Birmingham City University Quran

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Birmingham City University Quran

Historic writer John Milton’s work has influenced major Middle East events such as the Arab Spring and the Syrian uprising, and may even have drawn inspiration from the Quran, a new book published has revealed.

Dr Islam Issa, Lecturer in English Literature at Birmingham City University, has written ‘Milton in the Arab Muslim World’, the world’s first dedicated research into the poet’s impact in the Middle East and North African regions, which has already been named this year’s Outstanding First Book by the Milton Society of America.

The book, published on Friday 28 October, uncovers that Milton’s writing has been a major influence on the area’s political and cultural figures and events since it was first translated into Arabic in the early 20th Century. In particular through his most famous text – biblical epic ‘Paradise Lost’, which charts the fall of Adam, Eve and Satan.

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And the similarities between Milton’s Satan and the Quran’s Iblis suggest the writer may have read the Quran nearly 400 years ago, in his role as the Government’s head of foreign languages – where he had access to the first Western translations of the Islamic holy book.


Milton had also spoken out against censorship, using the Quran as a key example – before it was banned in England – and the research suggests its detailed narrations of the fall of Iblis could have inspired sections of ‘Paradise Lost’.

“The first French and English translations were published in the 1640s, and the English one was banned just weeks after Charles I was executed and just four days after Milton had become Secretary for Foreign Tongues, so these events surrounding the Quran would certainly have intrigued him.