Arabic and Hebrew Love Poems in Al-Andalus
By Shari Lowin
Routledge – 2014 – 328 pages
Arabic and Hebrew Love Poems in al-Andalus investigates a largely overlooked subset of Muslim and Jewish love poetry in medieval Spain: hetero- and homo-erotic love poems written by Muslim and Jewish religious scholars, in which the lover and his sensual experience of the beloved are compared to scriptural characters and storylines.
This book examines the ways in which the scriptural referents fit in with, or differ from, the traditional Andalusian poetic conventions. The study then proceeds to compare the scriptural stories and characters as presented in the poems with their scriptural and exegetical sources. This new intertextual analysis reveals that the Jewish and Muslim scholar-poets utilized their sacred literature in their poems of desire as more than poetic ornamentation; in employing Qur’anic heroes in their secular verses, the Muslim poets presented a justification of profane love and sanctification of erotic human passions. In the Hebrew lust poems, which utilize biblical heroes, we can detect subtle, subversive, and surprisingly placed interpretations of biblical accounts.
Moving beyond the concern with literary history to challenge the traditional boundaries between secular and religious poetry, this book provides a new, multidisciplinary, approach to existing materials and will be of interest to students, scholars and researchers of Islamic and Jewish Studies as well as to those with an interest in Hebrew and Arabic poetry of Islamic Spain.
Introduction Part I: Outsiders as Lovers 2 “He has slain me like Uriah”: Ibn Mar Shaul’s Unexpected Love Triangle 3 The Gazelle and the Golden Calf: Reading the Footprints in the Sand Part II: Lovers and other Liars 4 “His Instruments are the Instruments of Simeon and Levi”: Ibn Gabirol and the Silence of Jacob 5 The Flames of Love and Fire of Abraham: Salvation through Incineration Part III: Unsuitable Love: Family Members as Lovers 6 Poetic Justice for the Rape of Tamar: Ibn Gabirol’s Critique of David 7 The Cloak of Joseph: Ibn Hazm and the Therapeutic Power of Romantic Love Part IV: The Hermeneutics of Desire 8 Surprise Kisses and the Burning Bush: Ibn al-Milh and the Metaphysics of Passion
Shari L. Lowin is Associate Professor in the Religious Studies Department at Stonehill College, teaching Islamic and Jewish Studies. Her research focuses on early Islamic intellectual thought, and its interplay with midrashic and rabbinic materials.