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Solomon and Mythic Kingship in the Arab-Islamic Tradition: Qaṣīdah, Qurʾān and Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ

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Abstract

This article contrasts techniques from non-narrative, poetic and Qur'ānic texts with the narratives of Qisas al-anbiyā (the Stories of the Prophets) in order to interpret passages on Sulaymān/Solomon in pre- and early Arabic-Islamic texts. Beginning with the renowned non-narrative Sulaymān passage in the pre-Islamic poet al-Nābighah al-Dhubyānī's ode of apology to the Lakhmid king al-Nu'mān ibn al-Mundhir and several Qur'ānic passages concerning Sulaymān, the article compares these to the eminently narrative prose renditions of Solomonic legend that appear in Qur'ānic commentary and the (related) popular Stories of the Prophets (Qisas al-anbiyā'). I argue that verbal structures and rhetorical techniques characteristic of non-narrative forms such as poetry and the Qur'ān have the effect of preserving and stabilizing the essential panegyric (poetic) or salvific (Qur'ānic) message in a manner that the constantly mutating popular narrative forms neither strive for nor achieve.

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... Here I would concur with Suzanne Stetkevych's criticism of Aziz al-Azmeh and argue that "Judaic kingship", at least in this mythic form, was a very tangible influence on Islamicate monarchy. 89 This has a further consequence for Ottoman and Islamic historiography. Perhaps the search for the roots of Ottoman political thought in Turko-Mongol, Persian, and classical Islamic political theories of khanate, pādishāhī and caliphate misses something important. ...
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