In 1798, for the first time since the Crusades, western armies landed in the Middle East, initiating a confrontation with far-reaching implications. The French, infused with the fire of revolution and republicanism, and imbued with the idealism of the Enlightenment, set out for glory and riches. Their invasion of Egypt, a rebellious province of the sprawling Ottoman Empire, also aimed to weaken British communications with India. They were led by an ambitious and charismatic young general, Napoleon Bonaparte. Shedding new light on the ensuing events, acclaimed historian Juan Cole tells this stirring story through the experiences of soldiers and observers on both sides of the conflict—giving full voice to Muslim points of view. He highlights the mutual incomprehension and the attempts to understand the opportunities and limits of exchange between the two branches of Mediterranean civilization. Beyond detailing the machinations of the French high command, Cole paints a vivid tableau of personal encounters—French scientists seeking to increase their knowledge in a new landscape, French soldiers pursuing romantic dalliances across cultures, and peasants and tribesmen launching determined insurrections. From the unprecedented intellectual challenge for Muslim religious figures to the new public roles adopted by Egyptian women, Napoleon’s impact went beyond the battlefield and still resonates in modern relations between the west and the Middle East.
Invading the Middle East
20 b/w illus.
For sale only in the Middle East
An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Egypt
Yuhanna al-Armani and His Coptic Icons
Magdi Guirguis Introduction by Nelly Hanna
Yuhanna al-Armani and His Coptic IconsMagdi Guirguis
Introduction by Nelly Hanna
Yuhanna al-Armani has long been known by historians of Coptic art as an eighteenth-century Armenian icon painter who lived and worked in Ottoman Cairo. Here for the first time is an account of his life that looks beyond his artistic production to place him firmly in the social, political, and economic milieu in which he moved and the confluence of interests that allowed him to flourish as a painter. Who was Yuhanna al-Armani? What was his network of relationships? How does this shed light on the contacts between Cairo’s Coptic and Armenian communities in the eighteenth century? Why was there so much demand for his work at that particular time? And how did a member of Cairo’s then relatively modest Armenian community reach such heights of artistic and creative endeavor? Drawing on eighteenth-century deeds relating to al-Armani and other members of his social network recorded in the registers of the Ottoman courts, Magdi Guirguis offers a fascinating glimpse into the ways of life of urban dwellers in eighteenth-century Cairo, at a time when a civilian elite had reached a high level of prominence and wealth. Illustrated with 28 full-color reproductions of al-Armani’s icons, An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Egypt is a rich and compelling window on Cairene social history that will interest students and scholars of art history, Coptic studies, or Ottoman history....read more
15 April 2008
28 color illus.
Caliph of Cairo
Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, 996–1021
Paul E. Walker
Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, 996–1021Paul E. Walker
One night in the year 411/1021, the powerful ruler of the Fatimid empire, al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, rode out of the southern gates of Cairo and was never seen again. Was the caliph murdered, or could he have decided to abandon his royal life, wandering off to live alone and anonymous? Whatever the truth, the fact was that al-Hakim had literally vanished into the desert. Yet al-Hakim, though shrouded in mystery, has never been forgotten. To the Druze, he was (and is) God, and his disappearance merely indicated his reversion to non-human form. For Ismailis, al-Hakim was the sixteenth imam, descended from the Prophet, and infallible. Jews and Christians, by contrast, long remembered him as their persecutor, who ordered the destruction of many of their synagogues and churches. Using all the tools of modern scholarship, Paul Walker offers the most balanced and engaging biography yet to be published of this endlessly fascinating individual. To some, al-Hakim was God incarnate, to others an infallible imam, to still others he was a capricious tyrant. This book examines myth and fact, document and opinion, to present the most complete and detailed history yet written of the life and times of one of the medieval Islamic world’s most controversial figures....read more
15 December 2012
Doria Shafik, Egyptian Feminist
A Woman Apart
A Woman ApartCynthia Nelson
Cynthia Nelson brings to life a bold and gifted Egyptian of the mid-twentieth century who helped define what it means to be a modern Arab woman. Doria Shafik (1908-1975), an Egyptian feminist, poet, publisher, and political activist, participated in one of her country’s most explosive periods of social and political transformation. During the ’40s she burst onto the public stage in Egypt, openly challenging every social, cultural, and legal barrier that she viewed as oppressive to the full equality of women. As the founder of the Daughters of the Nile Union in 1948, she catalyzed a movement that fought for suffrage and set up programs to combat illiteracy, provide economic opportunities for lower-class urban women, and raise the consciousness of middle-class university students. She also founded and edited two prominent women’s journals, wrote books in both French and Arabic, lectured throughout the world, married, and raised two children. For a decade, she ignited the imagination of the press, where she was variously described as the “perfumed leader,” a “danger to the Muslim nation,” a “traitor to the revolution,” and the “only man in Egypt.” Then, in 1957, following her hunger strike in protest against the populist regime of Gamal Abdul Nasser, she was placed under house arrest. Within months her magazines folded, her name was officially banned from the press, and she entered a long period of seclusion that ended with her suicide in 1975. With the cooperation of Shafik’s daughters, who made available her three impressionistic, unpublished, and sometimes contradictory memoirs, Nelson has uncovered Shafik’s story and brings the life and achievements of this remarkable woman to a Western audience....read more
14 b/w illus.
This book is only available for purchase from Egypt
An Arab Philosophy of History
Selections from the Prolegomena of Ibn Khaldun of Tunis (1332–1406)
Translated and arranged by Charles Issawi
Selections from the Prolegomena of Ibn Khaldun of Tunis (1332–1406)Translated and arranged by Charles Issawi
The Prolegomena of Ibn Khaldun of Tunis (A.D. 1332–1406) are in many ways the most remarkable product of Islamic thought. Not only did Ibn Khaldun sum up the accumulated knowledge and leading doctrines of his civilization, but in many fields he broke new ground and anticipated the findings of Western social scientists of the last two centuries. The passages have been grouped to illustrate Ibn Khaldun’s views on historical method, geography, economics, public finance, population, society and state, and the theory of being and theory of knowledge. This selection is intended for students of thought, rather than specialized Arabic scholars, and for those interested in the intellectual background of the Arab world....read more