Safa Khulusi (age 24 years) as he appears on the cover of his first novel published in 1941
|Native name||صفاء عبد العزيز خلوصي|
17 August 1917|
8 September 1995 78) (aged|
|Occupation||Linguist, writer, poet, journalist, translator, lexicographer, historian|
Safa Abdul-Aziz Khulusi (Arabic: صفاء عبد العزيز خلوصي; 1917–1995) was an Iraqi historian, novelist, poet, journalist and broadcaster. He is known for mediating between Arabic- and English-language cultures, and for his scholarship of modern Iraqi literature. He is also remembered for his theories on Arabic grammar, on Shakespeare, as well as his role in Islamic education and his work on the poetry of al-Mutanabbi.
Background and career
Khulusi was born in Baghdad, the son of a lawyer. His mother died when he was four years old. His family originates from Khanaqin. His grandfather resettled the family in Baghdad where he served as an officer in the Ottoman army, but was killed during the military withdrawal from Mesopotamia at the end of World War I.
Khulusi was inspired to pursue a literary career from an early age by his uncle, the novelist and poet Abdul-Majid Lutfi. Khulusi travelled to London in 1935 on an academic scholarship, living there until the latter stages of World War II and insisting on staying in the city during The Blitz. He returned to Iraq late in the war.
An Arab nationalist, Khulusi refused a ministerial position in the post-war British administration of Iraq. Instead, he divided his time between Britain and Iraq, establishing an academic career in both countries. His first novel Nifous Maridha (Sick Souls) was published in 1941, when he was 24 years old. His first academic post was as a lecturer in Arabic Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. During his tenure (1945–50) he completed a PhD in Arabic literature in 1947. In 1951 he was appointed as Professor of Arabic at the University of Baghdad. He also served as head of the Arabic Department at Al-Mustansiriya University.
In 1959, Khulusi married Sabiha Al-Dabbagh (1922–1998), one of the first women to graduate as a medical doctor in Iraq. Following postgraduate training in the United States she returned to practice in Baghdad, where she was introduced to Khulusi. She later became a regular contributor to health programmes on the Arabic section of the BBC World Service and a campaigner for women's health in the Middle East. The couple had two children, a son and a daughter.
Khulusi's work mediated modern European and American developments in scholarship. He extended the academic tradition of comparative literature, publishing Dirasat fi al-Adab al-Muqarin wa al-Mathahib al-Adabia (Studies in Comparative Literature and Western Literary Schools) in 1957, and al-Tarjama al-Tahlilia (Analytical Translation) in the same year. Although concentrating on literary and historical scholarship, Khulusi also published novels, short stories and poetry during this period. In addition, he translated modern Iraqi literature into English, publishing a number of translations of the work of Atika Wahbi Al-Khazraji. In Oxford in 1972, he became one of the editors of the Concise Oxford English-Arabic Dictionary of Current Usage which sought to match new developments in both languages. He later published A Dictionary of Contemporary Idiomatic Usage. His books Fann al-Tarjama (The Art of Translation) and Fann al-Taqti' al-Shi'ri wa al-Qafia (The Art of Poetry: Composition and Prosody) were widely read and went through many editions. He was also a regular broadcaster on the BBC's Arabic service and a presenter of cultural programmes on Iraqi television.
While participating in the Arabic literary revival Khulusi attempted to remain ‘neutral’ in the unstable politics of the era. In 1958 the king Faisal II of Iraq and his family were overthrown in a violent revolution. One of their executioners was an army officer who had been one of Khulusi's students. Many years later, when Khulusi met the man again and questioned him on his role in the king's death, the former student answered "all I did was remember Palestine, and the trigger on the machine-gun just set itself off". During Saddam Hussein's regime Khulusi spent most of his time in England where he enjoyed a greater freedom of expression in his writing, returning to Iraq for a couple of months a year to avoid the English winter. On one such visit, he explained to a friend who asked why he didn't remain in Baghdad permanently, "Our roots are here, but it's there that we flower best."
Khulusi was a devout Muslim. He was one of a group of scholars who assisted in the academic and religious reformation of the madrasas in Najaf. Khulusi was elected Chairman of the National Muslim Education Council of the UK. He sought to improve Islamic education, while also supporting co-operation between faiths. He also defended traditions of tolerance within Islam. He wrote widely for Muslim publications.
Islam Our Choice
In his book Islam Our Choice, first published in 1961, Khulusi set out a collection of personal accounts from individuals who converted to Islam from other religions. The extracts, many sourced from The Islamic Review, were collected over a number of years and provide an insight into the spiritual, social and cultural factors that led influential individuals to embrace Islam in the first half of the 20th Century.
Two of the more famous converts included by Khulusi were the Irish peer Rowland Allanson-Winn, 5th Baron Headley (1855–1935) and the English baronet Sir 'Abdullah' Archibald Hamilton 5th and 3rd Baronet (1876–1939). The former became known by the adopted Muslim name Shaikh Rahmatullah al-Farooq. He converted to Islam in 1913 and went on to write several books on Islam, including A Western Awakening to Islam (1914) and Three Great Prophets of the World (1923). The latter, like many others in the book, was attracted to the 'simple purity' of Islam.
Other common themes amongst Western converts to Islam are largely summarised by the American Donald Rockwell, who became a Muslim in 1935. He was inspired by the religion's teachings on temperance and moderation, by its broadminded tolerance of other faiths and by its freedom from idolatry. He also cites Islam's rules on charity and the pioneering declaration on Women's property rights. He remarks on the earnestness of the faithful in answering the call to prayer and the compelling atmosphere of the great mosques of the East in fostering contemplation and self-effacement. Colonel Rockwell was Editor-in-Chief of Radio Personalities and author of Beyond the Brim and Bazaar of Dreams.
Another part of Khulusi's book details some of the influential non-Muslim writers who showed a regard for Islamic teaching, culture and history during the Age of Enlightenment. Amongst these is Simon Ockley, a Cambridge scholar, who is noted for his book History of the Saracens (1712–18), a remarkable publication for its time, because of its generous tone towards Islam. Voltaire is also included for his fight for religious tolerance, outlined in the passionate Traité sur la Tolérance, (1763). Gotthold Lessing, hampered by the censor, gives his ideas the shape of a drama, Nathan der Weise (1779), which he bases on the Oriental legend of the Three Rings. The play, regarded as a defence of religious tolerance and religious values, was later translated into many languages.
Johann Gottfried Herder, an outstanding scholar of theology, approaches the Arabic field through a scholarship of Hebrew literature and poetry. Herder achieves knowledge of Arabic civilisation and becomes familiar with the pre-Muslim poems of the Mu'allaqat, translated and published by Sir William Jones (1783). He earnestly describes Muhammad as "an accomplished offspring of his tribe and town, of his nation and of its history, and a genius in its magnificent language."
In his schooldays Johann Wolfgang von Goethe acquired a copy of the Qur'an in the Classical Latin translation of 1698, which had been re-edited in Leipzig in 1740. The original translation was the work of Louis Maracci (a scholar working with Pope Innocent XI). Goethe translated some of the passages into German and began to design a play about Muhammad, fragments of which remain. Mahomet's Nachthymne is a poem from 1773, the last strophe of which is a monologue of Muhammad and is one of the fragments of the unfinished play. For the first time in Western literature, Goethe represented Muhammad as a prophet of God.
Goethe devoted himself to Oriental studies during the latter stages of the Napoleonic Wars. The result was the West Eastern Divan (1819), which comprises a garland of verses in an Oriental style, deep interpretations of Eastern thought and profound love poems and a set of scholarly essays. In the remarkable prose essays Noten und Anhandlungen Goethe gives the background to Hebrew, Arabic and Persian poetry. The chapter on Muhammad gives the fundamentals of Islam and a character-sketch of the Prophet.
Goethe's Oriental studies are considered an 'escape' from war-ridden Europe to a more peaceful East, where the poet views 'a wise religion, a contented civilisation and elements of the patriarchal age'. This escape he refers to in the title of his poem Hejira. In the poem he says, "When North and West and South splinter, thrones burst and empires tremble, flee to the pure East and breathe the air of the patriarchs." There follows what appears to be the motto of the Divan:
- Gottes ist der Orient,
- Gottes ist der Occident.
- Nord' und suedliches Gelaende,
- Ruht im Frieden seiner Haende.
Thomas Carlyle became an inspired and re-inspiring pupil of Goethe, corresponding with him from 1820 until Goethe's death in 1832. He delivered a series of lectures on heroic leadership which were later compiled into a book, Heroes and Hero-worship (1840). The second lecture was devoted to Muhammad and Islam, in which he refutes misrepresentations "that are disgraceful to ourselves" and gives his own deeply personal and respectful views of Islam based on historic events. He goes on to quote the words of Goethe: “We resign ourselves to God. If this be Islam, do we not all live in Islam?”
Khulusi's book suggests that Western appreciation of Islam became unambiguous and overt in scholastic works during the Age of Enlightenment. It then flourished further as the desire grew for an understanding of the essentials of faith. However, amongst notable intellectuals the impetus had its roots long before then and was intertwined with the quest to learn the language and understand the culture of the Arabs. By the 20th century, appreciation of Islam was also joined by conversion to the religion by those in the West who wished to be associated more closely with the fundamental teachings and practices of Islam.
Abu Nuwas in America
His novel Abu Nuwas fi Amrika (Abu Nuwas in America), written during Khulusi's sojourn in Chicago, has been called an "hilarious satire" recounting the extraordinary adventures that befall the Abbasid poet Abu Nuwas, wine- and boy-lover, when he is miraculously transported into America, from his presence on a stamp brought into that country. Part parody of Arabic works on the bewildering experience of life in the West, part picaresque novel, it has the hero tour the louche subcultures, gay and heterosexual, of America from Queens through Las Vegas to Los Angeles, while rising ineluctably to become an authority in the United States on the Arab world.
