Essays and Features

40 Year-Old Classic Remains Influential: Sadiq Jalal al-Azm’s ‘The Critique of Religious Thought’

By Elie Chalala & Michael Teague

For over 40 years now, Sadiq Jalal al-Azm’s “Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini” (“Critique of Religious Thought”) has been one of the most controversial and influential books about the role of religion in Arab politics. Originally published in 1969 by Dar Al Talia and reprinted in 2009 by the same publisher, al-Azm’s work has been cited in countless articles and books about Arab politics and, according to the Qatari weekly, Al Raya, more than 1500 pages have been written about it.

Remembering Latifa al-Zayyat

By Amal Amireh

Arab cultural circles have recently mourned the loss of the prominent Egyptian intellectual Latifa al-Zayyat, who died of cancer in Cairo on September 10, 1996. She was 73 years old. Her death came soon after she had received Egypt ’s highest State Prize for literature. While the state’s acknowledgment of her achievements was long overdue, al-Zayyat had much popular and collegial support throughout her often difficult life-journey.

The Arab-Christian Predicament Before and After the Rise of the Islamic State

Elie Chalala

Many Mideast scholars and political groups have grown increasingly concerned with the dwindling numbers and persecutions of Mideast Christians. One Lebanese scholar, Dr. Antoine Saad, wrote a book in Arabic, “The Survival of Christians in the East is a Muslim Choice,” where he advances the flawed thesis that the survival of Christians depends wholly upon the Muslim majority (his thesis attributes the survival of the Lebanese Christians to their leadership, a topic not discussed in this essay). His work exonerates Arab Christians from any responsibility for their fate by portraying Arab Christian elites and intellectuals as helpless victims, passive players unable to influence events.

The Arab Novel and Mr. Nobel: Challenges in Genre and Translation

Al Jadid Staff

Every year, prior to the Swedish Academy announcing its Nobel Prize in Literature, many Arabs anxiously wait to hear if their own unofficial candidates will win. The last time this happened Naguib Mahfouz won the prize 28 years ago. This year, not only did no Arab poet or novelist receive the award, but many felt additional disappointment with the Academy’s choice to give the prize to noted musician Bob Dylan. The award angered and disappointed many candidates, leading some to join the chorus of critics who insist the prize should have honored a writer because music does not represent a form of literature.


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