Prophet Muḥammad in Dante’s Divine Comedy: An anxiety of influence

  • Balqis Al-Karaki University of Jordan
  • Mahmoud Jaran University of Jordan


This article explores the century-long topic ‘Dante and Islam’ from the perspective of Harold’s Bloom’s theory of influence. It argues that Dante’s placement of Muḥammad in Inferno 28 could have been caused by an ‘anxiety’ incited by the Islamic influence on the Commedia as first suggested by Miguel Asín Palacios in 1919. With the intention of complementing the close readings of Maria Corti and Karla Mallette, the article’s analysis of the relevant verses in Inferno in light of Bloom’s theory reveals that there could be more to the famous scene of torture than the medieval antagonistic or ambivalent positions from Islam. The article also tackles the history of European and Arab scholarship dealing with the topic, showing that it has been filled with religious, political and nationalistic anxieties, not ending with the censorship of the scene in most contemporary Arabic translations of Dante’s Commedia.


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Author Biographies

Balqis Al-Karaki, University of Jordan

Balqis Al-Karaki holds a PhD in Oriental Studies from the University of Cambridge, 2007. She is Professor of Classical Arabic Literature at the University of Jordan. Her publications focus mostly on the epistemology of poetry in Classical Arabic and Comparative Poetics. She is also a writer, essayist, and author of two literary books. She can be reached at:

Mahmoud Jaran, University of Jordan

Mahmoud Jaran holds a PhD in Literary Science from the University of Udine and is Associate Professor in Italian Literature, History and Civilization at the University of Jordan. He has several publications and studies on Pier Paolo Pasolini, Antonio Gramsci and Medieval Literature. He can be reached at: