Manuscripts are a significant part of the rich cultural heritage of the Mamluk period. Like a mirror, a wide range off hand-written texts reflects the cultural life in Mamluk Egypt and Syria. Some manuscripts of the Qur‘an are magnificent examples of calligraphy and illumination. The level of scientific knowledge demonstrate manuscripts on Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Astronomy; a selection of adab literature gives an opportunity to apprehend what cultural atmosphere in Cairo or Damascus might have been like. Works on kalam, fiqh and other religious disciplines written by Muslim scholars, who were a group of the local population, allowed to communicate with political elite and interacted with Mamluk sultans and emirs in some cases are important sources of cultural history of the period, as well as manuscripts on history, geography, genealogy, military art and encyclopedias.
The paper is an attempt of a new interpretation of the term saqaliba that Ahmad ibn Fadlan, who was a 10-century Arab traveler, used in his Kitab as a designation of the population of the Middle Volga region. The most likely is that saqaliba in this region in the beginning of 10th century was a demonym, ie designation of certain territory residents, regardless of their genealogy and characteristics of the material and spiritual culture.
Genesis of the demonym could be associated with Imenkovo archaeological culture of 4-7th centuries AD, which is similar to authentically Slavic cultures. From VIII this culture was replaced by Turkic and Finno-Ugric cultures.
Volga Bulgaria emerged in the late 9th – early 10th century as the union of different ethnopolitical groups led by the Bulgars. In the 920's Almış, the ruler of the Bulgars, followed by Ibn Fadlan designated by the term "Sakaliba" ethno-political group in aggregate subordinated to Almış.
In the process of consolidating power of Bulgar leaders demonym saqaliba was replaced by the term bulghar in the writings of Ibn Rustah, al-Mas‘udi, Estakhri etc.
The “Book of Sessions” (Kitāb al-majālis) of Elias of Nisibis, Metropolitan of the Church of the East (975–1046), with his Muslim vis-à-vis, vizier Abū ʾl-Qāsim al-Maghribī (981–1027), is a remarkable example of the Christian Arabic literature of the 11th c.—the time of the flowering of the Arabic culture. In the present edition, it is compared with the “Epistle” of Elias to the vizier, and some documents that reveal the history of the creation of the “Book” are also taken into consideration.
This catalogue contains a full description of the collection of Turkic, Arabic and Persian manuscripts, lithographs and old-printed books of the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages in the collection of the Scientific Library of the MGIMO University, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. It comprises more than 200 manuscripts (some of which were copied in Central Asia, Turkey, Iran, Syria), over 100 lithographs and 200 old-printed books (including books from the printing house of the Turkish printing pioneer Ibrahim Muteferrika, and of Burnashev’s “Asiatic Typography” in Kazan) which have not as yet been subjected to systematic description and study. The catalogue is provided with indexes listing the names of manuscript copyists, lithograph publishers, places where the manuscripts were copied, editions of lithographs, as well as other names and titles of works.
In the histories of ecumenism, its initial formation is usually dated the early 20th century. The World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910 is referred to as its «symbolic beginning». A quest for the origins of the ecumenical thought led researchers to find some early voices in the previous centuries, even as early as in the 15th—16th c. However, there are Oriental sources which witness to a much earlier formation of the ecumenical paradigm of the ecclesiological thought, typologically corresponding to that developed in the 20th c. In the Golden Age of Medieval Muslim culture under the Abbasid caliphate, an ecumenical position is witnessed to by some Middle Eastern Christian authors. In their works, the main Christian denominations are not polemically presented as opposed to each other, but on the contrary, the essential unity of various Christian beliefs is emphasized, and the ways the main Christian communities follow are claimed to be equal in value. The present study uses the Medieval Arabic sources to demonstrate that the history of the ecumenical thought should be corrected by supplying a chapter on the Medieval Eastern period of the history.
The main source of the publication is a manuscript from the Royal Library in Copenhagen («Poёmata Sultani Kânszuh el-Gauri» Cod. Arab. 280). It contains materials haven’t been looked at in Russian historiography. Forty two poems by the penultimate mamluk sultan al-Ghuri are gathered in the manuscript. This is the very rare example of mamluk poetry writing. The research includes description of the manuscript, translation of some fragments and analyse of their content.