Shibli Nomani's Urdu Travelogue of the Ottoman Empire

Episode 468

In 1892, the renowned Islamic scholar and educator Shibli Nomani traveled to the Ottoman Empire, where he visited cities in modern-day Turkey, Syria, and Egypt. His travelogue, entitled Safarnāmah-i Rūm o Miṣr o Shām, was published in the Urdu language within his own lifetime. In this episode, we talk to Gregory Maxwell Bruce, the author of an annotated translation of Shibli's travelogue, which has been recently published by Syracuse University Press. In our conversation, we delve into the process of translating the travelogue and explore the South-South connections between South Asia and the Middle East revealed by Shibli Nomani's relationships and contacts during his travels in the Ottoman Empire.

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Contributor Bios

Gregory Maxwell Bruce lectures in Urdu language and literature in the Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He holds a Ph.D. in Asian Cultures and Languages from the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught Urdu-medium courses on literature, Islamic mysticism, and South Asian culture in the Hindi-Urdu Flagship Program. His research interests lie at the intersection of literary aesthetics, intellectual history, and religious studies. 
Zoe Griffith is Assistant Professor of History at Baruch College, CUNY and completed her Ph.D. at Brown University in 2017. Her research focuses on political economy, law, and governance in the Ottoman Arab provinces from the 17th to the 19th centuries. She records mainly in New York City.

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Episode No. 468
Release Date: 22 July 2020
Recording Location: Berkeley, CA
Audio editing by Maryam Patton
Music: Home Fire by Robert John
Additional credits to Sam Dolbee, Susanna Ferguson, Chris Gratien, Shireen Hamza, and Neelam Khoja


Shibli Nomani's letter to Sayyid Mumtaz Ali, translated by Gregory Maxwell Bruce. Learn more about this letter in the interview above. Source: Šiblī Nuʿmānī, and Gregory Maxwell Bruce. Turkey, Egypt, and Syria: A Travelogue. 2020, pg. 263.

Cover of copy of Shibli Nomani's Safarnāmah-i Rūm o Miṣr o Shām published by Qaumi Press in Delhi circa 1902  
Excerpt of Shibli Nomani's Safarnāmah-i Rūm o Miṣr o Shām depicting the Ottoman Order of the Mecidiye (Mecidiye Nişanı)
Depiction of Sultan Abdul Hamid II's tuğra from Shibli Nomani's Safarnāmah-i Rūm o Miṣr o Shām
A section of Shibli Nomani's Safarnāmah-i Rūm o Miṣr o Shām concerning the state of education in Egypt


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