In this packet we look at works that span nearly a thousand yearsäóîfrom shortly after the foundation of Islam in the seventh century to the seventeenth century when the last two great Islamic empiresäóîthe Ottoman and the Safavidäóîhad reached their peak. Although the definition of Islamic art usually includes work made in Mughal India, it is beyond the scope of this packet. The works we will look at here come from as far west as Spain and as far east as Afghanistan.
A fusion of linguistic, religious, and ethnic groups with rich diverse roots and intersecting histories make up South Africa. However, the literature on most of the smaller groups tends to be thin and uneven, and often tends to relegate them to the margins of the country's major narratives. This innovative study introduces readers to a fascinating world of linguistic, religious, and cultural politics in the South African port city of Durban, from around 1950, the world of the Arabic Study Circle. This Association was led by a group of largely middle class Indian Muslim Gujurati-speaking men who were passionate about breaking out of the narrow confines of their origins and connecting to a larger changing world of learning rooted in Arabic and an Islamic modernity. They were gentlemen who believed in the transformative powers of reading and conversation. They exemplify the broader process common among educated, but disadvantaged, people in apartheid South Africa, and across the decolonised world in search for meaning community and authenticity.