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The Medieval Islamic Republic of Letters as World Model

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 August 2015

Muhsin al-Musawi*
Affiliation:
Columbia University

Abstract

My argument in the two-part essay focuses on the dilemma of nahḍah as an unfinished mission; a transition as Țāhā Ḥusayn calls it. I join many scholars who are trying to see through its problematic nature, but I see it also in relation to the immediate past with which it has maintained an uneasy relationship. The recent premodern or medieval past, I argue, could have been read and approached differently to build up a better link with the masses that the nahḍah intellectual bypasses or disparages. The past as a significant period of constellations and knowledge construction could have helped the search for new paths that could also accommodate European knowledge. Other models, alluded to by my insightful respondents and interlocutors, confirm the validity of this proposal, despite the fact that the medieval Islamic republic of letters—as a blanket term for multidimensional efforts—offers more venues in knowledge construction that challenge Casanova’s one single model.

Type
Forum on Literary World Systems
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2015 

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