Quiz: Re-reading history through Jurji Zaidan’s eyes

By M. Lynx Qualey

Muslim invasion of Spain in 711

Long before Ramadan serials commandeered popular views of history, Jurji Zaidan (1861-1914) was one of the great tellers of Arab and Islamic history. In his 21 historical fictions, he enlivened “golden age” figures through fast-paced tales. Zaidan himself was initially kept from school by his working-class Lebanese father, but grew into an important Cairo-based publisher, educator, and leading member of the early 20th century nahda.

Zaidan felt that, in order for Egypt and the region to move forward, people must grapple with history. His works were neglected in English for nearly a hundred years, but now suddenly six are available in translation, just in time for his 151st birthday on 14 December. How much Zaidan history do you know?