An Arabic version of The Pilgrim’s Progress   2 comments

From p. 13 of the English edition mentioned at left.

From p. 13 of the English edition mentioned at left.

Lately I stumbled upon an Arabic translation of John Bunyan’s (1628-1688) classic work of English religious literature, The Pilgrim’s Progress, on Google Books, in Arabic called Kitāb siyāḥat al-masīḥī. I don’t know the translator, but the date of the translation seems to be 1868. Now there is a copy here at; one of many English editions is available here.

To give an idea of the Arabic version, here are a few passages from the beginning of the book, with page numbers for the Arabic copy. The first paragraph is particularly fine.

As I walk’d through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a Den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a Dream. I dreamed, and behold I saw a Man cloathed with Rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a Book in his hand, and a great Burden upon his back. I looked, and saw him open the Book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, What shall I do?
p. 3
بينما انا عابر في تيه هذا العالم وجدت كهفًا في مكان فاستظلت به. ثم اخذتني سنة النوم فنمت واذا برجل قد ترآءى لي في الحلم لابسًا رثّة ووجهه منحرف عن بيته وعلى ظهره حمل ثقيل وفي يده كتاب قد فتحه وطفق يقرأ فيه. وعند ذلك بكى مرتعدًا ولم يقدر ان يضبط نفسه فصرخ مولولًا وقال ماذا اعمل


So I saw in my Dream that the Man began to run. Now he had not run far from his own door, but his Wife and Children, perceiving it, began to cry after him to return, but the Man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, Life! Life! Eternal Life! So he looked not behind him, but fled towards the middle of the Plain.
pp. 7-8
قال صاحب الرؤيا ثم رايت ذلك الرجل وكان يقال له المسيحي قد اخذ في الركض وما ابعد الا قليلًا عن داره حتى راته زوجته واولاده فصاحوا به يريدون ان يردّوه فسدّ اذنيه واشتدّ في عدوه وهو يقول الحيوة الحيوة حيوة الابد ولم يلتفت الى ورائه بل هرب الى وسط تلك البقعة


Chr. I seek an Inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, and it is laid up in Heaven, and safe there, to be bestowed at the time appointed, on them that diligently seek it. Read it so, if you will, in my book.
Obst. Tush, said Obstinate, away with your Book; will you go back with us or no?
Chr. No, not I, said the other, because I have laid my hand to the Plow.
Obst. Come then, Neighbor Pliable, let us turn again, and go home without him; there is a company of these craz’d-headed coxcombs, that, when they take a fancy by the end, are wiser in their own eyes than seven men that can render a reason.
pp. 9-10
قال اني اطلب ميراثًا لا يبلى ولا يتدنس ولا يضمحلّ وهو مذخور في السماء بامن ليعطى في المقت المعيَّن لمن يطلبه باجتهاد. وان كنت في ريب من ذلك فافحص عنه في كتابي هذا تجده.
فقال اسكت ودعنا من كتابك اترجع معنا ام لا
قال كلّا لاني وضعت يدي على المحرث
فقال المعاند لصاحبه اذن نرجع وحدنا لانه يوجد جماعة من هولاء المجانين الذين اذا تخيّلوا سيـٔا يكونون عند انفسهم احكم من سبعة رجال متفلسفين


I can better conceive of them with my Mind, than speak of them with my Tongue: but yet, since you are desirous to know, I will read of them in my Book.
p. 12
قال المسيحي ان تصوّرها بالفكر ايسر عليّ من وصفها باللسان ولكن لاجل اهتمامك في معرفتها اقرأ لك شرحها في كتابي

2 responses to “An Arabic version of The Pilgrim’s Progress

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  1. This was clearly a popular text with protestant missionaries and those influenced by them in the Middle East. Justin Perkins produced a Neo-Aramaic (modern Assyrian) translation in Urmia in 1848, and another Assyrian translation was published in Chicago by Melchizedeq Bacchus in 1931. I suppose the Catholic equivalent in the region was Thomas A Kempis’ Imitation of Christ.

  2. Cyril Moss’s Catalogue contains the following entry for the Neo-Syriac version produced in 1848:

    Bunyan (John). ܣܦܪ ܕܚܐ ܡܘܩܕܘܣܝ ܡܢ ܕܐܗܐ ܥܠܡܐ ܠܥܠܡܐ ܕܐܬܐ [Sāpār d’-ḥā muḳdūsī men d-āhā ‘ālmā l’-‘ālmā dh-āthē. A translation into Neo-Syriac by D.T. Stoddard of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’. Followed by a catechism of the work.] pp. 2, 712, 99. ܐܘܪܡܝܐ ܐܦܡܚ [Urmi, 1848.] 7 7/8 x 4 1/2 in.

    From the title page of his Grammar, we learn that Stoddard himself was a missionary in Urmia. Evidently this book was used for catechetical instruction.

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