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Science as an ally of religion: a Muslim appropriation of ‘the conflict thesis’



John W. Draper's History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) is commonly regarded as the manifesto of the ‘conflict thesis’. The superficiality of this thesis has been demonstrated in recent studies, but to read Draper's work only as a text on ‘science versus religion’ is to miss half of its significance, as it also involved evaluations of individual religions with respect to their attitudes towards science. Due to Draper's favourable remarks on Islam, the Ottoman author Ahmed Midhat translated his work into Turkish, and published it along with his own comments on Draper's arguments. Midhat interpreted Islam using the cues provided by Draper, and portrayed it as the only religion compatible with science. While his Christian readers condemned Draper for his approach to Islam, Midhat transformed the ‘conflict thesis’ into a proclamation that Islam and science were allies in opposition to Christian encroachment on the Ottoman Empire. This paper analyses Midhat's appropriation of Draper's work and compares it to the reaction of Draper's Christian readers. It discusses the context that made an alliance between Islam and science so desirable for Midhat, and emphasizes the impact of the historico-geographical context on the encounters between and representations of science and religion.



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1 For criticisms of the conflict thesis see David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers (eds.), God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986; and idem, When Science and Christianity Meet, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003; John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991. James R. Moore discusses the emergence and the impact of the conflict thesis in The Post-Darwinian Controversies: A Study of the Protestant Struggle to Come to Terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America, 1870–1900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

2 While this study focuses on Christianity and Islam, it is worth noting that many criticisms directed by Muslim authors against Christianity in reference to the ‘conflict between religion and science’ were actually about the Old Testament. The way the ‘conflict’ narrative influenced Muslim understandings of Judaism is a promising research topic.

3 David Friedrich Strauss's work on the ‘historical Jesus’, Das Leben Jesu Kritisch Bearbeitet (1835) was a turning point in biblical studies. Max Müller's Introduction to the Science of Religion was published in 1873.

4 John William Draper, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science, New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1874; Ahmed Midhat Efendi, Niza-i İlm ü Din, İslam ve UlÛm, 4 vols., Istanbul: Tercüman-ı Hakikat, 1895–1900. In the rest of the paper I will refer to Draper's work as Conflict and Midhat's as Niza. All translations, unless otherwise noted, are my own.

5 As his contemporary critics note, Draper's work is also best seen as a tract against Catholicism, rather than as a well-researched history on science and religion. See, for example, Moore, op. cit. (1), pp. 23–29.

6 The only work in English with references to Niza's arguments is Berna Kılınç's Ahmed Midhat and Adnan Adivar on history of science and civilizations’, Nuncius: annali di storia della scienza (2008) 2, pp. 291308.

7 After publishing his short stories in 1870, Midhat became the author of the first novels in many genres in Ottoman Turkish, along with many stories and plays. For analyses of his literary output see Orhan Okay, Batı Medeniyeti Karşısında Ahmet Mithat Efendi (Ahmet Mithat Efendi Confronts Western Civilization), Istanbul: MEGSB, 1989.

8 The details are based on Okay, op. cit. (7). Also see Findley, Carter V., ‘An Ottoman occidentalist in Europe: Ahmed Midhat meets Madame Gülnar, 1889’, American Historical Review (1998) 1, pp. 1549.

9 Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, XIX. Asır Türk Edebiyatı (19th-Century Turkish Literature), Istanbul: Ibrahim Horoz, 1956, pp. 438–439.

10 In Menfa (Exile), Istanbul: Arma, 2002 (first published 1876), Midhat argued that while enthusiasm for progress was commendable, the reformists' project was flawed as it was built on hostility. Progress could best be achieved through cautiousness and education, ‘without offending anyone’. See Menfa, p. 51. In Üss-i İnkılâb (The Basis of Reform), Istanbul, 1878, he portrayed Abdülhamid II as a wise ruler who had understood that the freedom of the people was the essence of reform. See Ufuk Ulutaş ‘Üss-i İnkılab: an official narrative of the evolution of reforms in the Ottoman Empire’, MA thesis, Ohio State University, 2005.

11 Quoted in Niyazi Berkes, The Development of Secularism in Turkey, Montreal: McGill University Press, 1974, p. 285. On Midhat's views regarding this ideal union also see Findley, op. cit. (8).