Notwithstanding the high satiric energy of the novel, Khulusi's intention was to introduce American culture to an Arab readership. He compares Iraqi and American nationalism and the practice of religion in his adopted culture with the Muslim faith. He concludes that, just as American identity comes from a melting pot of peoples, so too is Arab identity, a cultural commitment by peoples of markedly different ethnic background who have come to intermarry, and replace the allegiance of blood with an attachment to a shared language and culture.
Ibn Jinni’s Commentary on al-Mutanabbi’s poetry
Abi't-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi (d. 965) is considered by Khulusi to be one of the greatest poets of the Arabic language. His work centres on the philosophy of life and praise for his Abbasid Caliph patrons and their military conquests. His extensive work was revised in the latter part of his life by another great poet and friend of the time, Abu al-Fatah Othman Ibn Jinni (d.1002). The revised manuscript was lost for almost ten centuries after Ibn Jinni's death before being rediscovered. In a seminal two volume encyclopedic publication, Khulusi painstakingly dissects out the work of Ibn Jinni and provides linguistic annotations to the alterations made to the original manuscript. He notes that Ibn Jinni's Commentary also reveals important new details about al-Mutanabbi's life.
While at the court of Sayf al-Dawla, Ibn Jinni reports that al-Mutanabbi was "presumptuous and forward in his speech and very bold in addressing Sayf al-Dawla." Some of the lines in the elegy of his patron's mother, as well as those of his late sister, Princess Khawla, were in poor taste. "The eloquent poets would not dare to sing here a single verse but I do, because I am a brave lion!" Al-Mutanabbi is said to have announced. Ibn Jinni goes on to say that al-Mutanabbi's words and expressions were used in such a way that "they did not incur the wrath of kings and princes." According to Khulusi, this opinion was not shared by other commentators of the time and that he certainly made an enemy of a prominent member of Sayf al-Dawla's court, Fatik al-Asadi, by repeatedly referring to him using the epithet al-Majnoon (the mad man).
al-Mutanabbi later joined the court of Abu al-Misk Kafur in Egypt. Khulusi points out that the Commentary is the first evidence that Ibn Jinni himself was in Egypt at the same time. al-Mutanabbi's refusal to compose a eulogy for Ibn Hinzabah (Kafur's Minister) was a profound insult. "He was the main gate to Kafur but Mutanabbi did not pass through it" laments Ibn Jinni, adding that he compounded matters by "his persistent reference to Kafur's blackness." Ibn Jinni claims that he received information from Ibn Hinzabah that al-Mutanabbi "was close to the claws of death" and that "he brought this upon himself." Ibn Jinni credits himself with saving al-Mutanabbi's life and by warning his friend, possibly risking his own. Both men fled Egypt out of fear for their lives and empty handed.
In terms of their work together, Ibn Jinni defends al-Mutanabbi and says that many poets and critics were jealous of him, adding "but whoever was above the ill speech and jealousy of people?" According to Khulusi, this ill feeling was not restricted to literary criticism but extended to personal insults against family members.
Ibn Jinni claims that al-Mutanabbi broke the rules of Arabic rhyme, and of propriety and Khulusi says that the Commentary is in parts a 'battleground' where the poet and the compiler disagree intensely over certain words and phrases. A prime example is also one of the most contentious lines in al-Mutanabbi's poetry, where he disrespectfully refers to the Prophet Muhammad as "The brightest miracle of the Tihami." Ibn Jinni retains this term in his manuscript but qualifies the entire verse with shani al-zahir (of scandalous appearance). He adds that al-Mutanabbi was unconvincing with his excuses. Nevertheless, he also remarks that personal opinions and religious beliefs have nothing to do with the quality of the poetry. Khulusi commends Ibn Jinni for not setting religious or moral boundaries that would have diminished the work.
Another criticism that Ibn Jinni levels at the poet relates to his excessive repetition of certain words. "I told him, you use tha (this) and thi (this) a great deal in your poetry." al-Mutanabbi responds that the poetry was not all composed at one and the same time. According to Khulusi, Ibn Jinni did not simply accept the material that he was presented with but meticulously scrutinised every verse in terms of its language and its aesthetic quality.
Khulusi notes that the Commentary shows evidence that Ibn Jinni played several literary roles as a compiler, reviser, critic and copy editor. He complains however that the greatest difficulty that an editor of Ibn Jinni's Commentary has, is with regards to the hundreds of quotations and annotations that are either illegible or misquoted. He provides examples of the misquoted terms that he is able to check against the original texts cited by Ibn Jinni. Some of the sources were made available to Khulusi by The National Museum of Iraq. He speculates that Ibn Jinni must have either been quoting from memory or using copies that contained variations on the texts that he was able to find.
In the introduction to his Commentary, Ibn Jinni claims that he has verses in his Diwan, that are not included by other editors, which will make "people dispense of all other versions." He later adds that the reference point for alterations in his manuscript was al-Mutanabbi himself and that other manuscripts did not enjoy this advantage. Khulusi compares Ibn Jinni's manuscript with others of al-Mutanabbi's poetry, compiled by various editors, including one held in the British Museum. He identifies the additional verses and other significant variations that he believes are due to emendations by scholars attempting to compensate for the linguistic inconsistencies that al-Mutanabbi was famous for.
In his Commentary Ibn Jinni boasts that he has discerned "the strong and weak parts of al-Mutanabbi's art." Khulusi says that this claim receives a caustic response from one of his contemporaries, Sa'd al-Azdi: “to Ibn Jinni when the construction of al-Mutanabbi is unintelligible, it is a sign of the strength of the art!”
Khulusi reports that some of the annotations in the Commentary are made by individuals other than Ibn Jinni. He identifies some by name while others remain unknown. He remarks that a number of comments ‘scribbled’ in the margins are highly critical of the work and must have been made after the manuscript left Ibn Jinni’s possession. One of the nameless interlopers exasperates at the disregard for the position of the prophets in the work: “This likening of ordinary people to the prophets – may God have peace on them – is unbecoming!” The comment refers to al-Mutanabbi’s line that “every word on Kafur’s ears is like Joseph’s shirt on Jacob’s eyes.”
In other parts of his analysis, Khulusi remarks on a number of characteristics of the poetry, including styles of verse popular amongst later scholars. One rendered example being:
- May we be thy ransom, O’encampment,
- though thou increasest our grief.
- For though hast been the East to our beloved,
- and the West!
In addition, he identifies lines that produced conflicting interpretations by different critics at the time, one illustration being:
- Would that the distance between my beloved ones and myself
- Be the same as that between myself and my calamities!
According to Khulusi, Ibn Jinni’s recension is likely to have been completed after al-Mutanabbi death as the poems are arranged alphabetically rather than in the chronological order of other manuscripts. In addition, Ibn Jinni uses the posthumous formula: ‘may God have mercy on him’ when referring to another editor of al-Mutanabbi’s work. Khulusi believes that based on the evidence contained in the Commentary, Ibn Jinni’s version is probably the most faithful representation of the Diwan as it was intended by al-Mutanabbi.
Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa' and The Arabian Nights
Khulusi’s book Studies in Comparative Literature and Western Literary Schools (1957) provides a critical examination of some of the earliest manuscripts written in the Arabic language, focusing particularly on those that have influenced Western literature and culture.
Khulusi notes that it was during the Caliphate of Abu Ja'far al-Mansur (d.775) that the first Arabic version of Kalila wa Dimna came to light together with other works of the same literary style, namely al-Adab al-kabir (Greater Book of Manners) and al-Adab al-saghir (Lesser Book of Manners). The translation of Kalila wa Dimna from Middle Persian by the scholar Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa' (d.757) provides the first major Arabic literary prose narrative. Khulusi carries out a detailed examination of Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s work and identifies parallels with the early tales of The Arabian Nights. He proposes that Ibn al-Muqaffa' may have played a part in the development of The Nights, and bases his theory on a number of features.
Frame story collection: Khulusi reports similarities between the frame-story of The Nights and that of Kalila wa Dimna. Both have a tyrant king who is only pacified by a single storyteller. In The Nights Sassanid King Shahrayar is pacified by Shahrazad's tales. In Kalila wa Dimna the sage Bidpai and his fables pacify King Dabshalim. In their Arabic form both books originate in the early Abbasid period, combine seriousness with mirth, cater for the 'elite' reader and have another more 'common' side, combine Arab with Persian culture and originate from Middle Persian. The Nights begins with The Tale of the Ox and the Ass, and the opening of Kalila wa Dimna is with The Tale of the Lion and the Ox. He remarks that a number of stories in The Nights, could be paralleled with those of Kalila wa Dimna such as the small collection of beast tales in the 146th Night.
Social factor: Khulusi traces Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s negative view of women through his known works. He finds strident reference to the "lack of permanence of women's love" and their "deceptiveness" in al-Adab al-saghir (p. 75). This is repeated with some modification in Kalila wa Dimna (p. 208). He notes that this view is reiterated in a more protracted passage in al-Adab al-kabir and finds a similar attitude in several tales of The Nights, as well as in the frame-story, where King Shahrayar's wife betrays him with his servants, and Shah Zamaan is deceived by his wife, and the partner of the 'lfrit (Demon) also betrays him.
"Indeed one woman is more like any other, than any food in comparison with any other, and what people possess in the way of food is more diverse and of greater variation than what they have in the way of wives" declares Ibn al-Muqaffa in al-Adab al-kabir (p. 99–100). Khulusi finds an allusion to this in Kalila wa Dimna and a parallel theme in Night 569: A Tale That Implies the Wile of Women and that their Deceit is Great, where the king is offered ninety dishes to eat from, each different in appearance but all tasting exactly the same. The dishes are likened to his ninety concubines, all different in looks and yet the same in their tastes and thoughts.
