Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Vol.6. No.2 June 2015                                                  Pp. 80– 91

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Imaging Prophet Mohammed and the Orient Prototype in English Biographies

Hadeer Abou El Nagah
University of Ottawa/Prince Sultan University


From the Crusades to the present, generations of Western scholars and writers have presented and portrayed Prophet Mohamed in their writings. Many claim to be objective, while others do not hide their bias views and animosity. Many episodes from the prophetic biography were highlighted and frequently depicted in Western writings and were demonstrated in English literature as examples of the Orientals from the East to simply fit the Romanticim prototype of the Orient. Nevertheless some less bias writings and portrayal of the Prophet appear from time to time in English writings. Michel Hart’s ranking of Prophet Mohammed as the first of the top 100 most influential men in history is one of these examples. Hart’s purely secular choice was justified as he viewed Prophet Mohammed as a successful personality both as a religious and war leader. During the last two centuries, some other research based writings like those of Sir William Muir, D. S. Margoliouth, Montgomery Watt and Karen Armstrong are also considered as slightly deviant from the traditional prototype of the prophet. This paper overviews the development of the image making of Prophet Mohammed in English biographic writings. Through the lights of Edward Said’s Orientalism, a qualitative reading of Montgomery Watt’s Mohammed in Mecca 1953 and Karen Armstrong’s Mohamed a Prophet for Our Times 2006 are critically examined as examples.
Key WordsIslam and the West,Orientalism, Prophet Mohammed’s biography, stereotyping,writings about Islam.

Cite as: Abou El Nagah, H. (2015). Imaging Prophet Mohammed and the Orient Prototype in English Biographies.  Arab World English Journal, 8 (1).


Dr. Hadeer Abo El Nagah is associate professor of English at Prince Sultan University at Al
Riyadh. A Fulbright International scholar, taught at The University of Ottawa and Carleton
University, Ottawa, Canada & The State University of New York and Misr international
University in Cairo. She authored a series of 9 English books and an Arabic book introducing theIslam and the West