1,000-Year-Old Muslim Joke Book Found

http://news.discovery.com/history/muslim-joke-book-121127.html

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An 11th-century book by a revered Baghdad Muslim scholar turns out to be a tongue-in-cheek guide for party crashers, according to the researcher who translated the book into English.

The tome was originally authored by al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, a well known scholar of the Prophet Mohammed’s teachings.

According to Emily Selove of the University of Manchester, who did the translation, he wrote the book to remind readers “that every serious minded person needs to take a break.”

She continued, “This book, which contains flirtation, profanity, and even a little drunkenness, is a lot of fun and offers a rather different perspective to the austere image Islam has from that period. The reality is that the Baghdad of 1,000 years ago was actually rather Bohemian — it wasn’t perfect by any means — but not the violent and repressive society you might imagine it was.”

“Such ignorance is probably down to the fact that so little of the huge body of literature produced at that time has been translated into English. There’s so much more to do.”

Selove, however, added, “Though it’s light and really quite an enjoyable read, there are serious messages too. The book is about generosity and encouraging individuals to express themselves eloquently and clearly.”

“It also suggests that turning a hungry person away from a place laden with food was cruel — as food was sometimes in short supply to the poor. It castigated those who turned gate crashers away from parties as misers. You do not turn people away if they are hungry.”

(more at the link above)

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