The Maqamat of Al-Hariri: A Medieval Travelogue is Year of Arabian Peninsula's First Event

August 27, 2014

The opening lecture for the Year of Arabian Peninsula explores the meanings behind a centuries-old piece of Islamic satire, while discussing what it might also say about the modern world.

The Maqamat of Al-Hariri: A Medieval Pictoral Travelogue will be held Thursday Aug. 27 in Social Sciences 1019. Dr. Sandra Bird, Professor of Art Education at KSU will lead the discussion.

She will examine The Maqamat, a collection of ancient stories that have been told and retold throughout the Muslim world since the 10th century. The version written by Al-Hairi of Basra describes the journeys of a merchant who befriends a half-saint, half-charlatan character named Abu Zayd. The stories are considered ancient satire, and act as an “Op-ed of Medieval Islamic literature and visual culture.”

In addition to a discussion about what these stories say about the time they were written, the presentation includes responses from contemporary Muslims living in America. These interviews provide a sophisticated portrait of The Maqamat’s place in past, present, and future Islamic society.

Be sure to attend all the other informative events that are part of the year-long Year of Arabian Peninsula.

-Patrick Harbin