Adab without the Crusades


The adab of the sixth/twelfth century is most often viewed through the lens of the counter-Crusade and the “Sunni revival.” It is generally assumed that Muslim solidarity was constructed through shared piety and an evocation of the pristine Islamic past. The hunting epistle of Yaghmur b. ʿĪsā al-ʿUkbarī (d. ca. 558/1163) offers a different perspective on how solidarity was imagined. It depicts a drunken feast, followed by a multiday hunting expedition, followed by a second drunken feast. Whereas these inebriated activities are full of fellowship, the return to God-fearing piety at the end of the epistle is marked by loneliness and alienation. Reading adab without the framework of the Crusades offers an opportunity to rethink the sensibilities of the period while contributing to our knowledge of adab texts written by authors whose works usually do not survive. Yaghmur’s epistle is preserved in the adab anthology of ʿImād al-Dīn al-Iṣfahānī and attributed to an Arabized Turkish military officer who is otherwise unknown, but the anthologist claims to have edited the epistle, which suggests that Yaghmur is actually a coauthor.
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