Linguistic style: Khulusi identifies Ibn al-Muqaffa' as a Mutarassil (epistolary writer) as opposed to a Musajji' (rhymed-prose writer). The Nights is more akin to Tarassul than to saj'. He points out that although The Nights has had significant changes and additions by various contributors, parts of it still retains the distinct vocabulary and style of Ibn al-Muqaffa'. The most obvious being the terms Ayyuha 'l-Malik al-Sa'id (0 Felicitous King) and Qaala wa kayfa kaana dhaalik? (He said, and how was that?). In addition, there is in The Nights the same simplicity of diction, lucidity of unrhymed prose, similarity of aim and theme as well as the cynicism and repetition that Ibn al-Muqaffa' displays in his known work.
Religion: Ibn al-Muqaffa' was a Magian who embraced Islam under the influence of 'Isa Ibn 'Ali, the uncle of al-Mansur. Khulusi believes that Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s earlier creed finds reflections in his writing even after his conversion. He also notes that Magian sentiments are found in The Nights and describes how Magian rites are recorded with an unnatural and unapologetic style. Shirkan, the son of 'Umar al-Nu'man, marries his sister (Night No.86, Suhail edition, Vol. II, p. 207). According to Khulusi, the author does not display any negative sentiments and records this as an act of fate and the child born of incest is named Qudhiya fa-kaan (She was decreed and born). He also notes that proper names that have some connection with 'light' abound in the stories of The Nights.
Ibn al-Muqaffa' was suspected of being a Zindiq (heretic or 'free-thinker') by the Islamic authorities of his time, in part because of his previous creed. Khulusi believes that in addition to his known works, he is therefore likely to have published anonymously, or attributed work to other authors such as Kitab al-Taaj of al-Jahidh, or concealed his views as quotations in larger works as Siyar Muluk al-'Ajam in 'Uyun al-Akhbaar of Ibn Qutaybah and 'Ahd Ardashir (The Covenant of Ardashir), and in Tajaarib al-'Uman (Experiments of The Nations) of Ibn Miskawayh. In The Nights, it would have been very easy for him to hide entire stories anonymously and Khulusi suspects that the entire tale of King Jili'ad is the work of Ibn al-Muqaffa'.
Other factors: In the 10th century, some two hundred years after Ibn al-Muqaffa', al-Fihrist (The Catalogue of Books) was published by Abu'l-Faraj bin Is'hāq al-Nadim. This provides an inventory of books known at that time (mainly those in the Arabic language). It states that the general framework of The Nights was derived from the Middle Persian collection Hazaar Afsaanah (thousand fables). The translator and author of the stories in their Arabic form is unknown to al-Nadim. He records that Abdus al-Jahshiyari (d.942) compiled the stories that were available at that time into a book with additional tales from local story-tellers. Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s known works including Kalila wa Dimna are listed in al-Fihrist and he is described by al-Nadim as Min aI-Summar (a night-discourser). Khulusi suggests that in the same way that Ibn al-Muqaffa' translated Kalila wa Dimna into Arabic, he had the scholastic ability to translate the original fables from Hazaar Afsaanah and to develop these in Arabic and as was customary at that time to verbally relay some of the stories. Different recollections of the tales by various scribes and copyists and later alterations could account for the different versions of the stories and the obscurity of their author.
Khulusi concludes that Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s attempts to conceal some of his writing, together with the different methods by which his translations are likely to have been collected and revised and his untimely death, would have helped to obscure his contributions to the early tales of The Arabian Nights.
Islamic and Arab contributions in the history of science
Khulusi sets out to illustrate the contribution of early Muslim and Arab scholars to modern day science. He begins by saying that the record will not be complete until all the manuscripts in Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad and the key centres in Iran and India are studied and their contents brought to light. From the material available however, he notes that Islamic scientific curiosity and research started as early as 661 C.E. The greatest scientific centre at that time was the Academy of Jundeshpur in modern-day Iran. It was there that Ahron's Pandects was translated from Syriac into Arabic. This was the fifty book digest or abridgement of the decisions, writings and opinions of the old Roman jurists, compiled in the 6th century on the orders of the Emperor Justinian I. The translation of Ahron's Pandects is regarded as the first scientific work in the Arabic language.
Khulusi notes that although the details of scientific pursuits at the time of the Umayyad Caliphate in Damascus are not clear, those of the Abbasids are much more abundant. At the time of the second Abbasid Caliph, Abu Ja'far al-Mansur (d.775), the Academy of Jundeshpur doubled its scientific research activity. It was later joined by another major academic centre, the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, founded by the Caliph Abu Ja'far al-Ma'mun (d.833). The most voluminous part of the Greek scientific legacy was rendered into Arabic through the efforts of these institutions. Several works of eminent Greek scholars lost in their original form were preserved only in their Arabic translations. According to Khulusi, the centre in Baghdad became a great rival to the Jundeshpur Academy, which dwindled and finally disappeared, as its members were drawn one by one to the capital of the Abbasids.
Jabir ibn Hayyan (Latinized name: Gebri Arabis, d.815) is considered to be the father of alchemy. He wrote numerous original scientific treatises based on practical experiments, for the Court of Harun al-Rashid (d.809). He is also credited with publications in a number of other subjects including medicine, biology, astronomy and philosophy. ibn Hayyan's work was highly respected in Europe where he was more commonly referred to by the name 'Geber' (derived from Jabir). His Kitab al-Kimya (Book of Alchemy) was translated into Latin in the 12th century by Robert of Chester, an English scholar of the Arabic language. The name 'Geber' was also borrowed by European alchemists in the 13th century to enhance the credibility of their own publications. Paul of Taranto was one of the alchemists who published under the name 'Geber'. The term 'Latin Geber' or 'Pseudo-Geber' is used to distinguish this European corpus and its authors from the earlier works written in the Arabic language.
Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Kindi (Latinized name: Alkindus, d.874) was commissioned to translate ancient Greek philosophy and science into Arabic. He rapidly progressed to producing his own original treatises on a range of subjects covering both formal and natural sciences. al-Kindi is credited by Abu'l-Faraj al-Nadim in his Catalogue of Books al-Fihrist, with writing over two hundred and sixty books mainly on geometry, physics and philosophy. According to Khulusi, his publications greatly influenced later notable scholars including the English scientist Roger Bacon (d.1294).
Muḥammad al-Khwarizmi (Latinized name: Algoritmi, d.850) was a celebrated mathematician from The House of Wisdom. He is credited with introducing into Europe a number of mathematical concepts from the East. The terms algorism and algorithm are derived from the European version of his name. Algebra, from the Arabic word al-jabur, and the use of Arabic numerals in the West are additional reminders of Algoritmi's lasting legacy.
Muhammad al-Razi (Latinized name: Rhazes, d.932) was one of the most distinguished physicians of the Islamic Golden Age of scholarship. Rhazes' book on smallpox and measles was translated into Latin, then into other important European languages. The English version was reprinted forty times between 1498 and 1886. Amongst his other works, Kitab al-Hawi (The Comprehensive Book) was reproduced in a translated form and had a profound influence on the advancement of European medicine.
According to Khulusi, the greatest Eastern contribution to medicine from the 10th century was in the field of ophthalmology. As late as the first half of the 18th century the translated treatises of Ammar ibn Ali of Mosul were the most authoritative books on eye disease in Europe. His publications were complemented by those of Abu 'Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham al-Basri (Latinized name: Alhazen, d.1020) who produced work that was fundamental to the advancement of optics. Roger Bacon, Leonardo da Vinci (d.1519) and Johannes Kepler (d.1630) were a few of many notables who based their works on Alhazen's Optica Thesaurus, in preference to more contemporary European offerings.
Abu 'Ali al-Husayn ibn Sina (Latinized name: Avicenna, d.1037) introduced a systematization of medical science in his Canon of Medicine, which remained one of the standards on this subject in European universities up to the second half of the 17th century.
Abul Rayhan al-Biruni (Latinized name: Alberonius d.1048) was a natural scientist and physician and a contemporary of Avicenna, with whom he corresponded. Scientific debate and disagreement on some issues was accompanied by consensus on others, for example their support for Alhazen’s theory on vision (which opposed earlier Greek doctrine):
- “It is not a ray that leaves the eye and meets the object that gives rise to vision. Rather the form of the perceived object passes into the eye and is transmitted by its transparent body.”
Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi of Cordoba (Latinized name: Abulcasis, d.1013) wrote a highly influential book on Surgery, al-Tasrif. Its teachings were translated into Latin and adopted into European surgical practice. Many of the instruments that he developed and the procedures that he described were in use in Europe in the Middle-Ages and formed the basis for more modern developments in surgery.
ibn al-Baytar al-Malaqi (d.1248), born in Malaga, Spain, is remembered in the field of early pharmacology. In his book on botany Collection of Simple Drugs, he describes fourteen hundred varieties of plants with known medicinal properties, including many that he personally collected over a belt extending from Spain to Syria. According to Khulusi, Arabic and Islamic pharmacology continued to influence Europe well into the 19th century and ibn al-Baytar's treatises were read and studied as late as the 1830s.
Lisan ad-Din ibn al-Khatib's (d.1374) translated treatise on the Black Death (bubonic plague) was used widely in Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries. ibn al-Khatib emphasized the contagious nature of the disease to a greater extent than earlier Greek texts on this subject.