12 See, for example, Felatun Bey ve Râkım Efendi (1875) and Demir Bey, Yahut İnkışaf-ı Esrar (Demir Bey, or the Discovery of Mysteries, 1888). While references to this ‘ideal synthesis’ can be found in the works of authors such as Namık Kemal, Ahmed Midhat was its most prominent advocate.

13 Deringil, Selim, ‘Legitimacy structures in the Ottoman state: the reign of Abdülhamid II, 1876–1909’, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (1991) 3, pp. 345359, p. 346.

14 See Selim Deringil, The Well-Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire, 1876–1909, London and New York: Tauris, 1998, for more examples. Islam in the Ottoman Empire has commonly been argued to have been subservient to raison d'état, and the autonomy of the class of religious scholars (ulema) was always limited, including during the reign of Abdülhamid II. Abdülhamid's emphasis on Islam was essentially a political project for constructing an ‘official belief’ that would serve as ‘social cement’. Deringil, op. cit., p. 66. For a comparative study clarifying the particularities of the Ottoman model see Karasipahi, Sena, ‘Comparing Islamic resurgence movements in Turkey and Iran’, Middle East Journal (2009) 1, pp. 87107.

15 Benjamin Fortna, Imperial Classroom: Islam, the State, and Education in the Late Ottoman Empire, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 87.

16 Quoted in Fortna, op. cit. (15), p. 215. While these reports commented on curricula in general, it was the students of the Military Medical Academy and the War Academy that most concerned the state. In the late 1880s German popular materialism, particularly Lüdwig Büchner's Kraft und Stoff, became a chief inspiration for these students who developed arguments implicitly or explicitly critical of Islam and the legitimacy of the Sultan, and started the Young Turk movement. See Şükrü Hanioğlu, ‘Blueprints for a future society: late Ottoman materialists on science, religion and art’, in Elisabeth Özdalga (ed.), Late Ottoman Society: The Intellectual Legacy, London: Routledge, 2005, pp. 28–116.

17 Quoted in Fortna, op. cit. (15), p. 219.

18 On Protestant missionary schools in the Ottoman Empire see Uygur Kocabaşoğlu, Kendi Belgeleriyle Anadolu'daki Amerika: 19. Yüzyılda Osmanlı Imparatorluğu'ndaki Amerikan Misyoner Okulları (America in Anatolia: American Missionary Schools in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th Century), Ankara: Imge, 2000.

19 Quoted in Deringil, op. cit. (14), p. 117.

20 Çetin, Atilla, ‘Maarif Nazırı Ahmed Zühdü Paşa'nın Osmanlı İmparatorluğundaki Yabancı Okullar Hakkındaki Raporu’ (Zühdü Pasha's report on foreign schools in the Ottoman Empire), Güney-doğu Avrupa Araştırmaları Dergisi (1981) 10, pp. 189219, p. 196.

21 Fatma Aliye (1862–1936), the daughter of the historian and jurist Cevdet Pasha, and literary protégée of Ahmed Midhat, was the first Ottoman woman to publish novels and actively engage in public affairs. Her familiarity with the book suggests that Draper's work was known among elite circles.

22 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. ix.

23 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, p. 10. In the first volume of the Apology, published in 1883, Midhat elaborated on the inauthenticity of the Bible and the immorality of Christian clerics. Henry Otis Dwight, an American Congregational missionary in Istanbul, sent a reply, which Midhat reproduced in the second volume. In his own response, Midhat stated that in contrast with Dwight's arguments, Protestantism was marred by the same problems as Catholicism. In the third volume, he criticized Chateaubriand's Génie du Christianisme and the decadence of the Christian Europe of his time. See Müdafaa (Apology), 3 vols., Istanbul: Tercüman-ı Hakikat, 1883–1884.

24 Examples will be provided throughout the text, but see, e.g., Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 110–118.

25 I do not focus on Chapters 10 and 11 of Conflict, devoted to condemning Catholicism and praising the contributions of science, as Midhat's comments are by and large expressions of his agreement. But while Midhat's translation is loyal to the original work, Chapter 12 is missing in the Turkish edition. This chapter denounces the Syllabus of Errors issued in 1864 and states that the Catholic world must make a choice between the Church and science. Draper's remarks on freedom of thought in this chapter could have got Midhat in trouble with the censors, yet his skill in handling such ‘dangerous’ discussions throughout the text suggests that this might not be the reason for the omission.

