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The Warrior Women of Islam
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Colloquial Arabic storytelling is most commonly associated with The Thousandvand One Nights. But few people are aware of a much larger corpus of narrative texts known as popular epic. These heroic romantic tales, originating in the Middle Ages, form vast cycles of adventure stories whose most remarkable feature is their portrayal of powerful and memorable women. Wildly appreciated by medieval audiences, and spread by professional storytellers throughout the cities of the Muslim world, these fictions were printed and reprinted over the centuries and comprise a vital part of Arab culture. Yet virtually none are available in translation, and so remain almost unknown to a non-Arab public. Remke Kruk at last makes these neglected romances available to a Western audience. She recounts the story of Princess Dhat al-Himma, brave and undefeated leader of the Muslim army in its wars against the Byzantines; of Ghamra, brought up as a boy to become a fearless leader of men; and of cool-headed Qannasa, raiding from her mountain fortress to capture and seduce her enemies before putting them pitilessly to the sword.The Warrior Women of Islam puts a bold new complexion on gender roles and the wider perception of women in the Middle East.
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Table of Contents

Preface A Note on Transliteration Abbreviations A Note on the Illustrations List of Illustrations Acknowledgements Chapter I Arabic popular epic: an introductory note Chapter II Warrior women in the Arabic tradition Chapter III Sirat Dhat al-Himma I: Princess Dhat al-Himma and her many battles Chapter IV Sirat Dhat al-Himma II Chapter V Sirat Dhat al-Himma III Chapter VI Warrior women in Sirat 'Antar I Chapter VII Warrior women in Sirat 'Antar II Chapter VIII Prince H'amza al-Bahlawan: in praise of traditional womanhood Chapter IX Sirat Baybars I: Lionesses Chapter X Sirat Baybars II: Warrior queens Chapter XI King Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan, the soft hearted I: Qamariya Chapter XII King Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan II: T'ama Chapter XIII King Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan III: Munyat an-Nufus Chapter XIV Final observations Notes List of illustrations Bibliography

About the Author

Remke Kruk is Professor Emeritus of Arabic at the University of Leiden. Starting with The Arabic Version of Aristotle's Parts of Animals: Books XI-XIV of the KitAZab al-HayawaAZn (1979), she has published on a wide range of subjects, notably in the field of Graeco-Arabic natural philosophy. She was the editor, with Gerhard Endress, of The Ancient Tradition in Christian and Islamic Hellenism (1997). She has translated various classical Arabic texts and is co-editor of the series Aristoteles Semitico-Latinus.

Reviews

'The Warrior Women of Islam is a groundbreaking scholarly examination of a topic that has long deserved more detailed study. The book offers a fascinating and insightful investigation into the representation of women warriors as found in a major narrative genre of pre-modern Arabic literature, the popular epic. The author's incisive analysis is unique in that it encompasses every major example of the genre and hence provides a panoramic view of the subject. The summation of decades of study by the author, this is a major contribution to the field.' - Peter Heath, Chancellor, American University of Sharjah, UAE 'Remke Kruk has written a delightful and indispensable study on a tradition of popular Arab storytelling little known or appreciated beyond its indigenous cultural and religious borders. Kruk expertly guides the reader through stories that should challenge common Western perceptions of the Middle Eastern woman, medieval or modern.' - David Waines, Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies, Lancaster University; 'We can only praise the author for the courage and expertise she has shown in digging so extensively in such unexplored territory and for having provided translations of many passages from works of which complete modern Arabic editions are not available. Kruk's book appears an essential addition to any reader interested in the diversity of the literary and popular culture in the Arabic language for the wealth of material it provides and so carefully examines. The final result is a thorough and attentive study written in a clear prose that makes both an impressive work of scholarship and an enjoyable reading for specialists as well as for the wider public - a trailblazer for further studies in the field of Arabic literature.' Nicoletta Fazio, Folklore; 'She [Kruk] has opened up an immense field of research to others as well as giving the non-specialist a fascinating and enjoyable read.' Mary Hossain, Journal of Islamic Studies. 'a unique source for the visual culture of the epics discussed' and 'highly informative.' Melanie Magidow, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 77;

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