In dentistry during the early Middle-Ages, leading Arab physicians preached the cleansing of the mouth with pure water and medicated washes as agents in dental health. Khulusi believes that their various methods superseded many of the teachings of Hippocrates and Galen. The procedure of filling decayed teeth with gold foil was known to the physician attending to Harun al-Rashid (d.809). Rhazes employed opium to relieve dental pain and Abulcasis stressed the importance of early recognition and treatment of pyorrhoea.
Khulusi reports that the first hospital to be established in Baghdad dates back to the 9th century and that mobile hospitals in the Muslim world came into existence in the 11th century. Wards for men and for women with dispensaries were established, and some hospitals had libraries. A botanical garden for medicinal plants was cultivated in the hospital grounds, in Cadiz, Spain. At the time of Sultan Ya'qub ibn al-Mansur (d.1199) and the Almohad Caliphate of Spain, national ownership of hospitals and free universal health care was in place and poorer patients were given suitable funds after leaving hospital for the entire period of their convalescence, until able to work again. This period is also notable for its record on one of the earliest female physicians, identified as the granddaughter of 'Abd al-Malik ibn Zuhr (Latinized name: Avenzoar, d.1162), himself a highly respected physician.
Shakespeare and the theory of Arab ancestry and Arabic influence
Following the lead of the 19th-century Arab scholar Ahmad Faris Shidyaq, Khulusi wrote an article in the Arabic Journal, al-Ma'rifa (The Knowledge), in 1960 which attempted to prove that William Shakespeare may have had Arab ancestry, the original form of his surname being 'Shaykh Zubayr'. Khulusi suggested that the family name originated from Zubayr, an autonomous province in the Ottoman Empire ruled by an Emir (or Shaykh), hence 'Shaykh Zubayr', a name which he suggested was then anglicized to Shakespeare. Khulusi notes that Shakespeare had many variations in the spelling of his name, including hyphenated forms. He suggests that a name that is unusual may produce many written versions, and that the hyphenated variants, such as 'Shake-speare', could reflect an original that is composed of two parts.
Khulusi records some of the known details about Shakespeare, including his birth and early life in Stratford-upon-Avon, details of his parents and his literary career. He suggests however, that information relating to Shakespeare's ancestral origin is lacking and believes that evidence pointing to his Arab ancestry is reflected in his choice of writing style and the content of his work, as well as in his own personal appearance. He comments on Shakespeare's possible ancestral lineage based on physical features in the Chandos portrait, which was painted during Shakespeare's lifetime.
In other parts of his theory, Khulusi identifies words originating from Arabic that appear in Shakespearian plays and sonnets and argues that their use is more common than expected for that time. Certain words were unheard of before being introduced by Shakespeare. The earliest literary use in English of the word assassination (from the Arabic word ħashshāshīyīn) is in Macbeth.
Khulusi notes the observations of Walt Taylor (Arabic Words in English, 1933) that about a thousand main words of Arabic origin and many more of their derivatives, were incorporated into the English language through translations of French, Spanish and Latin re-workings of Arabic texts (mainly scientific and medical). However, about a third of all loan words (mainly conversational), were taken directly from Arabic, from the end of the 16th century to the time of the Restoration. Many of the words are now obsolete or rare but the ones still in everyday use have a completely English appearance, accent, stress and pronunciation. By all appearance they are not consciously regarded as Arabic. In contrast, more recent borrowings have neither settled pronunciation nor settled form. Taylor suggests that the absorption of Arabic words directly into English was the result of increased travel and trade as well as direct contact with both Arabic speakers and texts.
Khulusi adds that it was around this time that Arabic began to be studied in England. William Bedwell (1561–1632) is credited with introducing formal academic studies in Arabic. The Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud (1573–1645), in his role as Chancellor of the University of Oxford, recognised the importance to English of Arabic as a source of reference material. He procured numerous original Arabic manuscripts and books for the University, housing them in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. He created the position of Professor of Arabic in 1636, appointing the Chaplain of Aleppo, Edward Pococke, as the first Laudian Professor of Arabic at The University of Oxford. Pococke was tasked with returning to the East and collecting further Arabic scholastic and scientific works. He was accompanied by other academics and scientists, returning to England a few years later, with numerous Arabic texts. The astronomer John Greaves travelled with Pococke and secured valuable Arabic manuscripts for his own work. He was later appointed as Savilian Professor of Astronomy at the University of Oxford.
Khulusi speculates about the inclusion of large numbers of Arabic geographic locations and place names in Shakespeare's work. He details Arab countries from North Africa that are referred to by Shakespeare, including Egypt, Morocco, Tunis (Tunisia), Mauritania, Argier (Algeria) and Libya. While from the Middle East he mentions Palestine, Syria, Arabia (Saudi) and Mesopotamia (Iraq). In addition Khulusi remarks on the references to various Eastern cities in Shakespeare's plays, including Alexandria, Memphis, Tyre, Jerusalem, Aleppo, Antioch, Damascus and Tripoli. He also specifies Arab historical sites and natural and geographic features covered in Shakespeare's work. He indicates that the influence of the physical and natural Arab world is unusually pervasive and includes lines and extracts from Shakespeare's work to illustrate this. The following are a small number of the examples that he includes:
- Let the bird of loudest lay,
- On the sole Arabian tree,
- Herald sad and trumpet be,
- To whose sound chaste wings obey. The Phoenix and the Turtle
- And so to Tripoli, if God lend me life. The Taming of the Shrew. IV, ii
- I know a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot to Palestine for a touch of his nether lip. Othello. IV, iii
- Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees their medicinal gum. Othello. V, ii
- The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
- Of wide Arabia are as thoroughfares now
- For princes to come view fair Portia. Merchant of Venice. II, vii
- This be Damascus, be thou cursed Cain,
- To slay thy brother Abel, if thou wilt. King Henry VI, part I. I, iii
- If she be furnish’d with a mind so rare,
- She is alone the Arabian bird, and I
- Have lost the wager.
- Boldness be my friend!
- Arm me, audacity, from head to foot! Cymbeline. I, vi
- A statelier pyramis to her I'll rear
- Than Rhodope’s or Memphis’ ever was: King Henry VI, part I: I, vi
- A living drollery. Now I will believe
- That there are unicorns, that in Arabia
- There is one tree, the phoenix' throne, one phoenix
- At this hour reigning there. The Tempest. III, iii
- Her husband’s to Aleppo gone, master o’ the Tiger: Macbeth. I, iii
- Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Macbeth. V, i
Khulusi notes the writing of William Bliss (The Real Shakespeare, 1947) that Shakespeare may have travelled “on board the ship the Tiger to Tripoli at some time between 1585–93 which was wrecked in the Adriatic on the way back home.” He argues that as a result of visiting North Africa, Shakespeare gained material for his work, and that his plays bear similarities to much earlier Arabic stories. He finds similarities in plots, characters, and even dialogue. Othello, The Moor of Venice, he says "has a reflection in The Arabian Nights tale of Qamar Al-Zaman (Arabian Nights 962–967)" and that his name may have originated from Ata-Allah (The Gift of God), a name common in North Africa, while The Merchant of Venice 'bears similarities' to the story of Masrur The Merchant and Zayn al-Mawasif. The plot of The Tempest is similar to that of The Isle of Treasures in The Arabian Nights (Suhail Edition, Vol. V, p. 238–242), and the characters of both Caliban and Ariel find their counterparts in The Nights story. Macbeth he says "embraces three Arabian tales in one story", The Three Witches, Zarqa Al-Yamamah, and the story of the Himyarite 'Amr and King Hassan. This resemblance between Macbeth and the Arabian stories was first noted by Reynold Nicholson in his book A Literary History of The Arabs.
Shakespeare may have become familiar with Eastern story themes and plots through European sources containing reworked and translated Eastern tales. One source being Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron. Boccaccio (d.1375) freely admits that his frame story collection of a hundred tales is heavily influenced by earlier stories. Many of these have origins in Arab (including Spanish-Moorish), Persian and Sanskrit literature. Aspects of Cymbeline, for example, are recognisable in The Decameron story II 9. Khulusi adds that some of the details in plays such as Macbeth, Othello and The Merchant of Venice have such a close affinity to their Eastern counterparts, that these details must have been sourced from the Eastern originals rather than via an intermediate step.
Khulusi reports on an exhaustive inventory of Shakespearian lines and phrases that he believes show 'Arabic influence'. One of the many examples that he gives:
- Was mahomet inspired with a dove? Thou with an eagle art inspired then. Henry VI. i, 1:2.
He says that symbolically Shakespeare shows deference to the Prophet Muhammad and to Islam. However, he adds another more literal interpretation. Islamic history records that Qur'anic verses were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the angel Jibra’il (Gabriel) who appeared with angelic wings of a dove thus ‘inspiring’ Muhammad to believe in his authenticity and that of his message. Khulusi suggests that Shakespeare may have had an understanding of Islamic history.
Khulusi studies Shakespeare’s language in terms of its grammar and compares this to Arabic grammar. According to Edwin Abbott (Shakespearian Grammar 1870), Shakespeare's language is unique in that he prefers clarity to grammatical correctness, and brevity to both correctness and clarity, leaving sentences unambiguous but seemingly ungrammatical. Khulusi suggests that Shakespeare's grammar should not be analysed by the fixed rules of modern English, as Elizabethan English was far less structured and in a 'transitional phase' of development. He adds that the language was ready to 'borrow' idioms, rhetoric and even rules of grammar from older, more established languages and that Shakespeare may have chosen to adopt Eastern literary methods to enhance the richness and distinctiveness of his work.
Khulusi gives examples of similarities between Shakespearian rules of grammar and those of Arabic. One rule he explains as follows: “The frequent omission of the word The before a noun already defined by another, especially in prepositional phrases. In Arabic it is a strict rule to drop the definite article al(the) from a noun in the possessive case, i.e. by an implied English (of)”. Some of the examples given are:
- At heel of that defy him, Antony and Cleopatra. ii, 2:160.
