritual, food, dress, and language as a response to the ‘Najdification’ of everyday life. The Hijazi experience shows the vitality of cultural diversity in the face of political repression in the Arab world.
Cradle of Islam
The Hijaz and the Quest for an Arabian Identity
For sale only in the Middle East
Coptic Saints and Pilgrimages
Otto F.A. Meinardus
The Coptic Christian tradition is one that goes back almost two thousand years to the very beginnings of Christianity: Mark the Evangelist himself is said to have brought the faith to Alexandria. In his Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (AUC Press, 1999), renowned scholar Otto Meinardus reviewed the history of the official church from its earliest days to the end of the twentieth century, with its doctrinal disputes and its long isolation from other world churches. Here in Coptic Saints and Pilgrims, he examines the other side of the coin, the popular traditions and beliefs of the people. While the Coptic Orthodox church is strongly influenced by Hellenistic modes of thinking, many of the folk attitudes and practices by contrast have their roots in the religious heritage of pharaonic Egypt, and while the official faith is by its sacramental nature exclusive, the folk religion is inclusive and touches every aspect of the personal lives of ordinary Copts. It is this popular aspect of Coptic religious devotion that is revealed here, in its many points of focus: biblical saints, martyrs, ascetics, equestrian warriors, ‘silverless’ physicians, women saints, pilgrimage, dreams, visions, and apparitions....read more
15 February 2008
20 color illus.
An Islam of Her Own
Reconsidering Religion and Secularism in Women’s Islamic Movements
Reconsidering Religion and Secularism in Women’s Islamic MovementsSherine Hafez
As the world grapples with issues of religious fanaticism, extremist politics, and rampant violence that seek justification in either “religious” or “secular” discourses, women who claim Islam as a vehicle for individual and social change are often either regarded as pious subjects who subscribe to an ideology that denies them many modern freedoms, or as feminist subjects who seek empowerment only through rejecting religion and adopting secularist discourses. Yet in actuality Muslim women whose activism is grounded in Islam draw equally on principles associated with secularism. Here Sherine Hafez focuses on women’s Islamic activism in Egypt to challenge these binary representations of religious versus secular subjectivities. Drawing on five years of ethnographic fieldwork within a women’s Islamic movement in Cairo, Hafez analyzes the ways in which women who participate in Islamic activism narrate their selfhood, articulate their desires, and embody discourses in which the boundaries are blurred between the religious and the secular....read more
Christianity and Monasticism in Middle Egypt
Minya and Asyut
Edited by Gawdat Gabra Hany Takla
Minya and AsyutEdited by Gawdat Gabra
Christianity and monasticism have long flourished along the Nile in Middle Egypt, the region stretching from al-Bahnasa (Oxyrhynchus) to Dayr al-Ganadla. The contributors to this volume, international specialists in Coptology from around the world, examine various aspects of Coptic civilization in Middle Egypt over the past two millennia. The studies explore Coptic art and archaeology, architecture, language, and literature. The artistic heritage of monastic sites in the region is highlighted, attesting to their important legacies....read more
20 November 2015
90 b/w illus.
Reem Al Faisal With text by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
With text bySeyyed Hossein Nasr
The great Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five ‘pillars’ of Islam, required of every Muslim who is fit and able to undertake it. Every year in the month of Dhu al-Hijja, millions of Muslims converge on this desert city on the Arabian Peninsula from all corners of the globe, in one of the world’s greatest and most spiritual human gatherings. Saudi princess and photographer Reem Al Faisal here brings together a portrait of the Hajj in an extraordinary collection of black-and-white photographs that reveal not just the vast scale of the pilgrimage, not just the range of rituals involved, but also the human dimension: the sheer variety of humanity that comes here, the private moments of piety and devotion, the intimate moments of relaxation, and the joy (and sometimes anxiety) of being a part of such an immense community of people in a common purpose....read more
175 b/w photographs