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H. S. Nyberg’s Encounter with Egypt and the Mu‘tazilī School of Thought

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image of Philological Encounters

In 1923, the Swedish Orientalist H. S. Nyberg (1889-1974) was awarded a scholarship that would enable him to travel to Cairo. The primary aim of the trip was to improve his skills in the spoken Arabic language and to study Istanbul and early Islamic sects. Besides studying the Arabic language, Nyberg also found an unpublished text of the Mu’tazili theologian Abū al-Ḥusayn B. ‘Uthmān al-Khayyāṭ and his refutation of Ibn ar-Rāwandī’s critique against the Mu‘tazilites. By examining Nyberg’s unpublished letters that were sent from Egypt to his friends, colleagues and family in Sweden, this article casts light on how the editing process and the discovery of al-Khayyāt’s manuscript was communicated, discussed, and reported back to Sweden. The letters also contain more general information about Nyberg’s perceptions of Egypt, Islam and the Muslim reformists and politicians that were active in Egypt.

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54. Letter from H. S. Nyberg to Tor Andrae, Matarieh, Egypt July 8th 1924
55. Extracts from the letters of docenten H. S. Nyberg, adr. 4 Balasan Matarieh près du Caire

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