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Edition of the Apology of al-Kindī. Dr Krisztina Szilágyi

The Apology of al-Kindī, a putative correspondence between a Muslim and a Christian courtier of al-Ma’mūn, is one of the most influential Christian polemical treatises against Islam ever produced. It opens with a letter ascribed to a certain al-Hāshimī inviting the Christian al-Kindī to convert to Islam and continues with a long retort by the latter, an exposition of Christian doctrines as well as detailed accounts of Muhammad’s life, the collection of the Qur’ān, and Muslim rituals based on Muslim sources. Written probably in Baghdad in the 820s by a lay adherent of the Church of the East, it was widely read by the Christians of the Islamic world. It came to the notice of Muslims too: al-Bīrūnī referred to it and more recently Nu‘mān b. Maḥmūd al-Ālūsī wrote an extensive refutation of it. In 1142 it was translated into Latin and thereafter no Eastern Christian text on Islam rivalled its popularity among medieval Europeans. The Latin translation has been published in a critical edition and its reception in Europe has received much scholarly attention. By contrast, the Arabic original remains largely neglected and any serious study of it is hindered by the need to rely on a nineteenth-century edition based on two faulty manuscripts.

This project aims to create a critical edition of the Apology of al-Kindī based on more than thirty manuscripts, all its extant copies, to be published with a state-of-the-art introduction and an authoritative English translation. I work on it in collaboration with Dr. Sandra Toenies Keating of Providence College; my main responsibility is to prepare the edition and hers is to render the text into English.