Stanley Lane-Poole (1854-1931)

Prominent British orientalist and archeologist, who was also a professor of Arabic studies at Dublin University

“I have tried … finally to explain something of the history of the Kur’an and its contents. I am conscious of having drawn the picture with a weak hand, but I hope the sketch may serve as a not quite useless introduction to a volume of typical selections from a book which, in the peculiar character of its contents and the extraordinary power of its influence, has not its parallel in the world.

It is an immense merit in the Kur’an that there is no doubt as to its genuineness. The ‘Word of the Lord’ came to Mohammad, and he uttered it, and the people wrote it down or committed it to memory ; and that very word we can now read with full confidence that it has remained unchanged through nearly thirteen hundred years.

The language has the ring of poetry, though no part of the Kur’an complies with the demands of Arab metre. The sentences are short and full of half- restrained energy, yet with a musical cadence. The thought is often only half expressed; one feels the speaker has essayed a thing beyond words, and has suddenly discovered the impotence of language, and broken off with the sentence unfinished. There is the fascination of true poetry about these earliest soorahs; as we read them we understand the enthusiasm of the Prophet’s followers, though we cannot fully realise the beauty and the power, in as much as we cannot hear them hurled forth with Mohammad’s fiery eloquence.

Selections from the Kuran, Edward William Lane, Preface and Introduction by Stanley Lane Poole, pg. viii, c & cv; Houghton, Osgood & Co. Boston, 1879