- May 2016
In the famous words of Colin Powell - so what? He's well read and well-written - when someone is out of the square it's ok to take his/her opinion esp. when you know that truth lies behind it. I am an academic and I take it seriously.
You state here that you are an academic and you said that you use Salloum’s articles when you teach. Well, I hope you don’t use this specific article and that he writes much better in his other articles.
I must say that in my times as a college student I would present this paper to my teacher of Medieval History, I would be called to his office and his words wouldn’t be nice.
But this isn’t a paper to present to a teacher, this is an “article”, that he, a published author, published.
You surely know that there are usually two kind of articles, the Academic/Scientific ones to be published in specific magazines that can be reviewed by peers, and the ones more “light”, more generic, broad-ranging, appropriate to be published in magazines bought by the general public (for instance: “History Today” some years ago, but now mostly online magazines). In the first case the language is more specific, more academic and the citations need to be fully made, in the second case the language is more loose and in the citations usually only the author and the book title is mentioned. Salloum’s linked article doesn’t even fulfil the second criteria.
Then we have a vague terminology “The Arabs are said to have been the first people to practice chivalry …” and “the Arabs are said to have been the first people to make” – who said this? Well, if Salloum knows, he keeps us in the ignorance. The question is not if the sentences are true or false, the question is that they are vague and unsupported.
Then Salloum quotes a certain “Gustav Leabeon” (he hope that the name is well written and not another Abanese):
“Gustav Leabeon writes that Islam, in its early days, gave women exactly the position that European women would take centuries to achieve. Leabeon concludes that after the chivalry of Andalusia (Spain) filtered into Europe, courteous behavior towards women became the main theme of European chivalry.”
And the second sentence is the main claim of Salloum in the article. It is here that he passes from the Chivalry among the Arabs to the European Chivalry, but again he forgets to identify the work, and not even in the end, when we can read “Books referenced in this article” we see a mention to Gustav Leabeon or to his work. Unless he is the Gustave Le Bon that you mentioned, the 19th century author with his work available online at the Université du Quebec, that I linked in a previous post.
Salloum ends the first part of the “article” with a mention to Titus Burckhardt, giving us this time the name of the work, in bold chracters, “Moorish Culture in Spain” and with the quote “Burckhardt maintains that the glorification of women and the depiction of noble knights with their many virtues came about as a result of the impact of the Arab qualities in battles, literature and daily lives — characteristics not familiar in the world of Christendom (in the 7th through 10th centuries — ed.).” No comment or explanation of Burckhardt’s words is given to the reader. Burckhardt dixit, so it must be true.
If we move on to the second part of the article we have the sub-title “Saladin, Chivalry and the Crusades” and Salloum begins “During the Arab era in the Iberian Peninsula and the years of the Crusades, chivalry with all its attributes was transferred to Western Europe.” So we think, OK, now the author is going to explain us how this happened. But no. He moves on, “Romantic chivalry as pursued in medieval Europe is nothing more than the continuation of al-furusiyyah al-arabiya.” and that quotes “Abanese” as a prove. Abanese dixit. Or Ipse dixit.
A couple of paragraphs ahead, Salloum opens it in a stlyte that is already familiar to us in this “article”: “It is said that chivalry was the most prominent characteristic of the Moors in the Iberian Peninsula.” The reason is again, that if it is said… than is true. And here it seems that we must assume that the Moors here are the Arabs and not the Berbers, or the Muslims in general.
In the following paragraph Salloum begins again “A historian once wrote…”
But than he has one of the most surprising sentences: “El-Cid, who was greatly influenced by Moorish culture, especially its poetry, composed a poem which is the oldest and finest ballad of medieval Spanish verse and is said to have given birth to the songs of chivalry in Christian Spain.”
Did I understood right and Salloum just said the El-Cid is the author of the Poem about El-Cid? Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was a poet and is the author of “El cantar del mío Cid”? A epic poem that for centuries is atributd to an anonymous? That is a major discovery by Salloum, but again he fails to explain how he reached there. He just says “and is said…”
About the author and the date of the poem there is an interesting work online at Biblioteca Virtual Cervantes, by Timoteo Riaño Rodríguez and Maria del Carmen Gutiérrez Aja: http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/des...-cid-2--fecha-y-autor-del-cantar-de-mo-cid-0/
Jumping a bit, this is already long post, I saw a quite interesting sentence: “During the 14th century, an epic poem about Saladin was circulated in Europe” but Salloum fails to mention poem’s name. I presume that is this one: Le Pas Saladin : an old French poem of the third crusade / by Frnk E. Lodeman : Lodeman, Frank Emile : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive, but since Salloum didn’t stated the question mark remains.
Then: “and Dante included him among the virtuous pagan souls in Limbo in his Inferno”. Unfortunately I am not an expert in Dante but what does these two examples prove besides the idea that Saladin was seen had a virtuous glorified image in Europe? It doesn’t prove that the Chivalry came from the Arab world. These quotes seem to be that Salloum his showing to us his erudition, that failed to him some paragraphs back.
When we finally have a reasonable quote, from R.A. Nicholson, we have a “perhaps”: “The chivalry of the Middle Ages is, perhaps, ultimately traceable to heathen Arabia.”
So with the “perhaps” quote, Sollum concludes a few sentences after: “As such, chivalry became part of the many Arab contributions to the West”.
Again, Sollum’s problem in the article is not to defend the Arab influence in the Medieval Europe, many good academics made that before, Sollums problem in this article is that he shows to us that he is not a historian and lacked here the tools to prove to us his conjectures, writing a text full of unproved assumptions, vague terminology, wrong names of authors, quotes badly done, and with a few errors.
Andalus, since you give his articles in your classes to the students, I really hope that his other articles are better as I hope that his culinary books are better.
I almost done a “review” here, it was not my intent, usually a forum post isn’t the adequate place for that, but feel free to comment my mistakes or if you don’t agree to “review” positively the “article”.