Reynold A. Nicholson

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Reynold A. Nicholson

Born(1868-08-18)18 August 1868
Keighley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died27 August 1945(1945-08-27) (aged 77)
Chester, Cheshire, England
  • Orientalist
  • translator
  • scholar
Alma mater
Notable awardsPorson Prize (1890)
ParentHenry Alleyne Nicholson (father)

Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, FBA (18 August 1868 – 27 August 1945), or R. A. Nicholson, was an eminent English orientalist, scholar of both Islamic literature and Islamic mysticism, and widely regarded as one of the greatest Rumi (Mevlana or Mawlana) scholars and translators in the English language.


The son of Henry Alleyne Nicholson, he was born at Keighley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England and died at Chester, Cheshire. He was educated at University of Aberdeen and Trinity College, Cambridge,[1] where he won the Porson Prize twice.[2]

Nicholson was professor of Persian at University College London from 1901 to June 1902,[3] then lecturer in Persian at the University of Cambridge from 1902 to 1926, and Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge from 1926 to 1933.[4] He is considered a leading scholar in Islamic literature and Islamic mysticism who exercised a lasting influence on Islamic studies.[5][6] He was able to study and translate major Sufi texts in Arabic, Persian, Punjabi and Ottoman Turkish to English. Nicholson wrote two influential books: Literary History of The Arabs (1907) and The Mystics of Islam (1914).[6]

He was one of the original trustees of the Gibb Memorial Trust.[7]


  • Studies in Islamic Mysticism, Cambridge University Press, 1921.

Works on Rumi[edit]

Nicholson's magnum opus was his work on Rumi's Masnavi, published in eight volumes between 1925 and 1940. He produced the first critical Persian edition of the Masnavi, the first full translation of it into English, and the first commentary on the entire work in English. This work has been highly influential in the field of Rumi studies worldwide.[6]

Work on Ali Hujwiri Daata Ganj Bakhsh[edit]

Nicholson translated the famous Persian book on sufism Kashf ul Mahjoob into English which was written by the famous saint of the Subcontinent, Ali Hujwiri Daata Ganj Bakhsh[8]

Works on Iqbal[edit]

Being a teacher of the Indian scholar and poet, Muhammad Iqbal, Nicholson translated Iqbal's first philosophical poetry book, Asrar-i-Khudi, from Persian into English and titled it,The Secrets of the Self.

Other significant translations[edit]


Among Nicholson's students was A. J. Arberry, a translator of Rumi and the Quran. Another student, Muhammad Iqbal, was a famous poet and has been called the "Spiritual Father of Pakistan".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nicholson, Reynold Alleyne (NCL887RA)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ "Obituary: Professor R. A. Nicholson", The Guardian, 31 August 1945, p. 8. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  3. ^ "University College London". The Times. No. 36788. London. 7 June 1902. p. 12.
  4. ^ H. A. R. Gibb, ‘Nicholson, Reynold Alleyne (1868–1945)’, rev. Christine Woodhead, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 24 Oct 2016 Reynold Alleyne Nicholson (1868–1945): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35230
  5. ^ Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, entry
  6. ^ a b c Gibb, H. A. R. (2004), "Nicholson, Reynold Alleyne", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  7. ^ The Tajârib al-umam; or, History of Ibn Miskawayh, Volume V, Leiden: E. J. Brill and London: Luzac & Co., 1913. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
  8. ^ Nicholson, Reynold (2000). Kashf al-Mahjub of al-Hajvari. E. J. W. Gibb Memorial.
  9. ^ Н.wrote, Ходжа; hojja_nusreddin, Ходжа Н. "Reynold Alleyne Nicholson (August 18, 1868 – August 27, 1945)". Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  10. ^ Pakistan Journal of Language Studies (28 April 2020). Pragma-Stylistic Analysis of Bulleh Shah's Translated Poem "Ilmon Bas kren O-Yaar".
  11. ^ Amir, Dr; Dr, Ahmad (4 March 2020). Suggested Socio-Religious Reforms by Regional Sufi (Mystic) Poets: Analysis of Selected Poets of Punjab.
  12. ^ "Bulleh Shah - The Love-Intoxicated Iconclast | PDF | Sufism". Scribd. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  13. ^ Das, Sisir Kumar (2003). "The Mad Lover". Indian Literature. 47 (3 (215)): 149–178. ISSN 0019-5804. JSTOR 23341676.

External links[edit]