ABU DHABI // A treatise on humour and moderation in Islam was one of seven works shortlisted for the Sheikh Zayed Book Award yesterday.
The award committee released a list of four books under consideration for the prize for translation and three for the prize for young authors. Winners in all categories will be announced later this month.
"I had great hopes to be nominated," said Leila Labidi, the author of Al Fakkah fi al Islam, or "Humour in Islam", shortlisted in the young author category.
"The book promotes moderation in Islam," said Ms Labidi, 37, from Tunisia.
"It is an attempt to dissipate the perception promoted by hardcore Islamists that Islam is rigid and complicated."
Ms Labidi spent two years writing the book, which was also her thesis for a postgraduate diploma.
"The accounts we have of the Prophet in the Hadith reveal that he had a pleasant character and that he often laughed wholeheartedly," she explained. "He was simple and unaffected in dealing with any issue."
The two other books shortlisted in the young author category, for writers below 40 years old, were Cryptography in Ancient Egypt by Nagwa Netwally, from Egypt, and Ladies of the Moon, a novel by Jokha Al Harthi, from Oman.
In the translation category, Abou Yaareb Al Marzouqi was nominated for translating a phenomenological treatise by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl into Arabic.
"It is a first translation and it was painstaking," said Mr Al Marzouqi, a philosophy professor and a member of the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia.
"I chose the book because it is the cornerstone to all modern studies in literature and philosophy," he said. "It explains the science of explaining and analysing the religious experience."
Mr Al Marzouqi was "very pleased" to hear it had been shortlisted for the prize. "This is a prestigious award known across the Arab world," he said.
The three other works shortlisted in the translation category were Saleh Almani's Arabic translation of A Life without Don Quixoteand Sancho, from Spanish; Mohammed Alboukai's Arabic translation of Linguistics and the Sub-conscious, from French; and Ravane Mbaye's French translation of Gems of the Senses, from Arabic.
Mr Almani and Mr Alboukai are from Syria; Mr Mbaye is from Senegal.
The annual Shiekh Zayed Book Award was first presented in 2007. Intended to promote scholarship and creativity in Arabic culture, it carries cash prizes totalling Dh7 million - with Dh750,000 per winner in most categories.