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Title: Christian missions and Western ideas in Syrian Muslim writers (1860-1918).
Author: Samra, Mahmud.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3548 228X
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1958
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The massacre of thousands of Christians by the Druzes in 1860 gave western powers the chance to interfere in the affairs of the country and open the doors for their missions. The bad state of affairs in the country under the Turks, the rivalry of western powers and the impact of the Christian missions: their aims, equipment, activities, the benefits they brought and the harm they did, are all discussed. (Ch. I). The missionaries thought that by attacking Islam, they could weaken belief in Islam and so win Muslims to Christianity. This attitude proved to be fallacious: Missionary denial of the inspired nature of the faith of Islam was reacted against in a very uncompromising way, in which western knowledge was used to refute and counter-attack missionary claims. (Ch. II). Criticism by missionaries and westerners of certain Islamic principles, claiming that Islam was the cause of Muslim decadence, was answered by the re-interpretation of these principles in such a way as to bring them into conformity with the spirit of the age. Some Syrian modernists went so far as to claim that Islam embodied the new social standards of Europe at their best. (Ch. III). Having denied that Islam was the cause of Muslim decadence, as the West claimed, Syrian Muslim writers looked for the cause of the malady and found that there were two: corruption of religious belief, and despotism. No revival could ever be built on sure grounds unless Islam was purified from later innovations, additions and restrictions; and unless the people were educated.. In this they were much influenced by the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution and the British educational system. (Ch. IV). Moreover, western ideas which infiltrated into the country, mainly through missionary schools, introduced the natives to concepts of nationalism which gave birth to Arab nationalism. The Syrian Christians, graduates of the missionary schools, were the pioneers, and then the Muslims joined in later on. The importance of the national idea lies in that it drew the Muslims and the Christians closer together, and made them think in national terms. According to the pan-Islamists, on the other hand, the nationalist ideal was anti-Islamic and the Arab were nationalists/agents of the West against Islam and the Ottoman Empire. (Ch. V).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: JISC Digital Islam
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available