William St. Clair Tisdall

William St. Clair Tisdall (1859–1928) was a British Anglican priest, linguist, historian and philologist who served as the Secretary of the Church of England's Missionary Society in Isfahan, Persia.

Tisdall was fluent in several Middle Eastern languages, including Arabic, and spent much time researching the sources of Islam and the Qur'an in the original languages. He also wrote grammars for Persian, Hindustani, Punjabi and Gujarati.[1]

As an early scholar of Gujarati grammar, he defined three major varieties of Gujarati: a standard 'Hindu' dialect, a 'Parsi' dialect and a 'Muslim' dialect.[2]

Clinton Bennett, in his Victorian Images of Islam, clearly paints Tisdall as a confrontationalist perpetuating a traditional Christian anti-Muslim polemic.[3] Tisdall was one of thirteen authors whose essays were compiled in The Origins of The Koran: Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book, a 1998 book edited by Ibn Warraq. In reviewing the compilation, religious studies professor Herbert Berg panned the inclusion of Tisdall's work as "not a particularly scholarly essay". Berg concluded "[i]t seems that Ibn Warraq has included some of the essays not on the basis of their scholarly value or their status as 'classics', but rather on the basis of their hostility to Islam. This does not necessarily diminish the value of the collection, but the reader should be aware that this collection does not fully represent classic scholarship on the Quran".[4]

Tisdall accuses Muhammad of inventing revelations according to what he believed to be the need of the moment.[5][6]




  1. ^ "Library of Congress Online Catalog". Retrieved 20 September 2008.
  2. ^ A simplified grammar of the Gujarati language by William St. Clair Tisdall (1892)
  3. ^ Bennett, Clinton Victorian Images of Islam
  4. ^ Berg, Herbert (1999). "Ibn Warraq (ed): The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 62 (3): 557–558. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00018693. JSTOR 3107591.
  5. ^ Tisdall, W.S.C. (1895). The Religion of the Crescent, or Islâm: Its Strength, Its Weakness, Its Origin, Its Influence. Non-Christian Religious Systems (p. 177). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
  6. ^ "But we learn the same lesson from all such investigations, and that is how completely Muḥammad adapted his pretended revelations to what he believed to be the need of the moment. The same thing is true with regard to what we read in Sûrah Al Aḥzâb regarding the circumstances attending his marriage with Zainab, whom his adopted son Zaid divorced for his sake.... a reference to what the Qur’ân itself (Sûrah XXXIII., 37) says about the matter, coupled with the explanations afforded by the Commentators and the Traditions, will prove that Muḥammad’s own character and disposition have left their mark upon the moral law of Islâm and upon the Qur’ân itself". Tisdall, W.S.C. (1911). The Original Sources of the Qur’ân (pp. 278–79). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.