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RABADAN, Muhammad.

Mahometism Fully Explained.

London: for W. Mears, 1723-5 Stock Code: 141305
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"The First Muslim Biography of the Prophet Muhammad in English"

First ever English language edition of a biography of the Prophet written by a Muslim, presenting for the first time to a European readership a sympathetic view of Muhammad himself, and of the culture of Islam. Well represented institutionally, we can trace only two complete copies at auction.

English translation of a biography of the Prophet by the Morisco poet Muhammad Rabadan, made by the English writer and diplomat Joseph Morgan from a manuscript written in 1603 and found in a Tunisian market 1719. The Moriscos of Spain were Muslims who had been (often forcibly) converted to Christianity but managed to retain many of their previous customs, a great number even practicing Islam in secret. This work by Rabadan, "the best-known Morisco poet and, perhaps, the greatest" (Cheyne, Islam and the West: The Moriscos, 1983, p. 16162), was written in Spanish, infused with Arabic, and was intended as a kind of religious instruction for his fellow Moriscos, many of whom had only a rudimentary knowledge of Islam.

Joseph Morgan spent twenty years in North Africa, c. 170020,. While there, he came across several communities of Moriscos, expelled from Spain in the early 17th century, that were still performing Rabadan's poems in religious festivals and at private events. Having acquired the manuscript of Rabadan's biography of the Prophet in verse, Morgan decided to produce a translation of it, accompanied by a few shorter Islamic texts and his own commentary.

"Such a biography of the Prophet had never been seen in the West This biography showed to English readers Muhammad as the mystical and miraculous Prophet venerated by Muslims" (Nabil Matar, "Jos.eph Morgan and Mohamed Rabadan: The First Muslim Biography of the Prophet Muhammad in English", 2019, p. 166). Works on Muhammad and Islam had previously appeared in English but their outlook was almost universally hostile. Morgan, unusually, "sought to forge a niche for the civilization of Islam by presenting the most sympathetic biography of the Prophet that had appeared in European history" (ibid., p. 172). The English public may not have been ready for such a positive depiction. In 1867, H.E.J. Stanley, a convert to Islam who would later become the first Muslim member of the House of Lords, complained that due to the "smallness of the edition" that this work had "fallen completely out of sight" (Stanley, The Poetry of Mohamed Rabadan of Arragon, 1867, p. 2). Morgan placed the original manuscript in the library of Lord Harley, the dedicatee of volume I, it is now MS Harley 7501 in the BL.

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2 volumes octavo (195 x 118 mm). Recently rebound in full calf to style by the Dragonfly Bindery, brown morocco label to the spine, blind panelling to the sides, edges stained red.


Two folding engraved plates plates, and a folding letterpress genealogical table.


Ex-Springfield City Library, with their blind and perforated stamps on the title pages, and perforated stamps to p. 1 and p. 57 in both volumes only, short splits at the upper margin of one plate, repaired with archival tape verso, moderate browning throughout, remains a very good set.


ESTC T92870


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