256 pages | 8 Color Illus.
In the Lands of the Christians presents original translations from Arabic of four Christian and Muslim writers who visited Western Europe and America in the seventeenth century. These essays contain careful descriptions of the regions, societies, customs, and religions these intrepid travelers encountered in their journeys. Here you will find the complete travel narrative of the first Arab to visit South and Central America in 1688, the first English translation of the ambassadorial report by Mohammad bin Abd al-Wahab al-Ghassani who traveled through Spain in 1690, translations of letters by the Morrocan ambassador to France describing his relationship with his hosts and his impressions of the land, and Morisco author Ahmad bin Qasim's account of his voyage from Holland to France in 1610.
"Nabil Matar has translated his writings and those of three other Arabs who travelled to Christian lands in the 17th century into English for the first time. For those largely ignorant of Islam, or of the worlds as it was 300 years ago, it makes for absorbing, enlightening and, surprisingly, often amusing reading.
A valuable and stimulating piece of scholarship." -- Daily Telegraph
"Gathering together for the first time freshly translated accounts by early modern travelers from the Islamic world to Western Europe and the Americas, Matar's In the Lands of the Christians enacts a genuine paradigm shift. These travelogues, diplomatic reports, and letters by Muslim and Christian Arabs from the early to the late seventeenth century demolish the orientalist myth that cross-cultural exchanges in the early modern period were invariably dominated by the supposedly more "curious" West." -- Bernadette Andrea, Professor of English, University of Texas at San Antonio
"Nabil Matar is a genius. Having written two of the most remarkable, original and important studies of Islamic-Christian relations to be published in the last twenty years, he has now surpassed even his own high standards with In the Lands of the Christians. At a time when Islam and Christianity appear to be heading for a major confrontation, Matar's work could not be more vital, or more timely." -- -William Dalrymple, author of From the Holy Mountain: A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East
"This selection of early modern writings on Europe and its overseas possessions is proof that Muslim and Arab travelers kept remarkably accurate and detailed records of Europeans, despite the religious and cultural differences that separated both peoples. Matar's meticulously researched and edited book, together with his excellent translations and introduction, will remind readers that a new form of mahabba (love) may yet prevail over the culture of conflict and suspicion that seems to characterize relations between Arabs and the West. This book is a timely and necessary corrective to the clash of civilizations thesis." -- Anouar Majid, Professor of English, University of New England
"A splendidly scholarly edition of a selection of tales that reveal Early Modern Europe as well as South America as 'Other' in the eyes of Arab travelers to the 'Lands of the Christians'." -- Kenneth Parker, editor of Early Modern Tales of the Orient: A Critical Anthology
"The collection is a gift itself, for which we must be grateful nd to which we must attend." -- Mary Baine Campbell, Brandeis University, Clio