READING EIGHTEENTH- AND NINETEENTH-CENTURY TEXTS THROUGH THE LENS OF IBN KHALDN
In this dissertation, I examine the connection between Arab authors from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by focusing on notions of affinity to homeland, conceptualizations of state and nation, and on the relationship between these ideas and historical writing. The connection, I argue, lies in the appropriation of Ibn Khaldūn’s ideas, which eighteenth and nineteenth century Arab authors received from seventeenth century Ottoman authors. My research reveals that several authors, whose texts served as models for eighteenth and nineteenth century writers, engaged Ibn Khaldūn. These authors worked either in Cairo or Istanbul and were affiliated with the Mamluk or the Ottoman State, respectively. The revival materialized through engagement with Ibn Khaldūn either directly or through the work of his students and their pupils. Ibn Khaldūn’s ideas were disseminated through his students, such as al-Qalqashandī (d. 1418), al-Maqrīzī (d. 1442) and Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (d. 1449). The latter was the teacher of ḥadīth scholars and historians al-Suyūṭī (d. 1505) and al-Sakhāwī (d. 1497). I focus on Āzād Bilgrāmī (1704-1786), ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Suwaydī (1721-1785), and Rifāʿah al-Ṭahṭāwī (1801-1873) and the influence of Ibn Khaldūn’s ideas on their conception of homeland. I consider this project to be an engagement with scholars of modern Arabic literary history, namely Nahḍah scholars such as Stephen Sheehi. Like Sheehi, I challenge the accepted notion of the Nahḍah as a historical period and see it instead as a narrative project rising out of specific conditions. My intervention is that the Nahḍah was a narrative project that made sense within Ibn Khaldūn’s framework where civilizations rise, reach maturity, decline, and survive only if they can remedy their weaknesses and appropriate new crafts from other civilizations. Reading the Nahḍah as such also explains why the Abbasid period was regarded as a standard by Nahḍah intellectuals. First, Ibn Khaldūn himself held the Abbasids as the exemplary. Second, the Abbasids were singled out by Ibn Khaldūn for what he considered their ability to adapt Persian civilization into Arabo-Islamic civilization.
18th century; 19th century; Arabic Literature; Ibn Khaldūn; Nahḍah; Literature
Starr, Deborah A.
Toorawa, Shawkat M.; Powers, David Stephan
Near Eastern Studies
Ph.D., Near Eastern Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis