This article is about Western scholars. For the Arab political movement, see Pan-Arabism
. For American political connotations of the term, see Arabist (political)
Translations were made into medieval Latin
or Church Latin
, then Europe's lingua franca
, or into medieval Spanish
, which was the vernacular language
of that time and place. Early translations included works by Avicenna
, etc.; books on astronomy, astrology
, and medicine
; and the works of some of the Ancient Greek
philosophers, especially Aristotle
, who unlike Plato
had previously been relatively unknown and largely ignored in European Christendom
. The philosophical translations were accompanied by the Islamic commentaries, e.g., on Al-Ghazali, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), and Ibn Rushd (Averroës
), to the point of there being an identifiable Averroistschool of philosophy
in Christian Europe
Arabists and the Reconquista
With the Reconquista
well under way, Arabist efforts in Spain were sometimes closely tied to the goal of the possibility of proselytizing Christianity
in the Arab world.
Eclipse and renewal of Spanish Arabists
As Arabism was declining in Europe after the Reformation
, this was also the case in Spain for like reasons, and due in particular to Mediterranean politics and to the repressive atmosphere created by the Spanish Inquisition
. Some Moriscos
hesitated to show their knowledge of their mother tongue.
In the mid-18th century a new phase of Arabism arose in Spain. Later, in the era of the Generación del 98
Spanish Arabism began to produce widely recognized studies, and thus regained its prominence, particularly regarding such Arabists as Miguel Asín Palacios
(1871–1944), and Emilio García Gómez
(1905–1995), as well as many others.
Arabists elsewhere in Europe
, and the Netherlands
have enjoyed a long and fruitful involvement in the study of the Arabic language and Arab cultures, as well of Islam, with scholars like Levinus Warner
and Joseph Scaliger
. Many other European countries have also produced scholars who have made notable contributions to the study of the Arabs and Arabic cultures, including Sweden
, Czech Republic
, and Russia
Richard Francis Burton
Burton's time in the Pakistani province of Sindh
prepared him well for the transgressive pilgrimage to Mecca
that he undertook in 1853 (he was not a Muslim and non-Muslims are forbidden to enter these holy cities). Seven years in Pakistan had given Burton a familiarity with the customs and behaviour of Muslims. This journey made Burton famous. He had planned it whilst travelling disguised among the Muslims of Sindh, and had laboriously prepared for the ordeal by study and practice (including having himself circumcised
to further lower the risk of being discovered).
Although Burton was not the first non-Muslim European to make the Hajj
(that distinction belonging to Ludovico di Barthema
in 1503), his pilgrimage is the most famous and the best documented of the time. He adopted various disguises, including that of a Pathan
, to account for any oddities in speech, but he still had to master intricate Islamic ritual, and the minutiae of Eastern manners and etiquette. Burton's trek to Mecca was quite dangerous and his caravan was attacked by bandits (a common experience at the time). As he put it, although "...neither Koran or Sultan enjoin the death of Jew or Christian intruding within the columns that note the sanctuary limits, nothing could save a European detected by the populace, or one who after pilgrimage declared himself an unbeliever." The pilgrimage entitled him to the title of Hajji
and to wear a green turban. Burton's own account of his journey is given in Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah
started out as an archaeologist in what is now Syria and Lebanon where he studied Arabic and immersed himself in Arab culture. After joining the British Army with the outbreak of World War I, he became known for his role in the Arab Revolt
against Ottoman rule gaining fame as Lawrence of Arabia
. He worked closely with the Hashemite dynasty that established independent Arab states in Hejaz
, and Jordan
after ending Ottoman rule.
Lawrence's heroic reputation was built from his own lively writing skills, sensational reporting by American journalist Lowell Thomas
, and later the dramatization of his life in the epic film Lawrence of Arabia
Lady Hester Stanhope
, was an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, archaeologist and spy. She played a major role in establishing and helping administer the modern state of Iraq.
St John Philby
St John Philby
was a British colonial office intelligence officer and King Ibn Sa'ud
of Saudi Arabia's chief adviser in dealing with the British Empire and Western oil powers.
(1909–1981) was a German Arabist, professor at the University of Münster
from 1957–1974. Wehr published the Arabisches Wörterbuch
(1952), which was later published in an English edition as A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic
, edited by J. Milton Cowan. As part of this dictionary, Wehr created a transliteration scheme
to represent the Arabic alphabet
Arabists in the Middle East
- ^ Two of these histories are the Guerra de Granada (War of Granada) by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and the Historia de la rebelión y castigo de los moriscos (History of the Rebellion and Punishment of the Moors) by Mármol Carvajal.
- ^ Cabanelas, El morisco granadino Alonso del Castillo (Granada, 1965). Yet Alonso de Castillo (1520s-c.1610) himself and his work were esteemed, his being presented to the King, Philip II. (Monroe, Islam and the Arabs in Spanish Scholarship (1970), at 13). However, it is also reported that among the less enlightened, efforts to understand the Arabic language or culture could be suspect, and on occasion Arabic books were burned. This was at a time when raiders from the Barbary states might land on the coast of Spain seeking captives for ransom or to sell into slavery. Meanwhile, Spanish and Ottoman fleets might be at sea, in a long struggle for control of the Mediterranean.
- ^ James T. Monroe, Islam and the Arabs in Spanish Scholarship (Leiden: E.J.Brill 1970, Reprint Cambridge: ILEX Editions/Harvard UP 2021), at Chapter VII, pages 174-195, for Asín; at Chapter VIII, pages 202-219, for García Gómez.
- ^ "Bill Duff". Independent. 13 March 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
Teresa Fava Thomas. American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946–75: From Orientalism to Professionalism. NY-London: Anthem Press, 2016.
Last edited on 9 April 2021, at 19:51
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.