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In this YouTube video, noted Pakistani scholar, Allama Zamir Akhtar Naqvi claims (in Urdu) that Napoleon wrote a letter or poem in honour of the historical figure Imam Hussain, during a war between the French and the English.

This claim is explained in English on this Facebook page:

On the eve of the war with the British, Napoleon wrote an elegy to Imam Hussain (a.s.) seeking his help which is beautifully translated into Urdu by Allama Zameer Akhtar Naqvi

This is used as evidence that Napoleon embraced Islam, and based his laws upon it.

A comment on that video claims

it can be easily googled and more over it is preserved till now in the great french museum

The Facebook page provides the following references:

Vide, Bonaparte et l'Islam by Cherfils from the Bibliotheque National De France, we find on pages 105 - 125; Vide, David Pidcock to The Sunday Telegraph, contrasting the French hysteric phobia of late with Napoleon Bonaparte's admiration for Islam; Vide, Lincoln: Money Martyred; Omni Publications 1935); Vide, Translations of French Poem by Allama Zameer Akhtar Naqvi

Is this true?
I cannot find any evidence.

I have made a detailed translation of that Urdu poem translated by Allama Zamir Akhtar Naqvi into English and it is over here

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    This is not very likely.... – Felix Goldberg Sep 10 '14 at 15:14
  • @FelixGoldberg i didn't get you – agha rehan abbas Sep 10 '14 at 15:38
  • @FelixGoldberg do you mean to say this is wrong?, well i have googled the book name and found that there is no digitalised version available for that book, but a lot of printed books are available in french language on many sites like amazon.in etc, but the thing is that i don't want to buy it as i don;t have the privilege to speak or understand french, but if i get only scanned copied of that texts, it would be very thankful from my side – agha rehan abbas Sep 10 '14 at 15:42
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    Napoleon was very interested in some aspects of Arabic/Islamic culture, and was interested in support during his invasion of Egypt and supposed move on India in 1798-99. This would be the period to look at. After this, he probably would have soured on the subject. – Oldcat Sep 10 '14 at 17:45
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    Maybe you could contact Google for info. I have no idea myself. – Oldcat Sep 10 '14 at 18:26
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Bonaparte had an interesting approach to Islam. It should be kept in mind that at the time he was Bonaparte - not yet Napoléon- he was in Egypt and he had to deal with and try have Muslims on his side.

Indeed he urged the local authorities to continue their celebrations, including the celebration of Imam Hussein, urged the troops to not intervene and paid a subsidy. The source for this is the very interesting chronicle of contemporary Egyption Abd-al-Rahman al-Jabartî.

He went further and spoke of the need to protect Islam and its superiority. But he spoke only during this campaign. After, there are no references. Accordingly, most historians consider these statements as "tactical". It's not as if Bonaparte or Napoléon had a very firm relation with sincerity...

Further:

  • the letter / poem has never been produced (and I don't know what's the "he great french museum");

  • the idea of a conversion to Islam is so ungrounded in documents that it can be only understood in the context of Islam / Europe relations (for French Muslims, making one of the largest - for the best and the worst - French historical figures a Muslim it's meaningful);

  • A comparison between the Napoleon Civil Code and Islamic Law can only show differences;

So, I don't think it could be true. (Difficult to prove the non existence of a document...).

But the very persistence of the question / myth is interesting and rises very meaningful questions.

  • but according to the comments above the book has been found – agha rehan abbas Jul 28 '15 at 20:36
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    The book indeed exists. The fact that the book exists is meaningless for your question. A book exists. A book says a lot of things. Must be verified. It's not because it's written that's true. If you want I'll look for the book, even though it's a quest without meaning. – Gil Oliveira Jul 28 '15 at 22:46
  • could you please do a favour to me by finding that book ? – agha rehan abbas Aug 8 '15 at 16:39
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    I'll try, but am a bit busy for the next few days. – Gil Oliveira Aug 9 '15 at 15:23
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The respect of Imam Hussain in the eyes of Napoleon did not mean that he wanted to convert to Islam. What he was doing was giving his tribute to Imam Hussain. Imam Hussain's fight, sacrificing his life and the lives of his family members, against the tyranny of cruel King Yazid has been getting world-wide acknowledgement.

The way it is commemorated every year after a lapse of about 1400 years, makes one feel as if it has happen a few days back. Its commemoration is spreading over the globe very rapidly after the development of free media. The message of Imam Hussain is not (just) for Muslims, it is for everyone that does not yield in front of tyranny, cruel rulers and oppressors.

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