26 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 12, 33.

27 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 23–24.

28 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, pp. 116–117.

29 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, p. 124.

30 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, p. 125.

31 Draper's approach to early Christianity is reminiscent of modernist Muslim authors of the time who argued that the backwardness of Muslim societies was due to their ignorance of authentic Islam and embrace of un-Islamic attitudes and superstitions. For representative texts see, for example, Charles Kurzman (ed.), Modernist Islam 1840–1940, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

32 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 45. The theology of Tertullian is actually commonly regarded as the most anti-intellectualistic one that ‘wished to substitute faith for reason’. See David Lindberg, ‘Science and the early Church,’ in Lindberg and Numbers, God and Nature, op. cit. (1), pp. 19–47, p. 25.

33 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 39.

34 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 47–49.

35 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 46.

36 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, p. 186.

37 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, p. 195.

38 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 52.

39 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 57–58.

40 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, p. 211.

41 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, p. 212.

42 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, pp. 232–236. Midhat refers to Koran 41:6, which stresses that Mohammad is but a human being, with the sole distinction that he received revelation, and 39:9, which states, ‘Say, “Shall those who know be deemed equal with those who know not?”’. For Midhat, the equality of all humans, with knowledge as the true basis of distinction, rendered Islam so unique. Midhat's portrayal of the Koran as a book containing fundamental principles rather than facts is similar to that of another Muslim intellectual of the period, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, who stated that with the Koran, God ‘planted the roots of philosophical sciences into purified souls’ who, in turn, developed these sciences and were ‘transferred from the sphere of ignorance to knowledge’. See Afghani, ‘The benefits of philosophy’, in Nikki Keddie (ed.), An Islamic Response to Imperialism: Political and Religious Writings of Sayyid Jamal ad-Din “al-Afghani”, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968, pp. 109–122, p. 114.

43 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 79.

44 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, pp. 345–351.

45 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 84.

46 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 88–103.

47 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, pp. 489–490.

48 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, p. 421.

49 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 2, p. 63.

50 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 108.

51 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 108. The possibility and nature of God's activity in the world had become a major topic of debate in the Victorian era, epitomized by Tyndall's campaign to put the impact of prayer to the test. See Robert Bruce Mullin, ‘Science, miracles and the prayer-gauge debate’, in Lindberg and Numbers, When Science and Christianity Meet, op. cit. (1), pp. 203–224.

52 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 2, p. 50.

53 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 110–118.

54 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 118. He states without evidence that the ‘modern doctrines of evolution and development’ were taught in the schools of the Saracens. Draper's evidence for the Muslim ‘extension’ of the idea of evolution to inorganic things, on the other hand, is a quote from Al-Khazini stating that an idea held by common people was that gold passed through the forms of other metals before becoming gold, i.e. an argument on alchemy. See sections below for Draper's and Midhat's specific arguments on evolution.

55 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 106; on the abandonment of anthropomorphic conceptions see p. 124.

56 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 140.

57 The limits of this flexibility need to be noted, however, as Midhat's is still a Sunni Islam. His patron, Abdülhamid II, has also been defined as a pragmatist, including in religious issues. See Kemal Karpat, The Politicization of Islam: Reconstructing Identity, State, Faith, and Community in the Late Ottoman State, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 156, 253. Yet Sunni Islam was central to the notion of ‘Ottomanness’ advanced by the Hamidian regime, and Shii Iran was seen as a rival against Abdülhamid's claim to leadership over the Muslim world. See Deringil, Selim, ‘The struggle against Shiism in Hamidian Iraq: a study in Ottoman counter-propaganda’, Die Welt des Islams (1990) 30, pp. 4562.

58 As this principle is central to Büchner's Kraft und Stoff, Draper's arguments linking it to Islamic philosophy are uniquely valuable for Midhat.

59 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 140.

