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Asmaa Essakouti


Realms of Strangers: Readers, Language, and Trickery in Maqāmāt al-Ḥarīrī

Realms of Strangers: Readers, Language, and Trickery in Maqāmāt al-Ḥarīrī

A key element of the maqāma genre, as noted by Abū Isḥāḳ Ibrāhīm ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥuṣrī in the 5th/11th century is its strangeness. Al-Ḥarīrī accentuates this element and employs it most obviously in two different aspects of his maqāmāt: the vocabulary, and the trickster’s relationship to space. The first shows in the unusual vocabulary, which combines Bedouin terms, curses, argot, and jargon, which Arabic lexicography categorizes as gharīb: “strange” or “rare.” The second manifest in the relationship of human experience with space, meaning the act of moving from one location to another, being in isolation or exile, away from home and familiarity, trading curiosities, collecting unusual anecdotes, and being a gharīb, astranger. I argue that linguistic gharāba and physical ghurba are interdependent and strongly dependent on each other in the Ḥarīriyya. Only a stranger who comes from a distant land can fulfil the audience’s obsessive desire for curiosities, wonderous accounts, and exotic vocabulary, which always exists elsewhere. The Ḥarīriyya makes liberal use of the double-entendre, and the interdependence of the two is also a double-entendre: only a gharīb(stranger) can provide the gharīb (rare vocabulary).

First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Isabel Toral-Niehoff

  • In Peer-reviewed Journals:


    - Asmaa Essakouti, ‘‘The Thin Line between Lying and Using Linguistic Possibilities: Tawriyah or Double-Entendre in al-Ḥarīrī’s Maqāmāt’’, AWL, London, 27 June 2022, 1-16.

    - Asmaa Essakouti & Hossein Dabbagh (2019), The Aesthetics of Post Bellum: From Umberto Eco to Abu al- Ala al-Maarri, Comparative Literature: East & West, 3:1, 15-27.

    - Asmaa Essakouti, “The Theory of Literary Genre: Pedagogical Categorization or Cultural

    Positionality?” Journal of Tabayyun for cultural studies and critical theory, Issue 21 - Volume 5 -summer 2017, 63-77.


    In Peer-reviewed websites:


    -Asmaa Essakouti, “al-Tarjama wa-muqāwamat al-maḥw’’ [Translation Resisting Invisibility], in: Mouminoun Without Borders, 22 December 2020, link:https://bit.ly/2YqAJUw

    -Asmaa Essakouti, “al-Junūn wa-ʿabbārū al-maʿna:  Nietzsche, Abū al-ʿIbar, Don Quixote'' [Madness and Crossers of Meaning], in: Mouminoun Without Borders, 04 May 2019, link:https://bit.ly/2MBBwPu

    -Asmaa Essakouti, "al-Jasad bayn al-tasmiyya wa-l-tawqīʿ al-ʾabyaḍ’’ [The body between Naming and White Signatures], in: Mominoun without Borders, date of publication: 24 December 2018, Link: https://goo.gl/f54qR7

    -Asmaa Essakouti, " al-Ṣawt wa-l- ṭirs al-ʾilāhī’’ [Voice and Divine Palimpsest], in: Mominoun without Borders, date of publication: 25 October 2018, Link: https://goo.gl/kZ4PWx

    -Asmaa Essakouti, “Fī al-ḥāja al-Jamāliyya li-sharr wa-l-qubḥ: min al-shaytān ʾila al-maskh’’ [The Aesthetical Need for Ugliness and Evil: From Devils to Monsters], in: Mominoun without Borders, date of publication: 09 May 2018, Link: https://goo.gl/MkvHVX

    -Asmaa Essakouti, “al-ʾAfʿā wa-sardiyyāt al-khalq: Adam, Gilgamesh wa-Ḥay Ibn Yaqẓān’’ [The Serpent in Stories of Creation], in: Mominoun without Borders, date of publication: 10 February 2018. Link: goo.gl/vprAbr

    -Asmaa Essakouti, “al-Dhāt bayna al-taṣawwuf wa-l-raqmiyya: Ḥay ibn Yaqẓānnamūdhajan’’ [The Self from Sufism to Digitalization; Hay Ibn Yaqzan as Illustration], in:

    Mominoun without Borders, date of publication: 20 January 2018. Link: goo.gl/21nSEY

    Asmaa Essakouti, “al-Wajh al-Muẓlim li-l-Taʾwīl’’ [The Darkside of Interpretation], in: Mominoun without Borders, date of publication: 02 October 2017. Link: https://goo.gl/HpFQ8r


    In Literary Magazines:


    - Asmaa Essakouti, “Hal yumkin akl al-lugha’’ [Can We Eat Language], in: Mirit Cultural Magazine, Cairo, n 5, May 2019.

    - Asmaa Essakouti, ‘‘Min al-qāriʾ al-ʿaduww ʾila al-qāriʾ al-muhādin’’ [From the Opponent Reader to the Peaceful One], Bidāyāt, Beirut, December 2018.

    - Asmaa Essakouti, ‘‘Tārīkh li-l-mutkhamīn... Ḥikayāt li-l-jawʿā’’ [History for the Wealthy... Tales for the Poor], Doha magazine, Doha, number: 133, November 2018.

    - Asmaa Essakouti, ‘‘al-Lughā ʿukkāz ʾam ʿaṣā: qirāʾa fī naṣṣ al-mustanbiḥ" [Is language a Cane or a Weapon? A reading in Kilito's Mustanbih], Ṣaqīla magazine, Tangier, October 2018.

    - Asmaa Essakouti, “Kayfa takallama ʿAbdel Fatah Kilito?’’ [How Did Abdelfattah Kilito Speak?”, Doha magazine, Doha, number: 125, March 2018.

    - Asmaa Essakouti, “al-Baṭal fī al-riwāya al-ʿarabiyya’’ [The Hero in the Arabic Novel], Doha magazine, Doha, number: 118, August 2017.

    - Asmaa Essakouti, ‘‘al-Khayāl wa-l-tawahhum: bayna Shahrazād wa-Don Quixote’’ [Imagination and Illusion; Between Shahrazad and Don Quixote”, Al-Jadid magazine, London, number: 32, September 2017.