I’ve been trying hard to write a coherent blog post about this. Sadly for me, I can’t find the information I want on the Internet. A while back I heard that there were proponents of the notion that Shakespeare was a displaced Arab named shaykh Zubayr.
I tried to track it down on the Internet and found out this much:
A nineteenth century writer, Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq (1804-1888), wrote a book or an article or somehow advanced the idea that William Shakespeare was a really an Arab, shaykh Zubayr.
The Iraqi scholar Safa’ Khulusi (1917-1995) agreed.
The Egyptian scholar Ibrahim Hamadah went to the trouble to write a book refuting the idea.
Current Libyan president Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi, a well-know nutjob, says he believes it.
“Gaddafi is a great Shakespeare fan,” says Khan. “He believes that Shakespeare was actually an Arab immigrant to Britain called Sheikh Zubeir.”
More about Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq: http://www.qantara.de/webcom/show_article.php/_c-591/_nr-10/_p-1/i.html?PHPSESSID=5
Somewhere out there must be someone who knows where the idea originated, where it was published, where it popular, etc. etc. That is what I’d like to know. Was it a serious theory, or was it tongue-in-cheek? I am aware of various controversies concerning who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays, but I think his life is pretty well documented.