60 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 122, 126. One reason for Buddhism's popularity in the West in the late nineteenth century was that it was seen to be in harmony with science. See Thomas A. Tweed, The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844–1912: Victorian Culture and the Limits of Dissent, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992, passim. Midhat's interpretation of the spread of Buddhism in Europe was similar: ‘people whose mind and vision are enlightened by the light of science’ could not remain Christian, and as philosophies like materialism failed to instill a sense of security in people's souls, Europeans started ‘begging for a religion’ in India. See his ‘Paris'te Otuzbin Budi’ (Thirty Thousand Buddhists in Paris), in Erdoğan Erbay and Ali Utku (eds.), Felsefe Metinleri (Philosophical Texts), Erzurum: Babil, 2002 (first published 1890), pp. 112–192, p. 131.

61 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 127–128. Draper does not cite his sources, and Midhat admits that he could not identify the source of the quotation. For another critique of Draper's ‘quotation’ see notes 120–121 below.

62 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 124, 139. Curiously, by identifying ‘philosophical Islamism’ with Averroes, a twelfth-century scholar, Draper ends up implying that the contributions of many Muslim scientists that he refers to had taken place before ‘philosophical Islamism’.

63 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 139.

64 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 147. Additionally, the disagreement between al-Ghazzali and Averroes on the ‘nature of the soul’ was not considerable. See idem, op. cit. (4), vol. 2, pp. 432–433. Midhat devotes a special section to this issue at the end of the second volume of Niza, and presents the views of the young theologian and future Şeyhülislam Musa Kazım, who at the time was teaching Midhat Islamic hermeneutics. On Musa Kazım see Reinhart, Kevin, ‘Musa Kazim: from “ilm” to polemics', Archivum Ottomanicum (2001) 19, pp. 281305.. On al-Ghazzali and Averroes see Majid Fakhry, A History of Islamic Philosophy, New York: Columbia University Press, 2004, pp. 280–302. Interestingly, in a letter to Beşir Fuad (see note 103 below), Midhat had confessed his ignorance in these matters: ‘When necessary, we brag, saying that we produced Avicenna [and] Averroes … Do we have knowledge of what they said? Even though it is essential to know Arabic or Persian to know them, how many of us are able to truly understand one sentence in these languages?’ See Ahmed Midhat, ‘Voltaire/Musâhabât-ı Leyliyye’, in Erbay and Utku, op. cit. (60), p. 289.

65 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 158.

66 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 160.

67 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 169.

68 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 171–172. For a critical analysis of the historiography of the ‘Galileo affair’ see Chapter 4 of John H. Brooke and Geoffrey Cantor, Reconstructing Nature: The Engagement of Science and Religion, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

69 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 69.

70 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 92. Note that although he held the heliocentric view, Midhat ignores the fact that classic Muslim scholars espoused geocentrism as well. For a contemporary work agreeing with Midhat on the broader question, and arguing that the introduction of Copernican theory into the Ottoman world in the seventeenth century did not cause a stir, see Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, ‘Introduction of Western science to the Ottoman world: a case study of modern astronomy’, in Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu (ed.), Transfer of Modern Science and Technology to the Muslim World, Istanbul: IRCICA, 1992, pp. 67–120. Nevertheless, there is evidence that in the early nineteenth century, geocentric views were still common among Ottoman religious scholars. See Morrison, Robert, ‘The reception of early-modern European astronomy by Ottoman religious scholars’, Archivum Ottomanicum (2003) 21, pp. 187195.

71 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 179.

72 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 150.

73 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 181

74 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 156. A minbar is a pulpit in a mosque.

75 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, pp. 176–177. This approach resembles the ‘day-age theory’ that interpreters like the geologist William Buckland (1784–1856) developed in order to reconcile Genesis with new findings about the age of the Earth. See Mott T. Greene, ‘Genesis and geology revisited: the order of nature and the nature of order in nineteenth-century Britain’, in Lindberg and Numbers, When Science and Christianity Meet, op. cit. (1), pp. 139–159.

76 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 187.

77 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 208.

78 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, pp. 233–250.

79 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 221.

80 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 228.

81 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 188. Italics mine.

82 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 199.

83 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 304. Midhat's approach to the notion of ‘successor’ based on Koran 2:30 is a particular one, as the ‘predecessor’ is commonly interpreted as angels or God. See Cornelia Schöck, ‘Adam and Eve’, Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 5 vols., Leiden: Brill, 2001–2006.

