H. A. R. Gibb

Scottish orientalist (1895–1971)

Sir Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb (2 January 1895 – 22 October 1971), known as H. A. R. Gibb, was a Scottish historian of Orientalism.


  • As a literary monument the Koran thus stands by itself, a production unique in Arabic literature, having neither forerunners nor successors in its own idiom. Muslims of all ages are united in proclaiming the inimitability not only of its contents but of its style.
    • Arabic Literature, An Introduction (1926), Clarendon Press, 1963, p. 36.
  • But Islam has a still further service to render to the cause of humanity. It stands after all nearer to the real East than Europe does, and it possesses a magnificent tradition of interracial understanding and co-operation. No other society has such a record of success uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavour so many and so various races of mankind… Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of East and West is to be replaced by co-operation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition. In its hands lies very largely the solution of the problem with which Europe is faced in its relation with East. If they unite, the hope of a peaceful issue is immeasurably enhanced—but if Europe, by rejecting the cooperation of Islam, throws it into the arms of its rivals, the issue can only be disastrous for both.
    • Gibb, H. A. R. (2012) Whither Islam? A Survey of Modern Movements in the Moslem World. Abingdon: Routledge, p. 379.
  • Like all Arabs they (Enemies of Muhammad) were connoisseurs of language and rhetoric. Well, then if the Koran were his (Muhammad's) own composition other men could rival it. Let them produce ten verses like it. If they could not (and it is obvious that they could not), then let them accept the Koran as an outstanding evidential miracle.
    • Gibb, H. A. R. (1980) Islam: A Historical Survey. Oxford University Press, p. 28.
  • That his [Muhammad's] reforms enhanced the status of women in general by contrast with the anarchy of pre-Islamic Arabia is universally admitted.
    • Mohammedanism, London, 1953, p. 33.

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