Abu al-Ala’: see al-Ma‘arri.
Amr ibn al-‘As (died AD 664): early Arab Muslim conqueror and ruler of Egypt.
Amshir: sixth month (of thirteen) in the Coptic calendar, starting in February and ending in March; also called Meshir.
Any place glory flourishes is fine: half of a line of poetry by al-Mutanabbi.
Bulkeley, Bokla, or Bolkly: tram station and region of Alexandria; once the site of the Egyptain monarchy’s summer capital; E. M. Forster’s Buckeley: “the heart of Ramleh where the British and other foreigners reside.” E. M. Forster, Alexandria: A History and a Guide (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1962), p. 181.
By night when it descends: Qur’an, Chapter of al-Layl (The Night), 92:1.
By the heavens and by the night star: Qur’an, Chapter of al-Tariq (The Night Star), 86:1.
Constitutions of 1923 and 1930: The 1923 Constitution marked the emergence of Egypt from the British protectorate. It was abolished by Ismail Sidqi in 1930 and another, which strengthened the monarchy, was drafted. The 1923 Constitution was restored in 1935.
cuckold’s horns: In various cultures, as in English folklore, it is thought that a man whose spouse is unfaithful to him acquires one horn, a pair of horns, or a set of antlers.
dhikr: ritual Sufi remembrance of God often involving motion and music.
ful, ful midammis: a stewed bean dish that is a staple of the Egyptian diet.
gallabiya: Egyptian ankle-length tunic.
Hanbali: one of the more conservative and puritanical of the Sunni approaches to law and theology.
I don’t worship what you worship.… Nor do we worship what you worship. You have your religion and I have mine: Qur’an, Chapter of al-Kafirun (The Unbelievers), 109:2, 4–5, and 6.
Lalande, André (1867–1963): author of Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie (many editions).
al-Ma‘arri, Abu al-Ala’ (973–1058): famed Arab poet and author known for his daring and possibly heretical thought, personal asceticism, and elaborately elegant literary style.
Mach, Ernst (1838–1916): Austrian physicist and philosopher.
Magdeleine, possibly Marie-Magdeleine: the popular oratorio (premiere 1873) by Jules Massenet; or alternatively: Mary Magdalene, a play in three acts, by Maurice Maeterlinck; tr. by Alexander Teixera de Mattos (New York: Dodd, Mead and company,  title page 1911).
mahdi: a messiah-like figure in Islam, especially for Shi’i Twelvers, who await the return of the Expected Twelfth Imam.
Merneptah: Egyptian pharaoh who ruled from approximately 1213–1203 BC; his stela referred to ancient Israel as “laid waste.”
millieme: in Egyptian currency one tenth of a piaster and thus one thousandth of an Egyptian pound (from millième).
mish: Egyptian farm cheese, which is soft and easy to spread. It is created by an ancient process that involves pickling karish cheese, which is itself a low-fat, firm Egyptian cheese made from skim milk.
Muhammad Ali Street: Cairo thoroughfare famed for music shops.
No wound hurts a dead man: half of a line of poetry by al-Mutanabbi.
Ostwald, Wilhelm (1853–1932): Latvian-born pioneer in physical chemistry; Nobel laureate for chemistry in 1909.
The Sorrows of Young Werther: landmark novel (1774) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
tuzz: a contemptuous interjection.
Umar ibn Abi Rabi‘a (AD 644–ca. 712): Arab poet famous for love poetry and his romances.
umm: Arabic for “mother,” or “mother of,” as in Umm Ihsan and Umm Tahiya; a common way to refer to a woman using her child’s name.
University: from 1908 to 1925 called the Egyptian University, then King Fouad University until the 1950s, and now Cairo University.
Wafd Party: major liberal, nationalist Egyptian political party dating back to Saad Zaghlul and the end of the First World War.
Young Egypt: a pro-Fascist political party, founded by Ahmad Husayn in 1933, with a youth wing, the Green Shirts; it evolved with time, changing its name and ideology.
zakat: the duty of a Muslim to purify wealth by assisting certain categories of the disadvantaged.