84 Note, once again, Midhat's pragmatism, which allows him to refer to a particular, mystical interpretation of the Koran in order to make his case.

85 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, pp. 329–331.

86 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, p. 330.

87 While Midhat's comments tackle the issue of the gradual transformation of humans, they have more to do with social, rather than biological, evolution. Like Draper, Midhat focuses on the latter in the chapter on ‘the government of the universe’.

88 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 205–206.

89 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, pp. 352–370.

90 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 217.

91 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, pp. 424–430.

92 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 226; Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, pp. 506–515.

93 Draper, op. cit. (4), p. 238.

94 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 4, p. 86.

95 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 4, p. 87–88.

96 Midhat's references are to Koran 18:84 and 17:77. Also see note 86 above.

97 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 4, p. 89. Midhat uses the latter two phrases in their original form.

98 Draper, op. cit. (4), pp. 246–248.

99 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 4, pp. 152–153.

100 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 4, pp. 165–166.

101 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 4, pp. 171–172. The Lebanese author Hussein al-Jisr, a contemporary of Midhat, analysed these verses as well. He argued that they appeared to indicate special creation for each species, and while he was open to the possibility of future reinterpretation, recommended upholding traditional interpretations unless new evidence for evolution was obtained. See Adel A. Ziadat, Western Science in the Arab World: The Impact of Darwinism, 1860–1930, London: Macmillan, 1986, pp. 92–95. Al-Jisr may be seen as a Lebanese counterpart to Midhat, as Abdülhamid II rewarded him in 1891 for his work on the harmony between Islam and science published in 1888. This is particularly significant as the 1880s is also when Büchner's commentary on Darwin was popularized in Lebanon by Shibli Shumayyil as a condemnation of religion and of the backwardness of ‘all theocratic autocracies’, i.e. the Ottoman Empire, in his case. See Elshakry, Marwa, ‘The gospel of science and American evangelism in late Ottoman Beirut’, Past and Present (2007) 1, pp. 173214, p. 212.

102 Not surprising for a staunch advocate of the patriarchal family. See Findley, op. cit. (8), p. 47.

103 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 1, 200–201. An event that indisputably encouraged Midhat to translate Conflict is the suicide of Beşir Fuad. Fuad (1852–1887), a graduate of the War Academy, published pieces on science in the journals of the period. Midhat admired and corresponded with Fuad, and was devastated when he slit his wrists, and observed the process to write a ‘naturalistic account of dying’. In a book he published after the incident, Midhat portrayed Fuad as the archetype of the well-educated Ottoman youth with inadequate knowledge of Islam. See Ahmed Midhat, Beşir Fuad, Istanbul: Tercüman-ı Hakikat, 1887. See also Orhan Okay, Beşir Fuad: Ilk Türk Pozitivist ve Natüralisti (The First Turkish Positivist and Naturalist), 2nd edn, Istanbul: Dergah, 2008.

104 Ahmed Midhat, ‘Şopenhauer’ in Hikmet-i Cedidesi' (The New Philosophy of Schopenhauer) (1887), in Erbay and Utku, op. cit. (60), pp. 12–68, p. 33.

105 Draper had made similar arguments about Islam and defined Mohammad as the man who ‘has exercised the greatest influence upon the human race’ in his History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1864, p. 244. Midhat praises this work in his introduction, but it is not clear if he had actually read it. Draper's American readers were familiar with it, however, and their impression of that book appears to have shaped their reactions to Conflict that I discuss below. In this respect Draper may be seen as a representative of the approach initiated in the 1840s by Thomas Carlyle's and Washington Irving's works on Mohammad. Carlyle referred to him as a ‘great’ and ‘original’ man in On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History, London: Oxford University Press, 1959 (first published 1840), pp. 59–60. Likewise, Irving described Mohammad as a person with an extraordinary intellect and an ‘inventive genius’ in his Life of Mahomet, London and New York: Everyman's Library, 1949 (first published 1849), p. 230. These works also made the point that the spread of Islam could not be due to the sword alone. Draper never cites his sources but the similarity between his arguments and Carlyle's and Irving's portrayals is striking. Another work published at roughly the same time as Conflict and making similar arguments, Reginald Bosworth Smith's Mohammed and Mohammedanism, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1875, lists Carlyle and Irving among its sources. Smith, a fellow of Oxford's Trinity College, argued (p. 162) that comparative religion revealed many strengths of Islam. Most importantly, Mohammad ‘treated the miraculous as subordinate to the moral evidences of his mission, and struck upon a vein of thought and touched a chord of feeling which … is reconcilable at once with the onward march of Science, and all the admitted weaknesses of human nature’. For changing views on Islam in the Victorian era see Philip C. Almond, Heretic and Hero: Mohammad and the Victorians, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1989; and Timothy Marr, The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

