On Hichem Djait

I read this Angry Arab post this morning and could not agree more:

Hichem Djait: Probably the most important and original scholar on Islam. I have been reading about the origins of the Great Fitnah in Islam. It is easy to discover that the best book there is on the subject is by the brilliant Tunisian scholar, Hichem Djait: La Grande Discorde, which appeared in an excellent Arabic translation but not in an English translation. Djait is largely unknwn in US academia although he is in my opinion one of the best contemporary scholars on Islam. This is a man who is equally fluent in German philosophy–in German–and in French historiography–in French–and in Arabic writings–in Arabic. Only one of his books is available in English, L’Europe et l’Islam. That book should be read along with Said’s Orientalism and Rodinson’s La Fascination de l’Islam as the essential readings on the subject (and Irwin’s latest Dangerous Knowledge, albeit as a critical counterpoint). In the introduction to his book on Fitnah, Djait points out (with surprise) that there are no studies about the subject, with the exception of a book by Taha Husayn which is literary in nature. Husayn (contrary to his reputation) was quite apologetic in his writings on Islam. Djait is great in being critical of Orientalist literature and critical of the early Islamic sources. Politically, Djait surprises me: this brilliant scholar has Saddamist Arab nationalist sympathies.

Hichem Djait’s Fitna is incredibly rich, detailed history and the best book on the subject I know of. Whatever you do, don’t get the book with the same main title by Kepel. Djait’s book is the real thing, and considering the creepy anti-Shiism rising in the Sunni Arab world it’s probably worth re-reading.

0 thoughts on “On Hichem Djait”

  1. Marhaba,

    Does anyone know if Prof. Djait is currently retired? If not, where does he teach? Has he ever given open lectures or presentations on the subject-matter or any other subject (regarding Arab culture)?


  2. Hichem Djait continues to be based out of Tunisia, being Tunisian himself, and has never stopped writing books, articles and giving lectures. As his writings are mostly written in Arabic or French, you can find more information about him through media in this languages. An arabic website has been set-up that hosts information about his work. He also has given interviews in a cultural TV program hosted by El Arabia.

  3. Just one precision ; Hichem Djait (like many of our generation that were brought up in the rich culture of the College Sadiki in Tunis) is very proud of his Arab roots, and is, in a large sens, an Arab nationalist, but I am quite sure that he is not a "Saddamist ". I don`t know of any real Arab nationalist who is a "follower" of Saddam Hussein. This dictator with a low IQ WAS NOT an Arab nationalist (NOT ONE of his actions was positive for the Arab cause, on the contrary !!). He was a bloody thug, who lived in palaces, killed right and left, was responsible for the death of hundred thousands of Iraqis and Iranians in a stupid war, decided by the West (remember Rumsfeld ! ) in a senseless war, and was stupid enough to fall in the trap set for him (in fact set for Irak) by the Zionists with the help of their agents the Neocons and the Evangelists of the US. Saddam Hussein, Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gaddafi, Salah, etc. Arab nationalists ? NO !!! Just corrupted, idiotic, bloodthirsty Arab dictators !! By the way, the Arab land is being cleaned by a Jasmin fragrance !!

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