William Muir étudia à l’Académie Kilmarnock, à Glasgow et à l’Université d’Edimbourg ainsi qu’à Haileybury College. Entre 1837 et 1885, il eut de haute responsabilité dans l’administration du gouvernement des Indes. En 1885, il fut élu principal de l’Université d’Édimbourg en succédant à Sir Alexander Grant, et occupa ce poste jusqu’en 1903, date où il prit sa retraite.
The Coran abounds with arguments, drawn from Nature
and Providence, with a view to prove the existence of God
as the Supreme Ruler, and enforce His sovereign claim
on the obedience and gratitude of mankind. The retri-
bution of good and evil in the world to come, the obligation
to follow virtue and eschew vice, the duty and happiness
of the creature in worshipping and serving the Creator,
and such-like topics, are set forth in language of beauty
and vigour, abounding often with real poetry. Thus, also,
the reasonableness of the Resurrection is taught by many
forcible considerations, and especially by the analogy, so
striking in southern climes, of the earth long dry and
dead, quickened suddenly into exuberant life by the copious
rain from heaven.
Passages like these can hardly be obnoxious to the professors of any faith ; and there is much in them that
should be welcome to all. Accordingly, it occurred to me
when in India, that extracts of the kind might prove suitable for the use of scliools. While acceptable to
the Mahometans, I conceived that they might not be
unattractive to others, either Hindoo or Christian, as
illustrations at once of the beautiful and nervous diction
of the Corlln, and also of the better parts of Mussulman
theology. With this view I compiled the extracts which
form the present volume, intending to publish them in a
tri-lingual form, — ^Arabic, English, and Urdoo. But when I
had nearly completed the design, and began to take counsel
with my Mahometan friends for carrying it into effect,
I was assured that their people would probably be averse
from the use of any such manual. Reverence for the
"divine Cor&n’’ is so intense (I was told), that the very
act of using extracts selected from it, would be held a
desecration. Some of my own countrymen even, were
startled at the proposal, thinking that the introduction of
such a school book might be regarded as an undue re-
cognition of the CorSn. And so, finding little favour
for my project anywhere, I dropped it.
I now take it in hand again. I still venture to think
that the publication of these extracts will be beneficial.
It may promote amongst us the knowledge of portions of
the teaching of Mahomet which are in themselves un-
objectionable and often edifying. And it may also be
useful, as affording a certain basis of agreement and
common thought, for those who come into contact with
the Moslem world.
Agauiy in respect of scIlooIs in India, the scruples as
to the use of such a manual may perhaps be overcome ;
and if once introduced, it is likely to be popular. At any
rate, for the student of Arabic in this country, the selection
must prove very serviceable. There can be no better intro-
duction to this noble tongue, than the eloquent lessons
of the Prophet himself, couched as they are in langiia^
of singular force and beauty, held by Moslems of every
age a model unrivalled in its elegance, purity and
The collection avoids the special tenets of Islam. Occa-
sional allusions could not be entirely eliminated ; but they
will hardly be objected to.
The extracts follow the existing order of the Coran,
which, as is well known, is not the chronological order ; ^
but that is here immaterial ; for the line of argument re-
mained throughout the Prophet’s career the same, though
the illustrations varied somewhat. For the most part the
passages in this collection were delivered in the middle
of that period. A few belong to the earlier and more
rhapsodical stage ; and by way of illustration I have given
one of the earlier Sdras entire, as the last of the series.
Repetition will be observed not infrequently of the same
idea, and sometimes even in the same language ; — ^a trait that is characteristic of the Coran.
A translation follows each extract, sufficiently close for
the use of the student. It would not have been possible
to infuse the spirit of the original into the rendering
without greater freedom than I felt at liberty to intro-
duce, and (which is, perhaps, more to the purpose) without
a special talent for the task to which I have no pretension.
As it is, I trust that the attempt may be found to
answer some of the objects which I have had in view.
London, April, 1880.
Table des matières
35 extraits sont traduits.