Title: The Caliph Haroun Alraschid and Saracen Civilization
Author: E. H. Palmer
Publisher: Merrill and Baker. No date, most probably 1890s.
Condition: Decoratie cloth. Name plate on end papers, inscription on fly page. Minor foxing to edges and some staining to back cover. Otherwise very good.
About Haroun Al Raschid (from Wikipedia):
Harun al-Rashid (17 March 763 or February 766 — 24 March 809) was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. His actual birth date is debatable, and various sources give dates from 763 to 766. His surname translates to “the Just,” “the Upright” or “the Rightly-Guided”. Al-Rashid ruled from 786 to 809, during the peak of the Islamic Golden Age. His time was marked by scientific, cultural, and religious prosperity. Islamic art and music also flourished significantly during his reign. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma (“House of Wisdom”) in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, and during his rule Baghdad began to flourish as a center of knowledge, culture and trade. In 796, he moved his court and government to Ar-Raqqah in modern-day Syria.
Since Harun was intellectually, politically, and militarily resourceful, his life and his court have been the subject of many tales. Some are claimed to be factual, but most are believed to be fictitious. An example of what is factual, is the story of the clock that was among various presents that Harun had sent to Charlemagne. The presents were carried by the returning Frankish mission that came to offer Harun friendship in 799. Charlemagne and his retinue deemed the clock to be a conjuration for the sounds it emanated and the tricks it displayed every time an hour ticked. Among what is known to be fictional is The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, which contains many stories that are fantasized by Harun’s magnificent court and even Harun al-Rashid himself. The family of Barmakids which played a deciding role in establishing the Abbasid Caliphate declined gradually during his rule.
About E. H. Palmer (from Wikipedia):
Edward Henry Palmer (7 August 1840 – August 1882) was an English orientalist.
In 1867 he published a treatise on Oriental mysticism, based on the Maksad-i-Aksa of Aziz ibn Mohammad Nafasi. He was engaged in 1869 to join the survey of Sinai, undertaken by the Palestine Exploration Fund, and followed up this work in the next year by exploring the desert of El-Tih in company with Charles Drake. They completed this journey on foot and without escort, making friends among the Bedouin, to whom Palmer was known as Abdallah Effendi.
Front page of Edward Palmer’s The Desert of the Exodus (1872).
After a visit to the Lebanon and to Damascus, where he made the acquaintance of Sir Richard Burton, then consul there, he returned to England in 1870 by way of Constantinople and Vienna. At Vienna he met Arminius Vambéry. The results of this expedition appeared in the Desert of the Exodus (1871); in a report published in the journal of the Palestine Exploration Fund (1871); and in an article on the “Secret Sects of Syria” in the Quarterly Review (1873).
In the close of the year 1871 he became Lord Almoner’s Professor of Arabic at Cambridge University, married, and settled down to teaching. His salary was small, and his affairs were further complicated by the long illness of his wife, who died in 1878. In 1881, two years after his second marriage, he left Cambridge, and joined the staff of the Standard to write on non-political subjects. He was called to the English bar in 1874, and early in 1882 he was asked by the government to go to the East and assist the Egyptian expedition by his influence over the Arabs of the desert El-Tih. He was instructed, apparently, to prevent the Arab sheikhs from joining the Egyptian rebels and to secure their non-interference with the Suez Canal. He went to Gaza without an escort; made his way safely through the desert to Suez, an exploit of singular boldness; and was highly successful in his negotiations with the Bedouin. He was appointed interpreter-in-chief to the force in Egypt, and from Suez he was again sent into the desert with Captain William John Gill and Flag-Lieutenant Harold Charrington to procure camels and gain the allegiance of the sheikhs by considerable presents of money. On this journey he and his companions were led into an ambush and murdered (August 1882). Their remains, recovered after the war by the efforts of Sir Charles (then Colonel) Warren, now lie in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Palmer’s highest qualities appeared in his travels, especially in the heroic adventures of his last journeys. His brilliant scholarship is displayed rather in the works he wrote in Persian and other Eastern languages than in his English books, which were generally written under pressure. His scholarship was wholly Eastern in character, and lacked the critical qualities of the modern school of Oriental learning in Europe. All his works show a great linguistic range and very versatile talent; but he left no permanent literary monument worthy of his powers. His chief writings are The Desert of the Exodus (1871), Poems of Beha-ed-Din (Ar. and Eng., 1876–1877), Arabic Grammar (1874), Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin (1871), by Walter Besant and Palmer (the latter wrote the part taken from Arabic sources), Persian Dictionary (1876) and English and Persian Dictionary (posthumous, 1883); translation of the Qur’an (1880) for the Sacred Books of the East series, a spirited but not very accurate rendering.