Islamic Civilization in the City of Peace
Hadharat al-Islam fi Dar al-Salam (Islamic civilization in the city of peace) is a work of historical imagination, written as a straightforward narrative free of stylistic adornments. The city referred to is Baghdad. The book straddles the transition in Arabic literature from baroque, poetic metaphor to a modern, economic prose style. Treatment of the subject is also innovative. Rather than an essay on glories of the Abbasid period (750−1258), the work is presented as the tale of an anonymous Persian traveler writing home about conditions in the largely Persianate empire. Drawing upon dozens of Arabic historical and literary sources, it describes the cityscapes and the cultural and political life of Basra and Baghdad. As is suggested by the title, the author, Jamīl Nakhlah Mudawwar (1862−1907), seeks to reconstruct the atmosphere of this golden age of Islamic achievement. Each conversation or detail of geography is referenced to the medieval source that inspired the scene. They include such contemporary sources as Kitab al-Aghani (The book of songs by Abū al-Faraj al-Iṣbahānī, 897 or 898−967), the geography by Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī (circa 1179−1229), and Kitāb alf laylah wa-laylah (The 1001 nights, most of which date from the eighth to the 14th centuries). Abbasid Baghdad was under the rule of the Iranian (and Shi’i) family, the Barmakids who, until their displacement in the early ninth century, built Baghdad into the opulent political and cultural capital of history and legend. Mudawwar brings a new approach to its history in this popular account. Little is known of the author, except that he was born in Beirut and spent his creative life in Cairo. The work was printed at the press of the newspaper al-Muqtatif, which helped to finance the publication.
Muqtataf Press, Cairo
Title in Original Language
حضارة الإسلام في دار السلام
Type of Item
392 pages ; 23 centimeters
- Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs (London: Macmillan, 1963).
- Yusuf Ilyan Sarkis, Mu’jam al-Matbu’at al-‘Arabiyah wa-al-Mu’arrabah (Dictionary of Arabic Imprints). (Cairo: Sarkis, 1928).
Last updated: September 18, 2014