Two articles analysing the story of the Prophet Muhammad’s ascention to Heaven

The Familiar and the Fantastic in Narratives of Mu[hdot]ammad’s Ascension to the Heavenly Spheres

Peter Webb, Middle Eastern Literatures: incorporating Edebiyat, Volume 15, Issue 3, 2012

The story of Mu[hdot]ammad’s Night Journey and Ascension to the Heavenly Spheres is perhaps the most fantastic episode in the Prophet’s biography, and its fantastic aspects became widely accepted as historical facts notwithstanding the misgivings of early Muslim scholars. This paper investigates the narrative function of the fantastic in Ibn Kathīr’s extensive accounts of the story within a comparative framework. By examining his version of Mu[hdot]ammad’s Journey against narratives of utopia in western literature, it is possible to see the striking similarity in their narratives’ patterns, always beginning with the ‘familiar’ departure, then moving into the ‘remarkable’ journey, and ending in the ‘fantastic’ arrival, where the traveller comes into contact with the source of special knowledge. This paper proposes that Muslim al-Isrā’ wa-l-Mi‘rāj and western narratives of utopia follow a fairly universal structure, what I would call ‘utopian travel rubric’, which blends the ‘familiar’, ‘remarkable’ and ‘fantastic’ to engender a sense of plausibility for both the Heavenly and Utopian journeys.

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The Space Between Here and There: The Prophet’s Night Journey as an Allegory of Islamic Ritual Prayer

Simon O’Meara, Middle Eastern Literatures: incorporating Edebiyat, Volume 15, Issue 3, 2012

This paper commences with an analysis of Qur’an 17:1, the Prophet’s alleged night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, which it interprets as an allegory of Islamic ritual prayer. By way of this interpretation, the paper subsequently reviews Islam as a particularly spatially oriented religion and proposes a spatial reading of the word ‘Islam’ itself.

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Homosexuality and Epistemic Closure in Modern Arabic Literature

Khalid Hadeed
The author argues that representations of homosexuality in modern Arabic literature have tended to isolate it and contain its threat through a conceptual strai(gh)tjacket that he terms “epistemic closure.” He begins by analyzing Saʿd Allah Wannus’s play Tuqus al-Isharat wa-l-Tahawwulat as an essentialist paradigm of closure, where a language of interiority and essence identifies male homosexuality with passivity and femininity, subordinated a priori to a sexually and socially dominant masculinity. Then, he examines ʿAlaʾ al-Aswani’s novel ʿImarat Yaʿqubyan as a constructionist example of the same closure, in which homosexuality is explained through a narrative of abnormal development that circumscribes its diffuse potential. Finally, he reads Huda Barakat’s Sayyidi wa-Habibi as a “queer” novel that links homosexuality to the continuum of male homosocial desire, thereby disrupting the normative distribution of center and margin and suggesting a way out of the epistemic closure imposed on homosexuality.

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Excerpt: Nation-Building, State and the Genderframing of Women’s Rights in the United Arab Emirates (1971–2009)

Nation-Building, State and the Genderframing of Women’s Rights in the United Arab Emirates (1971–2009) by Vânia Carvalho PintoNATION-BUILDING, STATE AND THE GENDERFRAMING OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, (1971–2009)


Published by Ithaca Press

ISBN: 978086372432


List of Tables vii

Note on Transliteration [Read for Free]

Acknowledgements [Read for Free]

Introduction [Read for Free]

1 Genderframing as a State Strategy: Historical Background and Theoretical Framework

1.1. Historical background [Read for Free]

1.2. The genderframing perspective 4

2 Definition of the Problem: Building a New Nation – How and Why to Include Women (1971–Early 1980s) 15

2.1. Fostering loyalty and overcoming localism: the overall tasks for the emerging state 15

2.2. Assessment of the situation of women: traditional attitudes and their socio-economic status 19

2.3. Why women? 22

2.4. The improvement of women’s status as a symbol of national progress 25

2.5. Summary 29

3 The Making and Promotion of the Genderframe (1971–Early 1980s) 35

3.1. Envisaged solutions to the problem of including women 35

3.2. Sponsoring female education 40

3.3. Becoming working women for the sake of the nation 44

3.4. Channelling the genderframe into society: the role of the UAE women’s associations 50

3.5. Summary 55

4 Re-signifying Religion and Culture: The Changed Environment (Late 1970s–2009) 61

4.1. Islamization, cultural anxieties, and the Emirati society’s self-questioning 61

4.2. Cultural anxieties I: tradition and UAE women’s roles 65

4.3. Cultural anxieties II: raising true citizens 69

4.4. Cultural anxieties III: UAE women and the Emiratization policy 72

4.5. Summary 77

5 Culture Re-signified: Contemporary Challenges (Late 1990s–2009)

5.1. Pursuing new meanings I: UAE women and leadership

5.2. Pursuing new meanings II: the road to political and decision-making positions

5.3. Pursuing new meanings III: UAE women as political officials

5.4. Whither genderframe and the challenges for the next generation?

5.5. Summary

6 A Genderframe Transformation? Concluding Remarks



Articles from newspapers and magazines

official documents

Grey literature: miscellaneous



Table 1: The Genderframing Criteria

Table 2: Employment of Emirati Women in Government Ministries

[Read more and order the book here]


