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The Qur’an in English writings, 1543-1697

(5,589 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
The Qur’an in English writings, 1543-1697   ‘The Renaissance inherited a confused and contradictory mass of grotesque notions concerning the Founder of Islam, and so long-lived are prejudices that, even when the scholarly and the curious had rendered accessible sources of information that at least approximated to the truth, these notions persisted almost unchallenged, were indeed fortified by new prejudices against the Ottoman conquerors of the Levant’ (Samuel C. Chew,  The crescent and the rose, New York, 1937, p. 387). The history of knowledge about Islam in England can b…

 A journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem at Easter, A.D. 1697

(2,374 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
- Henry Maundrell Date: 1703 Original Language: English Description A journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem describes the journey undertaken by Henry Maundrell to Jerusalem and back between 26 February and 11 May 1697, first published in Oxford in 1703. The 1714 edition also included two short accounts of journeys to the River Euphrates that Maundrell undertook in 1699. The bbok was very popular and there were several later editions and reprints. Maundrell knew neither Arabic nor Turkish and relied for information…

 Liturgiae ecclesiae Anglicanae – partes praecipuae: viz. preces matutinae & vespertinae

(1,327 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
Liturgiae ecclesiae Anglicanae‘Liturgies of the English Church – principal parts: namely morning and evening prayers’ Edward Pococke Date: 1674 Original Language: Arabic Description As a Doctor of (Anglican) Divinity and Dean of Christ Church, Pococke was deeply invested in preparing works in Arabic intended to convert the Eastern Christians and the Muslims of the Ottoman regions. During his stays in Aleppo and Istanbul, he had engaged with men from both religions, Shaykh Fatḥallāh, who taught him Arabic, and Darwīsh …

Edward Pococke

(1,366 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
Biography Edward Pococke, Laudian Professor of Arabic and Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University, was the foremost Arabist in 17th-century England. Having matriculated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, he was admitted as a scholar at Corpus Christi College in 1620, where he studied Greek and Hebrew, and in 1626 he started learning Arabic. After he was ordained in the Church of England, he went to Aleppo and from 1630 to 1636 served as a chaplain to the Levant Company, during which time he intensified his study of …

Daniel Defoe

(556 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
Daniel Foe Date of Birth: About 1660 Place of Birth: London Date of Death: 24 April 1731 Place of Death: London BiographyDaniel Foe was born in London in 1660 to nonconformist parents and received his first education at a dissenting academy. Although he initially intended to pursue a religious calling, in 1681 he followed his father into trade as a wholesale hosier, later expanding into the export-import business. In 1683, he published a treatise in which he showed his fear of Ottoman power on the Continent, assumin…

Humphrey Prideaux

(535 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
Date of Birth: 3 May 1648 Place of Birth: Padstow, Cornwall Date of Death: 1 November 1724 Place of Death: Norwich, England BiographyHumphrey Prideaux was born in Padstow, Cornwall, and at the age of 16 went to Westminster School. There, he studied under Richard Busby, who had introduced Oriental languages to the curriculum. Four years later, he was admitted to Christ Church, Oxford, and obtained a BA in 1672, MA in 1675, and BD in 1682 (Prideaux,  The life, p. 10). One of his first publications was the catalogue of the Arundel and Selden marbles,  Marmora Oxoniensia (1676), which ‘gained …

 The true nature of imposture fully display'd in the life of Mahomet

(2,502 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
- Humphrey Prideaux Date: 1697 Original Language: English DescriptionBy the 1690s, deists and anti-Trinitarians had published numerous writings in which they rejected revealed religion, life after death, and the ‘superstition’ of a Deity of reward and punishment. In 1696, having become apprehensive of people’s indifference to religion (Allison,  The crescent obscured, pp. 37-9), Prideaux published anonymously  A letter to the deists, a treatise of 154 pages in which he asserted to his ‘Gentlemen’ readers that if deists were, as their name suggested, beli…

 Specimen historiae Arabum

(1,498 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
Lumaʿ min akhbār al-ʿArab‘A study of the history of the Arabs’ Edward Pococke Date: 1650 Original Language: Latin (with Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac) Description By 1650, Pococke had regained the Chair of Arabic at Oxford, as he stoutly declared on the title page of Specimen, his first work in Islamic scholarship and the first publication in Oxford using Arabic script (which may explain the long list of errata). Its full title is [ Luma ʿ  min akhbār al- ʿ Arab],  Specimen historiae Arabum, sive, Gregorii Abul Farajii Malatiensis de origine & moribus Arabum succincta narra…

 Representations of Muslims in the works of Daniel Defoe

(3,499 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
- Daniel Foe Date: 1683-1728 Original Language: English DescriptionThere are numerous references to Turks, Moors and ‘Arabians’ in the writings of Daniel Defoe, but there is no evidence that he was interested in the religion of Islam as such or that he had read the Qur’an or other Islamic material. Although he mentions these texts in a few of his publications, at no point does he refer to anything specific in them. Rather, his knowledge derived from general readings about the Ottoman Empire and Islamic history, including Simon Ockley’s History of the Saracens (1718), a copy of which wa…

 Contextio gemmarum, sive, Eutychii patriarchae Alexandrini annales illustriss Iohanne Seldeno … chorago; interprete Edwardo Pocockio

(732 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
Contextio gemmarum‘A string of gems, or, the chronicles of Eutychius, Patriarch of Alexandria’ Edward Pococke Date: 1654, 1656 Original Language: Arabic Description Between 1654 and 1656, Pococke published the complete translation of Ibn Baṭrīq’s (Eutychius's) history. Just over 20 years earlier, his friend John Selden had published a translation of a few pages from that history, adding extensive commentaries and notes from Greek, Arabic and Hebrew sources.  Eutychii Aegyptii, patriarchae orthodoxorum Alexandrini (1642) was the first Arabic text printed in England,…

 Mahometism fully explained, and Mahometism explained, vol. II

(2,109 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
- Joseph Morgan Date: 1723 and 1725 Original Language: English DescriptionMorgan’s first publication,  Mahometism fully explained (more fully,  Mahometism fully explained ... Written in Spanish and Arabick, in the Year MDCIII for the Instruction of the Moriscoes in Spain. By Mahomet Rabadan, an Arragonian Moor. Translated from the Original Manuscript, and Illustrated with large Explanatory Notes. By Mr. Morgan;1723), is a translation and ‘paraphrase’ from Spanish (and some  aljamiado) of the life of the Prophet Muḥammad, his family and his ancestry. Morgan dedi…

Henry Maundrell

(525 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
Date of Birth: Baptised in 1665 Place of Birth: Probably Compton Bassett, England Date of Death: 1701 Place of Death: Aleppo BiographyHenry Maundrell was born and baptised in Wiltshire in 1665. Nothing further is known about him until, at the age of 16, he matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford, graduating BA in 1685 and BD in 1687. Sometime after 1684, he was ordained by Bishop Thomas Spratt, and in 1689 he was appointed curate of Bromley, Kent. In 1695, he preached a sermon before Levant Company merchants in Londo…

Joseph Morgan

(1,208 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
Date of Birth: Unknown Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: After 1750 Place of Death: Unknown BiographyVery little is known about Joseph Morgan, apart from details found in his own works. Born in the United Kingdom, he learned Latin and Greek ‘at School’ ( Complete History of Algiers, vol. 1, 1728, p. xix), mastered French, Spanish and Arabic, read aljamiado (Spanish and other European languages in Arabic script), conversed in North African dialects, and had a smattering of Turkish. He was a voracious reader and refers to a vast array of authors both …

 Philosophus autodidactus

(1,046 words)

Author(s): Matar, Nabil
‘Self-taught philosopher’ Edward Pococke Junior Date: 1671 Original Language: Arabic DescriptionFrom the mid-1640s, Pococke started translating passages from  Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, the work of the 12th-century Andalusian philosopher Ibn Ṭufayl (d. 1185). Philosophus autodidactus (in full,  Philosophus autodidactus, sive, epistola Abi Jaafar ebn Tophail de Hai ebn Yokdhan in quâ ostenditur quomodo ex inferiorum contemplatione ad superiorum notitiam ratio humana ascendere possit) is in two parts. The first describes the life of Ḥayy, a baby alone on an island …