106 See Kurzman, op. cit. (31). A classic analysis of the development of this approach in the Arab world is Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age 1798–1939, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

107 The Egyptian author Rifaa al-Tahtawi presented an influential version of this narrative in his travelogue published in 1834 after his visit to Paris, and similar views were voiced by many Muslim authors in the following decades. For Tahtawi's work see Daniel Newman, An Imam in Paris: Al-Tahtawi's visit to France (1826–31), London: Saqi, 2002. Ottoman Turkish works making similar claims are, for example, Mustafa Sami, Avrupa Risalesi (A Treatise on Europe), Istanbul: Takvimhane-i Amire, 1840; and Şemseddin Sami, Medeniyyet-i İslamiye (Islamic Civilization), Istanbul: Mihran, 1879.

108 Jamal al-Din al-Afghani's response to Renan is the best-known of these. On the debate between Renan and Afghani see Keddie, op. cit. (42), pp. 84–95. Afghani's reply can be found at pp. 181–187. For an Ottoman Turkish response see Namık Kemal, Renan Müdafaanamesi (Defense against Renan), Istanbul: Mahmud Bey, 1908.

109 Afghani, ‘The truth about the Neicheri Sect and an explanation of the Neicheris’ in Keddie, op. cit. (42), pp. 130–174, p. 167.

110 Afghani, op. cit. (109), pp. 171–172. For similar views of Muhammed Abduh, a follower of Afghani, see Hourani, op. cit. (106), pp. 148–149.

111 ‘[E]ven when [geological] research yields a definite result, it will serve to understanding God, rather than denying Him’. Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 4, p. 167.

112 ‘Draper's science and religion’, The Nation, 25 November 1875, pp. 343–345, p. 344.

113 The conflict between religion and science’, Scribner's Monthly (1875) 5, p. 635.

114 Draper's religion and science’, Presbyterian Quarterly and Princeton Review (1875) 13, p. 160.

115 Liberal Christian, as paraphrased by New York Observer and Chronicle (1875) 2, p. 10.

116 History of the conflict between religion and science’, Christian Advocate (1875) 4, p. 26.

117 Donald Fleming, John William Draper and the Religion of Science, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950, p. 135.

118 Draper's conflict between religion and science’, Catholic World (1875) 122, p. 178.

119 Dostoevsky, Fyodor, A Writer's Diary, vol. 2: 1877–1881, tr. Kenneth Lantz, Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1994, p. 1023.

120 Cyrus Hamlin, Among the Turks, New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1877, p. 347, original italics.

121 Hamlin, op. cit. (120). The fact that a missionary in Istanbul felt the need to criticize him suggests that Draper was popular enough among Ottoman Muslims to concern the missionaries.

122 Midhat, op. cit. (4), vol. 3, pp. 424–426. Also see note 23 above.

123 Masanobu Ishizaka, ‘Christianity in Japan 1859–1883’, Ph.D dissertation AAT 0228037, Johns Hopkins University, 1895, p. 28.

124 Schwantes, Robert S., ‘Christianity versus science: a conflict of ideas in Meiji Japan’, Far Eastern Quarterly (1953) 2, pp. 123132, p. 127.

125 For a historical survey of Muslim commentaries on Christianity see Jacques Waardenburg, Muslims and Others: Relations in Context, Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2003, esp. pp. 133–161. For nineteenth-century debates in particular see Hourani, op. cit. (106).

A much earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the History of Science Society in November 2007. I am grateful to Robert S. Westman for his guidance throughout the writing of this paper. I also thank Steven Epstein, Jamil Ragep, B. Harun Küçük and two referees for their valuable comments on earlier drafts.

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