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Heroic Motives In Early Arabic Literature

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Chapter Summary

War is, in this early Arab conception, a primary, &t;matter-of-course&t; activity, in which the gods-also the Allāh of early Islam-, as well as their followers and worshippers are engaged. This chapter starts by explaining the 8th form of the verb, iʾtamara, whose basic meaning should be defined as &t;to command oneself&t;, that is, &t;to impose something, especially a task, upon oneself&t;. It sketches the specific development of the meaning of the root ʾamara, and of its nomen actionis, ʾamr. The verb naṣara is a very common word in the Qur&s;an: it is identical in meaning with its usage in old and pre-Islamic Arabic as a secular term for &t;help&t;, especially in the sense of assistance in war or danger. The &t;acquisition&t; of manly deeds-in the usual Arabic sense, that is, heroic deeds, including helping the weak-and of the resulting glory is termed as &t;expensive&t;, but &t;profitable&t;.

Keywords: ʾamara; ʾamr; early Arabic literature; heroic motives; iʾtamara



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