Can Doctoral Dissertations Disappear? A Look at Ibrahim al‐Hafsi’s “Correspondance officielle et privée d’al‐Qāḍī al‐Fāḍil” and its Prospects in a Digital Age


I have recently had the opportunity to examine a remarkable doctoral dissertation completed in 1979 under the supervision of Prof. Charles Pellat and now housed at the Bibliothèque Orient - Monde arabe of the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris III. Dr. al-Hafsi’s dissertation is, according to his title and introductions (French and Arabic), a study of the “official and private correspondence” of Mūḥyī al‐Dīn Abū ʿAlī ʿAbd al‐Raḥīm ibn ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad ibn al‐Ḥasan al‐Lakhmī al‐Baysānī al‐ʿAsqalānī “al‐Qāḍī al‐Fāḍil” (529‐596/1135‐1200), secretary and private scribe (kātib al-sirr) for the Fāṭimid caliph, Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zankī’s deputy in Egypt, and Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn, founder of the Ayyūbid Dynasty.
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