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Christianity and Islam

The Bible and the Koran


Based on lectures delivered in Chichester Cathedral, this book mirrors typical nineteenth century English attitudes toward the non-European space. This needed Christianity and European political oversight, or its people would remain backward and spiritually lost. The book shows how someone whose inclinations were liberal could look at Islam and dislike what he saw. On the other hand, the book also shows that a non-specialist scholar in the second half of the nineteenth century could write seriously if not impartially about Islam using material available in European languages. This suggests that Islam was a subject of increasing interest in Victorian England.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-60724-412-7
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Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Oct 27,2009
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 200
Languages: English
ISBN: 978-1-60724-412-7
$133.00
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Written by an Anglican cleric, this book suggests that people in Britain were increasingly concerned about Islam in the second half of the nineteenth century. The author, who did not know Arabic, could write seriously if not impartially about Islam using material available in European languages. Although the book draws almost exclusively on secondary material, this was based on primary sources. The book is mainly interesting as an example of how someone with liberal inclinations could look at Islam and dislike what he saw. Any praise was grudgingly given. Regarding his own religion and civilization as ineffably superior to anything outside the European space, he was uninterested in how Muslims understand themselves. What he wrote was a self-serving picture of Islam, an example of how Orientalist scholarship distorted the non-European world. Assumptions of inalienable difference between “us” and “them,” of “our” superiority vis-à-vis their “inferiority,” pervade this work. Writing as a Christian for Christians at a time when missionary fervor was strong, when few Christians doubted that Christianity was the Only Way, the author had little reason to question the popular notion that the non-European world needed Christianity and European political oversight or would remain backward and spiritually lost. If reprinting this book seems to give old ideas that do little to improve understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims new life, awareness of what shaped these ideas, which do not lack contemporary proponents, may aid their critical evaluation.

Written by an Anglican cleric, this book suggests that people in Britain were increasingly concerned about Islam in the second half of the nineteenth century. The author, who did not know Arabic, could write seriously if not impartially about Islam using material available in European languages. Although the book draws almost exclusively on secondary material, this was based on primary sources. The book is mainly interesting as an example of how someone with liberal inclinations could look at Islam and dislike what he saw. Any praise was grudgingly given. Regarding his own religion and civilization as ineffably superior to anything outside the European space, he was uninterested in how Muslims understand themselves. What he wrote was a self-serving picture of Islam, an example of how Orientalist scholarship distorted the non-European world. Assumptions of inalienable difference between “us” and “them,” of “our” superiority vis-à-vis their “inferiority,” pervade this work. Writing as a Christian for Christians at a time when missionary fervor was strong, when few Christians doubted that Christianity was the Only Way, the author had little reason to question the popular notion that the non-European world needed Christianity and European political oversight or would remain backward and spiritually lost. If reprinting this book seems to give old ideas that do little to improve understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims new life, awareness of what shaped these ideas, which do not lack contemporary proponents, may aid their critical evaluation.

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ContributorBiography

W. R. W.Stephens

ClintonBennett

Dr. Clinton Bennett is a British American scholar of religions and specialises in the study of Islam and Muslim-non-Muslim encounter. A Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and of the Royal Anthropological Institute, he has published numerous books and articles related to the study of Islam and inter-religious encounter, including Victorian Images of Islam (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2009).