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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Arab Sunni Muslim discourses and experiences of physical and sensory impairments are surveyed from the rise of Islam in the seventh century until about 1800. The geographical focus of this discussion, which is primarily a function of the available scholarship, is Egypt and Greater Syria, the area that corresponds roughly to today’s Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel and the Palestinian territories. Impairments appear frequently in premodern Arabic writings, especially in literature, chronicles, biographies and autobiographies, legal texts, and medical compendia, leaving the reader with the impression that people with impairments were everywhere in the Arab world. Yet, to date only a handful of articles and two historical monographs about the Arab world are explicitly situated within the field of disability history. This chapter provides a new benchmark on which historians of disability working in the Arab world can build in future studies.

Keywords: Arab, blindness, deafness, disability, Islam, Islamic law, leprosy, physical impairment, sensory impairment, terminology

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