Wednesday

Nizar Qabbani and the English Language

The poem, "A Day with Come", by Nizar Qabbani. (Flickr: tsweden)
Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani is one of the most beloved literary figures in the Arab World.

Born in Damascus in the 1920s, Qabbani published his first collection of poems in 1944 while a student at Damascus University. He went on to publish many more collections during and after his service in the Syrian Foreign Ministry. Qabbani died in 1998.

Qabbani is known for the simplicity and beauty of his language, which elegantly touches on themes as diverse as love and Arab Nationalism. Additionally, he is referred to as 'the Women's Poet' for his romanticism and championing of Arab women.

Today's post is a translation of a portion of Qabbani's memoirs where he discusses the differences between Arabic and English, and the latter's impact on his poetry.

This segment gives us a master's appraisal of the linguistic and artistic value of these two languages as well as an interesting view of some of the issues that have been raised about Arabic in the contemporary world, by Arabs and non-Arabs alike.

I hope you enjoy!

Thursday

13th Century Advice for Students


Recently, I discovered a fantastic quote from 13th century historian Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi in George Makdisi's The Rise of Colleges

The quote contains advice to students, ranging from practical matters of study to spiritual and moral counsel.

First, Al-Baghdadi's language is absolutely beautiful, as we see here:
"[L]earning leaves a trail and a scent proclaiming its possessor; a ray of light and brightness shining on him, pointing him out; like the musk merchant whose location cannot be hidden."
This text also gives us a fantastic and comprehensive appraisal of the utmost concerns for Medieval Muslim students and teachers alike, and the hardships they should expect on their path to acquire knowledge.

Enjoy!

Friday

Movie Review: Saladin the Victor

Ahmed Mazhar as Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi in Yusef Shaheen's: Saladin the Victor
Egypt is the Hollywood of the Middle East. From the 1950s onward, Egypt established itself as the Arab film industry's home and earned the favor of Arab cinema goers for its multitude of quality productions. As the Arab Pop Culture landscape has changed in the past 15 years with the rise of satellite television networks and growing popularity of television soap operas, مسلسلات, Egypt remains a huge producer of films.

Among the classic works of Egyptian cinema is the historical epic الناصر صلاح الدين Saladin the Victor released in 1963 by Producer-Director يوسف شاهين Yusef Shaheen and starring أحمد مظهر Ahmed Mazhar as Salah al-Din Al-Ayyubi.

Thursday

Rihla and the Islamic Sciences

Dear Readers,

I know it's been more than a long time since I've posted on here, but I assure you I have been keeping myself busy during this absences. My Arabic study program has been very good and I've learned a lot in Qatar this year.

Recently, I traveled back to America to interview at Princeton University for their PhD in Near Eastern Studies. It was a true privilege to be among Princeton's short-listed PhD candidates and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to return home and visit Princeton, while also having the chance to spend some time with my family.

During the interviews, each of us had to present a 10 minute presentation on a particular topic. I presented on rihla and it's role in Classical Islamic scholarship. I'm sharing this with you guys because I think it's an interesting topic that deserves more attention.

I hope you enjoy!