[Milton-L] Milton and the Qur'an

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 11 16:08:27 EDT 2008

Michele, Milton was likely drawing on Christian and Jewish sources for his depiction of Satan's fall. See:

Gary A. ANDERSON, "The Fall of Satan in the Thought of St. Ephrem and John Milton," HUGOYE: JOURNAL OF SYRIAC STUDIES Vol. 3, No. 1, January 2000

See also:

Gerald MacLean, "Milton, Islam and the Ottomans," in Sharon Achinstein and Elizabeth Sauer, eds., Milton and Toleration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007
And note Milton's own mention of the Qur'an:

There is yet behind of what I purpos'd to lay open, the incredible losse, and detriment that this plot of licencing puts us to, more then if som enemy at sea should stop up all our hav'ns and ports, and creeks, it hinders and retards the importation of our richest Marchandize, Truth: nay it was first establisht and put in practice by Antichristian malice and mystery on set purpose to extinguish, if it were possible, the light of Reformation, and to settle falshood; little differing from that policie wherewith the Turk upholds his Alcoran, by the prohibition of Printing. 'Tis not deny'd, but gladly confest, we are to send our thanks and vows to heav'n louder then most of Nations, for that great measure of truth which we enjoy, especially in those main points between us and the Pope, with his appertinences the Prelats: but he who thinks we are to pitch our tent here, and have attain'd the utmost prospect of reformation, that the mortall glasse wherein we
 contemplate, can shew us, till we come to beatific vision, that man by this very opinion declares, that he is yet farre short of Truth. 
(Luxon, Thomas H., ed. The Milton Reading Room, http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton, August, 2008.)
Maybe this helps.
Jeffery Hodges

--- On Mon, 8/11/08, Michele Walfred <walfred at udel.edu> wrote:

From: Michele Walfred <walfred at udel.edu>
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Milton and the Qur'an
To: "'John Milton Discussion List'" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008, 10:40 AM

Dear Milton List,

I recently became friends with a woman of Palestinian decent and Muslim
faith, (a rarity in my geographical region) and after having many
enlightened discussions about the similarities and difference in organized
religions and in the practice of faith, I started reading the Qur'an to
better understand her point of view. 

I was immediately struck by the strong rejection of the Christian trinity,
and any practice of idolatry. Milton immediately came to mind. Certain
tenets notwithstanding,  my initial impression is that there would have been
a great deal in the Qur'an that Milton might have agreed with.  I was
surprised to read that the Qur'an uses Christ's own words to emphasize
argument for Christ's humanity/prophet-only status as opposed to his being
divine. On this particular point of Milton would have strongly objected.

My curiosity piqued, I would like to know if Milton studied the Qur'an, (I
don't recall him knowing Arabic) and if so what he thought of it, what
references if any he might have made to it that have escaped my attention. I
would also appreciate direction to any readings this panel could recommend
on this subject. 

I've become fascinated with religious intolerance in culture and how it is
manifested in literature and art. A disclaimer, I am completely self-taught
in Milton studies- I undoubtedly operate under many unscholarly
misconceptions - and I use this list, silently, but faithfully, as a rudder
in my course work.


Michele D. Walfred
University of Delaware
Sussex County Cooperative Extension
16483 County Seat Highway
Georgetown, Del. 19947
Direct: (302) 856-2585 ext. 544
Fax: (302) 856-1845

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