ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Jabartī’s (1753–1825) ʿAjāʾib al-āthār is the swan song of Arabic traditional historiography, composed by an author aware of the crucial role of European imperialism and its impact upon Islamic civilization. In composing this historical masterpiece, al-Jabartī was able to combine the Islamic religious and secular sciences of his day, and to do so as a critical author sensitive to the Islamic value system of justice and welfare. The study of Professor Shmuel Moreh from the Hebrew University reveals for the first time the traits of an ideal Muslim ʿālim as an advisor to the Mamluk rulers. Al-Jabartī’s main recommendation is to adhere to the Quranic principle “to enjoin good and forbid evil”. Thus he could criticize the tyranny of Muḥammad ʿAlī and the corruption of his contemporary religious scholars. The second principle is: “Power leads to corruption and oppression.” Therefore, the ʿulamāʾ should abstain from acquiring political power and from asking Mamluk emirs for favors. They should behave according to Qurʾanic regulations. Al-Jabartī believes that God rules the Universe through reward and punishment, and that Muḥammad ʿAlī’s restrictions on the influence of the ʿulamāʾ is a punishment from God for not following Islamic Law. By massacring the Mamluks (1811), the new ruler was able to implement his vision of a modern Egyptian state.
SHMUEL MOREH is Emeritus Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the Institute of Asian and African Studies of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was formerly Professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan and Chair of the Department of Arabic Language and Literature at Hebrew University (1979–1981).
During his career, Professor Moreh spent many periods abroad, namely as a Fellow at the Center for Near Eastern Studies of UCLA and as a Visiting Professor of Arabic Literature at UC-Berkeley’s Center for Near Eastern Studies, the G. von Grunebaum Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UCLA, and the Universities of Bonn (Germany), London University (SOAS), Manchester (UK), Life Member of Clare Hall (Cambridge-England), Helsinki University (Finland), Leiden University (The Netherlands), Oxford-Yarenton (England), Maryland University (USA), and Edinburgh University, Scotland.
Awarded the Israel Prize Laureate in 1999, Professor Moreh has received fellowships and grants from the Israel Academy for Scientific Research (Jerusalem), CNRS-Paris, The British Council Scholarship, The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), The German Israeli Foundation (GIF), The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) (Paris-France), and Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and Yarenton-Oxford (England).