November 21, 2017, 07:20:58 PM

Author Topic: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey  (Read 1284 times)

Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« on: October 16, 2017, 08:59:22 PM »
I'm looking for some resources on the places and times - custom/dress/history.

Anyone have any book recommendations?

Offline RobertS

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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2017, 10:27:47 PM »
It would be hard to even come close to being true to the era to not have religious practice be a predominant feature. Your story does not need to be theological, but the language and idioms should be dripping with such.

The first thing to do is read the Koran. It is not that long a read. The next thing to read some of the hadith or teachings of those who knew the Prophet, peace be upon him, and came after. This will tell you what their points of view were. Most schools of Islamic understanding follow the hadith despite instruction in the Koran to deny the value of all hadith. (This (Quran) is not fabricated hadith, but an authentication of what is with you, a detailed account of all things and guidance and mercy for people who believe. 12:111) Also do not ever mention the Prophet, may peace be upon him, without saying may peace be upon him.

As far as customs go, the most important is to greet people. In that day and age, good people, Christian, Jewish and Islam considered wishing God's peace on someone and blessing their house in the same manner a required act. Shalom aleichem was said by Jews and it was advised to be said and said by Jesus. (Mathew 10:12)  The Talmud explains that "The entire Torah is for the sake of the ways of shalom." The Quran tells you that Allah rewards your using full and formal greetings. Wishing the peace and prosperity of Allah on people you meet, regardless of their faith is best. With, of course, a few caveats added to the Quran for dealing with rude Jews who deny the value of the Quran. The Arabic version of the greeting is As-salamu alaykum with the response, wa?alaykumu as-sal?m. In English this translates to "May the peace of God be with you." This has the response, "And also with you."

As far as fantasy goes, you may once more, be crossing the border into religion. To repeat a discussion I had on Islam with a fairly liberal and open minded practitioner of the faith, "No one who practices Islam, denies the existence of the Jinn." Surah 72 is titled Al-Jinn and is about the Jinn. It is mostly an affirmation by the Jinn saying that this Quran is the truth and it's enemies will burn in hell. Sadly it does not give much detail on the Djinn so you will have to resort to hadith to get more feel for the beliefs of the time.
The following may give you a bit of the feel you are looking for,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0MMDvStKuE




 
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2017, 10:51:25 PM »
I would need to know your purposes - are you attempting to use those actual places as a setting or as inspiration for something else? If a setting, I would discriminate significantly between N. Africa and Turkey. And even within either of those regions, great variances existed between outwardly very similar cultures. In N. Africa, for example, Bedouins can be both more and less forgiving than their cosmopolitan counterparts, depending on a variety of factors.

If your interest is for inspiration for something fantastic (i.e., non-historical), you can find all kinds of materials on the many, many peoples in and around those regions. And while Religion is King, as Robert pointed out, Trade is Queen, and the King always follows her lead. Islam, when properly adhered to, is/was among the most tolerant of faiths because Muslim lands have always been reliant on trade from elsewhere. For my part, I have always found the Arabs I encountered very strange (not bad, just very different) - they'll pick their nose while talking to you but even a muffled fart is an enormous taboo. The taboos of the left hand and women are especially interesting. The hijab is an exaggeration of a modest fable of Mohammed advising a vain woman to be less vain by covering her hair that became a literal prohibition of women's hair being uncovered. Fascinating creatures, human beings. Doomed, but fascinating.
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Offline Jmack

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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2017, 11:10:12 PM »
Calling @Saraband, the Forum’s resident Islam/Medieval scholar.  :)
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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2017, 12:16:14 AM »
Thanks for the tips. I write a not-Earth fantasy serial. I want the characters to travel to not-Turkey and not-Africa, but for readers who know something about those places to feel like it's believable.

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2017, 12:58:47 AM »
Ahh, well that's a an Arabian horse of a different color. My observations having roamed some areas of Africa and the Middle East with a writer's eyes and ears are these. I am not saying they're universally true, only that they struck me that way and have remained undisproved for a long time:
- The Africans I encountered, which varied in race/ethnicity,  faith, and sophistication were extreme in their interactions with each other and with strangers: in good times they were friendlier, more generous and hospitable, and more full of humor. In bad times, they can be terrible enemies without remorse.
- They have a quiet, nonchalant courage. I met a boy who herded goats through lion-country with nothing more than a short stick. He thought nothing of it.
- The peoples of Africa and the Middle East that I have met and fought with/against are patient to an extent a smartphone-using Westerner cannot fully appreciate. They can, and do, sit on the ground and watch everything for days and recall the useful bits easily. They notice small things and do a lot of thinking - my personal least-favorite kind of enemy.
- Their approach to hierarchy feels different from the West, and reminded me a little of some Russians I knew, but more primitive. Russians rarely will display dissent with authority, not even with silence. Africans also speak against authority, but typically with smiles, shrugs, and silence.
- People in remote, desert areas expect to give and receive hospitality, especially the sharing of water. To not share water is to invite the finger and yells, or worse. To give water is the equivalent of inviting someone over for dinner - they are gracious and appreciative.
- Not being a sociologist, I don't know whether these regions' patriarchal societies differ from others in other places, but being the father of three sons earned me great esteem.
- In Africa, my black teammates were not treated as well as I. To the Africans, I was a foreigner, and so I enjoyed a context-less status. But to them, my black friends were Africans without a tribe - a low thing, indeed.
- An elephant-guard/forest Ranger asked me to come with him to kill white poachers - I think he honestly believed my being white would give me an edge. Or maybe it was my advanced weapons and helicopters that came when I called. I politely refused. He looked at me with contempt - I think any decline of combat is a bad, bad thing.
Hope these observations were thought-provoking.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2017, 01:01:09 AM by The Gem Cutter »
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"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline Yora

Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2017, 09:15:30 AM »
The hijab is an exaggeration of a modest fable of Mohammed advising a vain woman to be less vain by covering her hair that became a literal prohibition of women's hair being uncovered. Fascinating creatures, human beings. Doomed, but fascinating.
The story I was told in university is that it comes Mohammed amassing a huge army of allies, mercenaries, and repentant bandits who were basically camping on his front yard and he was asking his daughter to get fully dressed when going outside.
The vanity story I know from Buddhism, where the primary story about a nun is about the Buddah's mother wanting to join and he questions her motives since the fame of her son has been going to her head. So he very reluctantly allows her to join, but gives her several additional rules to prevent her exploiting the other followers as her personal servants. That these clearly unique circumstances are generally taken to mean that nuns have much more rules than monks is rather questionable.
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2017, 11:19:07 AM »
Hell, I'm old and one faith's fables sound a lot like the others these days. You might be right Yora :)
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"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2017, 09:00:03 PM »
For pre Islamic Turkey, I presume we are talking the Byzantines? It might be worth looking at the work of John Julius Norwich. I cannot be more precise I'm afraid, as I mainly know him from his work on Norman Sicily (itself a fascinating period that touches somewhat on medieval Islamic North Africa, as Sicily was very much part of that world before the Normans came), but I do know he has done a lot on the Byzantine Mediterranean in general.

Offline RobertS

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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2017, 09:20:35 PM »
George Lamsa argued that the Arabic culture was remote and largely unchanged from the time of Jesus until WWII. This was part of his discussion of why a translation from the Arabic Bible was likely to be closer to the original than a translation from Greek. His argument was that the idioms would be unchanged. George Lamsa translated the Lamsa Bible. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamsa_Bible

This would mean two things for you. One is that the culture is stable or at least stagnant. No real changes from grandfather to son. The other is that your sources don't need to be terribly ancient. Any old sources of information could be useful to you.
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Offline Rostum

Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2017, 10:47:57 PM »
Try this for some absurdly good poetry as well as giving insight into Syrian life during his time.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/50457/50457-h/50457-h.htm

Offline Lanko

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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2017, 12:17:20 AM »
For pre Islamic Turkey, I presume we are talking the Byzantines? It might be worth looking at the work of John Julius Norwich. I cannot be more precise I'm afraid, as I mainly know him from his work on Norman Sicily (itself a fascinating period that touches somewhat on medieval Islamic North Africa, as Sicily was very much part of that world before the Normans came), but I do know he has done a lot on the Byzantine Mediterranean in general.

No, those were Orthodox Greeks. Turkey back then was called the Ottoman Empire. Slowly it kept expanding by conquering advancing province after province of the Byzantines during most of the 12-13th centuries, until in 1452 they finally conquered Constantinople (present day Istambul).
It remained the Ottoman Empire until after the end of World War I where though internal strife, revolutions and dissolution they became Turkey.

Curiously my knowledge of the Ottomans come from pretty similar sources, though instead of Norman Sicily I was reading about Venice.
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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2017, 04:38:58 PM »
For pre Islamic Turkey, I presume we are talking the Byzantines? It might be worth looking at the work of John Julius Norwich. I cannot be more precise I'm afraid, as I mainly know him from his work on Norman Sicily (itself a fascinating period that touches somewhat on medieval Islamic North Africa, as Sicily was very much part of that world before the Normans came), but I do know he has done a lot on the Byzantine Mediterranean in general.

No, those were Orthodox Greeks. Turkey back then was called the Ottoman Empire. Slowly it kept expanding by conquering advancing province after province of the Byzantines during most of the 12-13th centuries, until in 1452 they finally conquered Constantinople (present day Istambul).
It remained the Ottoman Empire until after the end of World War I where though internal strife, revolutions and dissolution they became Turkey.

Curiously my knowledge of the Ottomans come from pretty similar sources, though instead of Norman Sicily I was reading about Venice.

?

He said pre-Islamic Turkey.
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2017, 05:42:21 PM »
It depends on what he meant by that and I didn't understand if he meant the region or the people.

If he meant just the Turkish present day region, then pre-islamic Turkey means that was the Byzantine Empire, populated by Orthodox Greeks.

If he meant the Turkish people, pre-Turkey was the Ottoman Empire, who were always Muslims (so pre-islamic as a people doesn't actually exist), conquered other Muslim/non-muslim regions in the Middle East and only then slowly starting conquering lands that were originally Greek and only in 1920~ switched from Ottoman Empire to Republic of Turkey.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 05:48:01 PM by Lanko »
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Re: Medieval Islamic North Africa / Pre Islamic Turkey
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2017, 09:24:47 PM »
It depends on what he meant by that and I didn't understand if he meant the region or the people.

If he meant just the Turkish present day region, then pre-islamic Turkey means that was the Byzantine Empire, populated by Orthodox Greeks.

If he meant the Turkish people, pre-Turkey was the Ottoman Empire, who were always Muslims (so pre-islamic as a people doesn't actually exist), conquered other Muslim/non-muslim regions in the Middle East and only then slowly starting conquering lands that were originally Greek and only in 1920~ switched from Ottoman Empire to Republic of Turkey.

Gotcha. Yeah, I wasn't sure entirely sure what OP wanted either. Although I'd always assumed you could refer to the Ottoman and Seljuk empires as Turkish - as in they were ethnically Turkish - but going by the wiki article which says they used Turk as an insult, maybe not.

I'm gonna set up a bat signal for @Skip too, as I'm pretty sure he's been aking a living off of this period of history for a long time.
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