- For honour of our land, Henry. V iii, 5:22.
- Thy beauty's form in table of my heart. Sonnet 24.
In another rule, Khulusi reports that Shakespeare uses The Which. He says that in French there is lequel but not lequi whereas in Arabic the relative pronoun is always defined. Shakespeare is nearer to Arabic than French. He uses the which and the whom and the latter is unique to Shakespeare.
- The better part of valour is discretion: in the which better part I have saved my life. Henry IV, part 1, v, 4:125.
The example of this rule is reminiscent of a line from al-Mutanabbi (d.965), who says (metre: al-Kamil)
Khulusi goes on to detail eleven other grammatical rules in common with Arabic and provides examples to illustrate these.
Khulusi suggests that Romeo and Juliet draws on the ‘basically Arabian’ concept of platonic love and that the story is very close to the older Arabian tales of Majnoon Layla and Qays and Lubna. He details examples of Eastern imagery, customs and traditions in Romeo and Juliet and remarks that the linguistic style, particularly the extensive use of rhetorical devices helps to bring the story "nearer to similar ones in the literature of the East."
Khulusi's thesis was expounded in Arabic publications. His view that Shakespeare had Arabic ancestors is highly speculative and lacks any evidence. His opinions have been opposed by other scholars including Abdul Sattar Jawad Al-Mamouri, Abdullah Al-Dabbagh, Eric Ormsby, Ferial Ghazoul and the Egyptian scholar Ibrahim Hamadah who devoted a book, ‘Urubat Shakespeare (The Arabism of Shakespeare) 1989, to refuting Khulusi's thesis. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi endorsed Khulusi's views in 1989.
Arabic grammar and its theoretical basics
Based on his experience researching classical Arabic manuscripts, and teaching modern Arabic language, Khulusi sets out to simplify the complexities of grammatical construction in modern Arabic. He dismisses the notion that in its most elaborate form Arabic defies sensible and logical explanation.
Khulusi develops a new approach to teaching Arabic grammar by stratifying the importance or strength of different parts of the sentence. He details the basic points that underpin grammatical theory and the morphological structure of the language. He deals with the rules that govern the assignment of the vowel signs and their re-designation with changes of meaning or grammatical function or construction. He considers what he refers to as the "hordes" of Arabic words known as Mabniyyat (built up) that do not permit grammatical changes. He explains the special privileges that different Arabic numerals have in the language, and the rules that govern their use in sentence construction.
Khulusi focuses his greatest attention on the structure of the verb system which he regards as "the backbone of the language" and cites this as the reason why Arabic has come to be considered as a "shorthand" language. He provides a simplified method for handling verb roots and applying various functions to these. He details and explains the various grammatical concepts associated with the verb system.
He notes that Arabic is suited to showing relations with more conciseness than many other languages because of the greater flexibility of verbs and nouns. He gives the example that 'ideas': break, shatter, try to break, cause to break, allow to be broken, break one another, ask someone to break, pretend to break. These are just some of the many variations of the fundamental verb system which can be expressed by vowel changes and consonantal arguments, without the aid of additional verbs and pronouns.
Khulusi goes on to describe other finer aspects of grammatical construction and the historical reasoning behind the established grammatical rules. He ventures that the complexities of the language can be simplified by knowledge of its history. He considers more traditional approaches to grammatical teaching and details their limitations.
The Logical Basis of Arabic Grammar, A New Theory was well received in Arabic publications. Khulusi later summarized the theory and translated it into English. He adapted parts of the theory and incorporated it into later editions of his textbook The Art of Translation.
Journalism and Arabic literature
Arabic literature from the 18th and 19th centuries reflects the scholarly interests of individual authors. Books and manuscripts retain, to a large degree, a coherent homogeneity and continuity in style and content. This, according to Khulusi, changed from the end of the 19th century when much of Arabic literature became the product of journalism and transformed into political literature. In his view, the advent of journalism was responsible for both the merits and defects of modern literature in Iraq. Poets and writers would often begin their careers by writing for newspapers and later collect the contents of their articles and publish them as books. These publications were largely fragmented and lacked the linguistic harmony and literary balance of their predecessors. Khulusi set out to record the early history of journalism in Iraq in order to provide the background and context with which the literature and the writers of the time could be more clearly viewed.
Journalism made its first rudimentary appearance in 1830 when the Governor of Baghdad Dawud Pasha ordered the publication of a daily newspaper that was distributed to military officers and to other dignitaries. To date no copies of this paper remain. The earliest paper that can be traced is al-Zawra, which was first issued in 1869 at the time of the Ottoman governor, Midhat Pasha. al-Nahdha (The Revival) first released in 1913 and several other newspapers were published up to the time of departure of the Ottomans and arrival of the British in 1917, when the newspaper al-'Arab appeared. al-'Arab was primarily the instrument of the British authorities in Baghdad, and Razzuq Ghannam was appointed as its first editor. Ghannam went on to publish a sister paper to al-'Arab entitled al-'Iraq. Later, with the establishment of a National Government, he ceased to be the voice of the British forces, although his papers retained a largely pro-British slant.
Ghannam's greater importance, according to Khulusi, lies in the fact that he trained two of Iraq's most prominent journalists of the time, Tawfiq al-Sim'ani (b. 1902) and Raphael Butti. al-Sim'ani left al-'Iraq to publish his own paper al-'Ahd (The Era), and when this fell foul of the authorities and was suspended, he quickly replaced it with Sada al-'Ahd (Echoes of The Era). Both papers represented pro-British views, were reliable in their news coverage and were deeply rooted in General Nuri al-Sa'id Pasha's political party al-'Ahd.
al-Sim'ani's former colleague and later his bitter rival, Raphael Butti, published al-Bilad (The Country) in 1929. This paper became the voice of General Yasin Pasha al-Hashimi's party, al-Ikha al-Watani (National Brotherhood), and was strongly anti-British. After al-Bilad, Butti issued a second paper called al-Ikha aI-Watani, leaving no doubts as to his political affiliation. Both of his papers were staunch supporters of the nationalist views of al-Hashimi, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and Muhammad Zaki.
It was not long before a third political party, al-Ahali (The People), well known for its socialist views, released its own paper on to the news-stands of Baghdad. According to Khulusi, only the publications of al-Ahali and al-Ikha al-Watani are of any lasting scholarly importance, as their papers opened their pages to literature, all be it mainly in the form of anti-government articles and poems. al-Ahali displayed a broader literary tendency by issuing special editions of their paper and celebrating in equal measures the birthday of the German poet Johann von Goethe and the victory of Saladin at the battle of Hattin.
Dhannun Ayyub (b. 1908) was a radical teacher who as a young man came to Baghdad from Mosul in the 1920s and sought to change established norms in Arabic literature and cultural convention. While teaching at a secondary school in Baghdad in the late 1930s, he founded a socialist monthly, al-Majalla (The Magazine). Although a purely literary periodical, according to Khulusi, it nevertheless nourished a predominantly socialist readership and was aligned to al-Ahali. Ayyub's short stories dealt with the ills of society and the complaints of the poor. Arguably his best work, apart from his autobiography, was al-daktor Ibrahim (Doctor Ibrahim), a satire of an official in the Iraqi Ministry of Education who was Ayyub's nemesis. Of his other short stories, the best known are Sadiqi (My Friend), Burj Babel (Tower of Babel) and al-Kadihun (The Proletariat).
Fahmi al-Mudarris (1873–1944) was an academic whose literary career benefited from journalism. He managed the government press office in Baghdad where he was editor of al-Zawra. According to Khulusi, al-Mudarris idolized Sultan Abd al-Hamid II for his religious views and his support for Jamal al-Din al-Afghani's concept of Pan-Islamism. His literature reflected this even after Ottoman rule had ended and nationalism had taken hold in Iraq. In 1921, al-Mudarris was appointed to the position of Chief Chamberlain to King Faisal I and served as Dean of Jami'at Al al-Bait (Al al-Bait University) from 1924 to 1930. According to Khulusi, this was the nucleus for Faisal's long cherished project to establish the University of Baghdad but the scheme failed to reach fruition at that time. In 1935, when al-Hashimi and his nationalist party al-Ikha al-Watani came to power, al-Mudarris was appointed Director General of Education. Khulusi reports that he remained in post for only seventeen days and left after disagreement over the nationalist education plan of Sati' al-Husri (b. 1882) and the American-style system of education introduced by Muhammad Fadhel al-Jamali. al-Mudarris' newspaper articles written over many years were later published in two large volumes under the title Maqalat fi 'l-Siyasa wa 'l-Ijtima' (Articles on Politics and Sociology).
Ibrahim Salih Shukur (d.1945) deserves a mention for the forthright and outspoken style of his articles, which according to Khulusi, was much admired by Iraqis. Among the 'sensational' papers that he edited were al-Nashi'ah (The Younger Generation), al-Zaman (The Times) and al-Mustaqbal (The Future). His papers were often short-lived. al-Zaman lasted for less than one day. Most of its copies disappeared in its first morning and what remained attracted highly inflated prices. This was all because of a controversial article on Muzahim al-Pachachi (b. 1891). al-Pachachi was a respected and powerful political figure in Iraq. Shukur, however, did not have such a high regard for him and his article entitled: Hafnatu Turab 'ala Marqad al-Pachachi Muzahim al-Amin (A Handful of Soil on the Grave of al-Pachachi Muzahim al-Amin) resulted in a prison sentence for Shukur and the closure of al-Zaman. According to Khulusi, Shukur should not only be remembered for his literary work but also for his part in the failed military revolt of 1941, when he was the Qaimmaqam (Assistant Governor) of the frontier town through which the deposed fugitive leader Rashid Ali al-Gaylani passed into Persia before heading for Berlin.
