The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, June 05, 2016

The lawful madina

Lewis in p. 33 interprets the "madîna" as a place of dîn, presumably from the locationy maf'il- or maf'al-form which has given to our blogposts today the majlis and the mamlaka. I always thought both terms came from Aramaic; Lewis agrees (I would be footnoting at least Arthur Jeffery here). Aramaic and Arabic are both West Semitic, so maybe Syriac has a "map'il" as well. Tom Holland has taught me that Biblical Hebrew had something like this, giving us the various Maqômîm of Abraham.

We already know from Kerr's work that dîn in Semitic refers to judgement and law, which survives in the Qur'an in the yawm al-dîn. Only in Persian, which is completely unrelated, do we coincidentally get dên for a "religious" expression of faith.

Of course in Islamic fiqh (and possibly in late-stage Zoroastrianism) dîn and dên connote the same thing. So where the Aramaic madinté was the city of the region's court, and in old Arabic royal Ctesiphon-and-Seleucia were the twin mada'in; in Islam the only Madîna was Yathrib, the kursi (not mere majlis!) of Muhammad.

posted by Zimri on 12:43 | link | 0 comments

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