Potter incorporates Eastern themes

  August 24, 2003 at 4:45 PM ET
  James     The Leaky Cauldron (via Middle East Online)

Ahmed Fadl Shablool of Egypt provides his evidence on some of the Eastern themes found in the Harry Potter books. Namely, he discusses Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and details his precise uncovering of Eastern material.

Shablool focusesopens in new window on the significance of the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone in the debut Potter novel, as the same magical essence is discussed in historical Eastern texts.

According to the Concise Arabic Encyclopedia, Alexandria was the home of the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Immortality that transform base metals into precious ones, namely gold, and brings back youth. This old art originated in Egypt, others say in China, in the third or fifth century BC. It is associated with astrology and magic. It was called old chemistry, or alchemy, and reached the Arabs in the eighth century to stay with them until the 12th century. It was then transferred to Europe through the translation of the works of famous Arab chemists like Khaled bin Yazid, Jaber bin Hayan, ThouNoon AL-Masri, Al-Tughraei, Zakariya Al-Razi, and others. Symbolism characterized this science-art throughout the Middle Ages, and it was shrouded in secrecy.

Jaber bin Hayan was the first Arab scientist to practice chemistry. He lived in Baghdad and Kufa at the end of the eighth and beginning of the ninth centuries. His work, which exceeded 80 books, was translated into Latin, and considered to be the most important treatise on chemistry at the time. He wrote about metals, their oxides and compounds, nitric, sulfuric, vinegaric acids and alkaline, and chemical processes such as filtering and purification through crystallization, and distillation which were influential in developing chemistry and introduced the ideas of experimentation and the use of laboratories. Jaber bin Hayan recommended in his books that ‘researchers’ should be precise and follow strict rules in their experiments and be patient during their conduct. He believed in the theory of transferring base metals into gold and that mercury and sulfur are the two base elements in nature.

...Were these stories present in Rowling’s mind, or in her sub-conscience, when she wrote Harry Potter?

Later in this (admittedly convincing and interesting) piece, Shablool concluded that one of the core functions bestowed to a keeper of the Philosopher's Stone is to "keep it safe and shrouded in mystery and puzzles." That is exactly what Albus Dumbledore and the staff of Hogwarts accomplished in the Potter novel, correct?

Note: While this article is a slightly faulty translation from native Arabic, it is still excellently styled. Check it out.


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