The Interpreter of Arabic Literature and Its History


Al-Wasit fi-al-Adab al-‘Arabi wa-Tarikhih (The interpreter of Arabic literature and its history) is a textbook in Arabic literature approved for use by the Egyptian Ministry of Education in the various schools under its jurisdiction, namely all teacher-training institutes and secondary schools. The authors were religious and literary figures. The better known of the two, Shaykh Ahmad al-Iskandarī, was born in Alexandria, pursued his studies at al-Azhar, and became a teacher in the schools of al-Fayyūm and other areas around Cairo. He was appointed to the faculty of Cairo University and was elected to the prestigious Arabic Language Academy. He was the author of several textbooks, including a history of Abbasid literature. Shaykh Mustafa ‘Anani appears also to have been a teacher, although not a great deal is known about where he lived and worked. He was the author of a work on the 11th-century Andalusian poet Ibn Zaydun, first published by Dar al-Ma’arif in 1899 and subsequently updated. The current work is the first edition of al-Wasit. It became a standard text in the Arabic curriculum. As is usually the case with Dar al-Ma’arif publications, the book is of a high standard of scholarship and production. The authors cover the history of Arabic literature in all its aspects: poetry, prose, historical narrative, rhetoric, and so forth from pre-Islamic times to their own day. As an important reference in the field, it is supplemented by al-Iskandarī’s multivolume, Muntakhab min Adab al-‘Arab (Selections from Arabic literature), published in Cairo 1944−54.

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al-Ma'arif Press, Cairo


Title in Original Language

الوسيط في الأدب العربي وتاريخه

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288 pages ; 25 centimeters


  1. Sarkis, Yusuf Ilyan.  Mu’jam al-Matbu’at al-‘Arabiyah wa-al-Mu’arrabah (Dictionary of Arabic printed books and translations). (Cairo: Sarkis, 1928).

Last updated: August 8, 2014