Ara'Is Al-Majalis Fi Qisas Al-Anbiya, Or: Lives of the Prophets

Ara'Is Al-Majalis Fi Qisas Al-Anbiya, Or: Lives of the Prophets

Ara'Is Al-Majalis Fi Qisas Al-Anbiya, Or: Lives of the Prophets

Ara'Is Al-Majalis Fi Qisas Al-Anbiya, Or: Lives of the Prophets

Synopsis

These 11th-century tales, written in many different languages and well known throughout the Muslim world, have been read and studied through the years. This is, however, the first complete translation of the Arabic text into English, from the story of the creation of the world to the time just before the coming of the Prophet Muhammad and the revelation of Islam. It includes tales of prophets who are Biblical figures, but also of others not considered prophets in other traditions, and contains tales too like The Thousand and One Nights, with no prophetic content. In the Islamic world, this work has been and is still read and enjoyed, both as a source of religious study and for simple pleasure.

Excerpt

This work of translation was begun many years ago, inspired to a great extent by several important figures in my academic life; first of all, Professor William Popper who introduced me to Arabic language and literature; and later, Sir Hamilton A.R. Gibb, with whom I studied during a stay at Harvard. But there were several other professors who, although not my teachers, have been sources of inspiration and learning over the years, most specifically Professors Franz Rosenthal, Bernard Lewis, M.J. Kister, and the late Gustave E. Von Grunebaum, David Ayalon, and Moshe Perlmann, to all of whom I owe deep gratitude. Several others, closer to my own generation, have also been very helpful with suggestions and ideas. This project was interrupted by several other translations that I had been asked to undertake: Nissim ibn Shahin's “An Elegant Composition Regarding Relief After Adversity”; volumes two and three of the “The History of al Ṭabarī”; a section of the translation of al-Jabartī's “History of Egypt,” as well as the editing of several other books.

It is because of the delays in continuing the work on this project, that I must express my gratitude to a number of other individuals— some of them students, some of them colleagues, some of them members of my family, all of whom assisted greatly in various ways in completing the project. Having begun the process in the days of the typewriter, and not having learned to use the computer for a number of years, I must express my gratitude to all of them for their assistance. My thanks go to Allen B. Bennett for typing the first portions of the translation from handwritten pages sent to him from England while I was on sabbatical some twenty years ago, and much later to former students Jeffrey Deboo, Amy Forga and Geoffrey Graham for their early transfer of the material to the computer. Once I became computerized, I must express my deepest thanks for the assistance and patience of my sons, Professor Benjamin Brinner and Rafael Brinner, and to my daughter, Leyla Brinner Sulema, for helping me deal with computer and other problems that developed at times.

I have mentioned my thanks to three important figures on the title page: one colleague of many years, Professor Ariel Bloch, and . . .

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