DeArabizing Arabia: Tracing Western Scholarship on the History of the Arabs and Arabic Language and Script

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Blaurtopf Publishing, Nov 1, 2011 - History
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This book is a comprehensive reference on the history of Arabic Language and script, which goes beyond the sole discussion of technical matters. It studies objectively the evidence presented by modern-day western archeological discoveries together with the evidence presented by the indispensable scholarly work and research of the past Islamic Arab civilization era. The book scrutinizes modern western theories about the history of the Arabs and Arabic language and script in connection with the roles played by Western Near East scholarship, religion and colonial history in the formation of current belief system vs. Arab history and language, which is an essential step to study this correlated and complex topic objectively. In his book, the author explores the relevant facts of history and geography as crucial defining factors in the study of history of Arabic language and script. He offers a brief balanced account on the important topic of Muhammad leadership and Islam in the formation of Arabia, and investigates the Quran as a key evidence and reference of the Arabic language and script. As a research tool, this book presents in-depth tracings and readings of the most relevant inscriptions and the findings accumulated by the author over one and a half year of research. Particularly, it presents new comprehensive readings of the important Umm al-Jimal and al-Namarah Nabataean Arabic inscriptions. The al-Namarah stone which was discovered by French archeologist Dussaud in 1901 (displayed today on a wall in the Louvre Museum of Paris) was assumed for more than a century to be the tombstone of the prominent pre-Islamic Arab king, Umru' al-Qays bin 'Amru. After re-tracing and re-reading its complex inscription, the author concluded it was actually about a previously unknown personality named 'Akdi, possibly a high ranking Arab soldier in the Roman army or an Arab tribal leader, not the burial stone of King Umru' al-Qays or even about him. Similarly, the author proves beyond doubt that the important Umm al-Jimal Nabataean Arabic inscription was not the burial stone of Faihru bin Sali, but Faru' bin Sali. The two inscriptions are among only four Nabataean inscriptions believed by Western scholars to be written in the old Arabic language. These are referenced heavily today as evidence linking the Arabic script to the Nabataean Aramaic script. Utilizing classic Arabic and grammar tools and challenging their accuracy at times, the author findings in this book could potentially amend several historical and linguistic facts as told today by history textbooks. In his book, the author, a known Arabic type designer, studies with an investigative expert eye the early shapes of the pre-Islamic Arabic script and compares them to those of Musnad Arabic and late Nabataean Aramaic inscriptions, in addition to those of the early Islamic Arabic manuscripts and papyri. He concludes that the early Arabic script was not an evolved Nabataean script, but likely an independently derived script of the old Musnad Arabic script, with clear Nabataean influence. Although this book is conceived as a reference tool for scholars and researchers, other readers may find its topics and captivating arguments valid enough to debate and to study further. All chapters can be read independently. There are more than 40 figures and illustrations to aid the reader throughout the book. The first two chapters are intended as introductory essays regarding the history of Arabia (people and language) and the role of Western scholarship. To facilitate the selective and independent reading of the last three chapters, which presents the author research findings and conclusions, the book included (in addition to the chapter-specific references already offered throughout the whole book) chapter-specific introductions and conclusions.

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About the author (2011)

Arabic type designer, independent scholar, librarian, and systems engineer. Born 1958 in Sacramento, California, and grew up in Karbala and Baghdad, Iraq. Moved to New York in 1979, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Science in Library and Information Sciences. Served for 12 years as a Senior and Supervising Librarian in the New York Public Library, specializing in Arabic, Science, and Business subjects. Served for 15 years as a Systems Librarian and a library IT director in the City University of New York (CUNY.) A known and active Arabic type designer especially noted for his non-traditional, innovative, Arabic typeface designs. Awarded a US design patent in 2000 and a utility patent in 2003 for his Mutamathil Type Style, an open template for simplified, technology-friendly, Arabetic font designs. Published several articles in scholarly journals about Arabic script history, typography, and computing. Contributes regularly to discussions on Arabic script related topics on international typography and archeology forums.

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