Ibrahim Hibni al-'Umar (1895–1941) began his career with al-Nahdha (The Revival) in 1913 and later contributed to a series of other publications including Lisan al-'Arab (Language of The Arabs), al-'Amal (The Hope) and Nida al-Sha'b (Call of the Nation). al-'Umar had a particular literary style which was best nurtured through journalism. According to Khulusi, he wrote articles with completely opposing views on the same subject under different pen-names and often only the style and terminology of his compositions gave him away. His most famous literary work was Suq al Nukhasa fi Geneve (The Slave Market in Geneva), in which he satirized the League of Nations.
Hikmat Sulayman (b. 1889–1964) is important in the history of both Iraqi politics and literature. Sulayman published the newspaper al-Bayan (The Statement) and formed a literary group which attracted high-profile figures including members of al-Ahali. His group included many who had pro-Ottoman views and was imbued with Pan-Islamism. More significantly, according to Khulusi, the group attracted important members of the fighting force which eventually brought about the coup d'etat of 1936 under the leadership of General Bekir Sidqi Pasha which ousted al-Hashimi and al-Ikha al-Watani from power. Sulayman was installed as Prime Minister and brought into his government socialist elements from al-Ahali. The new regime raised the profile of poets and writers from Sulayman's original literary group. However, in Khulusi's view many of them were later disappointed by a government which appeared no different from the one that it had replaced, a sentiment best expressed by the poet Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri:
- Graves have moved, and people who we thought long dead
- Have torn their winding sheets and come to life again.
Ja'far al-Khalili was a modern and enlightened Muslim author based in Najaf who founded a purely literary group. He edited al-Ra'i (The Shepherd) and al-Fajar al-Sadiq (The True Dawn) in the 1930s, and later developed al-Hatif which according to Khulusi was devoted to short stories and serialized fiction, largely written by the editor himself. His most famous work was fi Qura al-Jinn (In the Villages of the Demons), a clever satire of Iraqi society in Najaf at that time, which was serialized and later published in book form. al-Khalili published other collections of short stories, such as al-Dha'i' (The Forlorn), Hadith al-Quwwah (A Discourse on Power) and 'Indama Kuntu Qadhiyan (When I was a Judge), an account of a number of cases which he tried in his capacity as the judge of a religious court. al-Khalili later transferred his office from Najaf to Baghdad, and transformed al-Hatif from a literary weekly into a political daily but still retained a regular space for subjects of literary interest. According to Khulusi, the work of al-Khalili is of lasting historical and scholarly interest with its casual use of colloquialism coloured with socialist principles, as it portray Iraqi society with all its shortcomings and demonstrates the common spoken idioms used in Iraq in the first half of the 20th century.
Khulusi's uncle, Abdul Majid Lutfi (1905–1992), was a staunch supporter and regular contributor to al-Hatif in its original literary form. Lutfi was a poet, essayist and short story writer. Arabic papers and periodical carried regular contribution from him in the 1930s and 40s. A Syrian daily newspaper declared him to be one of the most prolific contributors to the Arab press at that time. During World War II he was awarded a BBC literary prize for his poem Jabal Tariq (Gibraltar). Lutfi was a keen follower of the Syro-American school of writers, especially Gibran Khalil Gibran, whom he later elegized in a memorable piece of literature. It was this fondness for the new literary school that according to Khulusi, affected Lutfi's verse as well his prose and gave his writings a unique flavour. One of Lutfi's publications was Asda al-Zaman (The Echoes of Time), a conglomeration of prose and verse published in 1936. This form of blank verse was received with enthusiasm by the younger generation of writers as an invigorating and modern development but was bitterly criticised by conservative scholars. Apart from Asda al-Zaman his other works included the novel Qalb Umm (A Mother's Heart) and the play Khatimat Musiqar (The Fate of a Musician). Lutfi's style contrasted that of established authors including Fahmi al-Mudarris, Ibrahim Shukur and Raphael Butti.
Later in his career Lutfi published other works in Arabic including Tasabi al-Kalimat (Rejuvenation of Words) which Khulusi rendered into English. Lutfi wrote extensively on social and cultural topics. His novels used fiction to tackle the controversial issues of the time particularly relating to the rights of women to education and in marriage. Many of his later publications were in the Kurdish language. This together with his Kurdish nationalist views and his family roots from Khanaqin, in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, established him as an important figure in the literary and national history of the Kurds.
Arabic poetry in English
Khulusi set out to introduce English readers to contemporary Iraqi poetry by translating the works of some of the most prominent and influential poets of the first half of the 20th century. This was a period of significant social and political change, an era of wars and civil strife, and also a time when poetry was highly valued and influential in Arab society and particularly in Iraq. The appearance of a famous poet at a public meeting for example, would generate a large crowd, and mainstream daily newspapers regularly replaced their lead paragraph with poetic verses employing all manner of eloquence and rhetoric to win the affection of the reader and sway a political argument.
Political and social themes
From the end of the 19th century, the rise to prominence of talented radical poets Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi (1863–1936) and Ma'ruf al-Rusafi (1875–1945) popularised poetry containing social and political themes. According to Khulusi, both Zahawi and Rusafi learned from contemporary Turkish poets, such as Tawfiq Fikrat, the value of charging poetry with powerful messages. Rusafi was the more ferocious and shocking in his political attacks, while Zahawi’s ire was directed at what he believed to be outdated social attitudes.
Zahawi’s poetry extolling a utopian society was his attempt to set the agenda for a social revolution, particularly on views towards women in post-Ottoman Iraq. According to Khulusi, this was largely unwelcomed at the time, but proved nonetheless influential as a catalyst for change in the decades that followed. Khulusi renders the incendiary work including what he calls “Zahawi's tirade against the veil”:
- O Daughter of Iraq! tear the veil into pieces,
- And go about unveiled, for life demands revolutions.
- Tear it and burn it without delay
- For indeed it is a false guardian.
Khulusi illustrates Zahawi’s attempt to introduce the concept of gender equality in his celebrated poem Ba'da alfi 'Am (A Thousand Years Hence):
- If you happen one day to see their women
- You will stand perplexed, like someone who has lost his sense
- They share with men their hard work briskly
- And they do their work ably and perfectly.
- They sit side by side with men in courts,
- And display ideas and thoughts that are so close to perfection.
- Amongst them are governors and generals
- Amongst them are soldiers and workers.
- Their marriage is none other than a contract
- It is observed by a couple so long as love endures.
- But the upbringing and education of their children
- is according to their law, the responsibility of their government
- Which is the Mother of all.
As with Rusafi and Zahawi before him, Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri (1899–1997) also versified his challenge to the established attitudes towards women. He chose a less aggressive, more persuasive tone which Khulusi attempts to capture in this sample of his translation:
- We have merchandise that provides us with children
- We raise and lower its price according to financial crises.
- I found her in other nations as object of pride
- That brightens the house, the markets and the churches.
According to Khulusi, Jawahiri takes up the cause of social exclusion and poverty from Rusafi. He illustrates the gulf in society by describing life in the houses and villas of the rich, built next to shanty dwellings where the deprived live in squalid conditions with their children and livestock.
- In those palaces and rich houses,
- Nights of dancing rakishly pass
- Where the legs of the beautiful ladies are bare.
- Liquors and wines are brought to them from East and West,
- From wherever they are distilled best.
- And only next door to them a woman lies on the ground
- Scorpions flirting with her flanks.
In Khulusi view, Jawahiri was also “the poet of every revolutionary movement”. The revolt of January 1948 was one example. He composed long epics on the subject, and elegized his brother, Ja'far al-Jawahiri who died during the revolt. The same year saw war in the Holy Land and Jawahiri directed his anger at Arab leaders who promoted themselves during this time as 'saviours of Palestine'. Khulusi tries to capture the tone of sarcasm of the original poem:
- He defeated the calamity with his handkerchief.
- Boastfully pretending, like a silly lad
- That his eyes burst with tears.
Martial law in 1948 was officially a means to protect the military operations in Palestine and to save the rear of the Arab armies. According to Khulusi, the law was skilfully extended to deal with young men with liberal ideas. Living close by, Jawahiri regularly passed the prison gates in Baghdad and could see groups of young men, from all backgrounds and professions, being led inside, and relatives waiting for news of other men already taken. In his poem Jawahiri says:
- May you not wait for long.
- And may the shackled time hurry your steps forward
- So Balasim, give the teacher his due,
- And support him, for he has no supporter.
- If it be possible for a free man to prostrate himself in adoration,
- Then I would have been a prostrated slave to the teacher.
Later in the same poem he adds prophetically:
Women and poetry
Following Zahawi’s death in 1936, Salma al-Kadhimiyya (1908–1953) writing under the name Umm Nizar, enters the Iraqi literary scene. According to Khulusi, her first poem is also the very first to be published for any woman in Iraq and appropriately its Zahawi’s elegy.
- When merciless death called on you,
- Poetry burst into tears to mourn
- The Iraqi nation, when it saw
- Your charming place vacant,
- O you who had brought back
- To the East its past glory,
- Which it had nearly forgotten but for you.
Umm Nizar refers to Zahawi’s poetry on the subject of emancipation. Khulusi records that Zahawi wrote about a fictitious character named Leila who is denied her rightful and equal place in society. Leila is intended to symbolise the Iraqi woman. Umm Nizar writes:
- Who is now to defend Leila:
- O thou who were her champion?
- We never thought that you would one day forsake her.
- When you were singing, you used to inspire even inanimate objects
- With feeling, intelligence and perception.
