The translation of a 1,000-year-old "guide to gatecrashing", written by a renowned Muslim scholar has revealed the lighter side to ancient Baghdad.
'The Art of Party Crashing' was written by historian al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, whose work is especially influential in the teachings and interpretation of the Prophet Mohammed.
The translation of the satirical piece was carried out by Dr Emily Selove and contains accounts of swearing, flirtation and even drunkenness.
A picture from the period and region depicting a party
Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi suggests jokes are the best way to gatecrash a party and offers the following examples to help its readers:
Once a man crashed another man’s party.
"'Who are you?’ the host asked him.
"I’m the one who saved you the trouble of sending an invitation! he replied."
Once a party-crasher walked in the house of a man who had invited a gathering of people.
“Hey, you!” the man said. “Did I say you could come?”
"Did you say I couldn’t come?" the party crasher replied.
A party-crasher walked into a gathering, and they said to him, “Nobody invited you!”
"But if you didn’t invite me and I didn’t come," he replied, "think how lonely that would be!"
Everybody laughed at that, and they let him stay.
The Manchester University researcher says the book offers "a rather different perspective to the austere image Islam has from the period," and adds: “The reality is that the Baghdad of 1,000 years ago was actually rather Bohemian - it wasn't perfect by any means – but not the violent and repressive society you might imagine it was.
“Such ignorance is probably down to the fact that so little of the huge body of literature produced at that time has been translated into English. There’s so much more to do.”
The book is was written as a reminder that "even serious minded person deserves a break" according to its author, but offers some straight-faced advice too.
"It also suggests that turning a hungry person away from a place laden with food was cruel – as food was sometimes in short supply to the poor," Dr Selove said.
"It castigated those who turned gate crashers away from parties as misers. You do not turn people away if they are hungry."
The book by Dr Emily Selove shows a lighter side to society in Ancient Baghdad
It suggests twelve points of meal-time that Muslims observe, including four obligatory points to supplicate God: before eating to know which food is forbidden, take pleasure in it, and thank God for it.
It also advises observation of four customs of the prophet: to sit on one's left foot while eating, not to reach across the table, eat with three fingers, and lick the fingers when finished.
Manners are also advised with one told to wash one's hand before eating, take little bites, chew thoroughly, and do not stare at friends. Table manners that perhaps still stand.
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