When Jurji Zaidan was writing historical novels, he wanted to provide the ordinary Arabic citizens with the intellect of their history in an entertaining and accessible way (Zaidan, 2010). Jurji Zaydan was amazed by the widespread popularity of his work. Besides, he is considered among the initial philosophers to assist in formulating the idea of Arab patriotism; that’s why l take nationalism as the central ideology that influenced Zaydan to write his novel The Caliph’s sister: Nana Asma’u.
By writing his novel The Caliph’s sister: Harun al-Rashid and the fall of Persian Zaydan was trying to show us how much they value their culture as well as traditions (Zaidan, 2010). During the closing year of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, which took place in Baghdad 803 AD, which the western world calls the caliph whose court is explained in the Arabian Nights, involves traditions of the Empire (Zaidan, 2010). Harun al-Rashid was a known leader who relied on the “Barmakis” the Persian administrator, to run the Abbasid Roman Empire, which gives the central plot of the novel which also shows how the Empire was operating. Zaidan explains how Harun held his sister in great affection “Abbasa” and loved to spend most of his evening moments with her sister portrays how there was love in the family during those days (Zaidan, 2010). There were several chiefs in Barmakis, but Harun loved Jafar, and he was his best friend.
There are several examples within the novel, which makes nationalism as the central ideology which pushes Zaydan to write his romantic novel. Among the examples include the events from the Abbasid period, these events were traditions and very important to the Abbasid Empire, zaydan was trying to explain how much they value their traditions and customs (Zaidan, 2010). The story of Abbasa and the unfortunate love for her brother’s best friend Ja’far is very suggestive according to her undertones, as well as her argument about gender relations.According to the tradition and customs of Abbasid it was unsuitable to admit a man from outside the family to the company of a young man, but Harun managed to arrange things and marry them. According to French such marriages are known as “marriage blanc (Zaidan, 2010).” As depicted in the novel, when Harun was telling Ja’fa, “you see her only in my company, your body never approaches her ad, you have no conjugal relations with her. You may thus share our evenings of pleasure without risk (Zaidan, 2010).” That statement of Harun to Ja’far shows at somepoint, Jafar should not feel comfortable with Harun’s sister; their customs and traditions must be respected at all times. Among the traditionsportrayed in that statement is that you are not allowed to sit close to a woman who is not from your family, and sex was only for the married ones (Zaidan, 2010).
Among many novels Jurji Zaydan has ever written, many if not all, was as a result of nationalism, as seen in The Caliph’s sister. Zaydan had a lot of passion for his country; he wanted his tribesmen to know more about their history their traditions as well as customs. Zaydan was pushed by nationalism to write his romantic novel, The Caliph’s Sister.
Zaidan, J. (2010). The Caliph’s Sister: Harun Al-Rashid and the Fall of the Persians. Zaidan Foundation, Incorporated.
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