On the Anniversary of Jurji Zaydan’s Birth, that Bad Bitch Shajar al-Dur and 5 More

“Shajar al-Dur was the wife of a 13th century Ayyubid sultan based in Cairo. When he died unexpectedly, she pretended he was still alive, presided over the defeat of the 7th Crusade, and then had herself named Sultana. But no Top 10 singles, sadly.”


When Arabophones Weren’t Arabs: Ibn Qutaybah and Identity Formation During the Early Period of Islam

“The book should also be interesting to  people who study medieval history of the rest of the world, because this was a time, in the post-Roman world, in which the identities of the modern European nations — the Franks, the Anglo Saxons, and even German identities — were being constructed in Europe. It’s really at the same time that Arabness was being constructed in the Middle East, so from a comparative perspective of the birth of modern nations, this book would be very helpful to people who know a lot about how Anglo Saxon identity was constructed, for instance.”