According to Khulusi, Umm Nizar echoes Zahawi’s message, calling on women to break the fetters of centuries and step forward as saviours of their country. He reports that the feminist genre of her poetry adds a description of the status of women and their achievements during various periods of Islamic civilization. She details their intolerable position in 1930s and 40s Iraq, and describes in verse how the place of women has not only fallen far behind modern civilization, but far below where it had been in the Middle Ages. The following couplet affords a good example of Umm Nizar’s style as depicted by Khulusi.
- We have become so used to weakness;
- And felt so contented and at home with our misfortune,
- That we do not aspire in our life to anything
- Save a skirt and a mirror!
Umm Nizar is followed into print by a number of other women including her daughter Nazik Al-Malaika, who writes emotional, imaginative and rebellious odes. Lami'a 'Abbas 'Amara is noted for her humour and epigrammatic lines. 'Atika Wahbi al-Khazraji versifies the tragedy of Majnoon Layla. Fatina al-Naib, better known by her pen-name Saduf al-'Ubaydiyya, composes poetry for her own personal enjoyment rather than public acclaim and eventually finds that she has completed the contents of four volumes. Khulusi renders entire poems and extracts of this ground-breaking literary work and illustrates the range and versatility of these pioneering women.
Literary history of Ma'ruf al-Rusafi
Ma'ruf al-Rusafi was a revolutionary poet and a controversial character who Khulusi held in high regard. Rusafi was born in 1875 in al-Qaraghul, a modest quarter of Baghdad. He studied Arabic literature and theology with the savant Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi (1856–1924). He was invited to Istanbul by ‘The Arab Friends Association’ to edit the Arabic language magazine Sabil al-Rashad (The Path of Reason). According to Khulusi, Rusafi declared his republican revolutionary tenets within earshot of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II as early as 1898, exclaiming in one of his odes "It is because it is republican, that government can remove the blindness of those who are led astray." Rusafi inveighs against the Ottoman Caliphate. To him the Sublime Porte is a corrupt black-market for preference and promotion. He says "no government that is run by a sacrosanct personage will ever last". Rusafi remained in Istanbul, lecturing at Madrasat al-Wa'izin (School of Preachers) and publishing poems opposing the autocratic Sultan and promoting the concept of a confederation of Muslim states within the Ottoman Empire.
According to Khulusi, Rusafi's political views at that time are captured in his poetry, in particular Fi Salanik (In Salonika), in which he visualises the army's march against the Sultan. Rusafi's association with the Committee of Union and Progress aided his election to the Chamber of Deputies of the Ottoman Empire. It was here that he first met a fellow Arab member of the Ottoman Parliament, Faisal, son of the Sharif of Mecca.
In Khulusi's opinion, Rusafi made a series of calculated decisions based on his political beliefs that affected not only the direction of his life but influenced his literary legacy. He attacked the Arab Congress of 1913 for threatening the unity of the Ottoman Empire. He dismissed the Arab Revolt under T. E. Lawrence and satirised Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca when he seceded from the Ottoman thrall in 1916.
With the defeat of the Ottomans at the end of World War I, Rusafi was compelled to leave Istanbul, travelling first to Damascus and then on to Jerusalem before finally returning to Baghdad. Rusafi was marginalised when Hussein's son Faisal, his former colleague in the Ottoman Parliament, established a government in Syria in 1920. He found sanctuary in Jerusalem where he lectured at the Teachers College, thanks to the intervention of Raghib al-Nashashibi. While in Jerusalem, Rusafi was heavily criticised for failing to use his poetry to resonate Arab nationalist sentiments during the momentous events of 1920 in Syria and Palestine. As a result, Rusafi’s academic role in Palestine became untenable. The problem was resolved in 1921 when he received a telegram from Hikmat Sulayman, inviting him to return to Baghdad as editor of a newspaper supporting Talib Pasha al-Naqib's aspiration to become head of a new Iraqi state. By the time Rusafi reached Baghdad, al-Naqib had been arrested at a tea party held by Gertrude Bell and deported to India, paving the way for Faisal, who had lost his throne in Syria, to become the king of Iraq. Rusafi had once again backed the losing side, this time in opposing Britain's plans for Faisal in Iraq.
Rusafi was never reconciled to the presence of the British in Iraq. When asked by Khulusi about the often quoted line from one of his poems "The British have ambitious designs against your country, which will not end unless you turn Bolshevik" Rusafi replied "The whole poem was composed in a spasm of rage against the British who blindly followed the advice of a pack of fools who did not represent our country. They refused to listen to the advice I offered in 1921 to Gertrude Bell. She was to have passed it on to the Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill." The poem was written on the occasion of the Cairo Conference in March 1921, which ended with an accord to implement the Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916. According to Khulusi, Rusafi's advice to the British government was to establish a republic in Iraq under the presidency of Abd Al-Rahman Al-Gillani and the premiership of Talib Pasha al-Naqib. He warned them that their plan to establish an Iraqi kingdom for Faisal would face popular opposition. The message that returned to Rusafi was that Churchill had rejected his suggestion and had said: “I will carry the burden of all the opposition on these shoulders.” Khulusi notes that as Rusafi’s political ambitions faltered, so his poems against Faisal and the institutions of his government became increasingly acrid and vicious.
Rusafi’s literary venture into modern history was al-Risala al-'Iraqiyya, (The Iraqi Epistle). When reading this together with him, Khulusi raised several objections, some Rusafi accepted, others he resentfully rejected. In his eyes the British were not only responsible for crowning Faisal but were also complicit in his death. Khulusi reminded Rusafi that Faisal died of intestinal cancer in Switzerland, and that there was good evidence to support this. He did however sympathise with Rusafi's view that King Ghazi's death in a car accident was suspicious and could have been the result of a plot by Nuri al-Sa'id. At the time of his death, Ghazi was secretly working for union between Iraq and Kuwait, to which Britain objected.
Whatever his opponents thought of his political views, according to Khulusi no one questioned Rusafi's abilities as a poet or disputed that he attained the apogee of his ability in his declamatory poetry. English rendering of one such poem is best articulated by Arthur John Arberry
- Begone, begone, Baghdad! Depart from me;
- No wise am I of thee, nor mine art thou:
- Yet though I suffered oft and much of thee,
- Baghdad, it pains me to behold thee now
- Upon the brink of great catastrophe.
- Misfortune past, misfortune fell upon
- Thy life so sweet, and turned it all to rue;
- Canst thou no more produce a noble son?
- Nay, thou art barren of the free, the true,
- whose sons of old were heroes, everyone.
According to Khulusi, John Haywood also produced commendable renderings of Rusafi's odes including The Negative Truth About Me and At a Game of Football. Haywood echoes the common Iraqi view that ‘Rusafi could write a poem on any subject, however seemingly unpromising.’ In Khulusi’s view, Rusafi was ruthless, harsh, impulsive and tactless in his satires particularly when attacking the authority of a monarch or exploring uncomfortable themes in poems such as al-Yatim fi 'l-'id (The Orphan on the Day of Festival), al-Faqr wa 'l-Suqam (Poverty and Illness), Umm al-Yatim (The Orphan's Mother) and al-Mutallaqa (The Divorced Woman). Arguably the most powerful of these is al-Sijnu fi Baghdad (The Prison in Baghdad), in which he describes the miserable condition of the prisoners and their ill treatment. It’s in this poem that Rusafi makes his famous statement, “Li anna‘l-Haqqa lam yata Baghdadi (Because justice is not yet a Baghdadi)” in answer to a complaint from a prisoner demanding to know why he had been imprisoned for no reason. In all of these poems his language is closer to the colloquial than in the declamatory poems, where the style and vocabulary are sophisticated and highly classical. Rusafi's literary critics, especially his inveterate adversary, Jalal al-Hanafi, in his book al-Rusafi fi awjih wa hadidih (Rusafi in his Apogee and Perigee), note that Rusafi gives colloquialism an unwarranted place both in his verse and prose.
Khulusi believes that Rusafi is the only traditional, classical poet, in the Arabic language, who approved of both blank verse and free verse. His broad definition of poetry covers much that is regarded by classicists and purists as ornate prose, al-shi'r al-manthur (prose poetry). For Khulusi, Rusafi had a hypnotic manner in his recital with an overwhelming sense of the movement of the meter. He had the ability to hypnotize his audience to such an extent that frequently the listeners uttered the rhyme word before the poet.
As with his politics and his poetry, Rusafi's religious views also courted controversy. His belief in a mystical interpretation of Islam gave rise in 1934 to what Khulusi considers his Magnum opus, al-Shakhsiyya al-Muhammadiyya aw Hall al-Lughz al-Muqaddas (The Personality of Muhammad or the Solution of the Sacred Enigma). In it he asserted that the Prophet Muhammad was at one with the universe and God, and that his word was that of God. This was Rusafi's interpretation of the principle of 'revelation' and gave an alternative view to the concept of the 'messenger of God'. His unorthodox religious views were seized upon by his political opponents and used to ferment opposition to him. The situation reached its climax with publication of Rusafi's Rasa'il al-Ta'liqat (The Commentary Epistles) in 1944. This provoked outrage amongst some theologians and demands that he should be 'stripped of his Iraqi nationality and exiled to bilad al-kufr (the land of the infidels)'. When Khulusi was questioned by government officials investigating the matter, he told them that he did not see anything in Rusafi's book beyond the doctrines of Monism and Sufism, that he did not know where bilad al-kufr was and that those who were agitating against Rusafi should themselves be in bilad al-jahl wa 'l-ta'assub (the realm of ignorance and fanaticism).
