Islamic Reformism and Christianity: A Critical Reading of the Works of Muhammad Rashid Rida and His Associates (1898-1935)

ISLAMIC REFORMISM AND CHRISTIANITY
  • Book Title:
 Islamic Reformism And Christianity
  • Book Author:
Umar Ryad
  • Total Pages
401
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ISLAMIC REFORMISM AND CHRISTIANITY – book Sample

Contents – ISLAMIC REFORMISM AND CHRISTIANITY

Acknowledgements . . xiii

Introduction . . 1

A Biographical Sketch . . . 2

Previous Studies . . 9

Sources and Organization of the Study . 13

Riḍā’s Sources of Knowledge of the West: With Special

Reference to Christianity . . . 23

  1. Western Ideas in Arabic Print . . 25
    1. Hammurabi and the Babel-und-Bibel-Streit (1903) 31
    1. Arabic Translation of the Encyclopaedia of Islam

(1933) . . . 36

1.2. Al-Manār Literary Figures . 42

1.2.1. Muslims Living in the West . . 42

1.2.2. Writers in the Muslim World . . 54

1.3. Conclusion . . 65

Riḍā and Arab Christians: Attitudes towards Syrian Christians

and the Egyptian Coptic Community . . 67

  • Syrian Christian Nationalists: A Common Political Agenda . . 67

2.1.1. Faraḥ Anṭūn (al-Jāmiʿa) . 71

2.1.2. Jurjī Zaidān (al-Hilāl) . 76

  • Yaʿqūb Ṣarrūf and Fāris Nimr (al-Muqtaaf ) . 83
    • Shiblī Shumayyil: A Fervent Darwinist . . 86

2.1.5. ʾIbrāhīm al-Yāzijī . . . 91

2.1.6. Khalīl Saʿādeh . . 92

2.1.7. Al-Machreq: A Jesuit Syrian Review . 96

  • The Egyptian Coptic Community . 103
    • Riḍā’s Attitudes towards the Copts before 1911 . 103

2.2.2. The Coptic Congress of 1911 . 106

2.2.3. Salāma Mūsā . . . 116

2.3. Conclusion . . 122

x contents

Al-Manār versus Evangelism: Rashīd Riḍā’s Perceptions of the Social and Theological Aspects of Missions . 125

3.1. Mission is the Life of Religion . . 126

3.2. Mission and Colonialism. 130

3.3. Confrontation with the British . 134

3.4. Missionary Schools . . . 140

  • Encounters with Missions in al-Manār. 149
    • A Muslim Missionary Seminary . . 162
    • Conversion to Islam versus Evangelization . 166

3.8. Al-Azhar Criticised . . . 169

3.9. Conclusion . . 173

False Allegations or Proofs? Riḍā’s Formative Polemics on Christianity . . . 175

4.1. A Muslim Doubting the Authenticity of the Qurʾān 177

4.2. Researches of the Diligent . . 180

  • Three Prophets: Historical Doubts about Judaism

and Christianity . . 181

  • Islam & Christianity: Three Goals of Religion . . 185
    • Judaism & Christianity Derived from Paganism? . . 186
    • Qurʾānic Proofs for the Genuineness of the Bible . 190
    • Books of the Old and New Testament . 194

4.3. The Glad Tidings of Peace . . 199

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4.3.1. Muḥammad’s Superiority above all Prophets? . . 199

4.3.2. Fear and Hope . . . 201

4.3.3. Faith and Acts of Muslims . 203

4.3.4. Absurd Treatment . . 204

4.3.5. Exceeding the Borders of Politeness . 206

4.4. The Standard of Zion . . 209

4.4.1. Sinlessness of Prophets and Salvation . 209

4.5. Conclusion . . 210

In Pursuit of a ‘True’ Gospel: Riḍā’s Arabic Edition of

the Gospel of Barnabas . . . 213

  • Championing Tolstoy’s Gospel . 215
    • Announcing another ‘True’ Gospel? . . 218

5.3. A Freemason . . . 219

5.3.1. Critical Analysis of Saʿādeh’s Preface . . 221

5.4. Riḍā’s Introduction . . . 230

5.4.1. Later use by al-Manār . 233

contents xi

5.5. Short-lived Like an Apricot: A Missionary Response 235

5.6. Conclusion . . 241

The Art of Polemics: Tawfīq Ṣidqī’s Contributions to al-Manār

and Riḍā’s Use of Them . . 243

  • Al-Matbūlī of Cairo and the Resurrection of Jesus 245
    • The Religion of God in His Prophets’ Books . 246

