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Arthur John Arberry (12 May 1905 in Portsmouth – 2 October 1969 in Cambridge) FBA was a respected British orientalist. A prolific scholar of Arabic, Persian, and Islamic studies, he was educated at Portsmouth Grammar School and Pembroke College, Cambridge. His translation of the Qur'an into English, The Koran Interpreted, is one of the most prominent written by a non-Muslim scholar, and widely respected amongst academics.[1][2]

Academic careerEdit

Formerly Head of the Department of Classics at Cairo University in Egypt, Arberry returned home to become the Assistant Librarian at the Library of the India Office. During the war he was a Postal Censor in Liverpool[citation needed] and was then seconded to the Ministry of Information, London which was housed in the newly constructed Senate House of the University of London. Arberry was appointed to the Chair of Persian at the School of Oriental and African Studies SOAS, University of London 1944–47. He subsequently became the Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, his alma mater, from 1947 until his death in 1969. He is buried in Ascension Parish, Cambridge United Kingdom, together with his (by provenance Romanian) wife Sarina Simons/Arberry (1900-1973) whom he had first met in Cairo and then married at Cambridge in 1932.[3][4]

Arberry is also notable for introducing Rumi's works to the west through his selective translations and for translating the important anthology of medieval Andalucian Arabic poetry The Pennants of the Champions and the Standards of the Distinguished. His interpretation of Muhammad Iqbal's writings, edited by Badiozzaman Forouzanfar, is similarly distinguished.

Arberry also introduced to an English-speaking audience the work of Malta's national poet, Carmelo Psaila, popularly known as Dun Karm,[5] in the bilingual anthology Dun Karm, poet of Malta.


  • Translations of Muhammad Iqbal's works
    The Secrets of Selflessness
    Javid Nama
  • The Koran Interpreted
  • Muslim Saints and Mystics, A translation of episodes from the 'Tazkirat al-Awliya’ (Memorial of the Saints) originally written by Farid al-Din Attar.
  • The Seven Odes
  • Moorish Poetry: A Translation of 'The Pennants', an Anthology Compiled in 1243 by the Andalusian Ibn Sa'id, trans. by A. J. Arberry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953),
  • Mystical Poems of Rumi, Translated by A. J. Arberry, (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
  • Discourses of Rumi, A translation of Fihi Ma Fihi, (Samuel Weiser, New York, 1972)
  • Dun Karm, poet of Malta. Texts chosen and translated by A.J. Arberry; introduction, notes and glossary by P. Grech. Cambridge University Press 1961.


  1. ^ The Koran: Interpreted - Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  2. ^ Mohammed, Khaleel (2005). "Assessing English Translations of the Qur'an". Middle East Quarterly. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  3. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  4. ^ "Arberry, Arthur John (clippings)" (PDF). Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  5. ^

External linksEdit