- Nifous Maridha (Sick Souls), novel in Arabic 1941
- نفوس مريضة
- Bint al-Siraj, Rihla ila Spania (The Saddlers Daughter, Travels Through Spain) 1952
- بنت السراج ، رحلة الى اسبانيا
- Abu-Nuwas fi Amrika (Abu-Nuwas in America) 1956
- أبو نؤاس في أمريكا
- Fann al-Tarjama (The Art of Translation) 1956
- فن الترجمة
- Dirasat fi al-Adab al-Muqarin wa al-Mathahib al-Adabia (Studies in Comparative Literature and Western Literary Schools) 1957
- دراسات في الأدب المقارن والمذاهب الأدبية
- al-Tarjama al-Tahlilia (Analytical Translation) 1957
- الترجمة التحليلية
- al-Nafitha al-Maftuha: Siwar Min al-Sharq wa al-Gharb (The Open Window: Images from East and West) 1958
- النافذة المفتوحة : صور من الشرق والغرب
- Dirasa Hawl Shakespeare (Study of Shakespeare) al-Ma'rifa Journal, Baghdad 1960
- دراسة حول شكسبير، مجلة المعرفة ، بغداد
- Islam Our Choice (1961)
- The History of Baghdad (in the First Half of the 18th Century). Elaboration on the manuscript by Abdu al-Rihman al-Suwaidi (1962)
- تاريخ بغداد لابن السويدي ، تحقيق صفاء خلوصي
- Fann al-Taqti' al-Shi'ri wa al-Qafia (The Art of Poetry: Composition and Prosody) 1963
- فن التقطيع الشعري والقافية
- al-Mawaqi' al-Goghrafia wa Asmaa al-A'laam fi al-Masrahiat al-Shakespeareia (Geographic Locations and Place Names in Shakespearian Plays) 1964
- المواقع الجغرافية واسماء ألاعلام في المسرحيات الشكسبيرية
- Arabian Influence on the concept of Platonic love in Shakespeare, Islamic Review, (Oct 1966)
- al-Fasir aw Sharih Diwan abi't-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi Li Ibn Jinni (Elaboration on the Diwan of Abi't-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi, and the commentary of Ibn Jinni) 1969
- الفسر إو شرح ديوان أبي طيب المتنبي لابن جني
- A Literary History of The Arabs (Tarikh al-Arab al-Adabi), English original by Reynold Nicholson, translated into Arabic by Safa Khulusi 1970
- تاريخ العرب الأدبي ، رينولد نكلسن ، ترجمة صفاء خلوصي
- The Logical Basis of Arabic Grammar, Islamic Review, (July/Aug 1970)
- Arabic Aspects of Shakespeare. Parallel Texts from Othello and Macbeth. Islamic Review (Sept 1970)
- A Comparative Study of Shakespearian and Arabic Grammar, Islamic Review, (Oct/Nov 1970)
- Jafar al-Khalili and the Story of Modern Iraq (1976)
- 'Ma'rūf al Ruṣāfī in Jerusalem', in Arabic and Islamic garland: historical, educational and literary papers presented to Abdul-Latif Tibawi, Islamic Cultural Centre London (1977), pp. 147–152.
- A Dictionary of Contemporary Idiomatic Usage. English- Arabic. National Publishing House, Baghdad (1982)
- Professor Safa Khulusi, Obituary, The Independent, 5 October 1995.
- Safa Khulusi. Abdul-Majīd Luṭfī's Rejuvenation of Words. Journal of Arabic Literature Vol. 11, (1980), pp. 65–67
- Safa Khulusi, Modern Arabic Literature in Iraq, Islamic Review, February 1951, p.35-40
- Safa Khulusi, Interview in the literary section of Al-Jazirah, p.7, edition 7764, 13 December 1993.
- Sabiha Al-Dabbagh, Obituary, The Guardian, Friday, 11 September 1998.
- Sabiha Al-Dabbagh, Obituary, British Medical Journal, 1998 November 7; 317(7168): 1323.
- Salih Altoma, Iraq's Modern Arab Literature: A Guide to English Translations Since 1950, Scarecrow Press, 2010, p.97
- Yitzhak Nakash, The Shi'is of Iraq, Princeton University Press, 2003 p.262.
- "Since arriving at an age of discretion, the beauty and the simple purity of Islam have always appealed to me..." Sir 'Abdullah' Archibald Hamilton, 5th and 3rd Baronet The People, 13 January 1924.
- Safa Khulusi, Islam Our Choice, with edited extracts from submissions to Islamic Review, 1913–1960 (including those from Donald Rockwell, 1935 and Ruth Gaevernitz, 1949) for The Woking Muslim Mission, printed by AA Verstage ltd. (1961)
- Orit Bashkin, The other Iraq: pluralism and culture in Hashemite Iraq, Stanford University Press, 2009 pp.167–168
- Joyce Moss, Middle Eastern literatures and their times,Thomson Gale, 2004 p.140.
- Safa Khulusi, Elaboration on the Diwan of Abi't-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi, and the Commentary of Ibn Jinni, National Press, Baghdad, 1969.
- Safa A. Khulusi, Ibn Jinni's Commentary on Mutanabbi's Poetry Islamic Review, Jan 1971, p.28-33
- Safa Khulusi, Studies in Comparative Literature and Western Literary Schools, Chapter: Qisas Alf Laylah wa Laylah (One thousand and one Nights), p.15- 85. Al-Rabita Press, Baghdad, 1957.
- Safa Khulusi, The Influence of Ibn al-Muqaffa' on The Arabian Nights. Islamic Review, Dec 1960, p.29-31
- Safa Khulusi, How much of European civilization is Islamic? Islamic Review, Oct 1984, p.19-24
- Safa Khulusi, Life and work of al-Biruni, Islamic Review, May 1949, p.34-37
- Abdulla Al-Dabbagh, Shakespeare, the Orient, and the Critics, Peter Lang, 2010, p.1
- Safa Khulusi, Study of Shakespeare. al-Ma'rifa Journal, Baghdad (1960)
- Abdul Sattar Jawad Al-Mamouri, Shakespeare in Baghdad, The Chronicle, Duke University Journal, Dec 2011.
- Safa Khulusi, Arabic features in the plays of Shakespeare, University of Baghdad, Government Press, Baghdad (1964). Compilation of articles published to mark the four hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare's birth
- Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, second edition, (1989)
- Safa Khulusi, Geographic Locations and Place Names in Shakespearian Plays. p1-14, Al-Aani Press, Baghdad (1964)
- Safa A. Khulusi, Arabic Aspects of Shakespeare. Parallel Texts from Othello and Macbeth, Islamic Review, Sept 1970, p.26-29. References cited in this article: (i) Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani, Great Book of Songs (Kitab al-Aghani al-Kabir), Antoine Isaac, Baron Silvestre de Sacy's edition; Vol. II, p 31-32. (ii) Abdul-Qadir Gilani al-Baghdadi, Repository of the Literature and Core of the Arabic Language (Khizani al-Adab wa Lubb Lisan al-Arab); Vol. IV, p 299. (iii) Shaykh Abd al-Ghanī Dimashqī al-Maydani al-Hanafī, Book of Proverbs, Vol. I, p 61. (iv) Muhammad Jada' al-Mawla, Tales of The Arabs (Qisas Al-Arab): For he who would buy sleep with sleeplessness, Vol. III, p 352-353.
- Reynold Nicholson, A Literary History of The Arabs, Cambridge University Press, 1930, p 19-21 and p 25-26, (translated into Arabic by SA Khulusi, Tarikh al-Arab al-Adabi, Al-Ma'arif Press, Baghdad, 1970, p 56-64)
- Safa A. Khulusi, A Comparative Study of Shakespearian and Arabic Grammar, Islamic Review, Oct/Nov 1970, p.19-21
- Safa A. Khulusi, Arabian Influence on the concept of Platonic love in Shakespeare, Islamic Review, Oct 1966, p.18.
- Ormsby, E, "Shadow Language", New Criterion, Vol. 21, Issue: 8, April 2003.
- Ferial J. Ghazoul, "The Arabization of Othello", Comparative Literature, Vol. 50, No. 1, Winter, 1998, p.9
- Margaret Litvin, Critical Survey, Volume: 19. Issue: 3., 2007, p.1.
- Safa A. Khulusi, "The Logical Basis of Arabic Grammar, A new theory", Islamic Review, July/Aug 1970, p.31-34
- Women on a journey between Baghdad and London by Haifa Zangana, translated by Judy Cumberbatch, University of Texas Press, 2000.
- Safa A. Khulusi, Poetry as a vehicle of social and political reform in Iraq. Islamic Review, Jul–Aug 1962, p.15-17
- Atika Wahbi al-Khazraj, Farewell to Baghdad, translated by Safa Khulusi Islamic Review, 1951
- Atika Wahbi al-Khazraj: O’ Palestine, The Miserable Woman, Love of the Fatherland. Poems translated by Safa Khulusi, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1950, 3–4, p.151-157
- Safa Khulusi, Contemporary poetesses of Iraq, Islamic Review, June 1950, p.40- 45
- Safa Khulusi, Ma’ruf Al-Rusafi (1875–1945). The Muslim World, Hartford Seminary Foundation, LXVII No.1, 1977.
- Diwan al Rusafi, Al-Maktaba al-Tijariyya al-Kubra, Matba'at al Istiqama, 4th Edition, Cairo 1958.
- Safa Khulusi, Ma'ruf ar-Rusafi in Jerusalem, in Arabic and Islamic garland: historical, educational and literary papers presented to Abdul-Latif Tibawi, Islamic Cultural Centre, London p 147-152, 1977.
- Arthur J. Arberry, Modern Arabic Poetry, An Anthology with English Verse Translation (London: Taylor's Foreign Press, 1950), Cambridge Oriental Series, No.1, pp. 3–4 (Arabic) and 3–4 (English).
- John A Haywood, Modern Arabic Literature (1800–1970) London: Lund Humphries, pp. 112–114, 1971.