World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Imageries and Morals in Literature (273) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: WED 21, 5-7 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Kana Oyabu (Professor, Kanazawa University, Japan)

Paper presenter: Kana Oyabu (Professor, Kanazawa University, Japan), “Islamic Children's Literature as an Alternative”
This paper deals with contemporary Islamic children’s literature in English. The last ten to fifteen years saw steady increase in the publication of Islamic children’s literature written in English. This coincide not only with the globalization and the increase in people moving from countries of their ancestors to other regions, often in Europe and North America, but also with the revival of Islamic faith and cultures among these people. One can say that children’s books are one of the earlier examples of “alternative” products families from Middle East and other Islamic countries sought in order to give their children materials that reflect their cultural and religious backgrounds. In this paper, I would like to look at books published by The Islamic Foundation (UK). The texts used are Islamic Nursery Rhymes, and adventure novels by Radwan Hassan. I would like to compare them with British nursery rhymes and adventure stories, as well as American Christian stories in Amish magazines. By analyzing imageries and narratives in these texts, I would like to look at the way such contemporary Islamic children’s literature functions as alternatives to mainstream children’s literature in English. My argument is that these texts emphasizes communality in non-Islamic setting, and awareness of non-human surroundings in order to create new understanding of umma that include Islamic and non-Islamic sense of being. At the same time, recurrent use of misinterpretations by main characters, which could be seen as narrative flaws in mainstream literature, reinforces the message of Islam, “Allah know best”, thus functions as a positive literary device. Contemporary Islamic children’s literature in English is a new development in the world of children’s literature. Therefore, writers are often not professional authors, and there is no clearly-established genre yet. In this sense, they are pioneers in creating new literary alternatives in subject matters as well as techniques for Muslims children wherever they may be.

Paper presenter: Annie C. Higgins (Assistant Professor, Arabic Language and Literature, Wayne State University, CMLLC), “A Woman Questions Gender Roles: Mulayka’s Response to War Losses in Shurat (Khariji) Society in the Eighth Century A.D.”
From the time of Khansaa' in the pre-Islamic era, women have had a special, though not exclusive, role in composing elegies in Arabic literature. The women's compositions which have been preserved within the Shurat (Khariji) poetic corpus comprise elegiac responses to men lost in battle during their opposition to the Umayyad regime.
The largest group of elegies are ascribed to Mulayka al-Shaybaniya, who calls for the women of the Shurat to grieve their dead. Mulayka lived through the upheavals when al-Dahhak b. Qays al-Shaybani led a Shurat revolt that gained immense popular support in ‘Iraq and Jazira until eventually quelled by the caliph Marwan II in 746 A.D/128 A.H.
Mulayka's seven elegies incorporate blends of changing trends in poetic genre, Islamic and fate-oriented religious beliefs, and social and communal affiliations. She also gives clues about the differentiated roles of men and women, which may challenge our customary interpretations. Her verses give a sense of thought-patterns in flux. Where some may speak of religion with certainty, she mixes religious respect with glances back to pre-monotheistic notions. While the men go off boldly to defend their community's integrity, she remarks on the women's role in preparing them for this temporary separation from their families, and for the permanent separation from their mortal lives. She alternates between a focus on the individual and on plural groups, between men and women, warriors and survivors. For instance, in one elegy, she begins by considering her uncle and ends by lauding a plurality of people who fit his type:
So let the women of the Shurat shed tears at the wars where every mature man is an exchanger (of his life). Mulayka gives glimpses of social concerns in this period, when political groups were splintering and clients/al-mawali were demanding a more active role, and when the disparity between the urban wealth of the ruling class and the frugality of piety were causing many people to examine the place of religion in their lives. Mulayka al-Shaybaniya's elegies present various facets of attitudes toward living and dying in her times.
My primary sources include Arabic literary compilations, chronicles, and heresiographies. Secondary works include critical works on classical Arabic poetry (Kadi, Monroe, Stetkevych) and women's literature.

Paper presenter: Hossein Hassanpour Alashty (Consultant, University of Imam Sadeq Adviser), “Idea and Style in the Poetry of Hafiz”
Any great poet has his special view toward man and existence which in itself forms his epistemology and central idea. This central idea or thought acts as a magnet that engages the mind and thought of the poet giving him the ability to concentrate on some particular issues at hand. This means that the style and expression method of a poet is to some great extent related to his view about man and his worldview. Hafiz is a poet that has his own style and method in poetry; one can find a strong relationship between the method of expression used in his poems as well as his style. The present paper attempts to delineate this relationship through referencing Hafiz’s Divan of poetry. It seems that paradox, satire and ambiguity, as the most dominant features of Hafiz’s poetry, are the results of his view and attitude toward humanity. He sees man as an intrinsically enigmatic and paradoxical being. Hafiz’s view of man as a being filled with a lot of paradoxically left paradoxical marks on his poetry.