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Humanities 2018, 7(3), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7030067

Folklore of the Arab World1

Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
Received: 20 December 2017 / Revised: 21 May 2018 / Accepted: 30 May 2018 / Published: 9 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
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Abstract

Four major stages in the development of interest in folklore in the Arab World may be designated. A neglected (or suppressed) facet of Arab life is the centrality of the khâl. An examination of the impact this familial character has on the social structure of the group regardless of ethnicity and religion is absent. (1) Is the early Islamic period and how religious dogma regarded negatively cultural expressions of polytheism? (2) The age of the spread of Islam and the Arabic language. Religious narratives (mostly “exempla”) dominated the Arab Islamic scene. (3) Is the short-llived era of the emergence of an ephemeral trend towards objectivity and of growth of interest in indigenous culture? In this regard the Basrite Al-Jâẖiẕ (9th C. A.D.) is to be acknowledged as the first folklorist; he treated genuine folklore occurrences and sought to verify their veracity through fieldwork. (4) This stage came in the 1950s when literary scholars became aware of "folklore" as an academic discipline in the West; the attention westerners paid the Arabian Nights triggered interest in that work among some Arab scholars. Along with that European interest, ethnocentric hypotheses about lack of creativity among Semitic groups flourished. Regrettably, these wayward views still find supporters today. With political changes and the emergence of populism, folk groups and their culture varieties acquired special importance. Conflict between religious circles and nonreligious intellectuals over the use of terms turâth/ma’thûr (legacy/Tradition), labels previously reserved for religious heritage. This conflict seems to have abated. Currently, especially in the newly independent Arab Gulf states, “folklore” is proudly held to be a depository of a nation’s memory, history, ‘soul’, and character. However, it should be born in mind that while folklore cultivates positive principles, it also harbors destructive values. View Full-Text
Keywords: Islam; turâth; khâl (maternal-uncle); Syndrome; Motif; genres; memory; sîrah; Creativity; Gulf States; National Heritage Islam; turâth; khâl (maternal-uncle); Syndrome; Motif; genres; memory; sîrah; Creativity; Gulf States; National Heritage
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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El-Shamy, H. Folklore of the Arab World1. Humanities 2018, 7, 67.

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