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Victorian perceptions of Islam were not monochrome; some saw beyond stereotypical images, others reproduced them. In this study, the accounts of six Victorians outline the contrast of the two perceptions. It suggests that presuppositions, not encounters per se, determine how we see cultural and religious others.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-60724-673-2
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jan 8,2014
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 216
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-60724-673-2
$172.12
$103.27

What did a somewhat eccentric Anglican cleric, a Cambridge professor and a Harrow schoolmaster have in common? Developing interest in Islam during the Victorian period, they discovered spiritual and humanitarian value in what others could only depict as unmitigated evil. Their approach shows that Victorian perceptions of Islam were not monochrome, that some saw beyond stereotypical images. This book contrasts their conciliatory approach with the work of three Victorians who saw little if anything of value in Islam. One, William Muir, was a founding father of Orientalist scholarship. The others were missionaries. All wanted to confront Islam with Christian and European superiority. This book challenges the notion that language skills and encounter inevitably result in greater empathy. Rather, our assumptions color how we see others, whether encounter takes place in person or through literature. Assumptions that value can be found in all religions or that our religion, race and culture is superior, shape how and what we see. Against the geo-political backdrop of colonialism and Christian mission, this book analyses the contributions of six Victorians, illustrating how ideological presuppositions all but predetermined their assessment of Islam. The work of at least one of the conciliators attracted Muslim praise, while Muslims had little positive to say in response to the three who did not like Islam. Language acquisition and face-to-face encounter certainly have a great deal of merit. Yet they may be less important than imagination and willingness to see beauty in others with respect to “us”-“them” encounter.

What did a somewhat eccentric Anglican cleric, a Cambridge professor and a Harrow schoolmaster have in common? Developing interest in Islam during the Victorian period, they discovered spiritual and humanitarian value in what others could only depict as unmitigated evil. Their approach shows that Victorian perceptions of Islam were not monochrome, that some saw beyond stereotypical images. This book contrasts their conciliatory approach with the work of three Victorians who saw little if anything of value in Islam. One, William Muir, was a founding father of Orientalist scholarship. The others were missionaries. All wanted to confront Islam with Christian and European superiority. This book challenges the notion that language skills and encounter inevitably result in greater empathy. Rather, our assumptions color how we see others, whether encounter takes place in person or through literature. Assumptions that value can be found in all religions or that our religion, race and culture is superior, shape how and what we see. Against the geo-political backdrop of colonialism and Christian mission, this book analyses the contributions of six Victorians, illustrating how ideological presuppositions all but predetermined their assessment of Islam. The work of at least one of the conciliators attracted Muslim praise, while Muslims had little positive to say in response to the three who did not like Islam. Language acquisition and face-to-face encounter certainly have a great deal of merit. Yet they may be less important than imagination and willingness to see beauty in others with respect to “us”-“them” encounter.

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Contributor Biography

Clinton Bennett

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). 

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Foreword to the 1992 edition (page 7)
  • Preface (page 9)
  • Acknowledgements (page 12)
  • Introduction (page 13)
    • The Christian Movement at the Time of Muhammad (page 13)
    • The Muslim World and the Byzantine Empire (page 15)
    • The Importance of Spain (page 15)
    • The Crusades (page 18)
    • The Medieval Picture (page 18)
    • The Scholarly and Philosophical Tradition (page 20)
    • A New Christian Assessment (page 20)
    • The Traditional View Re-visited (page 24)
    • The Two Approaches in Contrast (page 25)
    • The Role of Colonialism (page 26)
    • The Main Issues (page 26)
  • Charles Forster (page 31)
    • Mahometanism Unveiled (page 33)
    • Muhammad's Descent from Ishmael (page 39)
    • A Spiritual Religion (page 40)
    • Propogated by the Sword? (page 41)
    • Contribution to Human Progress (page 42)
    • Preparation for Christian Faith (page 45)
    • Was Muhammad Sincere? (page 46)
    • Critical Reaction (page 48)
    • The Muslim Response (page 55)
  • John Frederick Denison Maurice (page 58)
    • Theology of Religions (page 66)
    • Islam and the Sword (page 67)
    • Islam and Judaism (page 68)
    • Has Islam Spiritual Value? (page 70)
    • Islam as Preparatory for the Gospel (page 72)
    • Critical Response (page 76)
  • Reginald Bosworth Smith (page 86)
    • Theology of Religions (page 94)
    • Muhammad (page 95)
    • Muhammad and Ishmael (page 98)
    • Spirituality of Islam (page 99)
    • Civilization in Islam (page 100)
    • Violence in Islam? (page 101)
    • Ally of Christianity (page 102)
    • Critical Response (page 106)
  • Sir William Muir (page 115)
    • British Cultural Imperialism (page 119)
    • Mohammedan Controversy (page 121)
    • Carl Pfander (page 124)
    • Forster's Mahometanism Unveiled (page 126)
    • Islam as Anti-Christian (page 127)
    • Islam as Anti-Civilization (page 128)
    • Life of Mahomet (page 130)
    • Muhammad (page 132)
    • Critical Reaction (page 135)
    • Muslim Response (page 138)
  • William St Clair Tisdall (page 140)
    • Theology of Religion (page 143)
    • Islam's Scholarship (page 147)
    • Islam's Strength (page 147)
    • Islam and Ishmael (page 148)
    • Islam's Weaknesses (page 149)
    • Of No Spiritual Value (page 150)
    • The Human Origin of Islam (page 152)
    • Muhammad (page 153)
    • Islam Opposed to Christianity (page 154)
    • A Violent Creed (page 155)
    • Critical Reaction (page 157)
    • Muslim Response (page 159)
  • John Drew Bate (page 162)
    • The Claims of Ishmael (page 163)
    • Muhammad's Descent From Ishmael (page 165)
    • Opposition to Christianity and Civilization (page 167)
    • Not a Spiritual Religion (page 171)
    • The Problem of Objectivity (page 172)
    • Baptist Attitudes to Other Faiths: The Carey Legacy (page 174)
    • William Ward on Hinduism and Islam (page 177)
    • William Adam and Ram Mohun Roy (page 178)
    • Bate's Contemporaries (page 180)
    • Bate's Successors (page 181)
    • A Muslim Response (page 183)
    • Critique of the Modernists (page 184)
  • Conclusion: Dare to Know (page 187)
    • Revelation, Salvation, and Authority (page 188)
    • Praxis did not Modify Premise (page 189)
    • Contemporary Assumptions Challenged (page 190)
    • Contemporary Trend Anticipated (page 192)
  • Appendix: The Taylor Controversy: A Critique of Nineteenth-Century Mission (page 193)
    • Joseph Thomson (page 194)
    • George Knox (page 195)
    • Edward Wilmont Blyden (page 196)
    • Sir H.H. Johnston (page 197)
    • Taylor in Egypt (page 198)
    • The Great Missionary Failure Debate (page 199)
    • Meredith Townsend (page 201)
    • Henry Drummond (page 201)
    • John Drew Bate (page 202)
    • Conclusion (page 203)
  • Selected Bibliography (page 204)
  • Index (page 213)
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