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  • Print publication year: 1983
  • Online publication date: May 2012

19 - Fables and legends in pre-Islamic and early Islamic times

Arabic fables and legends are inseparable from Arabian thought. They reveal every fashion, involve every social class and reflect every change in the evolution of Arabic literature. Arabian legend is ultimately derived from stories common to the Ancient Eastern civilization. Proof of the existence of Ancient Eastern prototypes in the Arabian fable during the Prophet's lifetime is provided by Ibn Ishaq as he describes Muhammad's enemies in Mecca. Two principal sources which shed light on the earliest corpus of Arabian legend; pre-Islamic poetry and the Persian-influenced Märchen collections of Umayyad and early 'Abbasid times. Fables of the pagan Jurhumites and their activities in Mecca's shrines, of which they were custodians, are to be found integrated with the records of the Banu Israil, the Amalekite. Early South Arabians, who were well equipped to relate the legends of the orient at large, as well as the glories of Himyar, occupy a unique place in this rich and rewarding genre of Arabic literature.
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Arabic Literature to the End of the Umayyad Period
  • Online ISBN: 9780511659409
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