6.2.1. Jesus as Offering . . . 246

6.2.2. The Crucifixion and Divinity of Jesus in the Old Testament . . . 247

  • The Doctrine of Crucifixion and Salvation . 253
    • Ṣidqī’s View on the Scriptures of the New Testament

and Christian Doctrines . 259

6.5. Riḍā’s Reflections . . . 263

  • Riḍā Discussing Crucifixion in a Missionary School 266
    • Reward and Salvation in Islam . 268
    • A Pagan Nature of the doctrines of Crucifixion and Salvation? . . 269

6.5.4. An Illusive Crucifixion? . 270

6.6. Conclusion . . 275

Recapitulation of Ideas: Christianity as Reflected in Riḍā’s

Fatwās . . . 277

7.1. Early Encounters . . . 278

7.2. Are Christians Unbelievers? . . 282

7.3. A Kuwaiti Petitioner on Slavery in the Bible . 283

7.4. An Aḥmadī Petitioner . 285

  • A Lutheran Danish Missionary in Riḍā’s Fatwās . . 286
    • An Egyptian Debater in Gairdner’s Magazine . . 293
    • A Muslim Facing Missionaries in Tunisia . . 295
    • Fatherless Birth of Jesus: non-Qurʾānic? . 297
    • Missionary Doubts on Qurʾānic Narratives . 298

7.10. Mirāb and Altar . . . 300

  • Don’t Recite the Qurʾānic Verses on Christians in

Public! . . 301

  • A Muslim Copyist of Missionary Books and Crafting

the Cross for Christians . 303

7.13. Conclusion . . 304

xii contents

Conclusion . . . 307

Bibliography . . 321

Private Archives . . 321

Works in Arabic . . 321

Works in Western Languages . 324

Internet Websites . . . 340

Appendices . . . 341

Introduction

The history of Christian missions has been written predominantly from a Christian, missionary perspective.1 Missions have scarcely been studied from the perspective of the people among whom missionaries worked, in the case of the present research: the Muslims in the Middle East in the early 20th century.

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The available studies on the history of missions among Muslims are, in fact, incomplete, for they do not give detailed accounts of the reactions and interpretations of the people to whom the missionaries had been sent. Moreover, they do not tell us whether the missionaries themselves were aware of the Muslim reactive positions and writings, and the influence of their work on mutual Muslim-Christian perceptions and misperceptions. Main problems that still need to be examined are: How did Muslims, in various regions and under various circumstances, perceive the mis-sionaries and their work?

 What ideas did Muslims develop about Christianity as they saw it enter Muslim societies? How did the direct encounter between Islam and Western Christianity through the emer-gence of missionaries in the Muslim world influence the Muslim polemics against Christianity?

The present work is a critical study of the dynamics of Muslim understanding of Christianity during the late 19th and the early 20th century in the light of the polemical writings of the well-known Syro-Egyptian Muslim reformist Sheikh Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā (1865-1935) and his associates. It is observable that neither Muslim nor Western scholars paid due attention to his views on Christianity. No full-scale study of his perspectives on that subject has been undertaken so far. Although there are scattered and brief remarks in some individual studies on some of his works on Christianity, investigation is still needed by focusing on his polemics and answers to the social, political and theological aspects of missionary movements among Muslims of his age.

The base of our analysis in the present study encompasses Riḍā’s voluminous publications embodied in his magnum opus, the journal al-Manār (The Lighthouse). The core of these writings on the Christian beliefs and scriptures consisted of polemic and apologetic issues, which had already existed in the pre-modern Islamic classification of Christianity.

 However, al-Manār polemicists have added to their investigations many modern aspects largely influenced by Western critical studies of the Bible. As a matter of fact, there is no documented public debate (munāẓarah) between Riḍā and his contemporary mis-sionaries. But al-Manār developed certain sorts of arguments drawn from critical studies about Biblical texts, church history, political con-frontations in the period of colonialism, and evidence of what it per-ceived as the wrong picture portrayed by missionaries (and some Christian Arabs) of Islam.2

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A Biographical Sketch

As one of the most significant Muslim religious figures during the first half of the 20th century, the life of Riḍā, his journal and his reli-gious and political thought have been extensively studied (see bibli-ography). Biographical information on him is mostly taken from his autobiography, which he published more than thirty years after his migration to Egypt.3 His famous biography of his teacher Muḥammad ʿAbduh (1849-1905), Tārīkh al-ʾUstādh al-ʾImām, is also marked as one of the important sources for his life.4 By writing this work, Riḍā…..

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