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Shahîd, Irfan 1926- (Irfan Arif Shahîd)

Shahîd, Irfan 1926- (Irfan Arif Shahîd)

PERSONAL:

Born January 15, 1926, in Nazareth, Palestine (now Israel); immigrated to the United States, 1951; naturalized U.S. citizen; son of Arif and Adma Shahîd; married 1976. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Oxford University, B.A., 1951; Princeton University, Ph.D., 1954. Religion: Eastern Orthodox. Hobbies and other interests: Music, literature, poetry, swimming.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Washington, DC. Office—Georgetown University, ICC, Ste. 306, Washington, DC 20057. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and historian. Indiana University—Bloomington, Bloomington, assistant professor, 1960-62, associate professor, 1962-63; Georgetown University, Washington, DC, professor of Arabic, 1963—, Andrew W. Mellon Fund Distinguished Lecturer in Language and Living, 1977-79, Sultanate of Oman Professor of Arabic and Islamic Literature, 1981—. Center for Byzantine Studies, junior fellow in Arab-Byzantine relations, 1959-60, visiting fellow, 1972-73. Contributor to the sound recording An Evening of Arabic Poetry, 2004.

MEMBER:

Middle East Studies Association of North America, American Oriental Society, Mediaeval Academy of America, American Association of Teachers of Arabic.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Fulbright fellowship, 1968-69; named life member, Clare Hall, Cambridge, 1989.

WRITINGS:

The Martyrs of Najrân, Société des Bollandistes (Brussels, Belgium), 1971.

Rome and the Arabs: A Prolegomenon to the Study of Byzantium and the Arabs, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington, DC), 1984.

Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth Century, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington, DC), 1984.

Al-Awda ila Shawqi (in Arabic), Al-Ahliyya (Beirut, Lebanon), 1986.

Byzantium and the Semitic Orient before the Rise of Islam, Variorum Reprints (London, England), 1988.

Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington, DC), 1989.

Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington, DC), Volumes 1-2, 1995, Volume 3, 2001.

Contributor to books, including Cambridge History of Islam, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1970; Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, E.J. Brill (Leiden, Netherlands), 1998; Tradition, Modernity, and Post-modernity in Arabic Literature, edited by Kamal Abdel-Malek and Wael Hallaq, E.J. Brill, 2000; The Encounter of Eastern Christianity with Early Islam, E.J. Brill, 2006; and foreword to Early Medieval Arabic: Studies on Al-Khalil Ibn Ahmad, 1998. Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Journal of the American Oriental Society, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Journal of Semitic Studies, and Dumbarton Oaks Papers.

SIDELIGHTS:

Irfan Shahîd's book Rome and the Arabs: A Prolegomenon to the Study of Byzantium and the Arabs was the first of four volumes concerning Arab history. The second volume was titled Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth Century. Fergus Millar, a reviewer in the Times Literary Supplement, called the two books "a major enterprise." A "distinctive feature" of the books, Millar observed, is that they "are designed to set in context, and to help explain, the Islamic conquests." Millar noted that "the ambitious scope of Shahîd's major enterprise … opens up many new perspectives on the great revolution of the seventh century, and will surely reveal more."

C. Edmund Bosworth, reviewing Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century in the American Historical Review, stated that "the study embraces such basic topics as the extent among the Arabs of writing, their literary productions, and the evolution of [the] classic Arabic alphabet." Bosworth called the book a "bold enterprise," for "the author must draw on material from such diverse cultural spheres as the late classical, the Christian Oriental, and the pre-Islamic Arabian ones." James Howard-Johnston, a reviewer in the English Historical Review, reported that "Shahîd traces the ups and downs of the special relationship between Romans and Ghassan (an important Arab tribe on the desert frontage of Palestine and Syria) in considerable detail. He brings the reader face to face with the primary evidence, and then deploys impressive learning in the full analyses that follow."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, October, 1999, C. Edmund Bosworth, review of Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century, pp. 1179-1180.

English Historical Review, April, 1998, James Howard-Johnston, review of Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, pp. 384-385.

Times Literary Supplement, November 15, 1985, Fergus Millar, review of Rome and the Arabs: A Prolegomenon to the Study of Byzantium and the Arabs, pp. 1301-1302.

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