Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Siraj Ad-Din), was an English writer and Shakespearean and Islamic scholar, born January 24 1909.
Studying at Magdalen College, Oxford, he gained a BA in English Language and Literature, and became a close friend of C. S. Lewis.
He covertered to Islam around 1940 whilst in Eygpt, where he was lecturing at Cairo University.
In 1955, he joined the staff of the British Museum as assistant keeper of oriental printed books and manuscripts; he was keeper from 1970 to 1973, when he was seconded to the British Library. This work focused his interest in Qur’anic calligraphy and he published a classic work on the subject, The Qur’anic Art Of Calligraphy And Illumination, to coincide with the 1976 World of Islam Festival, with which he was closely involved.
For Muslims, his masterpiece was Muhammad: His Life Based On The Earliest Sources (1983), for which he was decorated by Zia al-Haq, then president of Pakistan.
Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Siraj Ad-Din) died May 12 2005.
[Taken and adapted from his obituary in The Guardian newspaper, Friday 27 May 2005]