Saturday, August 13, 2022

Mada Masr, Interview with Trevor LeGassik,  

HG: Ahmed Amin in Fajr al-Islam (The Dawn of Islam, 1928) and Taha Hussein were interested in writing about this period in the modern way of studying and writing history.

TL: Yes of course, and you know how it all started? It was Mohamed Hussein Heikal Pasha, who was a lawyer, novelist and a senate, and who on holiday in Luxor found Washington Irving’s book about the Prophet Mohamed and it blew him away, because in the 1930s in Cairo and in all the Arab world there was no easy way to find anything much about the Prophet Mohamed. Everyone knew the Quran and serious scholars knew classical manuscripts like Ibn Kathir, but they were not easily accessible or understandable, and so he wrote his own Hayat Muhammed (Life of Mohamed). Curiously then, it was Irving’s writings — who was an American author appointed ambassador to Spain — that inspired all these writers in Cairo in the 1930s, and if it wasn’t for him, it would have taken decades to produce accessible books about the Prophet. Who has time to read four volumes of Ibn Kathir?

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