1st Edition

Islamic Thought Through Protestant Eyes

By Mehmet Karabela Copyright 2021
    386 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    386 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Early modern Protestant scholars closely engaged with Islamic thought in more ways than is usually recognized. Among Protestants, Lutheran scholars distinguished themselves as the most invested in the study of Islam and Muslim culture. Mehmet Karabela brings the neglected voices of post-Reformation theologians, primarily German Lutherans, into focus and reveals their rigorous engagement with Islamic thought. Inspired by a global history approach to religious thought, Islamic Thought Through Protestant Eyes offers new sources to broaden the conventional interpretation of the Reformation beyond a solely European Christian phenomenon.

    Based on previously unstudied dissertations, disputations, and academic works written in Latin in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Karabela analyzes three themes: Islam as theology and religion; Islamic philosophy and liberal arts; and Muslim sects (Sunni and Shi‘a). This book provides analyses and translations of the Latin texts as well as brief biographies of the authors.

    These texts offer insight into the Protestant perception of Islamic thought for scholars of religious studies and Islamic studies as well as for general readers. Examining the influence of Islamic thought on the construction of the Protestant identity after the Reformation helps us to understand the role of Islam in the evolution of Christianity.


    PART I

    Post-Reformation Protestant Uses of Islam 1


    Religion and Theology 57

    1 Moral Laxity of Islam 59

    2 Muhammadan Religion 80

    3 First Arabic Edition of the Qur’an among the Europeans 107

    4 Turkish Muhammadan Theology 127

    5 The Trifling Foundations and the Unwholesome Fruits of the Theology, or Rather, Prattlings of the

    Jews and Muslims or Turco-Persians 153

    6 Concept of Fate among the Turks 161


    Philosophy and Liberal Arts 179

    7 History of Rational Philosophy among the Arabs and Turks 181

    8 Development of Logic among the Arabs 195

    9 Inaugural Speech on Turkish Philosophy 207

    10 History of Arabic Logic 224

    11 Turkish Philosophy 236

    12 Politics of the Turkish Republic 243

    13 Fate of Learning among the Arabs 254

    14 Turkish Schools and Colleges 267


    Muslim Sects: Sunni and Shi‘a 277

    15 Persian Discourse 279

    16 Investigation of Religions: On Turkish and Persian Muhammadanism 289

    17 Shi‘ites and Sunnis or the Critical Disagreements between Persians and Turks Concerning Religion 305


    Mehmet Karabela is an internationally recognized writer and scholar of religion. He teaches at Queen's University in Canada.

    "Mehmet Karabela's fascinating book is about the complicated part played by conceptions of Islam in the evolution of Protestant thought and identity during and after the Reformation. It helps to question the tendency among most historians of early modernity to treat European and Middle Eastern intellectual worlds as entirely separate. This is a valuable and learned work that deserves to be widely read."

    Talal Asad, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, USA

    "This richly researched and fascinating book explores a significant lacuna in our understanding of European history—the impact of Islam on post-Reformation Protestant thinking in the 17th and 18th centuries. Through a careful study of original Latin sources, it builds a convincing case for the mutual influences of Islam and Protestantism on each other. It provides an important contribution to both Islamic studies and European history, and is a milestone in the global history of religions."

    Mark Juergensmeyer, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

    "In the debate about early Orientalism, the primary focus has been on France and Britain for the obvious reason that they had a long history of contact with and occupation of the Orient. Mehmet Karabela's publication brings to our attention a much-neglected area of research, namely the response of Lutheran theologians to Islam and, in particular, to the teachings of the Qur'an and the life of the Prophet. For Lutherans, Islam provided them with a critique of Catholicism and, given the split between Sunni and Shia, an insight into the divisions in Christianity. Mehmet Karabela's Islamic Thought Through Protestant Eyes is a model of painstaking scholarship."

    Bryan S. Turner, Australian Catholic University, Australia

    "In an extraordinary feat of interpretive erudition, Mehmet Karabela brings to light a little known yet startlingly important history. His excavation of the 17th and 18th century interpretations of Islam by Protestant scholars exposes an intellectually rich archive at once of Lutheran anti-Catholicism and of Western Islamophobia. With a captivating lucidity free of all polemical gestures, Karabela demonstrates the multi-faceted uses of Islam in the construction of the political theology of Protestantism."

    Catherine Keller, Drew University, USA

    "Introducing a rich set of largely unknown sources, Mehmet Karabela shows how intensely German Protestant theologians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries immersed themselves into Islamic thought, religion, and philosophy. Engaging with the life of Muhammad, the Qur'an, the Sunni-Shi'a split, and much more, one overriding concern was to come to terms with differences internal to Protestantism, and to Christianity. An important contribution to the transnational study of religion – and fascinating reading!"

    Sebastian Conrad, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

    "The modern study of religion owes much to Post-Reformation scholars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including the category of religion itself. Among the many products of their polemics and their research are the foundations of European scholarly thought about Islam, foundations that still shape present prejudice and present knowledge. In this learned and illuminating book of scholarly archaeology, Mehmet Karabela lays bare many of those foundations, helping us to understand not only early modern European ideas about Islam, but also our own."

    David Nirenberg, University of Chicago, USA

    "Karabela’s volume is an extremely helpful resource for research and advanced-level classrooms. With an annotated bibliography of selected primary sources, a glossary of terms, and an extensive bibliography and index, Islamic Thought Through Protestant Eyes should be in every Reformation and religious studies library."

    Gary K. Waite, Seventeenth Century Journal, Canada