Seems a strange title, right? Well, it’s not as strange as the facts that we are about to present. As we all know the truth can be stranger than fiction. And in this case there are strange facts in fiction!
It is my belief that Europe was heavily influenced by writings in Arabic coming from their interaction with the Muslim world. This occurred for centuries much like western literature and movies do now until there was a deliberate move to remove anything that indicated that there was an outside influence. We think that it occurred somewhere in the 19th century or even earlier than that.
Here are the references that we have found:
There are references to the Arabian nights text which is interesting as the first translation was a French one then an English one in the 18th centuries. So what language were they reading it in?
“Perhaps some Arabian-night magician opened the place for the day...” p.397 Penguin popular classics Chapter 33 Blissful.
A tale of two cities
'If thou be changed into this shape by the will of God,' say the seers to the enchanted, in the wise Arabian stories,108 'then remain so! ...p.317
“Sketchy airy pictures of himself conducting Clara Barley to the land of the Arabian nights...”
“Brought for forty purses by one of the princes of Arabian Nights..”
P.447 Wordsworth classics
The Old Curiosity Shop
“Do you feel like the Grand Turk?”
The Ottoman Sultan?
“If this is not a dream. I have woke up, by mistake, in an Arabian Night.”
A somewhat fazed description of ablution
“A Turk turns his face, after washing it well, to the East, when he says his prayers...”
Nothing at all!
“And hear her child recommended to peruse the adventures of a Turk and a Mussulman.” P342. Penguins
“Mussulman: Muslim, follower of Islam, natural: One naturally deficient in intellect, a fool or idiot. natural children: Illegitimate children. ...” p.716
“... a fabulous bird of stupendous size that appears several times in The Arabian Nights. round-house: Lock-up or place of detention. runts, fantails...”(ibid)
Selected Short stories
“Abd-al-Kedir (1807-83) an Arab leader noted for his skilful battles against the French...” in note 3 on page 417 referring to page 142.
“A Tobbaco-smokey French man in Algerine wrapper, peaked hood behind, who might be Abd-el-Kedir..”
Amir AbdulQadir who fought the French occupation of Algeria for many years. So he may have gained some notoriety in England because he defeated the French so much!
“The lady makes signs to the tow kings in the tree, who softy descend. It is the setting of the Arabian nights.”
Hurd and Houghton
“And there was Abudah, the merchant, with the terrible little old woman hobbling out of the box in his bedroom: and there was a mighty talisman – the rare Arabian Nights – with Cassim Babba.”
P. 78 Penguin classics
Dombey and Son
“It’s an Arabian night: that’s what it is,” said Richard. “I am in Damascus or Grand Cairo.”
P.251 Binglow, brown and Co.
"A silver spoon in a Morocco case.."
Another evidence of trade.
Yellow turbans were worn by the Angels at the Battle of Badr and this again shows proof of trade from either the Arab world or from India.
"He was dressed in a gorgeous morning gown, with a waistcoat and Turkish trousers..."
"Lounging on an ottoma..."
Where do you think Ottoman style of furniture comes from?!
"Timour the Tartar.."
A reference to Tamerlane (1336-1405.d).
More bad press!
A Christmas Carol
"Why it's Ali Baba!" "It's dear old honest Ali Baba!"
"And the Sultan's groom turned upside by Genii,"
Food evidence of trade
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
"A Turkish sweetmeat, sir."
The influence of Islam runs so deep in the Europe that it takes some digging to find jewels but then again you are not going to find jewels on the ground you are going to find them deep in the ground!
Also note that it is very difficult to gauge a culture. He would not have put references to things that people had no knowledge of. Yes, he would've wrote about things that people had not known but if he gave a cultural reference to something then he would've expected it to be understood. Given that most of his works were published in parts in newspapers the readership must've known something about Islam.