RARE AND INFLUENTIAL ANTI-ISLAMIC POLEMIC
Confusion de la secte de MuhamedParis, Martin Le Jeune, 1574
FIRST EDITION, thus. 8vo, ff. (viii) 100 (misnumbered 99). Roman and italic letter. Printer’s device to t-p, woodcut floriated initials, charming headpieces with animals and foliage. Light browning, tiny wormtrail to outer blank margin of a couple of ll., some upper margins a bit short, but well clear of text. A very good copy, crisp and clean in c.1700 half-calf, outer corners a bit worn, spine gilt in compartments. C19 notes to fly, early ms. “g” to t-p.
First and only French translation of this rare and influential anti-Islamic polemic by the converted Spanish scholar Juan Andrés, first published in Spanish in 1515. This translation, by the French poet and Orientalist Guy Lefèvre de la Boderie (1541-1598), was based on the Italian version of 1537.
Juan Andrés (active 1487–1515), was born in Xàtiva, a small village in the Kingdom of Valencia. Raised as a Muslim and trained as an alfaqui (religious jurist) by his father, Andrés converted to Catholicism in 1487 and became a priest. He was sent by the monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella to preach Christianity and convert Muslims in Granada and Aragon. Andrés composed the ‘Confusion of the Muhammadan sect’ as part of his mission: he explains his aims in the introduction: “I determined to compose the present treatise (…) and herein briefly to collect the fabulous fictions, ridiculous discourses, impostures, bestialities, fooleries, villainies, inconveniencies, impossibilities, and contradictions, which that wicked Muhamed dispersed in the books of his Sect (…) and my intent in publishing it, was that even the weakest judgements may perceive that in Muhamed’s Law there is not any ground or reason how it can be true” (tr. adapted from the English version of 1652).
The ‘Confusion’ is a critique of Islam based on Islamic sources, in 12 chapters. The author begins sketching the life of Muhammad, then presents the contents of the Quran and Sunnah, and lists a series of arguments which can be brought against these texts in order to demonstrate that they are “false and do not contain the word of God” and “ridiculous things fit for men of little knowledge”. Andrés talks about the Moors who rebelled against Muhammad, Muhammad’s “wives and slaves”, his ascension to Heaven and the numerous Heavens of the Moors. The last chapters are dedicated to the contradictions contained in the Quran, showing how the Quran itself approves Christian faith and presents Christ as “the most excellent Prophet that ever came into the world”. Interestingly, due to containing extensive passages from the Quran and Sunnah – these are in transliterated Arabic and printed in italic – this work was banned by the Inquisition in Spain. For this reason, only two copies of the Spanish original are preserved today (British Library and Library of Congress).USTC 8560; BM STC Fr. C16, p. 17; Brunet I, p. 265; Graesse I, p. 118; Palau 12176. This ed. not in Adams. Worldcat records only two copies in the US (Morgan Library, University of North Carolina).