An excerpt from Security Arrangements in the Persian Gulf, Mahboubeh Sadeghinia, Ithaca Press

from SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS IN THE PERSIAN GULF: With Special Reference to Iran’s Foreign Policy, MAHBOUBEH F. SADEGHINIA, Ithaca Press, 2011

The Persian Gulf (PG) is one of the most significant geopolitical regions in the world as well as the main dominant energy source and gateway for global energy. This region is of vital significance to all littoral states as well as the entire world economy and political life. Considering such significance – which has caused the PG to be a worthy rival to outside powers, particularly the West, as well being the most unstable and chaotic of any world region – requires close scrutiny of the important geopolitical elements and security concerns and systems in this region.
Persian Gulf Security Arrangements, With Special Reference to Iran’s Foreign Policy has employed a variety of conceptual and analytical tools to understand the reasons for the failure of security models in the PG and to confront the huge obstacles to a security system for this region. The perceptions of what constitutes a threat to regional security varies among the Arabs, Iranians and the ultra-regional powers, and all accordingly have different solutions to what they perceive as the problem. Nevertheless, regardless of the relevant parties’ differences of opinion, all the consequent issues along with three decades of crises in the PG illustrate how urgent it is for the problem regarding regional security to be resolved.
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International Journal of Middle East Studies (2011), 43: 205-225, Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011, DOI: 10.1017/S0020743811000031 (About DOI) Published online: 2011

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Book Review: Poetry and Politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society

Poetry and Politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society

Poetry and Politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society

Book Review
Poetry and Politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society
Reading: Ithaca Press, 2009, xv þ 351 pp., £49.99 (hbk), ISBN 978-0-863-723384

From: Borg, Gert(2011) ‘Poetry and Politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society, by Clive Holes and Said
Salman Abu Athera’, Middle Eastern Literatures, 14: 1, 96 — 99, DOI: 10.1080/1475262X.2011.550480

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Call for papers: International Conference on Sheikh-e Ishraq (Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi)

Considering the lofty position of Sheikh-e Ishraq (Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi in the Islamic philosophy, the International Conference on Sheikh-e Ishraq (Suhrawardi) will be held in collaboration with University of Tehran, Iranian Institute of Philosophy, University of Damascus and University of Aleppo in Syria on 10-12 May, 2011.

The interested scholars are invited to submit their research papers on the following topics.  The authors of selected papers will be invited to present their papers in the conference.


1-Position of Suhrawardi in the history of Islamic philosophy and civilization 2-Intellectual, political, cultural and scientific conditions of Aleppo at the age of Suhrawardi

3- Analytical discussion on Suhrawardi’s works 4-Special views of Suhrawardi’s philosophy 5-The relation between mysticism and philosophy in Suhrawardi’s works 6-Suhrawardi , the secret of cultural connection between Iran and the Arab world

7- A contemplation on Suhrawardi’s trial

Abstract Submission Deadline: 9 February,2011



New Paper: The People on the Edge: Religious Reform and the Burden of the Western Muslim Intellectual

Richard W. Bulliet

Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review 8 (2009), 7–18

A haunting and powerful image in the Qur’an depicts the people who, on the day of judgment, perch on the dividing barrier between heaven and hell and engage in a conversation with the inhabitants of both worlds (Qur’an 7: 46–49). The portrayal occurs only once in the Qur’an and is vague about the ultimate fate of these “people of the edge,” but they are given a generally sympathetic portrayal, and the implication is that they will end up on the safer side of the barrier.

[Read the article here]



a1 Dipartimento di matematica, Università di Pisa Largo Pontecorvo 5, 56127 Pisa, Italy Email:,


We here present the Arabic text, with an English translation, of certain pages dedicated by al-Khayyām to the mathematical theory of music. Our edition is based on a manuscript extant in a library in Manisa (Turkey), and corrects the mistakes found in another transcription. Lastly, we compare the theory of al-Khayyām with other Arabic theories of Music, and with those coming from other traditions.

[Read the paper here]



a1 University of Michigan, 4108 Modern Languages Building 812 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1275, USA Email:


Scholars have long debated the possibility of a mystical or illuminationist strain of thought in Ibn Sīnā’s body of writing. This debate has often focused on the meaning and contents of his partly lost work al-Mashriqiyyūn (The Easterners), also known as al-Ḥikma al-Mashriqiyya (Eastern Wisdom), mentioned by Ibn Sīnā himself as well as by numerous Western writers including Ibn Rushd and Ibn Ṭufayl. A handful of references to what is called Ibn Sīnā’s “Oriental Philosophy” are also found in the Castilian and Hebrew works of the Castilian Jew Abner of Burgos (ca. 1270-ca. 1347), known after his conversion to Christianity as Alfonso of Valladolid. Although the content of these citations has not been identified, it has been proposed that they may preserve otherwise unknown passages from Ibn Sīnā’s lost work. This study considers the references to Ibn Sīnā’s so-called “Oriental Philosophy” within Abner’s writings and concludes that rather than preserving lost passages from Ibn Sīnā’s writing, Abner’s references were drawn primarily from Ibn Ṭufayl and offer no support for the argument of a possible mystical or illuminationist strain in Ibn Sīnā’s thinking.

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